Wednesday, July 10th, Upstate Metal’s Kate Drexel had the lucky opportunity to do a phone interview with Grammy-winning band, Halestorm’s drummer, Arejay Hale. They talked about everything from the start of the band to discussing his crazy use of one of his favorite iPhone apps, Vine. But first, let’s go back to the birth of Halestorm.
“Lzzy and I were on our way to our very first show,” Hale said. “We were playing the talent show contest in 1997, about 16 years ago this year, and we were driving to the venue in our parents’ car, and we were looking at each other like ‘you know, we can’t just go out there and say, ‘Hey, this is Lzzy and Arejay Hale’, you know? We actually have to have a band name that sounds bad-ass.
“I recall being kind of teased in school, you know? You walk into class and it was like ‘Oh, here comes the Halestorm, and so on our way to our very first show, I was like ‘why don’t we just call each other Halestorm? What if we called ourselves Halestorm?’ She was like, ‘Yeah, that’ll work for now’, and sure enough, 16 years later, it’s still Halestorm!” explained Arejay in a very animated manner. “I guess we’re just influenced by Hanson maybe, I don’t know …It was like, ‘Hey! Their band name is their last name! Let’s do that too! We’ll add a twist to it; we’ll make fun of ourselves and call ourselves Halestorm!’ We don’t really take ourselves seriously.”
As far as influences go, they range from John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and Keith Moon of The Who to jazz percussionists Buddy Rich and Chief Bey. However, for Halestorm’s latest record, Hale mentioned that he repeatedly listened to Black Stone Cherry’s album, and as a side note, revealed that the band did a studio session before Halestorm. “When we went into the studio to make the new record, we pretty much came right off tour. We really didn’t have a chance to take a break. We didn’t stop, and we just went into the studio. We finished up our last tour, and the next day we flew out to Los Angeles to start writing and recording the new record at the same time.
“They wanted us to finish the record in two months, which ended up dragging out six months because we wanted to wait ‘til we were absolutely ready. But the first two months of recording were highly influenced by our fans, and the people we’ve met on tour, and the places we went to on tour. Songs like ‘Rock Show’ and ‘Freak Like Me’, those are all kind of just like anthems to the fans. Songs like ‘Love Bites’ and ‘I Miss the Misery’, and all the heavy stuff was really written in the very first two weeks of writing and recording the record. Just because we were still amped up from being on the road, we were still feeling the energy from playing live. When we went into the studio, we put a lot of live energy into the recording, so that was a big influence for us, the very first half.”
And, of course, the band ran into a bit of an obstacle; they were asked to take a break before they could finish the record, something this very determined band was not willing to do. “Our producer went on vacation and we were like, ‘well, what are we gonna do?’ and they were like ‘go home’, and we were like ‘no, we don’t wanna go home, we wanna finish the record!’ So while everyone was on vacation, we went to our apartment on the beach and that’s when Lzzy started, you know, sitting and writing more of the intimate stuff, like songs like ‘Hate It When You See Me Cry’—It’s on our B Side of our new record—She was also writing stuff like ‘In Your Room’, the more softer side of the record.
“So when we went back into recording after everyone took a break, Lzzy was kind of starting to get in touch with the softer side, I guess you can say. So, therefore, after listening to Lzzy kind of coming up with these more intimate lyrics and stuff like that, I started thinking more trimming down the music and chipping down everything, and I just wanted to write these more softer, intimate songs. So after that we came up with ‘Beautiful With You’, ‘Break In’, ‘Here’s to Us’, like these kind of like more intimate and about us, than just purely about us. So we went back into recording after that. We had all of these soft songs and we were like, ‘now we have all of these heavy songs and all of these soft songs, so how do we put these together?’ then we came up with the song called ‘Mz. Hyde’, and we were like ‘okay, I get it! We put it together!’ So another influence of the record was the story of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, and that was a really cool concept for the album, and we thought, ‘okay, what if we just show the world both sides of Halestorm? The heavy side and the really intimate side, and we’ll do it on purpose and call it The Strange Case of Halestorm, which was inspired by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde’.”
Drexel then revealed that The Strange Case of Halestorm is her favorite record by them and truly loves the song ‘Mz. Hyde’. She also told Hale that she saw them at Carnival of Madness in Baltimore last summer with Evanescence and Chevelle, one of her favorite concerts, aside from seeing them kick ass at Rock on the Range.
Soon enough, Drexel realized they were both deviating a bit from the interview, and then she proceeded to ask what Hale does on his downtime besides making hysterical Vines. A moment of silence took place before Arejay let out a hearty roar of laughter. “I am so glad my madness has an audience! I was introduced to that app while we were in Europe,” Hale said. “One of my bandmates showed me and started playing with it, and I started using it, and it is the most fun app I’ve ever used because it’s just the perfect amount of time to do something hilarious. Six seconds, then, when it’s done, you can edit it as much as you want, then it loops. It’s constantly on loop and repeat, and that just makes it hilarious. You watch something and you’re like ‘what?!’ then it plays again, and you’re like ‘oh my god!’ and then you play it again and you’re like ‘oh my god! That’s fucking hilarious!’”
High recommendation from Drexel herself: if you have the Vine app on your smartphone, go follow Arejay. Vine name: Arejay Hale. “Besides that, I try to continue to write on the road,” Hale said. “It’s not easy ‘cause you’re constantly running around doing press, doing meet and greets, you know, try to get some catering whenever you can. My days are long on tour. Definitely on days off, if I do get downtime, I try to write; actually my favorite app in the world is Garage Band on the iPad. It’s great. It’s awesome ‘cause it’s got just the right amount of sound to be creative, but it’s still limited enough for when I’m sitting down and trying to write, I don’t concentrate on all the sounds when it comes to getting the musical idea out. So I like writing on my Garage Band app on my iPad. It’s really easy, it’s really convenient, and I just bought one of those Blue Snowballs, you know. I’ll just plug it in and lay down some vocals and try to put together some demos.
“My problem is if I have downtime, I hate sitting around, I have to be doing something, and I have to be busy. Same thing when we’re off tour. I go home to L.A. and as soon as I get home, I can’t stand sitting around. I used to be on the go all the time, you know, on tour and constantly having to do something. So when I’m home, I do a lot of writing. I got a studio in my bedroom, my girlfriend, she works in the same studio, she’s got her own band, she does writing and recording and stuff like that, so the two of us will write together when I’m at home. It’s really great. Pretty much anywhere I go, I’m surrounded by talented writers and musicians, and I get to be creative whenever I can. So anytime I’m doing downtime, it involves something with music or something there.”
Unfortunately, it was time to wrap up the interview with Drexel’s last question, what does music mean to you? “I don’t know any other way of life,” Hale said. “It’s been a part of my life since I was probably, like, five years old. [I] started jamming with my sister in the living room, and now it’s just become the only way of life right now. So for me, music is like air, it’s like just every element that I require to be alive and to be myself is what I think about music.
“I think that without music, I don’t know where I would be or what I’d be doing. I’m just so lucky I caught the bug early and I was able to pursue my dream and my career at a young age to get me to this point at my age. I’m very, very lucky, so I think music just means everything to me. It’s my life, and I don’t know what else my life would be like without it. I just feel really lucky.”
Halestorm continues to unleash their inner freak this Fall. Be sure to catch them while you can. They are one band you will not want to miss.