Finishing up a tour press day might typically be just a part of the job for a musician, but today Halestorm drummer Arejay Hale is eager to dive into each and every conversation.
“Honestly… it’s just nice to see anybody!” Hale said.
Hale’s excitement is for good reason. Halestorm has set a goal of completing its tour without canceling or postponing any shows due to COVID-19. It’s ambitious, but to achieve the goal, the band has instituted a strict bubble and protocols while on the road.
“The only people we see on this tour is us and our crew,” Hale said. “We get along great; we’re a rolling dysfunctional circus of a family.”
This means no hanging out with the other bands or taking time to explore each city they’re in. Instead, Halestorm opts for outdoor tents where the members can watch movies, smoke cigars and enjoy each other’s limited company during the downtime.
“We mask up anywhere we go outside the bus; we’re getting swabbed every single day to make sure everyone is testing negative,” Hale said. “We’re social distancing; we’re not mingling with anybody.”
The bubble mentality isn’t without its drawbacks. There won’t be any meet-and-greets and no signing autographs and speaking with fan after gigs.
“That’s really killing us; that’s one of our favorite things to do,” Hale said. “I’m hoping we’ll bring that back as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
Halestorm is currently playing a mix of festivals and headlining shows while also gearing up for its fall co-headlining tour with Evanescence, hitting arenas nationwide.
While the pandemic may have limited the opportunities Hale has remained creative, working on becoming a more well-rounded musician, from production to songwriting, including collaborating with others in sessions. He now cohosts a podcast, writes comedy and is getting into improv.
“I don’t know how to stay still. I just have to stay busy,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I don’t know that this record that we’re about to put out would be as good as it is. This is the closest that any producer or any writer has let me be more myself and representative of the way I play live.”
One of the keys in recording the new album was capturing the band’s live energy and presenting it on record. While 2018’s Vicious edged closer to finding that energy, the next record comes even closer. He said he’s grateful that when it comes to the drumming, there was no pressure to simplify his rhythms.
“‘It’s rock music; it’s got to be dumb and simple,'” Hale said sarcastically. “The pent up aggression from sitting at home has encouraged us to just go in the studio and just put all that out of our minds and just attack it full on.”
Instead of a “less is more” mindset, Hale said the directive he got was to go big—the more chaos in the music, the better. The band has begun performing its latest single, “Back From the Dead.” Hale is playing note for note what he put on record.
It’s been quite a ride for Hale, who along with his sister (frontwoman Lzzy Hale) founded the group in 1997. Halestorm has released a string of hit singles, won a Grammy and played some of the biggest stages in the world.
Hale’s drum solo has become a signature moment. It’s evolved over the years, but he said the emphasis is always on fun over doing complicated rhythms just to show off.
“Since the beginning of Halestorm, the only reason we would do a drum solo was to give my bandmates a break,” he said. “When we were a local band in Pennsylvania, we were hustling! We’d be playing in little dive bars, playing three-hour sets!”
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.