Latest release: Vicious (Warner)Website: www.halestormrocks.com
Pennsylvanian rockers Halestorm have built a reputation for being one of the hardest working bands on the modern rock circuit, playing upwards of 250 shows a year, issuing a constant stream of releases that include three EPs of covers and several live recordings and winning a Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance along the way. As the band prepare for the release of their fourth album Vicious, LOUD took the opportunity to have a chat with Halestorm’s bass player Josh Smith.
Looking over your body of work so far, and the length of time the band has existed, you’ve recorded a lot of material but Vicious is only Halestorm’s fourth full-length album.
When we go out and tour on these albums, we really go out! We tour for a long time and these EPs are placeholders for us really. It’s a way for us to keep getting music out. It’s efficient, it’s something that happens quickly, but at the same time they’re great learning tools for us. The covers EPs, we gotta shred those songs down and figure out how they tick and what makes them successful and in doing so, when you do a cover, you want to do it justice but you want to make it yours as well, and there’s a lot of be learned from that. So those happen quic. The studio albums, on the other hand, they’re a labour of love. They take a long time to come to fruition. Our first album came out in 2009, so there’s been a long gap in between, but there’s been a lot of good memories that we have in between each album.
Tour cycles certainly are long enough these days that some bands can be in danger of falling between the cracks if they don’t have something new out regularly. Halestorm looks to have that problem sorted out.
That’s certainly the purpose of those EPs, but we are fortunate enough to have Lzzy Hale. She gets featured on a lot of stuff because she’s one of the greatest singers of her time! I remember the time, I think it was 2012 or 2013, and I was at home the CMA Awards – the country music awards – and my wife and I are watching it because Lzzy’s going to be on performing with Eric Church. I remember thinking, ‘This is so cool. This is momentum’. She’s doing those kind of performances and appearances, working so hard. We all work hard… But we’re fortunate that she gets a lot of work for us in the off tour season and makes it count for us.
Does that make it easier on you personally that Lzzy is the one who attracts all the focus? Does it take some of the pressure off you at all?
I’m ok with the focus not being on me. But as far as taking the pressure off – I think no, I don’t think it does, in that we all want to be our best every night. When you’re sharing the stage with a talent like her, and a talent like her brother, and Joe [Hottinger], I want to bring it every night. I want to come off saying I had a great show… We had a great show. We always have these post-show meetings… before the show we make sure we’re all focused and ready and we’re all talking the same language, and then after it’s taking a pause before we go off and do whatever, where we can evaluate and see how we did and see what works and what we need to fix and adjust and make the next show better. The four of us still have that hunger. We’re our own toughest critics and we put that pressure on ourselves to be better. As far as spotlight stuff, I’m totally ok with being at the back. I don’t know if I’m going to do a bass solo anytime soon, but if I do, I’ll come out and play and I’ll have a good time because it’s the best job ever. Very thankful to be doing it.
It might be the best job ever, but it’s not the easiest is it?
No it isn’t – just ask my wife! It isn’t. It’s a lot of work. I really feel like every album, we’re burying more of ourselves and wearing our emotions on our sleeves more. It’s like peeling back the layers every album. The fans understand us a little more, and we understand them a little more. That in itself from an emotional side is huge. The effort, input and output, involved in making this machine move, we’re so lucky that it is still moving, and it’s moving faster to the point where we need more people to help. It’s crazy. It’s awesome to see. It’s like watching your child grow up. It is a commitment. It’s a marriage. It’s really like a marriage.
Speaking of children, you have a new one now, so to speak. What are your thoughts on the Vicious now that you’ve had some time to listen to it?
[Laughs] Here’s what I do. I put it on, and if my one year old starts dancing [laughs], it’s a good song! So I put it on and he starts dancing and I’m like ‘Cool, we got a good song here. We got a good album!’
Well, it’s the kids you’ve got to convince. They’re the ones who are going to be buying music. They’re the ones who need to be educated about what to listen to!
Exactly. You’ve gotta school them on rock! ‘Listen up! I know there’s a lot of other stuff being pushed into your ears. But take the time! It’s worth it!’
Cool. And so I guess it’s back to touring for you and Halestorm now?
Our first tour is the day of the album launch in Kansas City, July 27. It’s wheels up, here we go! When we land, nobody knows. Probably two years from now!