Interview: Josh Smith of Halestorm
GRAMMY® Award-winning band Halestorm have announced the impending release of their fourth studio album, Vicious, out July 27. Widely acknowledged as one of the most vital and iconic bands in modern hard rock, Halestorm made a spectacular debut with their 2009 self-titled LP. One of the hardest working bands in rock or any other musical genre, Halestorm has spent much of its lifetime on the road, performing thousands of live shows since their inception. The band has also made their mark on the Australian live circuit, with tours in December 2015 and January 2017. Our metal obsessed writer, Sam Radojcin, was able to have a chat with bass player, Josh Smith, about their upcoming album plus a whole lot more.
Hey Josh, how are you buddy? What are you up to?
I’m good man. I’m up in Minnesota at the moment, my wife is from here and we drove out after 2 Halestorm festival shows in Wisconsin, to hang out with family reunion on her side, we just finished dinner and now I’m chilling out on the front porch. It’s a beautiful day here.
Awesome. So, first off, I just finished listening to Vicious, it’s your heaviest album to date, it feel like your live show, like a finely refined band. Is that the idea / vibe behind it?
Totally, you just like made my night man! (Laughs) Thank you. That was the idea, the direction, with every album we’ve, Halestorm have tried to make it more Halestorm, but it’s almost like this intangible thing to bottle, that live energy to make it translate to album – this is what we should sound like live we recorded it and captured it on Vicious. We also made sure to double down on the rock and roll and make it consciously heavy song to song.
I get quite a classic rock vibe, a bit of everything – Zeppelin, Elo etc. Big bombastic rock with a big bass sound, it just growls, how did (producer) Nick Rasculinecz factor into that?
Nick brought the best out of all of us, he is a rock producer through and through. Not to take anything away from our previous producers, they really made some incredible albums with us, but this guy is a super rock fan, and first and foremost, a bassist too! (Laughs) He knows how to get a killer bass sound and he did. It’s so cool for me, I’m in more in the mix now, he blended it so well, it was like a marriage made in heaven for the whole band. Basically, we just wanted it to rock, and Nick was the guy who could help mould us into that.
Is there a concept behind Vicious?
It would seem so from the titles and even the lyric content. I think with each album, we bare ourselves a little more, Lzzy being our front person and a woman, she has a lot to say, we are like underdogs as people and we try to speak to that type of person, we meet a lot of them – there are a lot more underdogs than others in this world. Our first single Uncomfortable, it’s about that, saying by being yourself and who you are, you will make people uncomfortable, that’s ok and keep it up down that path. You shouldn’t have to worry about what others think and only what makes you happy. I think that sort of empowerment is a big part of this album, as well as our others, only a lot more refined over the years. It’s the Halestorm message getting more focused and direct.
How are the new songs going down live along side the older stuff?
We’ve been putting them into the set and they have been going down huge live, I get home tomorrow, we start rehearsals in the next few days, getting everything up to snuff for the set. With four albums under our belt, we have a lot of songs to choose from now, it expands our setlist potential, it’s going to be fun, we’ve made a lot of mock setlists and ideas to bring to the live show, so it’s going to be pretty cool.
So, do you feel with every album, does the direction change and Halestorm evolves?
Yes, this is definitely the evolution of our band. For this one, to me, it is to continue on the rock path, as we become better and on the road, we’ve started to carve our own lane and follow the path we set. We know who our fans are and we know how we can expand from that, from being ourselves. If we be ourselves and we love what we put out as a final product, the fans certainly will like it. That’s the important part. We do evolve and always will, By the time we do the next album, who knows where it will go, it will definitely be Halestorm, that’s for sure. Hopefully a better version of us, definitely more rock as always.
What are your memories of the last 2 Australian tours? Are there return visits in the works for Aus & NZ?
We have the best memories of touring there, the growth has been exponential, the rock culture is huge there and we can’t wait to get back. It had always been a bucket list for us and it didn’t disappoint at all, it gets better every time. There are talks, nothing penned in yet, but it’s in the works and we will be down there soon enough.
Did you try Vegemite when you were over?
Ah, Vegemite. (Laughs) Not yet, I don’t get it, but I’m keen to try it out next time. I’m not going to be a wimp - it has to happen. (Laughs)
How did becoming a Dad change your outlook on life, touring and the band?
It’s changed quite a bit, it’s not like I needed a fire under me, but it has lit a second one and gives me something to work towards. I have a son now and I have to be an example to, and I have to support. It’s pretty heavy man, it’s a huge responsibility. This is coming from a guy who has been lucky enough to be in a successful band and with 3 awesome band members and a big crew, I have a responsibility them all to be the best. It’s most rewarding thing, I can’t even put into words how incredible it is. It never ceases to amaze me. But I get little sleep nowadays. (Laughs) My little guy is awesome and means the world to me and my wife, it’s so awesome to be a dad, I’m so lucky.
You will have to put a bass in his hands one day. (Laughs)
Oh my gosh. Dude, we have lots of instruments around the house, it’s like instrument heaven. Especially, the piano I learned which is really cool sentimentally. Arejay, our drummer gave Emerson, my son, his first ever drum kit for his baby shower, a miniature one, If I’m jamming along on something, he starts to bang along and he is slowly figuring it out and picking it up, it’s just awesome.
So, for a bit of fun, what would be some of your desert island discs be?
Definitely The Beatles without a doubt, Abbey Road, The White Album. Let’s just make it a Beatles boxset. Done. I’d definitely put the Smashing Pumpkins in there as well, it’s so hard to pick. (Laughs)
What do you do for fun when you aren’t in band mode or dad duties?
I LOVE motorsports, give me anything anything on 2 or 4 wheels. I’m a racing fan, a petrol-head. I have a dirt bike and love it, I try and be as careful as I can too., don’t want to break any bones to stop me from rocking out! (Laughs)
Have you got any final words for the Aussie & NZ fans?
We cannot wait to get back, we love all of our fans down under. We hope you love the new album and we can’t wait to bear our teeth live and get the party started!
Pre-order Vicious HERE.
Written by Sam Radojcin