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Lzzy Hale has always been given to bursts of over-excitement, but we’ve never known the Halestorm vocalist and guitarist to be quite like this before. When Kerrang! catches up with her for a rare pause for reflection following the band's recent 10-date European headline tour with her friends In This Moment and New Years Day. We say ‘friends’, but that doesn’t feel like a strong enough word to sum up just how close this lot are.
Since joining forces in the U.S. in the summer, the three bands – and in particular their three singers – have formed the kind of bonds that will last a lifetime. On one level, the tour represented something of an extended victory lap for Halestorm, in the wake of the success of last year’s fourth album, Vicious. Theirs has been a consistent and deserved rise over the past decade, but for those involved in the daily hustle, it feels like more of a shared triumph. Four of those dates took place in the UK, and as Lzzy cackles at the prospect, it’s fair to say that her appetite for “the rock show” has never been greater.
Yet her joy is even more evident when she’s joined by In This Moment’s creative mastermind and vocalist Maria Brink, and the vibrant force of nature that is New Years Day frontwoman Ash Costello. Three close friends who are striving for something more creative, more inclusive and more empowering than ever seen before.
What has been the key take-away from this recent tour?
Lzzy Hale: “On the U.S. leg, my guys started talking about how they’re seeing changes out there in the crowds. Typically we’d see a 60/40 male-to-female split at a show, but at these gigs it has completely flipped, as if women are taking ownership of this music. They’re coming out to see this tour because it’s their music. These fans wanna be heard. They wanna stand out and be part of something. We’ve all been experiencing this beautiful moment together.”
Maria Brink: “So many women are out there, from little girls aged no more than maybe seven to older fans in their 70s! I think it’s because the whole tour has this empowering quality, and a universal, shared energy. It happens to be a lot of feminine power, too, but I think men love it equally. It’s certainly not a ‘men versus women’ thing. We all become one when we go to a concert.”
Ash Costello: “It feels like there’s this massive change coming. I think the message is: watch out, because in 2020 there’s a really big shift coming.”
It must be heartening to have
witnessed that change happen over the past decade?
Lzzy: “Definitely. Even my own personal experience of being in a band has altered so much in that time. In the early days, I remember loading our gear into venues and the people working there assuming I was a girlfriend of someone in the band. Then you get to the next stage when you’re trying to get played on radio, and the stations reject you because they already have what they see as their ‘token girl singer’ on their playlists. It’s ridiculous to think like that. All three of us have ended up using that as inspiration to prove those attitudes wrong. Today we see parents encouraging their daughters to be themselves and go after the things they want. That inspires all women. It’s a situation that’s forever evolving and not just within the rock genre. You can see throughout history that as humans we’re doing different things; not sticking needles into people’s brains to try to cure depression, for example. People are coming to realise that it’s not really that big a deal for a girl to be in a rock band. Things are always gonna move slowly but we’re travelling in the right direction.”
Did you all experience those kinds of challenges in your early days on the road?
Maria: “Moving to LA and trying to join a band was pretty scary. I was constantly knocked back. No-one would audition me because they didn’t want a female singer. Even my own band did at first, although I eventually persuaded them. We had a jam session and they wound up taking me seriously, but that initial reaction was tough to overcome. Everyone has their own path to follow, and their own challenges, and it’s not always about gender. Most challenges I’ve faced haven’t been to do with being a woman – as an artist, male or female, you’ve got to hold your ground and persevere.”
Ash: “People often assumed I was the merch girl. It doesn’t happen so much now. New Years Day are on our way, but compared to Halestorm and In This Moment we’re still relatively new and trying to make a name for ourselves, so I still get put into a category where there is apparently only room for one band with a female singer. What I will say is that this tour is absolutely making a difference. Look – here are three girls and we’re selling out arenas!”
How does it make you feel when you have fans say that because of you, they too have started bands?
Maria: “Incredible. My mom took me to see Tina Turner when I was little, and that had a huge effect on me, so imagine what seeing Lzzy Hale playing rock music is gonna do for girls today!”
Lzzy: “I always think about all the girls out there right now, playing in their garages and building up to something that’s gonna blow our minds in future. It’s beautiful to think that we’re inspiring them, because the day will come when they step up, knock our socks off and inspire us right back again. The key is to keep doing whatever it is that brings you joy. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can and cannot achieve.”
You’re clearly the best of friends who inspire one another. How much does it push you to be even better, watching each other perform?
Lzzy: “There’s friendly competition, but we learn so much from each other at the same time. Sometimes we talk about who got the most ‘wow’ from the audience. It’s fun because I think we will all be much better frontpeople having faced that challenge every single night. Regardless of who you’re playing with, you wanna win people over and have them talk about your set.”
Maria: “I wouldn’t call it a rivalry, as such. But we definitely all want to go out there and do the best we can every night. We want to connect with people, to move people. It’s all a matter of perception, too. Our bands are so different, and some people like one and some people like another. When I watch the other bands I want them to kick ass. If somebody gets a big ‘wow’ reaction from the audience, then we want to go after that too, but in all honesty, it would hurt my heart if I thought that we did way better than someone else did.”
Ash: “I’ve really raised my game based on what I’ve picked up from Lzzy and Maria. I’m only in competition with myself. I always want to beat my own performance. Society often wants women to compete and there’s surprise when women actually support and empower each other. When I see fans after the show I ask what their favourite part was. Every time they answer, ‘All of it!’”
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The ultimate new music countdown – every Friday!
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