The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world



Joe takes us under the skin of 'Into the Wild Life' in anticipation of the bands first visit to Australia...




HALESTORM just might have released the album that breaks them new ground and raises them up to the place where we’ve always know they belonged. They are also on their way to Australia for the very first time. We caught up with guitarist Joe Hottinger to get to the bottom of ‘Into the Wild’ life which I picked up with a free T-shirt that actually fitted me over here in the US.

Joe: Hi Mark, how you doing man?


Mark: Very good thanks. How are you?


Joe: I’m good, at home, and pleased to be here.


Mark: Many thanks for talking to us today Joe, great news that you are finally making it down here to see us after wowing audiences across the globe for so long!


Joe: Yeah man, we’re really excited to be getting down to Australia, it seems like we’ve been waiting forever to get down there. It’s always been a dream of mine to get down there and I get to come down with my best friends and do what we love doing playing rock shows.


Mark: The album ‘Into the Wild Life’ has been out for a while now, it hit down here on the tenth of April, it’s a different sound for you guys, what’s the reception been like?  


Joe: From our perspective the reception has been amazing and it is a different sound, we did that on purpose. We wanted to bridge the gap; we thought there was a void between the energy of our live shows and the sound of our first two records. That’s not to say the sound of our first two records was bad or anything, or that we’re not proud of them. And I’m glad that we did them like that, but we were searching for something that isn’t a ‘live’ record but it has more of that live energy to it. And we were talking to our producer and saying “how do we do that Jay?” (Jay Joyce whose credits include a mix from Iggy Pop to The Wallflowers) and he said “Well why don’t you guys just sit in a circle and play it live?” And that’s what we did, it’s that easy and it’s that hard! (Laughs)    


Mark: So that’s how it happened – you sat down and let rip in the studio?


Joe: Yeah, some of the songs we had the click track out and we just played, and it was a lot of fun. Some were easier to record than others, but at the end of the day we really focussed on performance. Lizzy did the vocals and there wasn’t a lot she could get away with “oh I just do that line again” and we were like “No let’s start over from the beginning”. We got the performance right and the build and the flow and that was really important to us and we’re really happy with the results.  


Mark: So how do you feel this release has pushed you forward as musicians? Has it pushed you forwards in different ways to previous albums?


Joe: Oh absolutely, it was really hard for me in particular. You know Jay really kicked my ass with the guitar playing, he just gave me hell. And I approached it differently too to the other two records I spent a lot of time working on solos and actually writing things out where before I’d think about layers over the basic tracks. This time I just did it as we went along, just start playing and searching for the mood. Some songs came real easy and some came real hard, some I thought I’d got and Jay was like “What was that, that was shitty! Stop acting like a shitty Blues player” I was like ‘You’re right, you’re right” It was really cool. I loved it.     


Mark: Was the intention then to open up the band to a whole new audience with this one?


Joe: No not really, I mean we didn’t… Our only intention with the last three records really was let’s play music we like and music that excites us and chase down that feeling. That was about as deep as we got with it. And this record is more of a reflection of us I’d say, it’s got all the things we love about music in it.


Mark: There’s a lot of variety on there, I mean you’ve gone from the storming rock tracks to real ballads, lots of eighties influences in there (which I love). Is this the best reflection of where the band is at this time? Do you feel you’ve taken a big step forward as far as the sound goes?  


Joe: Yeah absolutely, it’s definitely a sonic snapshot. We recorded I October of last year so almost a year ago now and it’s definitely where we were at the end of last year and where were going. That’s not to say the next record is going to sound like that, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.



Mark: Do you have any particular favourite now you’ve lived with the songs so long? Any that are going down particularly well live? I think my favourite so far is ‘Mayhew’ which is a fantastic song.


Joe: Thank you, yeah ‘Mayhem’ always goes down well, it’s just a fun song to play. But I really like playing ‘The Reckoning’ live, that one’s been a lot of fun, it’s a bit slower and moodier but just the way the parts are written with the cool harmonies, so that ones’ been a blast.


Mark: Yeah, almost a bit of The Beatles in there.


Joe: I appreciate that as a Beatles fan!

