News Column

Halestorm to rain down some hard rock at JCC on Saturday

November 29, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 29--Fans of Halestorm know what type of show to expect Saturday when the hard rockers take to the stage of the McVean Gymnasium at Jefferson Community College, but if there is any doubt, band guitarist Joe Hottinger can erase it.

"Standing in front of a real loud amp on stage and feeling it rumble your back is what it's all about," Mr. Hottinger said last week in a phone interview from Nashville, about a week after Halestorm returned from a European tour where they opened for Florida-based Alter Bridge.

Mr. Hottinger said members of Halestorm love performing high-energy, explosive rock, featuring lead singer Lzzy Hale. In March, the band's song "Love Bites (So Do I)" won the Grammy Award for best hard rock/metal performance.

The band, based in Pennsylvania, has its roots in Ms. Hale and Arejay Hale, siblings who have been performing since they were children. Rounding out the band is Josh Smith on bass and Mr. Hottinger on lead guitar.

"We've been doing this for a long time," Mr. Hottinger said. "It's one of those things about Halestorm that kind of sets us apart."

But Mr. Hottinger said he and other band members love being on the road as musicians. The band plays approximately 250 concerts a year.

"The road is home," Mr. Hottinger said. "We love it. We've always been a live band. It's what we've always wanted to do."

In 2005, the band signed with Atlantic Records, which made life on the road a little easier.

"We're just lucky enough now to be on a tour bus and not a van or an RV, like before," Mr. Hottinger said.

Halestorm released their self-titled debut album in 2009. It was followed by "Live in Philly" in 2010 and "The Strange Case of..." in 2012.

The band also has released two popular albums of cover songs made popular by heavy metal bands: 2011's "ReAniMate: The CoVers eP" and "ReAniMate 2.0: The CoVeRs eP" released in October. The latter album has cover songs of such bands as AC/DC, Marilyn Manson, Judas Priest and Daft Punk.

"ReAniMate 2.0" was created with minimal production, with some live, gritty performances.

Mr. Hottinger said covering the hard rock songs of others is fun, "for us and our fans."

"We get to really dissect and come up with our own versions of classic and really well-written songs," Mr. Hottinger said. "And you learn a lot from that."

He noted one of his favorite songs from the first album of covers: "Slave to the Grind" by Skid Row.

"We had never played anything of that tempo before, that feel and beat," he said. "We thought, 'That's pretty cool man, a lot of fun.'"

Mr. Hottinger said the band plays off of the energy of its audiences at live shows and that it doesn't use recorded tracks.

"To me, a rock show is about the band not faking it," he said. "It's a high-energy show and you have to hear Lzzy sing and watch Arejay play drums. It's a fun rock show."

Mr. Hottinger, who calls himself a "guitar fanatic," grew up in Wisconsin and became fascinated with the instrument when his school received about 30 acoustic guitars and he took a class. He mastered the first lesson "in like three seconds."

"It was pretty much tunnel vision since then," he said. "I love the way they look, the way they feel and the way they sound."

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