The four members of HALESTORM discussed their upcoming album, "Vicious", in an interview earlier today (Thursday, May 31) as part of the BUILD Series in New York City. The question-and-answer session, which was hosted by Huffington Post managing editor of culture Lauren Moraski, can be seen below. A couple of excerps follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On singer Lzzy Hale's previous comment that "Vicious" will be "the most HALESTORM" album that the band has ever released:
Lzzy: "In my opinion, this is gonna be the first record… And we always says this, we hope we get better as musicians as we go on, with each record. But this is gonna be the first record where you can really hear all four corners of HALESTORM and what makes us a band. And if any of you have ever seen us live, I think this is the closest to what you see when you see us live. In a lot of these records that we put out, 'Okay, we have a catchy song, and I sing on it,' and then that's about it. So there's so many different layers to this record that I'm so proud to show everybody."
On how they managed to transfer that live sensibility into the studio:
Joe Hottinger (guitar): "I think a lot of it had to do with working with Nick Raskulinecz, our producer. He's awesome. He's a big rock and roll fan. Like, we just played Nashville, and he came out, and he was out in the crowd just going nuts. He just loves it. And he didn't let us get away with not making great moments. He goes all the way with the recording. There's no 'fly it' — you've gotta perform every aspect of the song, which, these days, is becoming rare. People just, in Pro Tools, take it and, 'Oh, that chorus worked. Send it over to the next one.' And I think that helps a lot."
Lzzy: "Honestly, what we've realized over the years is that we're really bad liars, and if we're reading it or we're having to do it ten thousand times, there's always that one moment where you're just having so much fun making the music that you're performing, that you're recording, and that just shows through on this record. It was a lot of fun. And we did go extreme 'us,' and he kept us in that lane."
On how long it took to write and record "Vicious":
Josh Smith (bass): "It's been over a year. But we also did all of it — nearly all of it — at Nick's studio, from pre-produciton and writing the songs and shedding them and recording them as a demo and then recording them again with something tweaked. A lot of these songs were recorded three or four times before this."
On whether they entered the studio with all the songs written:
Lzzy: "No, not at all. That's usually the way that we do it — we'll have all the songs kind of ready, everybody approves them, and then we go in the studio for a month and we bang it out. And then we release it, and we're, like, 'Is it good? I don't know.' And this time, no. We didn't really know what direction we wanted to take ourselves in."
Joe: "We tried to do that way. What was it? Summer of 2016, that winter and fall, we wrote a bunch of songs and they were okay. They were really good — they would have done well on radio, and it would have been a good record — but it wasn't good enough. And we know, just as a band and as a genre, we've gotta figure out how to push us a little bit and do something a little different and a little more edgy. So we kind of went into the studio last January with Nick, and we were, like, 'We don't what to do, man. We wrote all this stuff, and we know it's fine, but we wanna be better than that.' And he was, like, 'All right. Cool. Let's just start with the five of us in a room, plug in and let's start playing. Show me what you've got.'"
Lzzy: "So it was like that. Everybody goes, 'Okay, who's got something? I have an idea. You've got a riff? What have you got?' And we'd just start and go down the rabbit hole. And it was a lot of hard work. And everyone on our team, nobody heard a note for a very long time, which was very frustrating for everybody. And then we ended up with this. And we're so proud of it, because we know that this is good and we know that it's very close to our hearts."
On HALESTORM's new single, "Uncomfortable":
Lzzy: "Lyrically, this is about being unapologetically yourself. It's something that we've kind of stood for and that I've talked with fans about a lot. Online, I have an amazing relationship with these people that are silly enough to follow us and follow me. In this day and age especially, you can't make everybody happy — you just can't — and I know that has been a personal struggle for me throughout my life. And so this song is just basically saying that's okay if you can't make everybody happy. Make yourself happy, be you, and be proud that just by being yourself, you're gonna make a lot of people uncomfortable."
Arejay Hale (drums): "This was kind of one of the very first batches of free-for-all jams in the studio — just kind of coming off tour. It seems like every time we go in the studio after touring, we kind of feel like just a pent-up pressure cooker just ready to go. It seems to be a pattern. With the last record, it was 'Mayhem'; with the record before that, it was 'Love Bites'. These songs, we were just like, 'We just wanna make something crazy and high energy and really fun to play and really fun to listen to — stuff that we would like.' And just by sheer luck, it ends up being the first single. Everybody else on the team was, like, 'Yeah, we like the energy of it. Let's do it.'"
On whether fans' criticism of the poppier sound of 2015's "Into The Wild Life" album influenced the musical direction of "Vicious":
Lzzy: "Yeah, absolutely. The great thing about albums, and we treat our entire career as… they are times in our life. And at the time that we were writing the last record, 'Into The Wild Life', I had a lot of songs that I was writing on piano at the time; it was just kind of our mood that we were in. Three out of the four of us had just moved to Nashville, so we got to know this producer, who we were his very first hard rock band. And so he was stoked, but it's, like, 'I don't know. What do we do?'"
Arejay: "The cool thing about Nick was that he had seen us so many times live and he kind of understood what we were all about. A lot of people say that: 'Wow, you guys sound so different live than on the record.' And he was kind of the producer that was, like, 'You know what? I'll bet that I could capture this on tape finally.' So that's why we say this is probably the most HALESTORM-sounding record to date."
Lzzy: "So we, basically, were, like, 'Okay. That was realy fun, and that was great. Now let's kick it up a notch.'"
"Vicious" will be released on July 27 via Atlantic.
The music video for "Uncomfortable", which was directed by Evan Brace (PHANTOGRAM, TAKING BACK SUNDAY), can be seen below.