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Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale: Hard Rock ‘Has Nothing to Do With What’s Between Anybody’s Legs’

When Lzzy Hale and her band, Halestorm, were first nominated for a Grammy in 2013 — earning a Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance nod for their song “Love Bites” — the power singer found herself the only woman in a category full of dudes. (They won.) Not much seemed to have changed by 2019, when Halestorm scored their second Grammy nomination, for Best Rock Performance.

Now, however, Hale is leading a charge for women in heavy music. The group’s latest headlining tour of the U.S. featured a lineup of female-fronted bands, all of them handpicked by Hale, and her signature Gibson Explorerbird guitar has found its way into the hands of aspiring rockers of all ages. “The people at Gibson keep telling me the demographic that buys the most electric guitars right now are female,” says Hale, 39. “The wave is coming, whether anybody likes it or not.”

On the strength of the group’s fifth album, Back From the Dead, and its string of hits like “The Steeple,” “Wicked Ways,” and the title track, Halestorm are well-positioned to score their latest nomination and prove once and for all that hard rock is genderless.

The album Back From the Dead sounds like it was made for the stage, which is ironic considering it was recorded during a time when live concerts were nearly extinct.
We had no idea what the future held: “Is the record going to come out? Are the fans going to like it? Is the label going to like this song and think it’s a hit?” The silver lining of the future being unknown was we could be selfish and say that none of that matters right now. I feel like some of the heaviness of the record and the full-speed-ahead mentality came from that.

What we learned in that process is that’s the only way to do it, the right way and the most fulfilling way. This is a career now, and there’s a lot of people with their fingers in the pie and people talking in your ear and a lot of pressure outside of where you started. And I started in my parents’ living room, where you could do whatever you wanted.

“The Steeple” was a Number One rock song for Halestorm, and it just feels like a Grammy nominee. Why do you think it resonates with your fans?
A lot of people talk about the safe space and the unity of a rock show and that feeling you get. We were trying to re-create that sanctuary. That magic resonates with people, and they may not even know how to describe it. But you saying the words that they feel is a call to arms, a display of community.

“It stopped raining in my head today” is the opening line because of a time when we were in Nashville and I had the post-tour blues. We had three weeks off, and I was bummed for no reason. [Halestorm guitarist Joe Hottinger] suggested, “Hey, let’s go see a show.” We did, and I could feel the cloud lifting. It’s hard to explain, but that’s what we were trying to celebrate with “The Steeple.”

When Halestorm were first nominated for a Grammy, in 2013, you were the only woman in the category.
That’s true. And we were the new kids then, too. Not only was I the only female, but we were also the only new rock band. All these bands that were nominated with or against us were people we were influenced by. And that inspired us. We really had nothing prepared, because we were like, “Dude, we’re not going to win this.” It was a complete surprise when we did.

Then, there was this joke going around, because I know a bunch of the Megadeth guys and a couple of the other nominees, and they were all joking about how “Lzzy stole our Grammy.” I was in an interview with Eddie Trunk one time, on That Metal Show, and he had a couple of the losers of the Grammys as guests and he had me pop in [via video] just to make that comment. But if it wasn’t for those [bands], we probably wouldn’t have even written “Love Bites.”

You made it a mission to bring along only female-led bands, like the Warning, on Halestorm’s most recent tour. Why is that important to you?
It’s such a beautiful place, to be in a position where you can pass the torch. It seems not that long ago I was on the other side of that coin, hungry and fighting to get attention. The point of bringing these young women up and giving them a platform is: I am truly inspired. Watching Dany, lead guitarist for the Warning every night, I’m hungry again because of her. It comes full circle. The genre has nothing to do with what’s between anybody’s legs, but it’s important for us to talk about it because these young women are going to be able to see themselves reflected in one of us.

This story is part of Rolling Stone’s third annual Grammy Preview issue, released ahead of the start of first-round Grammy voting on Oct. 13th. We spoke to some of the year’s biggest artists about the albums and singles that could earn them a statue come February, made our best predictions for the nominees in the top categories, and more, providing a full guide to what to watch for in the lead-up to the 2023 awards. 

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