Femme on Fire: Lzzy Hale

By Vanessa Butler Photography by Alex R. Kirzhner & Ariel Kassulke

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With their sophomore album The Strange Case Of… debuting at number one on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums chart, it’s no surprise that Halestorm’s breakthrough song “Love Bites (So Do I)” received a Grammy nomination for “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance” at the 55th annual Grammy Awards. We love to see fellow hard rockers being unexpectedly thrown into the mainstream spotlight, especially when the band has a frontgirl that both rocks and makes our heads spin. We caught up with Lzzy Hale days after Halestorm was nominated to talk about Alice Cooper, her sexy photo spreads and what it takes to be a heavy metal girl.

*Playboy.com: *Congrats on the Grammy nomination!

Hale: Isn’t that crazy? I’m still trying to get over it. We’ve been nominated for best Hard Rock/Metal Performance [for] “Love Bites (And So Do I).” It’s something we didn’t expect at all; that doesn’t happen to bands like us! We actually joked about it that day because we knew the nominations were going to be announced and we know a lot of people in the industry, so we thought we’d see some of our friends that have written for Katy Perry or something get nominated. I don’t even care if we win; I’m glad we’re able to go and it’s an honor to be nominated. It’s funny because people in hard rock and metal, we always have this very hypocritical view of the Grammys: “Ah, screw the Grammys, we don’t like the Grammys! They don’t have any good music on there!” And then as soon as you’re nominated you’re like, “WE LOVE THE GRAMMYS!” so it’s very cool, I’m excited about it.

Playboy.com: I adore the photo of you being told about the nomination. Where was that taken?

*Hale: *A girl in the audience took it when we were playing in Madison, Wisconsin. I was getting ready to sit down to do a piano ballad and talking to the audience and my guitar player ran over to me and yelled in my ear, “We just got nominated for a Grammy!” I can’t believe that they actually got that shot because it was in the middle of the set; who would be taking pictures then? So it was a lucky shot. It’s really cool because the face I’m making is extremely genuine! It’s my WTF face.

Playboy.com: So you had vocal lessons from the lead singer of the hair metal band Kix, is that right?

Hale: I did actually! When I was a teenager, I grew up on ’80s cheese metal, Black Sabbath…anything ’80s and black metal, because I had very cool parents! When I started getting interested in music they gave me all of their music and said, “Here, listen to this stuff, this is really good,” so a lot of that stuff is close to my heart. Eventually we got the opportunity to open up for Steve [Whiteman] in a side project he does with a band called Funny Money. I was so amazed that he sounded exactly the same as he did in his 20s, so I asked him about it because up until then I didn’t really do anything; I just got up there and sang. So he told me that he gives lessons at a music store in Harrisburg, so come down and show me what you got and see if I can help you. I literally went in every single Thursday for the next year and a half and he taught me everything that he knows. I owe a lot to that man. The reason I’m still able to sing is because of him. It’s very cool.

Playboy.com: You guys are known for your nonstop touring (we hear that you’re going to be announcing your 2013 dates soon); what’s your craziest story from the road?

Hale: Usually they start and end with “Where is Arejay?” It’s kind of like Where’s Waldo; he has many moments where he will lock himself into a dressing room and can’t get out or lock himself out of the venue two minutes before showtime, cannot find the stage. We actually lost him at a truck stop once. I think touring has become more of a norm for us, we tour more time than we don’t. I always tell people that touring is easy; it’s real life that’s crazy.

When we get off tour things get a little nutty. But I’ll tell you one about my little brother. We knew we left him in Toledo, Ohio. He stumbled out of bed, and he has a really bad habit of not telling people where he goes. We stopped at a truck stop and he got off the bus without telling anybody, in pajamas with no phone, no nothing, to go to the bathroom. So the driver just assumes everyone’s on the bus and we start heading out on the highway. Eventually we all get up and sitting around and the driver is like, “hey, ever since we left there’s been this guy who’s been jogging outside in his pajamas! You guys gotta come and see this!” Sure enough, we see this kid, this little tiny ant spot in the distance in bright orange pants, and we’re joking about how he’s really keeping up with us and I guess he saw us pull out and bolted. And then right before we got on the highway someone said, “Hold on, where’s Arejay?” and then we realized the running kid was Arejay. So thank goodness for those bright orange pants; if it wasn’t for them, we never would’ve seen him!

