In a new interview with TellUs Rock, HALESTORM drummer Arejay Hale spoke about the progress of the songwriting and recording sessions for the band’s follow-up to 2022’s “Back From The Dead” album. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “We’re just kind of in the infant stages right now where we’re just kind of putting ideas out, laying them down, tracking them, getting the songs and ideas together.
“There’s a process to making an album where we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel until we’re well into it and we’re, like, ‘Okay, now we kind of know what we’re going for, what we want it to sound like.’ But we’re just kind of… It’s the creative purge era now where we’re just kind of like letting it all out, putting it down, throwing it up against the wall and seeing what sticks,” he explained. “And then, of course, there’s also a lot of promotion that goes behind making an album. So even if we finished it tomorrow, who knows how long it would take for it to actually come out? So I’m hoping to get music out, if not next year, hopefully 2025, I’m hoping. If we’re going by the same routine…
“It sucks, ’cause the ‘Back From The Dead’ album came out so late because of the pandemic,” Arejay added. “So I was kind of hoping we could make up for lost time by putting the next album a little bit earlier. But that’s still up in the air right now. So just keep an eye out.”
Asked how the songwriting process in HALESTORM works nowadays, Arejay said: “Oh, it’s a lot of everything. Definitely during the pandemic, we did a lot of writing on our own ’cause that’s all we could do. Every single day I woke up, poured myself a cup of coffee, opened up my laptop, grabbed an acoustic guitar, grabbed a microphone and just started writing. Just get it out. For anything — for HALESTORM, for [my side project] KEMIKALFIRE, or even just for myself. Just writing music for the sake of writing and just trying to sharpen that tool, flex that muscle a little bit. That was my main objective during the pandemic. I jumped on the opportunity where I was in the same place for that long. Usually off time is a couple of weeks and we’re on tour again. So the fact that we weren’t on tour for several months, it really gave me the chance to try to get better at songwriting and singing and all that. So, that was a big process. But when it comes to every album, it’s always different. Sometimes we’ll all split up and write with a bunch of co-writers or we’ll bring a co-writer in to write with us, or we’ll just go in the studio, the four of us and a producer, or we’ll just like lock ourselves in a basement, the four of us. Just as long as we keep on staying proactive and keep on writing, then eventually something’s going to happen. You have to just kind of trust the process that the first couple of things you write aren’t gonna be good, but eventually you’ll get to the point where you hit your stride and you start writing things that you’re really excited about.”
He continued: “This last couple of weeks where we started writing together, it’s been like kind of the easiest, which is a little worrisome. It’s, like, ‘Okay, is it easy because we’re getting better? Or is it easy’ cause the ideas aren’t very good?’ I don’t know. It’s a lot of questions. But if I put my objective hat on and I listen to the stuff that we’re writing, it sounds good to me. I think it sounds pretty cool. And, yeah, it was just a very fun, easy process. The four of us got away for a little bit, stayed at this cool little lake house, and just started, every day, just writing for hours and hours, tracking it and seeing what comes. And so it was a lot of work, but it was actually, like, one of the more enjoyable writing processes that I can remember, ’cause it just felt very relaxed. It very nice.”
This past October, b>HALESTORM bassist Josh Smith revealed to Jorge Botas of Portugal’s Metal Global that the band is working on its next studio album with acclaimed Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb, known for his previous collaborations with the likes of Sammy Hagar, Slash, GRETA VAN FLEET and RIVAL SONS.
“We went down to [Dave‘s] place and all lived together for three weeks, which is — we live together on tour all the time, yeah, but to be in a creative space, it was incredible,” Josh said. “And the music that came out is undeniably HALESTORM. There’s going to be a lot of fan favorites.”
Describing HALESTORM‘s recording process with Cobb, Josh said: “What we’re doing and how he wants to work, how he’s capturing us is what we do on stage. For instance, we’re not using a click track; there’s no time keep. It’s us doing it, and so there’s a lot of movement to the music… It’s so human.”
He continued: “I think naturally when you’re even talking, just from building tension to releasing it and how that happens, and sometimes from a verse maybe is building and the tempo feels like it’s building, and then the chorus — well, at least on stage — naturally probably bumps up a few BPM [beats per minute] or slows down, depending. And even our transitions or Arejay‘s [Hale, HALESTORM drummer] fills will push or pull. It’s very human.”
