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| 15 October 2015 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

Halestorm - Joe Hottinger 01

Grammy winning rock band HALESTORM embark on their debut Australian tour this December, so we pinned down guitarist Joe Hottinger to ask – amongst other things – why the band have shunned Perth on this visit.

Tuesday, 8th December 2015 170 Russell, Melbourne
Wednesday, 9th December 2015 The Gov, Adelaide
Friday, 11th December 2015 Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Saturday, 12th December 2015 Anu Bar, Canberra
Sunday, 13th December 2015 Manning Bar, Sydney
Tuesday, 15th December 2015 The Tivoli, Brisbane

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Shane: G’day Joe. How you doing today, man?

Joe: Hey man. I’m well, how are you?

Shane: I am very well. Where are you at today?

Joe: Today I’m home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Shane: Nice one. We’re in sunny Perth, Western Australia, and we have a bone to pick with you. Why is your Australian tour not coming all the way out west?

Joe: Right, that’s the question I have too. That’s the one city that I’ve heard only great things about. I don’t know why. We’ve already bugged our booking agent. We’re like, ‘why, where’s Perth, man? We’re already out there. We got to do it.’

Shane: Yeah, we would have loved to see you, we really would. Australia’s been waiting for you for ages – it’s taken ages for you to get down here.

Joe: Yeah, we’ve just never been. I don’t know why. I’m just excited to finally get a chance. Australia’s on my bucket list of places to go in the world, so I’m looking forward to December for sure.

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Shane: When you tour like this, do you get much time to actually see the place and meet the people?

Joe: Well, sometimes – it depends on the run, you know. On our European tour, we’ve been there ten to twelve times now, and every time it’s a little bit of a different schedule. Maybe we’ll have a day off in a city we’ve never been to before. Every time we have a day off, we hit the towns and try to check out whatever’s there, and find a good rock n’ roll bar or something, a place for dinner. We get some time, it’s just, sometimes.

Shane: Fair enough man, fair enough. Work’s work, hey, you got to fit it all around that.

Joe: Yeah.

Shane: The new album, Into The Wild Life: it really sounds vibrant and immediate. I’ve read that that’s because you guys did most of the backing tracks together.

Joe: Yeah. Some of them took forty takes, but we did do it all live together in the same room. It was a blast – you can hear it, it’s there.

Shane: Did you do all the pre-production before you went in the studio so you were really tight and could nail the songs straight off?

Joe: Not really, no. We did a little bit of rehearsal a few weeks out before we went in there, and that was about it. When we got in there, Jay [Joyce, producer] – we started playing through the songs and getting comfortable with the studio, and every single song, we had learned it one way, and he’d be like, in the middle of the song, ‘all right, cool guys, now write a riff right there. You got to do something right there.’ We were like, ‘okay.’ We’d just screw it all up, or change chords, or we’d be playing live and all the sudden you’d hear organs come in, or some keyboards, and he’d be over there jamming with us. We’ve been playing together for a long time. It’s pretty easy once we grab a hold of an idea for a song, we can really start digging into it. [We weren’t] too worried about being too prepared.

I kind of like hearing that on the record. Some of the riffs and the bridges and stuff, what you hear on the record is us playing it for the first time. You can hear the hesitation, you know, and it’s kind of cool. It’s like an old Neil Young record or something. Cool classic rock records, where you can hear the people in the room, and the room breathing, and the tension in the air, you know.

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Photo by the awesome @_Mz_Hyde_

Shane: That’s awesome. That sounds like a really, really vibrant & creative atmosphere to work in, too.

Joe: Totally. Jay has such a good vibe. He bought an old church – and took all the pews out, obviously – left some of the stuff there, but it’s not like a studio. He’s not on the other of glass. The mixing board, the console and everything, it’s just in the room. We’re all in the room. There’s no big doors to go through. He’s got cool lighting everywhere, and it was awesome. After a day or two, we were in the studio, and we were having a really good time making music and laughing, fucking A.

Shane: Fantastic. Being in a band with a brother and sister [drummer Arejay and singer/guitarist Lzzy Hale] must present its own challenges. Is there much sibling rivalry between them?

Joe: Honestly not really. I mean, these Hale kids are so nice. They come from a good family, good stock. Like, Lzzy’s the biggest sweetheart in the world. That Ms Hyde song is really true. She becomes this monster on stage, with such a huge voice, and off stage she’s truly smiley, and one of the nicest people in the world. You know, it’s easy, we have such an easy time touring – that’s why we do it so much. We’re doing what we love with our best friends, [and] we’re all such good friends. We get to travel the world and play rock and roll. They’re my best friends: life is good.

Shane: They’re not behind you holding a baseball bat right now, are they?

Joe: Send help!!! [jokingly] No, they’re not. [laughs]

Halestorm - Joe Hottinger 02

Shane: I guess there’s a lot of pressure on Lzzy, because she’s a pretty girl and she’s the frontwoman and everything. The band’s [also] named after her and her brother. Do fans get a bit obsessive and focus a bit on her to the detriment of the rest of you guys at times?