But we’re a very odd band, I guess, because we all really like each other, so on our off days we’ll go bowling and will end up being all-night extravaganzas with a couple of pitchers of beer. We call them band dates. We don’t get sick of each other, which is cool; hopefully there’s no tequila involved or people lose their pants. It’s a lot of fun. I’m a lucky girl—I have a lot of great guys around me.

Playboy.com: You got to open for Alice Cooper late last year. Did he give you guys any words of wisdom?

Hale: He always tells us this very short story about hanging out with Keith Richards: he still calls him Vinny, he won’t call him Alice Cooper; after all these years he still calls him by his actual name. There’s always little tidbits like that. I remember the first time I ever met Alice Cooper I gave him drugs, believe it or not. They were antacids, but you know. I ran into him in a record store in L.A., he was shopping for CDs with his daughter Calico, and I saw him there and I ended up talking to him and realized I had actually met Calico years ago when we were in Philly—she was dating some guy we were playing with. So anyway, Alice is really quiet and while we were talking he was looking at my keychain. On my keychain I have this little pill carrier that I carry my earplugs in, and he taps on it and says, “Do you have any Pepcid AC in there because I got major heartburn,” and I just happened to have Pepcid AC, not in the pill box but on me, because my dad at the time was working at the Pepcid AC factory. So that’s my story about giving Alice Cooper drugs. He’s a great dude. I ended up being a prop in his last show; he had me handing out these huge balloons during "School's Out" where I’d toss them to the crowd and he’d stab them and confetti would go everywhere, and I stayed up to sing with him. He’s a really nice guy, really laid back, and his entire crew is like family since they’ve been working for him for like 20 years. So when you’re with him, it’s a good experience.

Playboy.com: You were the cover girl for Revolver Magazine’s “Hottest Chicks in Metal” and you just shot a pretty hot photo shoot for them yesterday too. Do you like that side of the music industry?

Hale: I don’t mind dressing up and doing the short skirt and high heels thing. I tell this to a lot of people because the only stipulation that I have about this is that you have to make sure you have something to back it up. You can’t totally ride on the fact that I’m going to show my legs and people are going to show attention. If they can get past the legs, make sure you can actually sing and be good at your instruments. Because in all honesty, all of us that are dressing up on stage, we aren’t going to be wearing fishnets forever, you gotta make sure you have a little something to ya. But it’s pretty cool. My relationship with Revolver is awesome; they do great articles and they give a lot of opportunities for girl rockers and are good for getting them out there. Hey, sex and rock ’n’ roll have been going together hand-in-hand since the beginning of time, you can’t get away from it!

Playboy.com: You guys have a song called “Daughters of Darkness” that’s about all of those girl rockers out there that live for rock ’n’ roll. Is there any way in hell a guy can bag a cool girl like that? Any tips?

Hale: You gotta bring them to a Halestorm show! I’m telling you, though, there’s a moment in every show where I’m looking out and I see all of these girls who are not there just because their boyfriends dragged them along, you know? They’re very empowered, a little crazy like me, and it’s wonderful to be in a room like that because when we first started out there weren’t a whole lot of girls at the rock shows unless you count the girlfriends of somebody in the band, and definitely in my younger years I partook in the mosh pits and stuff like that, so it’s cool to see girls coming to shows and carving their own path for themselves and really have a true love affair with rock ’n’ roll.

*Playboy.com: *What is your first memory of Playboy?

Hale: The first time I ever saw a Playboy and I got the, uh, full gamut of it, I had a guy friend when I was 16 or 17 years old, and we weren’t dating but he took me up to his room to show me something—he was the first guy to give me a Metallica CD too, actually—but, uh, we went up to his room to listen to some CDs and his entire room, like if you did the complete 360, on his wall it was all Playboy photos, just full frontal. And it was great because he always said, “They have great articles!” and at the time it was hard to believe he was reading for that but then he was like, “No seriously, here!” So I remember reading Playboy in his room, listening to Metallica. So that was my first Playboy experience. It was a pretty good one!


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