Family bands are not usually associated with heavy metal music. At one point though during their early days, American hard rock quartet Halestorm were still a trio consisting entirely of the Hale family.
Frontwoman Elizabeth ‘Lzzy’ Hale and her drummer brother Arejay were joined by their bass player father Roger Hale. Added to this, their mother was Halestorm’s manager and publicist.
“It was fun for Arejay and I to have our dad in the band with us,” recalled singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lizzy. “We were very young so our parents were basically taking care of us. As we got older though, I guess it was a little restricting. I think it was probably best when Josh (Smith) became our bassist in 2004.”
Lizzy and Arejay had co-founded Halestorm in 1997 when they were just 13 and ten years old respectively. With a musician father, the children had a natural interest in music. Lizzy was five when she began learning piano. She later progressed to the keytar. Perhaps surprisingly, Lizzy was 16 before she started playing guitar. Drums have always been Arejay’s passion.
“It was just Arejay and I at first. We loved writing and performing our original material. We were so young that there was no real chance to make our way in the music business around that time, particularly when you come from a small town like Red Lion, Pennsylvania. But we realised the need to add a couple more musicians if we were to play the kind of music we wanted.
“Dad joined us on bass in 1998. Then we got Leo Nessinger to play lead guitar. He left in 2003 and was replaced by Joe (Hottinger). After Josh replaced dad, we’ve had the same line-up for the last 14 years.”
The band members could hardly be closer.
“We obviously started out as a family band and we’ve always kept that feeling. The other guys feel kind of like brothers to Arejay and I. This family mentality even bleeds through to other people who are involved with Halestorm. Our tour crew are the perfect example.
“Everything is treated in the sense that ‘we’re in this together.’ We don’t have separate agendas. We all share the common goal and we all work together. We also have so much respect for each other and recognise how we all need to make our individual contributions to create and perform the songs which have given Halestorm so much success.”
The latest chapter in their success story is the number eight debut in both Britain and America for Halestorm’s fourth studio album, Vicious. It is their second straight top ten album on both charts, following up 2015’s Into The Wild Life, and has also given the band another number one on the US and UK Rock Albums charts.
“Our (self-titled) first album reached number 40 on the Billboard 200 back in 2009. That was ten years after we released our debut EP. We feel like we’ve come a long way during that time. It’s particularly pleasing that we’ve not only increased our fan following in America and Canada but greatly increased our support throughout the world as a whole.”
The quality of Halestorm’s music has also been recognised within the industry. Love Bites...(So Do I), a track from their 2012 second album, The Strange Case Of, won the 2013 Grammy for Best Hard Rock / Metal Performance.
“We felt truly honoured to receive the Grammy. We were also totally genuine when our fellow nominees were thanked in the acceptance speech. We thanked our parents for turning us on to great music and giving us every encouragement to become musicians. But we got so much inspiration from bands such as Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Anthrax. Without listening to their music, we wouldn’t have written our Grammy-winning song.”
Another Grammy nomination might well be forthcoming for Halestorm’s new album. Reviews have been the best of their career.
“It’s great to have the critics lavish so much praise on Vicious and we do appreciate all the positive reviews. But it’s the fans who really matter. Happily, they seem to enjoy the album even more than the critics.”
Ellie Goulding / Leona Lewis
There is happy news for English singers Ellie Goulding and Leona Lewis. Both ladies have recently become engaged to be married.
Ellie, 31, had previously been in high profile long-term relationships with BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James and McFly bassist Dougie Poynter. She has also been linked with Ed Sheeran, dance music producer Skrillex, actor Jeremy Irvine, One Direction star Niall Horan, and even Prince Harry.
After dating for 18 months, she is now engaged to art dealer Caspar Jopling. A former Team GB rower at the 2010 Youth Olympics, Caspar was educated at Eton and has a degree in art history from Harvard University. He currently works at Sotheby’s in New York.
Meanwhile, 33-year-old Leona is now engaged to choreographer Dennis Jauch. The couple has been together for the last eight years. They met during a concert tour when Dennis was working as one of Leona’s backing dancers.
Leona had previously been in a decade-long relationship with childhood sweetheart Lou Al-Chamaa. An electrician before Leona won the 2006 season of X Factor, Lou became a talent scout for Sony Music. He has since risen to Vice President, Creative of A&R at Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
The notoriously private Leona has not officially confirmed her engagement. But she has done nothing to conceal the sparkling diamond ring which now adorns the third finger of her left hand.
Dennis has been a little more forthcoming on social media. Alongside a number of pictures posted to celebrate their eight years together, Dennis wrote: “It’s been the most beautiful eight years of my life with this incredible human being. Here’s to many more beautiful memories.”
Fia Moon is not yet a familiar name to most music fans. But the Dublin-born, now London-based, singer / songwriter is already taking confident strides along the road to fame.
She first attracted attention earlier this year with her debut single, The Fall. The song dealt with her personal transition from Dublin to London, living alone and trying to create a new life for herself. There is no video for the track but an audio posting can be heard at www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bSjRBxCcLQ
It’s the same story for Fia’s newly released sophomore single, Settle Down. No video has been made but the song is available to hear at www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRzTGKfWWp8
Fia says of her new single: “It’s basically about thinking someone is amazing. But this is all on the surface. Once you get to know them, you realise that their morals and values are totally different to yours.”
Steps fans need not be concerned. The group have not split up again. They reached number two on the UK chart last year with their comeback album, Tears On The Dancefloor. But Steps are currently taking a break before recording their next album and it is this free time which has given singer Claire Richards the opportunity to launch her solo career.
Her album, My Wildest Dreams, is scheduled for release on November 2. But lead single, appropriately titled On My Own, is available now. An official song video is yet to be released but a fan-made lyric video is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-DDOavxriA
Claire says of her solo career: “The other members of Steps have been aware from the start of my plan to do a solo record in the gap between Steps albums. I don’t believe my album will take anything away from Steps. It’s an entity in itself. I don’t think any of us as individuals could ever be bigger than Steps as a whole.”
On My Own is not the first single on which Claire has performed as a solo artist. She has previously made her own version of two Steps songs, One for Sorrow and Deeper Shade of Blue. These tracks were recorded in 2015 and can still be heard at (no www.) soundcloud.com/clairerichardsmusic
Blues-rock legend Joe Bonamassa will release Redemption, his 13th solo studio album, on September 21. Many critics who have already heard the record are suggesting the 12 songs on Redemption represent the best work of Joe’s near 30-year career.
The album title-track was released as the lead single this past June. An accompanying video, filmed at the Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida, can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDe-dI3c5d0
Rock and roll-style number King Bee Shakedown has just been issued as the second single. It is accompanied by another studio-filmed promo, this time at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. The video is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=DT8FwibMG4s brief
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