When Botas noted that it’s “always fun to work with new people and create new ideas when someone has a different view from the one you normally have,” Smith said: “Yeah, for sure. I mean, that’s what you hope for in working [with] a producer. It’s this person you really have to vibe with that fits into this, in this case our little world. And that chemistry between a band is so unique to every group. And so for someone to fit in, that’s a special trait to have. [It’s] essentially [bringing in] a fifth member of the band that can extract the uniqueness of that band. It’s big shoes to fill for a producer. And thankfully we’ve been lucky with it, with [previous HALESTORM producers] Nick [Raskulinecz] and Jay [Joyce], and Howard [Benson] was great. But, yeah, starting with someone new and also someone who has had a very different approach from the previous one, it’s really exciting. And he really is bringing out the best of us. So, yeah, it’s really exciting to find someone who is so good at their craft… And he just wants to catch what everyone is excited about — lightning in a bottle. And we’ve been doing that. And we’ve caught a lot. I can’t wait to go back. It’s really fun. I can’t wait to get back to writing new music.”
Josh said that there is no timetable yet on when new HALESTORM music will arrive. “But we just worked on, like — I don’t know how many songs we got worked up, 10 or 12,” he said. “And we’ll probably do that again when we get a chance next year, and see where we are. But it’s really exciting. It’s always so exciting to create new stuff and then show it to people and get judged.”
Cobb has shared in nine Grammy wins, including four for “Best Americana Album” and three for “Best Country Album”. He’s also been named “Producer Of The Year” by the Country Music Awards, the Americana Music Association (twice) and the Music Row Awards, and has been a Grammy nominee in the category.
Also in October, HALESTORM frontwoman Lzzy Hale told TotalRock‘s “Hobo On The Radio” show about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band’s follow-up to 2022’s “Back From The Dead” album: “We’re always working on new music, but we’ve actually kind of started to buckle down and really kind of write with a purpose as to whatever we wanna kind of put out in the world next. It’s kind of an exciting time because I feel like even since the last record, even beyond ‘Back From The Dead’, I feel like we’re kind of shedding our skin in a way that’s kind of beautiful where we all kind of feel like different people than who we were when we were writing the last record. So it’s time for whatever that next chapter is. So it’s very exciting.”
She continued: “I’ve been writing in a lot of subjects that I haven’t necessarily touched on before and been kind of exploring those things. And I’ve become even more of a serial eavesdropper. I will be sitting at a pub or something and I will kind of zone out, and it’s amazing the conversations you hear other people talking about. And so sometimes those leech their way into the songs. But, yeah, we’ll probably have something by next year.”
Four months ago, Lzzy told Meltdown of Detroit’s WRIF radio station about writing material for the next HALESTORM album: “ What we are in right now is the chaos of it all, whereas [we’re] not quite sure where the music is gonna take us or what we’re gonna be excited about, but I’m excited about doing something new and really just kind of accentuating certain moments. And especially considering we’ve been touring on this album cycle, we’ve been touring on ‘Back From The Dead’, and our live show has grown a lot during this album cycle, whereas we’re making these kind of physical moments. And we’ve been writing parts for in between songs and all of that. So I feel like I kind of wanna incorporate some of those things that we’ve already kind of tested live, that are original parts but don’t actually have a song to go to yet. So I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. So we’re doing that.”
Lzzy and her brother Arejay formed HALESTORM in 1998 while in middle school. Guitarist Joe Hottinger joined the group in 2003, followed by Smith in 2004.
This past May, HALESTORM teamed up with country singer Ashley McBryde for a reimagined version of the band’s song “Terrible Things”, which was originally featured on “Back From The Dead”.
In December 2022, HALESTORM released a deluxe edition of “Back From The Dead”. “Back From The Dead: Deluxe Edition” includes seven previously unreleased B-sides, including “Mine”, a 1980s-inspired rocker. “Back From The Dead: Deluxe Edition” is available digitally, on CD, and cassette tape, marking the first time that the album has been offered in those physical formats.
In December 2018, HALESTORM was nominated for a “Best Rock Performance” Grammy Award for its song “Uncomfortable”. Six years earlier, the band won its first Grammy in the category of “Best Hard Rock/ Metal Performance” for “Love Bites (So Do I)”.
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