An Exclusive Interview With Halestorm’s Arejay Hale & Josh Smith from Download 2012

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Halestorm
Halestorm

In the second of our exclusive interviews that was recorded on site at Donington Park during the Download Festival 2012, Jamie was lucky enough to catch up with one of the hottest and fastest rising bands to come out of the US in the last couple of years, Pennsylvania natives Halestorm. Rocksins were able to have a good long chat with Halestorm’s rhythm section, bassist Josh Smith and band co-founder and drummer Arejay Hale. Read on to see them discuss performing in the UK, their music being on Glee, and lots of other things too…

Rocksins: Well we’ll try not to keep you guys for too long as I’m sure you’ve got plenty of these (interviews) to do..

Arejay: Oh man, our guitar players are off doing Guitar World magazine or something and they’ll start talking about gear and set ups and stuff, trust me we’ve got ages!

Rocksins: Is this your first time here at Donington or were you guys here a couple of years ago?

Arejay: This is our second time. We were here back in 2010, we played the third stage back then.
Rocksins: So you guys are moving up in the world stage wise then.
Arejay: Yeah, one stage ladder rung at a time!

Rocksins: So you guys were in London playing with Slash a couple of nights ago right?

Josh: Yeah we were playing in Hammersmith at the Apollo on Wednesday night and we actually have another show with him on Sunday night in Amsterdam. That was a good show, it’d be fun to do a full tour (together).
Rocksins: I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Slash but I’ve met Myles before and he’s a good guy.
Arejay: Oh man, he’s a sweetheart! And Slash was super cool to us!
Josh: His entire band, they’re just talented and fucking kick ass. They’re such a tight band.
Arejay: And the crew too, they took such good care of us! It was refreshing and really cool.

Rocksins: I’m not sure if this is the same in the US but here in the UK, since the turn of the year with your new album the level of recognition for the band seems to have gone through the roof…

Arejay: We’ve been very fortunate over here to have people push us, we’re getting something started. It’s kinda a dream of ours to be able to come over here. We never saw ourselves as being able to get that opportunity, so it’s basically a dream come true.

Rocksins: I’m guessing you guys will get this all the time but the first time I heard Halestorm I didn’t actually know it was you (because of Glee). A lot of people seem to have discovered you guys through “Here’s To Us” being on that show and then have gone onto to listen to you and enjoyed your music.

Arejay: That helped us A LOT.
Rocksins: It must have been tremendous exposure.
Arejay: What more could you ask for? I mean what is there…three…billion people watching that show?! Hearing someone else sing it in a much more pop sense was a little weird.
Rocksins: How did it (the Glee opportunity) come about?
Josh: I don’t really know! Our A&R guy took the song and handed it to somebody at Atlantic Records in house and said pitch this to some people.
Arejay: They (the Glee people) actually ended up getting in touch with us.
Josh: They got in touch and said they wanted to use it and could we record a clean version.
Arejay: That song has three major words that can’t be said on television.
Josh: Yeah *laughs*.
Arejay: So when they said “hey yeah we want you to have one of your songs on Glee” it was “well let me think about it…..OK!”.
Josh: It definitely opened up some new doors for us. It was a good wrench in the works. The album and everything was supposed to come out in about a month or so and then that had everyone scrambling to get something out so it wasn’t just this surprise fluke.
Rocksins: So that’s what led to the E.P coming out before the album?
Josh: Yeah, they wanted to have a little bit of traction off of the Glee thing to get the residual effect. So we did the E.P and a couple of videos, one for Here’s To Us and….
Arejay: What was the other video we did?
Josh: Ummm…Oh Love Bites! So we got those kicking into gear and and yeah it was a good wrench.
Arejay: We were watching the charts on iTunes and it was the most triumphant moment ever when we beat Adele! For five minutes!
Rocksins: Awesome!
Arejay: She was number one and we were number two, and then we were number three, then number two, then all of sudden we were number one! Annnnddd then we were number two again.
Josh: If you blinked you missed it *laughs*
Rocksins: You still did it though!
Josh: Yep we did!
Arejay: We can take it to the grave! The fact we beat Adele for five minutes.

Rocksins: Is it correct that you guys got to number one on some form of airplay chart in the US where there had never been a female fronted rock band at number one before?

Josh: Yeah, in the active rock genre of radio. I guess prior to us there hadn’t been one!
Rocksins: That’s pretty interesting because there’s been some other really big bands who’d fit that..
Josh: Evanescence! That’s what we said, we couldn’t believe it. But apparently they only hit number three.
Arejay: It was pretty crazy, and news to us! Good news!

Rocksins: You guys have toured here a few times now, how was The Taste Of Chaos tour you did a couple of years ago with Disturbed and Papa Roach?
Arejay: And Buckcherry!