Mark: What did you want to get out of the guitar sound on the album, I’ve always loved the sound you got from the off. What did you want to walk away with as far as the guitar sound was concerned?


Joe: Really that was a struggle. I went in there and Jay asked me that exact same question: “What you going for here man, what’s your game?” And Lzzy has her sound with her Marshall so I said let’s just experiment and try stuff and that’s what we did, we just kinda went for it. He had this really cool Fender Tonemaster, custom shop, I think it was like the answer to the Marshall 800, and he had it all done up for the studio, and I brought in all my amps, but that Tonemaster just sounded right and I use o on the road right now. But really you want it to be organic sounding and real, and crunchy, and rockin’ sounding obviously, but I was trying to bring I a little more ‘modern’ too; so I had like an octave pedal on parts, and a really clean sound with a ‘verby’ feel that I thought was really interesting.         


Mark: How does it feel to have such a huge tour in front of you, you’re pretty much on the road from September to January. Do you look forward to getting out on the road and putting the miles in?


Joe: Absolutely, we love the road! (Laughs) It’s our home and we spend a lot of time out there, but we always look forward to it; it’s so much fun. I mean we do the one thing we’ve always dreamed of doing; with our best friends we travel the world. We’re lucky.


Mark: As far as the stage show goes when you play down here, as we’ve never seen you before are you going to be throwing anything special into the set you’re touring with at the moment?


Joe: I’m sure we will. We make our set list up every night you know, just before we go on. And we try and switch it up every night to keep it interesting and keep us on our toes; we like to mix it up especially for people who come to multiple shows. In America right now we’re doing this ‘Evening with Halestorm’ tour so we play for two hours, two different sets and so I’m curious to see how this tour is going to influence our set lists for a regular headlining tour. And the shows in Australia will be the first regular headlining tour we do after that. So maybe we’ll learn a new cover every day to do, just be spontaneous, you know.     


Mark: I thought it would be hard enough picking a set list with the first two albums but now you’ll have a real problem I think! It’ll be a lot of fun.


Joe: (laughs)



Mark: You’ve played with some great bands and musicians over the years, who has been the most inspiring so far?


Joe: Oh man, there’s been quite a few! I mean I really had a lot of fun with Mark Tremonti, we did an Alterbridge tour at the end of 2013, that guy is awesome just as a straight up guitar player point of view. He works really hard every day, you wake up at noon or one every day and he’s already in the dressing room working on his new, whatever it is he’s working on t the time. And I’d just go in an bug him and go “Mark, what you doing? You wanna show me” And he’s such a nice guy he always took the time, so that was really cool, a real fun one for me. We had a lot of fun with Corey Taylor of Stone Sour, he’s such a sweetheart with so much energy and he’s been really cool with Lzzy. The same with Tom Keifer from Cinderella, he’s been awesome, we consider him a good friend, he’s such a cool dude.     


Mark: We’ve been lucky enough to talk to all of them over the last year so it’s great to have you on board too. What piece of music from the new album do you think most defines you as a band where you are at the moment as a band?


Joe: That’s a good one. I would say that; let’s think about that for a minute, I might just have to look at the record! What songs have we done (Laughs). I’d have to say ‘Amen’ I love ‘Amen’ I love how big I is, how open it sounds, and it’s got that chorus! One of the things we talked about when making this record was you know we’re playing a lot of festivals, doing some arena touring and you want a song that’s going to fit that arena and those big festivals. And I think we did it, I think we nailed it.


Mark: A huge song and a great video. I think we just have time for one more question. A real easy one we ask everyone: What is the meaning of life?


Joe: The meaning of life! Jeez! … Wow that’s a ridiculous question, that’s awesome! According to me if I was going to give anyone any advice I would encourage everyone to have a lot of really good times with really good people and surround yourself with that vibe and energy. I think everything turns out all right when you’re with really good people having a really good time and sharing your happiness with people you love.


Mark: That sound perfect, and we’re looking forward to having some really good times with you when you come down. Thank you so much for your time today Joe we really appreciate it.


Joe: No thank you man, I appreciate it, can’t wait to get down there. See you soon.



Joe spoke to Mark Rockpit


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