Lzzy Hale and her percussionist kid brother Arejay weren't always the molten metalheads they are today in the group Halestorm, swears vocalist/guitarist Hale, one of the most feral females in modern rock. No, as teenagers the Red Lion, Penn. siblings released their very first EP, Don't Mess With the Time Man, in a much less menacing genre.
"Do you remember a band called Vanilla Fudge?" Hale asks. "It was kind of like that meets '90s pop music. Especially considering that my main instruments at the time were piano, an old Fender Rhodes, and keytar. We wore our influences on our sleeve back in the day. We still do."
In retrospect, Hale chuckles at the record's over-ambitious themes. "The concept of the Time Man was funny, because it was inspired by a dream I had about this guy that makes you feel guilty for all of your past mistakes, but he lived in an elevator. So that proved one important thing to me — that you can pretty much write a song about anything."
On the band's recent sophomore set, The Strange Case of ..., Hale snarls Gothic-shadowed powerchorders like "Mz. Hyde" and "Daughters of Darkness," replete with the spooky imagery that's been heavy metal's calling card since vintage Iron Maiden. But where she really excels is snarky tongue-in-cheek tracks like "Love Bites (So Do I)" and "You Call Me a Bitch Like It's a Bad Thing," which turn the AC/DC double-entendre-shtick on its sexist ear.
"And I'm proud of that!" boasts Hale. "So in a lot of ways, I was definitely meant to do this. And if I wasn't meant to do this, well, I'm not that great at anything else. So it better work out, right?"
So far, so good. Especially at a time when there just aren't that many women playing heavy metal.
"And the ones that are? You can't tell if they're a girl or a guy most times!" Hale says. "So I dunno — I think it's a couple of things. There's only a handful of any type of girl in music per generation. It's hard for us to really make a name for ourselves. And also, girls are not encouraged to do that — to lead this type of lifestyle that's unpredictable and a little dangerous at times. Guys grow up and are encouraged to do whatever, because they're guys, while girls are encouraged to marry their high school sweetheart, have kids by a certain age, and get the house with the white picket fence. It takes guts to carve out your own path."
Fortunately, the Hales' parents were diehard rockers. Their dad was a bass player, and their mom forced them to watch music flicks like Help!, A Hard Day's Night, and even This Is Spinal Tap as toddlers. "So we definitely caught the bug early," says Hale. "But it wasn't until I was 13 that I decided 'Hey, I think I can actually do this!'"
Enter Time Man, copies of which now go for a premium price on eBay, notes Hale. "It's definitely still out there, floating around somewhere," she says of her cheesy debut. "And I know my mom still has a coupla copies salted away. You can always ask her for one!"