Halestorm – Arejay Hale (Drums)
On September 17th and 18th I was able to spend the days at the Rockstar Uproar Festival as it hit Irvine and San Diego respectively here in California. Aside from some amazing sets from the bands, we were able to conduct a few interviews and take some live shots. Here’s our interview with AREJAY HALE, Drummer for HALESTORM.
What’s going on Arejay?
That’s a cool little recorder. I had one of those, the Olympus one?
Yeah! Did you record practice n stuff?
Just like song ideas I would just hum melodies n stuff.
Who would convert it over to guitar parts?
I’m not good at guitar so I would just hum parts that would come into my head then put it into my ProTools and we would relearn it on guitar.
That’s a unique way to do it.
It’s a good way to learn.
What did you learn to play first?
I don’t play guitar professionally, play drums! I always like learning like NIRVANA and SOUNDGARDEN and the 90′s stuff. Then I got a whole bunch of LAMB OF GOD books. I jumped in with the sharks and started learning these riffs really slow and just practicing getting better. It helped muscle memory.
Earlier on you started on piano was it?
I did take a couple of piano lessons but I was really little. I stopped and Lzzy (vocals, guitar) kept going with the piano and I switched over to drums. I kept on playing and taking lessons. When I was 8, me and Lzzy started getting serious and our dad would come in and play. When I was 10 and she was 13 we had our first show ever at the Schuykill County Fair. We won Third Place. They had Key Lime Pie, Pig Tossing, and Hay Bail Tossing.
Is this a very country area?
It’s very rural and very Republican. We were the outsiders there. It was a great place cause we didn’t have any neighbors and we could set up in our practice room and just play loud and jam into the night.
You’re an 8 year old kid beating the hell out of the drums? Were you abusive on the piano or did it just not tickle your fancy?
I don’t know. I was like 4 when I was taking piano lessons. My dad was a bass player and he would play in a band, our local church. I was drawn to the drummer and it looked like the most fun instrument. I wanted to pick it up cause my dad played bass so we could play together. Lzzy was playing piano and singing so the three of us came together and it was the thing to do at home just play around. Lzzy and I started writing songs when I was like 8 and she was 11 when we wrote our first song, Love Is Power. It was this 9-minute epic song with a drum solo in the middle of it. It was fun and we played that at the talent show and won 3rd place.
What was the earliest song you guys wrote that stuck around today?
We put out 3 self-produced records. We went into the studio with an engineer and put out these independent releases. In 2002/2003 our guitar and bass player left the band cause their parents weren’t really 100% into it. Luckily our parents, when we told them we wanted to start a band were like, “Thank You, I’m so glad you don’t want to be a Doctor or Lawyer. You want to be a rock n roller!” It was a great upbringing cause they had been in the music business for so long. We started working with this producer in Philadelphia who really challenged us to go home and write a song a day. We were just jamming on this riff which is ‘It’s Not You’ which is the first song on our album. We’ve had that for like seven years. Fast forward we got signed to Atlantic and went on tour and sold a little live EP we did in a day just to have something to sell. This was a cool way to do it as we got our road legs and really got tight as a band. So after we did all that touring we went to California to do pre-production and make the record. We took a whole bunch of old songs, It’s Not You is one of them and we already put it on a couple of records and we were like, ‘it’s not going on the record,’ and we hooked up with Howard Benson our producer and he calls up Lzzy in the middle of the night and was like, “you know that song It’s Not You, it’s gotta go on the record, that’s all, good night.” So it’s like the song that refuses to die.
Were you guys in the valley?
We were in between Hollywood and the valley. We were at the Oakwood Apartments which everybody stays there. We got a little rehearsal space and we set up in a circle and we just went there everyday and tried to pump out as many songs as we could. It was like summer writing boot camp. We had our theme for the record and we wrote songs around that. We had like 428 songs that we widdled down to 15, then widdled down to 11 and the rest were B-Sides. The rest is history I guess and we’re really proud of it!
What was the following like in Pennsylvania before you were signed?
I think with every band it starts out with friends and family. We just kept playing and building up a following playing 250 dates a year all over the east coast and we would do Pennsylvania until I got busted for being underage. I was 16 and they said you can’t perform in a bar unless you’re 18. The law was made for strippers though they didn’t specify strippers they just said all entertainment. I wasn’t stripping, I could have been, but wasn’t. (laughs). It was the best thing for us because it challenged us again to play outside our Pennsylvania circle. We started playing Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey. The laws weren’t that strict in those states. When I finally turned 18 we hit Pennsylvania again. It was like this big comeback. HALESTORM is coming home!
You are sharing the stage with some amazing drummers!
This is my bucket list tour. I was so intimidated when I met Mike Portnoy cause he’s such a legend. He’s like, “hey, what’s up dude, I like your style.” It was really nerveracking. We were playing our set and Mike is watching and waving. I was like, “don’t mess up, don’t mess up, don’t mess up.” He’s cool as shit. Roy did SOULFLY and we became great friends. Mike from DISTURBED, I’ve always loved DISTURBED. Vinnie Paul from freaking PANTERA (HELLYEAH). Everybody’s super cool. There’s no egos. It’s a family thing!
By Mark Thompson