This coming May will mark the 10-year anniversary of Halestorm, the debut self-titled album by the eponymous Red Lion, Pennsylvania natives. Although the band had existed in some form for several years, it's on this LP where things truly began to take off for the hard-rock outfit.
A decade on, the band are as formidable as ever, and have made a point of never forgetting their roots. “We were fighting for attention – to prove ourselves,” says Lzzy Hale, the band's lead vocalist and guitarist.
“In a way, we're still fighting 10 years on – but now it's to prove that we deserve to be here. I look back on that time fondly, and I love listening back to those songs – especially the ones we still pull out and play now. It's a time in our lives where we all get misty-eyed talking about it on the tour bus. The thing about that record is that you see the start of what we wanted to do, and you see how much that's grown since. Keeping the band moving forward has probably been one of our absolute greatest achievements.
Fast forward to 2019 and Halestorm have indeed maintained their forward momentum. Their most recent album, 2018's Vicious, went to number one on both the US and UK rock charts, and has accumulated some of the best reviews of the band's career. Implementing cuts from the album into the live show has seen fans taking to them like ducks to water, which is something Hale is incredibly thankful for and excited about. “It's been a great experience seeing this album grow as we've been touring it,” she says.
“We started touring Vicious literally the day that it came out, and we more or less haven't stopped since. The way it's rolled out, we've really seen these songs get more and more of a reaction. Of course, people just tend to know the single when you're first getting out there, but as the weeks go by you see more people just owning these songs. That's been really gratifying.” Hale puts the live reaction to Vicious down to the personal conviction that emanates throughout the record, making no bones about its autobiographical nature and the heart that she put into its songwriting.
“I feel like this is a record where everybody kind of already knows what the songs are all about,” she says. “This record has definitely had us connecting with fans on another level. It's a real trust thing – no-one's really had to ask me about any lyrics or anything. It's kind of instinctual that they know. It's pretty special to know that people are out there feeling what I'm saying.”
Halestorm have gotten to travel to a lot of places in support of Vicious – Australia is next, as a part of the 2019 Download Festival. For Hale personally, though, one of the more fun and interesting things she's gotten to do is perform to an entirely unfamiliar audience: Pro-wrestling fans. Last April saw her performing live on WWE's developmental brand NXT for their pay-per-view TakeOver: New Orleans as she performed the theme song of then-Women's Champion, Ember Moon, with Cane Hill. “That was amazing,” says Hale.
“I was there for, like, a day – and I already felt like I was on tour with those guys! It was such a familial environment. Everyone was so nice. It was a real honour to be a part of it. I'm pretty new to the wrestling world, but I've been hooked ever since. It's amazing what these people can do with their bodies.” Hale also firmly believes that the current rise of women's wrestling – thanks in no small part to competitors like Moon – is reflective of something bigger at work in the greater society.
“We're in a beautiful age right now,” she says. “Girls just wanna rage. We're seeing it everywhere – in the wrestling ring, on the news, at rock shows. Halestorm shows, especially, have had this flip where it's gone from being 60-40 in favour of men to 60-40 in favour of women. We've all got these heavy feelings and stuff we've gotta get out – it's universal.”
Halestorm are performing at Download Festival 2019 on March 9 in Sydney and March 11 in Melbourne. Vicious is available now via Warner Music.