Josh: Awww man…
Arejay: SO much fun! We got to play Wembley Arena so that’s been checked off The Bucket List. That’s pretty cool. Then we just came over with Shinedown this past February and did a bunch of Theatres. We did like nine shows here in England all over the place and that was a blast too. People were really receptive to us and it’s pretty humbling for us, for a country like the UK to accept us being from across the pond, it’s like thank you for having us in your country and treating us with open arms and people have been saying thank you for coming over to see us, and we’re like “hell we’re just glad to be here! Thank you for coming to the shows!”. It’s very cool.

Rocksins: Apart from your trip to Amsterdam with Slash are you doing any other festivals while you’re over?

Josh: This is it! Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park and (Download) are it this time. We fly home on Monday.
Arejay: It’s a shame about Sonisphere.
Rocksins: Yeah it really is.
Arejay: That sucks!
Rocksins: Well the competition between Sonisphere & Download has been pretty big and after last year, with it being Download’s tenth anniversary they obviously wanted to come back strong.
Arejay: And they kicked their ass *laughs*. Well we’re very happy that this year we’re here and not playing Sonisphere *laughs*, or not not playing Sonisphere.

Rocksins: Are you doing one of the touring US festivals this Summer like Mayhem or Uproar?

Josh: We’re doing Carnival Of Madness, the Monster (energy) sponsored one.
Arejay: With Evanescence and Chevelle….and who else is on that?
Josh: New Medicine and Cavo, two new really great bands.
Arejay: We’re going to be right in the middle, three of five. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Rocksins: What will that work out to, a 40/45 minute set?
Arejay: Maybe 45? Somewhere around that.

Rocksins: Are you looking forward to returning to the UK in September for your headline tour?

Josh: Absolutely, we’re freakin’ out! We get pre-updates on the ticket sales and a couple of the venues have already been upgraded and a few look like they’re gonna sell out so it’s just incredible for our first headline run over here.
Rocksins: We’ll be at the show in London, got our tickets already.
Arejay: Awesome, well you better come hang out!

Rocksins: The album (The Strange Case Of) has been out for a little while now but seems to have received some fantastic press, are the band happy with the reaction and the feedback to it?

Josh: We’re really happy with this record. We had a great time making it and we really wanted to raise the bar from our last album and I don’t think it’s that difficult to do so. We’re out here playing these songs and we’re having fun doing it, so much so that most of our set is new material.
Arejay: Usually that doesn’t work good for bands.
Josh: Usually you gotta play all your old hits, I mean not that we have that many, we have twelve songs people…may know *laughs*. So it’s nice to be able to expand and it’s nice that people are accepting it so widely.

Rocksins: Your first album seems to be very difficult to get in the UK. Obviously you can download it on iTunes but if you want an actual CD it seems very hard to find.

Arejay: It’s tough because we had our inventory in the States for two years before we even got over here. So we pretty much only had a year if that left on our first album cycle so it was pretty much here and gone pretty quick to make room for the new one. We’re just thankful that the new one got so much of a great response. It’s already building a lot of traction over here. Even in the States when the record came out we weren’t on tour, we took like four months off. Well, we had a month off, then we did the Shinedown tour over here, then we had like another two months off and it was pretty shocking to see that it sold so well for us not being on the road. It’s the same thing with over here, we weren’t over here when it came out so it was pretty cool.

Rocksins: If someone told you two years ago how well things were going to go for you would you have believed them? Obviously you’d hope they’d be right but it’s all blown up pretty fast…

Josh: Absolutely, we’re just so happy that people don’t forget about us. Even when we were recording the record we had a couple of fly dates in really random places and we were like “well who’s gonna come out to this?! This is rediculous”. But they were incredible shows I mean….just thank you for not forgetting about us and thanks for helping us to keep up this momentum and we just want to keep it going.

Rocksins: Awesome guys. One last quick question which we ask everyone, are you guys Simpsons fans, and if so, who’s your favourite character?

Josh: Oh my god yeah.
Arejay: Totally. Hmmm, considering that I stole his hair, probably Sideshow Bob *laughs*. Big fan of Sideshow Bob.
Josh: Who do I like….well, my last name is Smith…
Arejay: And you like Flanders?
Josh: …I always used to have people call me Smithers.
Arejay: *laughs hysterically* Oh man that’s gonna be your nickname now.
Josh: A couple of friends in middle school always used to call me Smithers.
Arejay: Spread the word! Come out and see Smithers when we’re doing the headline tour. Smithers and Sideshow Bob!

Halestorm return to the UK in late September for a headline tour. Support on the tour will come from Heavens Basement & Zico Chain. Tickets for all dates except the Newcastle show on the tour have sold out. Halestorm’s smash hit album The Strange Case Of… is out now in the UK on Roadrunner Records (go here for a review). Please stay tuned to Rocksins for more rock & metal interview exclusives including further interviews from Download 2012 in the weeks to come.

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