Halestorm's Lzzy Hale picks 10 essential rock albums
Halestorm fans pining away for the follow-up to the band's Grammy-winning 2012 album, The Strange Case Of... will have to wait just a little longer. As guitarist and singer Lzzy Hale reports, the band is currently in the "pre-production" stages of their third record.
“Right now, we're trying to whittle down the songs we've got to try to figure out which ones we definitely should record," Hale says. "That can be one of the most challenging and frustrating parts of making an album, really. When you've got so much stuff that you're excited about, it's a little hard to let anything go. But we know that we don't want to make a double album, so we have to see what's going to fit and what won't."
As of this writing, Hale says that the group is in talks with noted country-rock producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage The Elephant) to man the board for the project. "Jay's became such a huge fan of the band," Hale says. "He came to see us live, and he’s got some crazy ideas about how to record us. In the best way possible, he’s a little cocky about what he wants to do. He’ll say, ‘I wanna be the first person to do this’ – whatever ‘this’ is. It's cool."
As for any new directions the band might take on the album, Hale says that "ideas about left turns and such usually occur to us while we're in there cutting. We tend to focus on that kind of thing when we're in the middle of things. But one thing we do want to do is the gap between what we do on record and what we’re like live – without making a live record." She laughs and then adds, "We just don’t want to overthink things or get too clever, and I’m definitely guilty on both counts in the past."
In the meantime, MusicRadar asked Hale to list and discuss her picks for 10 Essential Rock Albums.
Tom Petty – Wildflowers (1994)
“This is my desert island disc. I’ve been listening to this record pretty much my entire life. I could listen to it anytime, anywhere and forever. It’s especially great on long plane rides.I just tune out everything and lose myself in it.
“Tom Petty is truly one of our great songwriters. I love so much of his work, but this album really gets to me. Every time I hear it, I learn something new. I’ll pick out a nuance and go, ‘Oh, that’s so cool how he did that. I’ve gotta remember that...' I kind of use it as fodder for my own stuff. It’s a constant source of inspiration.”
Black Sabbath – Mob Rules (1981)
“I first fell in love with the cover – it’s so ominous and weird. But I can truly say that the cover got me to listen to the record. When was the last time that happened to someone, you know?
“The title track might be my favorite, but the whole record has so much energy to it. It feels like Ronnie James Dio and the Sabbath guys were inside one another’s heads almost. They were at the same point in their lives, I think. The music feels young and reckless, but it’s still Sabbath.
“The riffs are huge, the sound is massive – it’s a rager, man. You’d better not put this record on if you’re driving, ‘cause you’re sure to get a speeding ticket.”
Dio – Holy Diver (1983)
“I have my definite likes and influences, and Ronnie James Dio and Sabbath are way up there. We were asked to appear on a Dio tribute CD, actually, and we did a track off of Holy Diver, the song Straight Through The Heart. What a groove!
“This is the first Dio record I ever heard, even before Black Sabbath. Once I listened to Holy Diver, I walked through the door and checked it all out. There’s so many great songs on this record, and I think some of the deeper cuts are as good, if not better, than the singles.”
Judas Priest – Sin After Sin (1977)
“This is another record that we paid tribute to by doing one of the songs – Dissident Aggressor. I love British Steel, everybody loves British Steel – it’s a total breakout record for the band – but Rob Halford is using his voice differently on Sin After Sin. I connect with him more on this one.
“It’s a dark, deep record, not as pop as they would become by the end of the ‘70s and into the ‘80s. I just love the moodiness of it. There’s something very personal about it that speaks to me.”
Deep Purple – In Rock (1970)
“This would be my dad’s fault. He’s a huge Deep Purple fan. When I was 15, we had just started the band and were getting some gigs. Right around this time, I heard my dad playing the song Child In Time from In Rock, and it really made an impression on me.
“The song is something like 10 minutes long, but wow, it’s great. We even wrote one of our own songs that was sort of our version of Child In Time. Obviously, I didn’t have the voice to go that high back then – my chops weren’t developed – but I tried. Oh, how I tried. [Laughs]
“Every time I hear Child In Time, it takes me back to that era, when the band first started. It’s something that has always stayed with me. It’s like the beginning of my own dream.”
Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger (1991)
“This was my introduction to Soundgarden. My brother [Arejay] and I were in the beginning stages of Halestorm, and we tried to cover Outshined. I say ‘tried’ because I was just starting to learn how to play guitar. I’m sure that I wasn’t very good at the time, but I felt like a badass when I played it, so that’s all that mattered.
“Badmotorfinger is another record that brings me back. I remember being in my parents’ basement, listening to the album, trying to figure out what a drop-C tuning was, the whole thing. Chris Cornell really gives you something to reach for a singer. He’s so raw and powerful. His voice just throws you against the wall.”
The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (1995)
“It’s such a beautiful record; it seems to capture every mood possible. I’m constantly amazed at the sound of the record, the production. There’s so much to go through – it’s two whole CDs – but it never wears thin or feels repetitious.
“Billy Corgan has one of the most unique voices around. Nobody sounds like him – nobody should try to. I’m constantly at how he works his voice, especially when he gets a little screechy. He knows just where to find those sweet spots or money shots, how to work the dynamics.
“I came to this record a little late. I can be a little dated with my influences, and during the ‘90s I was obsessed with Deep Purple and Black Sabbath and a lot of my parents’ music. The Smashing Pumpkins, along with Soundgarden, kicked me into the ‘90s. We were playing this record the other day, actually, and we couldn’t believe how consistently strong it is. You can even hit shuffle and never hit a bad song.”
Alice Cooper – Love It To Death (1971)
“I love Alice Cooper. Two of my absolute favorite songs are on Love It To Death: Ballad Of Dwight Fry and I’m Eighteen. Both are so special in their own ways.
“There’s so much Alice Cooper to appreciate. I’m a huge fan of School’s Out and No More Mr. Nice Guy, but I remember falling in love with this record as a kid, trying to sing covers of it and just playing it over and over. I kind of wore it out at one point, and a friend gave me an Alice Cooper box set, which was just unbelievable.
"Alice is a big inspiration - an icon and a true multi-talent."
Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf (2002)
“Just put it on and rock. What’s great about this record is, they made it a total experience. It’s not one of those albums where you pick and choose the best cuts – they’re all best cuts.
“What also helps are the little interludes between the songs. You don’t want to stop listening when you hear those parts because they tie the whole record together. It’s what albums used to be like. I commend them for doing that.”
Stevie Nicks – Bella Donna (1981)
“I’m a big Fleetwood Mac fan, but for some reason I didn’t discover Bella Donna till a few years ago. It’s interesting: As a singer and songwriter who's part of a band, if I ever did something on my own, would it sound like Halestorm? I don’t think so.
“So Stevie is part of Fleetwood Mac, but she went off and made a record that doesn’t sound like them, but it’s not this weird, radical departure either. It sounds very conversational, actually; you get a real sense of what’s going on in her life and in her corner of the world.
“It’s interesting to listen to this record and get a woman’s perspective. Stevie could be vulnerable, but not always. She was in a band and wanted to be one of the dudes, but she was still a woman who wanted to be loved. The record draws you in and speaks to you on a lot of levels."