There’s Going To Be A Halestorm In Australia…
Grammy-winning hard rock band Halestorm along with Canadian rockers, Theory (Theory Of A Deadman) start their Australian tour in Brisbane tonight. Halestorm after years of keeping the faith are back to bring the rock! One of the silver linings from Covid was the aptly titled Back From The Dead which was written and produced throughout Covid lock down which was a journey of navigating mental health, debauchery, survival, redemption, rediscovery, and still maintaining faith in humanity. Arejay Hale talks to Hi Fi Way about what it means to be back in the country touring again.
Halestorm’s Australian tour starts tonight, are you excited?
Oh, I’m over the moon about it. I love coming to Australia. I’ve said it all day. It’s one of my favourite places to go.
Only three Australian dates this time. It must be tough tour schedule this time?
I don’t know how much downtime we’re going to have. I hope that we get to explore a little bit because I just love the city. I love the food, I love the weather, I love the people. I love being near the beach. It’s just amazing. The entire time that we’re in Australia, it doesn’t feel like work, you guys have this incredible ability to make us feel incredibly relaxed and at ease, even though we’re flying from city to city. It’s chaotic. It’s a lot of air travel. It’s just exhausting. Once we land, once we get to a certain place in Australia, we just have the best time.
Has this touring in general been more exciting for you now that things are getting back to back to normal?
Yeah, I mean touring for me has gotten better in a lot of ways just because I’m, I’m now in a relationship with someone that like so cool with my touring schedule, she’s just so amazing. She never gives me any grief for being on the road constantly. She really just loves being at home with her dog! I even asked her like, are you going to miss me when I’m gone? She’s like, nah! I mean, oh yeah, of course a little bit, but I’m not going to be devastated about it! This definitely makes touring a lot easier when you know that your personal life is solid. I have my girl to thank for that.
Other than that I’ve adopted a much more healthy lifestyle. Like I said earlier I’m looking forward to coming to Australia because I eat so healthy down there. I’m taking my joint health, physical health and mental health so much more seriously. It’s really been working, it’s really been helping me get through the gruelling travel and the touring without feeling like crap. I hit the stage now without the thought of, oh no, this is going to hurt. I’m more or less thinking like, let’s get on stage and let’s have fun. I feel much more at ease and much more ready to just hit it and maintain.
Five killer albums, will Australian fans get to hear a bit of everything on this tour?
We switch up the set list every night. We basically play whatever we’re in the mood for. That way we can assure that we’re giving the best show that we possibly can. It’s always going to be a good mix of the new stuff, which is obviously like what we’re trying to promote. The response has been really positive, which we’re really feeling great about that, but of course, we got to play the songs that people want to hear, we go to play I Miss The Misery, I Get Off and Freak Like Me and all that stuff. So, there’s the staples that have to go in the set every single night such as ‘Love Bites’ and things like that. For the rest of the set, we get to switch it up. I know there’s going to be a lot of fans that are going to follow us from city to city, they’re going to want to come to just one show. They’re going to want to come to all of them! So we want to give them a totally fresh new experience every single time. We never want the show to feel tired or redundant, it, it keeps us on our toes and it keeps it fun for the crowd too.
Is that what you love about Australian fans that they follow the band from city to city?
We experience it everywhere we go, but it feels like it’s even more apparent in Australia just because there’s only like five or six major cities that we get to play. It’s not like we get to play like thirty shows and just jump in a bus and play a bunch of different places a couple hours apart. Everything’s so spread out, so we have to fly from city to city and only get to play maybe a handful of shows, which is kind of tragic because I would love to stay in Australia for an entire month and a half and just tour all over the place. But it’s impossible, there’s no bus touring out there.
Have you been stoked with the reaction to the album you released last year Back From The Dead?
We didn’t know what the response was going to be because we had been off the radar for a long time during the Covid lock down as well as every other touring band. Everybody was trying their best to do digital shows online to entertain the fans. I started a fragrance channel, a YouTube channel where I talk about fragrance and that became a really great community where I could like really interact with the fans on a more intimate level. I still do that and it’s still an incredible thing that we have going on over there, but it obviously doesn’t replace doing live shows. So the fact that we hadn’t played for so long, there was always the worry, is everybody going to forget about us? They haven’t! I’m very grateful that enough people were wanting to see us, enough people created enough demand for us to come back down there, which is what I’m excited about because any opportunity I get to go to Australia, I will take it.
Was the big silver lining to come out of Covid for Halestorm the new album?
I mean if it wasn’t for Covid, who knows what the album would’ve been, but I feel like it’s inevitable that the things that we were all going through at the same time seeped its way into the writing and definitely into the playing. That was the first album where a producer told me to play more, usually it’s like, play less, dumb it down, keep it simple. Both Scott and Nick were like can you do like a ridiculously insane rip and drum fill right here? I’m like, I could try! It’s the first record that I brought my double bass pedal. I’d been a single bass drummer for forever. This was the first time I was playing double bass. It was a fun new challenge making this record. I think the excitement of being able to up the energy and up the chaos translated into the music. I think from start to finish and even now just supporting the record I feel like the response has been really positive. A big part of that is just because we didn’t hold back. We had given it our all on this record, it was hard, but it was worth it.
Did it force you to work quite differently compared to what you normally would have on your previous four albums?
First off, we couldn’t write in person, so we had to write over Zoom. As much as wish that we could go back to the time before we knew what Zoom was I am kind of thankful for it because I feel like I grew a lot as a songwriter over the pandemic. Without the touring which was absorbing the majority of my life, we go on the road for like nine, ten months of the year. This was the first time to be in the house for like a year and a half and to be able to do nothing but just write. I really wanted to take advantage of that. I was hitting up every writer I knew, every artist I knew anybody and everybody who just wanted to get together and be creative. Thanks to that process I definitely feel like I’ve strengthened as a songwriter. I think that that has translated not just with the new Hailstorm record, but also with this Chemical Fire record that we’re putting together, which isn’t out in the world quite yet. But you’ll hear an even more unbridled version of me on that stuff.
Halestorm have always been big advocates for mental health and this became a strong theme on the album. Was that deliberate or did it just come naturally into the song writing?
Well, both, obviously we write about the things that are important to us. I have been to many different therapists and I’ve multiple times been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and song writing has always been my therapy. Song writing, music and also perfumery has become another passion of mine that has been therapeutic for me creating fragrance content on YouTube. Song writing has always been my number one therapy. I’m not clinically depressed or anxious to the point where I need medication, but I mean, it would probably help. I feel like it’s making healthier lifestyle choices, taking care of myself physically and doing certain things like eating healthy, exercising, focusing on stretching, on rehabbing my body, my joints so I can maintain, so I can continue playing drums, meditating, song writing, perfumery, all these passions that I have really benefited me a lot to where I can stay balanced and I can maintain.
I’ve adopted all those rituals into my touring now that were starting to tour again. It’s really been like night and day. Nowadays, I go on stage without thinking, oh crap, this is going to hurt. I’m going to be in immense pain after this show. It was getting to the point where my body was just falling apart and I could feel every single hit, every single time I hit a drum, it hurt. Since I’ve really started focusing more on overcoming that, I hit the stage and all I can think about is how much fun I’m having interacting with the audience. All those things combined is the silver lining of Covid is it gave me time to like really focus on all the things that I wanted to focus on that I couldn’t when we were just on the road all the time.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Halestorm on the following dates, tickets from Live Nation…