Joe: I don’t know if [it’s] in detriment. Absolutely, she’s obviously a source of attention. I don’t know what I’m trying to say here… People definitely get a little more obsessed with her. The shit people say to her online and say about her is pretty awesome at times, and a pain at other times, you know? That doesn’t bother me. I don’t think that bothers anyone in the band, it’s not really a thing. She’s a front person, you know. The front people are kind of the spokesmen, spokeswomen of the band, so it’s expected in my book.

Shane: Do you guys all feel very protective and brotherly of her?

Joe: Absolutely. We’re her security team. We guard her back. We’re good about that, I’d say. Good at… we keep an eye on her all the time. There have been some really crazy letters and stuff that she’s gotten that aren’t cool. We have an eye on her all the time.

Shane: It’s a crazy world.

Joe: Sure is, and there’s some really nutty people in it.

Shane: You bet.

Joe: You know, but whatever. It’s part of the business. We keep an eye on her.

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Shane: The music industry nowadays is a hard and dirty street fight of a place to start out in. Halestorm have really gone from strength to strength in the last few years. What do you think it is about the band that’s made you successful when so many others are struggling?

Joe: Really at the end of the day, we got signed because of our live show, and we work really, really hard to make sure our live show is really well done. I don’t know, it doesn’t hurt that we have a pretty girl who is probably one of the best singers in rock and roll right now, in my opinion! Arejay, the drummer, is just, he’s like a front person behind the kit. Wait ‘til you see him live. It’s really something to behold because there’s nobody playing drums like him out in the world, either. I would say it’s a combination of all that sort of stuff, you know?

Shane: Awesome.

Joe: Just working hard, and being lucky, and having genuine talent.

Shane: I really loved and respect that you guys are flying the flag for the rock album. A lot of people don’t know whether to just release individual songs or EPs, or digital versus physical and everything. You guys, you’re doing it right, you know? You go, there’s your album. A couple singles off the album. Bam, bam, bam, you know?

Joe: I appreciate that, thanks – I’m glad that you noticed. We try to do it, kind of the old way. I don’t know if it’s the old way. It was fun to make an actual album where songs are connected and it’s kind of a… you know what I’m saying? It’s kind of an album. It’s not just a collection of songs.

Shane: Exactly. Listen to it from start to finish, Godammit, don’t just download two songs off iTunes. Mate, I grew up with The Album, you know? I’m an album guy. Always have been, always will be. I like holding the thing and looking at the cover and the whole deal

Joe: That’s fantastic. Somebody appreciates it still! Good to hear that. [And] you have something to roll things on. Life is good.

Shane: Living this bigger than reality rockstar life, is it exhausting at times?

Joe: Oh, absolutely, yeah. What you’re saying, that rock star life or whatever, to me all that means now is that we fly around a lot. We’re still jetlagged – we just got back from Europe. We’re home, we’re all jet lagged and waking up at 7 am, and staying up late trying to break it. It wears on you, but tired is just tired. I’ll be able to sleep that off in the next few days – I don’t get too worried about it. We’ve been tested, when we toured South America before, doing four shows in a row, flying every single night after the show. By the third or fourth day, you’re starting to see stuff, but every time you get on stage the adrenaline kicks in, and it’s a great time. Then you crash really hard after.

Shane: You’ve toured with some amazing acts, as well, not to mention doing the last live show supporting Ronnie James Dio before he passed away. Now that you’re graduating up to headline shows, is there a tinge of disappointment that you won’t get to pick a few more bands off your, ‘I wish we could support them,’ list?

Joe: To me, I like being able to see bands at festivals. We just did all these European festivals. We’ve known the drummer from Offspring for a while, but we’ve never met the other guys. Noodles came over and watched our set. We’re getting to meet these people, but it’s in different circumstances. I know what you’re saying, a full tour is really where it’s at when it comes to hanging out with bands and meeting people. I mean, there’s still a few out there that we’ve yet to experience yet. We haven’t met The Foo Fighters, and we haven’t met Metallica.

Halestorm 02

Shane: There’s the wish list!

Joe: We’ll get there!

Shane: I’ve just got one hypothetical question to finish up. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording of any one record in history, which one would you choose?

Joe: Any one record? Man, I would probably… I got to say my favourite record of all time really is Wildflowers by Tom Petty.

Shane: Wow, that’s a good one.

Joe: From what I understand it was supposed to be a double record. Yeah, it is [good]! I still can’t give it up. Years later, I still listen to it all the time. Sonically, one of my favourite sounding records. I love Tom Petty, but those songs are him at his peak. I’d go check that out, and watch the band vibing and recording that stuff. Sounds so organic and good.

Shane: Excellent. I was expecting Metallica or Motley Crue or something, so that’s a really good answer. Something a bit different – I like that.

Joe: Yeah. It’s one of those records that’s stuck with me.

Shane: Awesome man. Thanks for your time today. Good luck on the tour. Even though you’re hating on west Australia, we still love you.

Joe: I’m so sorry!

Shane: Next time brother. Next time.

Joe: Thank you dude. Talk to you soon.

Category: Interviews

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