After scoring two top 10 singles (“I Get Off” and “It’s Not You”) from their self-titled debut and touring steadily for two years with acts as diverse as Shinedown, Stone Sour, Disturbed, Megadeth, Papa Roach, Godsmack and countless others, Pennsylvania quartet Halestorm are back with their second full-length, The Strange Case of…. Musically diverse and emotionally revealing, the album resonates with a newfound poignancy that takes Halestorm to a new level of creative achievement.
“I was extremely proud of Halestorm when we released it, and I still love it, but I think I was using mostly one musical technique throughout,” explains frontwoman Lzzy Hale. “We were on ‘ten,’ and we blew through the songs in a safe way – or as safe as something that goes, ‘I get off on you getting off on me’ can be. This new record demonstrates more depth and heart. It’s a lot more expressive and really lets down the barriers.”
Halestorm started writing for the new record while they were on the road in 2010. Then when the band finished the Uproar Tour in May 2011, they entered the studio with producer Howard Benson (3 Doors Down, Seether, Three Days Grace) and tracked one of the heaviest songs of their career, “Love Bites (So Do I),” which went on to earn them a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance.
“At that time, I decided, ‘I’m going to scream my head off and make really gritty songs,’” Hale says. “When we finished ‘Love Bites,’ the engineer at Howard’s studio, Bay Seven, said, ‘I’m pretty sure that’s the fastest song we’ve ever done here.’”
Excited by the escalated tempos and raw energy, Hale returned to writing mode and bashed out more anthemic rockers filled with uncompromising rhythms, soaring vocals and searing leads. Then one night at 4 a.m., after enduring a personal setback, she wrote a bare, vulnerable sounding song and recorded it on her cell phone. Flooded by emotion and maybe a glass of wine too many, she immediately emailed the unpolished song to Benson and the band’s A&R man.
“The next morning I regretted having sent it because I didn’t hear back from them,” she says. “And then a day later they got back to me and went, ‘Oh, my God, we didn’t know you had this in you. Please write more songs like that.’”
Encouraged by the support and inspired by the urge to purge, Hale wrote more intimate numbers, including the sensitive piano ballad “Break In,” the sparse and melancholy “In Your Room” and the mid-paced ode “Beautiful With You.” She and her band mates also crafted heavier numbers, including “I Miss The Misery,” with its start-stop chorus rhythm and confrontational lyrics and “Rock Show,” which blazes with euphoric vocals and motivational riffs. That was when Halestorm realized the new collection of songs was somewhat schizophrenic. At first Hale was unsettled by the polarization, then she penned the song “Mz. Hyde” specifically about the two disparate sides of her personality and the album immediately swam into focus.
“When they heard that, the guys went, ‘Oh my God, you are Mz. Hyde!’” Hale says. “So suddenly this predicament with having this record that had a split personality was about having a split personality. Sometimes I need a shoulder to cry on, sometimes I need to wear a pair of jeans instead of fishnets. But I also like being powerful and being a leader and yelling, ‘Hello, Cleveland.’”