An Interview With Halestorm’s Joe Hottinger At Download 2019: “We’re not a big production band, we like to make our moments through the music”

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Halestorm 2018 Band Promo Photo

The world of Halestorm is a pretty great place right now. Having witnessed their rather triumphant Zippo Stage headline set on the Saturday of Download 2019, we were very pleased to be able to catch up with Halestorm guitarist Joe Hottinger the next day to discuss their Download performance, forthcoming tours, the ten year anniversary of their self-titled album and much more.

This is Jamie from Rock Sins and I’m here with Joe from Halestorm. First of all, congratulations on a huge performance last night (headlining the Zippo Stage), what did you guys think?

Joe Hottinger: Oh man, we had SO much fun. There were so many people….it was crazy. It was just great.

Halestorm have been coming here and playing here for almost ten years now as Lzzy said on stage. You’ve probably played every stage at the festival from the smallest tent, to the main stage three years ago and now headlining the Zippo Stage, everytime you come back it gets bigger.

Joe: Man, it really is just crazy, and its true for all the shows here in the UK, not just Download, more and more people just keep coming to the shows, its amazing.

Do you think it took off for you guys here in the UK here before it did anywhere else or do you think it was on a par with the US?

Joe: I think it was on a par, but now the UK might be starting to pass up the States a little bit in terms of people “getting it”, but we’ve been lucky you know, ever since we started. Our line *draws a graph with his hands* has never been flat, we’ve always been at least a touch up. When you’ve been like that, you look back after a few years and it’s like “whoa, you know we have come a long way”. We’re only doing what we’ve always done, what we like to do, which is play rock shows and it’s so neat to see that it’s still growing.

Obviously talking of things growing in the UK, Halestorm has its first arena headline tour here in November!

Joe: Wooooooo! How about that *laughs*… its what it’s all about.

You’ve got some great bands coming with you too….

Joe: Oh man, In This Moment and New Years Day, we did that tour around the US last year and it was just killer. I know In This Moment has a new record coming out with some really cool surprises on it that we’ve heard *laughs*. Their stage show is just next level, they’ve really turned it up and its just awesome. The same thing with New Years Day, this isn’t their first record but it’s their first real push record, it sounds killer and Ash is just a rock star. I just hope people want to come out.

Are you guys going to have to try and compete with In This Moment on the production side of things, or is that not your style?

Joe: Yeahhhh… *laughs*, we’re not a big production band, we like to make our moments through the music. That’s always been our focus and goal. That having been said we’re going to have great production, but I don’t think anyone could compete with In This Moment for production, it’s not a competition, we do totally different things. Some people are just like, oh females and rock, there’s so much more depth to it than that. You have the theatrics and the heaviness of Maria and In This Moment, then Ash has this punk rock vibe to her and then Lzzy is Lzzy fuckin’ Hale! She’s the full mama of rock n’roll at the moment. It’s totally different corners of the hard rock spectrum. I love that it’s been represented by all these awesome women.

I’m guessing this is something that you guys will have heard at some stage over the last few weeks and months, that last night Lzzy was the first female singer to headline a stage at Download.

Joe: You know I only actually heard that in the last interview I did. I think it’s really cool, but also kinda crazy. I can’t believe that…it really does seem unbelievable, the first of many hopefully.

I wanted to ask about some of your gear if that’s OK; The last time I saw Halestorm live was on the tour you did with Nothing More and Wilson and I don’t think you had the Union Jack guitar on that run, is it a new addition?

Joe: You know, I’m not sure which tour I got that guitar on. It was a couple years ago. I leave it here anyway for all our UK shows so it’s a fun way to get a cheap cheer, a cheap pop as they say in wrestling. The guitar is actually really killer and I’ve always loved Oasis, so when I saw it I was like…I..really have to get that.

Turning back to Vicious, I know you’ve said in other interviews that you had a bit of a fight to get The Silence on the album, which seems slightly mindblowing as it’s an amazing song and the reaction it got last night was huge. You can see how much you guys love doing it, so it just seems a slightly odd one that some people weren’t sold on.

Joe: What can I say, we’re always fighting the good fight. When you work with a label like we do, you’re partners with them and you work hand in hand with them, sometimes you disagree, and that’s OK, it happens. I’m glad it’s on there because it should have been *smiles*. The record had 11 songs and with Vicious, it just didn’t feel like an ending. So we got to put The Silence on it. We’ve got so many songs like that in the bank that I hope will come out one day.

So there’s a few more festivals over the next couple of weeks and then you’re back home for the tour with Alice..

Joe: Yeah…a co-headline tour with Alice Cooper! Not too many bands get to say that, it’s so cool. Alice and his band are some of my favourite humans on the planet. We’re really good buddies with some of those guys. It’s going to be like one huge Summer vacation getting to watch Alice every night. We’re going to play some really cool venues…there’s nothing like getting to travel round the world doing what you love with the people that you love.

You’ve got the ten year anniversary of the self-titled album approaching which you’ve talked about celebrating in some fashion or other, is there anything more you can tell us?

Joe: It’s coming together slowly, literally I used to take tons of pictures which I really need to start doing again. That period of 06 to 08 when we were putting that album together, right after we got signed when we were jumping all those hurdles making the first album. I found the hard drive and I have like all these old hard drives and old laptops, this hard drive had like a firewire 400 and I had to remember what it was, it was like how do I connect this to something these days? I had to find an old laptop that had an adapter that fit into it and I was able to get 11000 pictures off of it. But the computer was too slow to look at them! So I had to find a hard drive that went into that computer that could also go into another computer, It was an all day transfer job. So Lzzy and I went through every single picture and picked out a few hundred and it was SUCH a trip! So many “oh my god do you remember this” moments. It was so awesome. We also had like 50 or 60 demos between ones we had made and songs Lzzy had written with other people that didn’t make the record that we went through. It’s going to be really cool. It’s going to tell the story of how and why that record turned out the way it did.

One last thing, we’ve already discussed the tour here and the tour with Alice Cooper in the US, is that as far as your schedule is booked up at the moment?

Joe: We leave from the November tour here to go to Japan and Australia and I think something else, and then that’s it for the year. Then we kick off next year with the Shiprocked Cruise next February.

Ah yeah you guys and Alter Bridge are headlining that together aren’t you?

Joe: Yep, and Black Stone (Cherry) are on there too, we’re getting the gang back together again, there’s a whole load of killer bands on there. What could go wrong?! *laughs*, five days on a boat full of rock with our good buddies!

Halestorm are currently in the middle of their US tour with Alice Cooper. A full list of shows can be found on the Halestorm official website. Halestorm return to the UK in late November for their first UK headline arena tour with In This Moment and New Years Day. A reminder of the dates can be found below:

Sunday November 24th – Glasgow – SSE Hydro
Monday November 25th – Nottingham – Motorpoint Arena
Wednesday November 27th – Cardiff – Motorpoint Arena
Thursday November 28th – London – Alexandra Palace

Tickets are still on sale for the dates. For those who still need tickets, you can grab them right here.