Six years ago, Halestorm drove a motor home to Las Vegas. The Pennsylvania-based band was the opener on a four-band bill headlined by Seether and Shinedown. Today, the band has a chart-topping hit single, is headlining the Jagermeister Music Tour and is getting coverage usually reserved for bands with more than two albums on the market.
“We’re just doing what we always do,” guitarist Joe Hottinger says from Houston, where the band played the second stop on the Jagermeister tour. Hottinger and bandmates Lzzy Hale, Josh Smith and Arejay Hale will open for Alice Cooper for two shows including a stop at the Toyota Center in Kennewick on Tuesday.
Siblings Lzzy and Arejay were joined by Hottinger and Smith before signing to Atlantic Records in 2005. Near-constant touring, two full-length albums, two live EPs and a five-song set of covers followed over the next few years. Halestorm’s “Love Bites (So Do I)” was the first song by a female-fronted band to hit No. 1 on the Active Rock Airplay Chart, and “I Miss the Misery,” the current single from “The Strange Case of ...” is following a similar trail.
“It’s more than just a radio song,” Hottinger says of “I Miss the Misery.” “There’s more guitar in the live show. There’s an electricity that comes with it. We’re giving all this energy and getting it right back.”
Much of that energy comes from frontwoman Lzzy. Her vocals have been favorably compared to Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee (the two shared a song during the Carnival of Madness Tour), and she’s all Joan Jett when it comes to attitude.
“Lzzy’s a badass,” Hottinger says of his bandmate, who recently grabbed the cover of Revolver magazine’s “Hottest Chicks in Metal” issue. But Halestorm isn’t exactly a metal band.
“We keep it pretty simple. We’re not breaking any new ground, which is refreshing in a way. People appreciate a real rock ’n’ roll show.”
Good, old-school rock ’n’ roll is what you should expect from Halestorm, even if the show is bigger than it was back in 2006. Hottinger has high praise for his bandmates and the crew who accompanies them — but doesn’t miss the RV they used to tour in.
“Luckily we’ve moved on from the RV,” he says. “It got a bit moldy.”
What’s not moldy are the crowds Hottinger is seeing around the world. Before opening their newest tour to a sold-out crowd in Mobile, Ala., Halestorm gigged in Europe and will return there next spring.
“I’m blown away every night,” Hottinger says.
While the crowds are more impressive every show, the list of bands Halestorm has played with is a hall of fame of hard rock. Megadeth, Stone Sour, Godsmack, Shinedown, Seether, Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed have all shared the bill with Halestorm. Hottinger said they learn from everyone they play with, the good and the bad.
“There’s a reason for the success they’ve had,” Hottinger says of the bands they’ve toured with. “Beyond being incredible musicians, they’re genuinely nice people. You do meet some of the biggest jerks, too. The ones who think the world revolves around them. Those are the ‘rock stars.’ It doesn’t work. This is such a small industry. Word gets around fast. At the same time, you have to build a network. We’re lucky to have a great team, a great label and great management.”
That anti-rock star approach fits with the old-school mentality of the band. They can still be starstruck. When the band was recording their self-titled debut, they met Alice Cooper.
“Lzzy is a huge Alice Cooper fan. She knows all the lyrics,” Hottinger says.
One day, the band was in a store in L.A. looking at movies. Cooper walked in with his daughter Olivia, whom the band had met during previous shows.
“Lzzy had this pill container on her keychain that had earplugs in it. Alice asked what she had in there but it was just the earplugs. He was hoping she had some antacids.”
Lzzy’s mom, Beth, was with them. Her husband worked at the factory that manufactured Pepcid and she had some with her.
“So she gave him some Pepcid. It was ‘straight from the factory,’” Hottinger says, laughing. “So we gave drugs to Alice Cooper, but not in the way you’d think.”
The band is young enough to still be making memories. More importantly, they’ll have years ahead of them to continue to do what they love.
“We’re just going to keep playing music, playing rock ’n’ roll,” Hottinger says. “We’ve been busting our asses for a long time. Thankfully, none of us really have any responsibility right now. We’re having as much fun as possible.”