Arejay Hale Reveals Why Halestorm’s ‘Back From the Dead’ Album Is His Most Challenging Yet
If things go as you'd hope, most bands will evolve over time, and for Halestorm, the band's new album Back From the Dead will provide fans with a definite step forward in terms of the drumming according to the band's drummer Arejay Hale.
Hale spoke passionately about the change that occurred behind the kit for the new album with Bloomington / Normal Rock 96.7's Wes Styles and what led to the change in the group's approach to their drum sound on the upcoming record.
According to Hale, he had been working closely with songwriters Scott Stevens and Taylor Carroll on another still-to-be-revealed project and some of his drumming there inspired a change in approach behind the kit when Hale says some of the drumming hadn't really popped and felt a little dull on the new record.
"I started programming drums for that project and I'd send him drum files for [Scott] to put the demo together and he'd be like, 'You can play this stuff?,' and I'm like, 'Yeah!,'" recalled Hale, speaking about Stevens initial thoughts upon hearing his more fleshed out approach.
As Hale explained, "I'm not mad about it, I'm fine with it and I'm proud of everything that we've done and I'm glad we did it because we did it for a reason. But we were a newer band trying to make our mark and we had to kind of try to fit this mold and there were parameters and we had to be on radio .... with all these rock bands that we've known forever who established this big arena sound with big and wide open but just simpler instrumental parts."
"The great thing about those bands is that they're so good about leaving so much space in the song and that's why those bands sound so great in a big arena. So we always had that mentality that we need to simplify and play everything real simple so there's room to breathe," explained the drummer. "But when we went into this album, we kind of had that mindset that everything kind of sounds dull and kind of boring, so Scott started throwing all these crazy curveballs with the song demos and was like, 'Hey, try this, try this, try this,' and I'm doing all these weird things that felt so foreign to me. I'm playing drum parts that I would never even think of as a drummer and it's coming from someone who is not a drummer but just an incredible songwriter, but he helped me write these crazy drum parts."
Hale laughs, "It was really difficult for me to get comfortable at learning the songs and then create them and humanize them in the studio cause since he's not a drummer, he'll have a part where I'm playing a tom, a cymbal and a snare and a kick drum, and I'm like, 'Scott, I don't have five arms' (laughs). So I had to humanize it and that was a really big challenge."
The drummer admits that there had been plenty of compromise in service of the songs in the past, but he reveals how stoked he is that the the trust factor is there not only with the band but also with producer Nick Raskulinecz and Stevens to push for the new approach. "Scott and Nick [Raskulinecz] really helped me find my voice as a drummer, and this is the album where I think you're hearing the kind of playing that I've always wanted to do. So that's why I feel so amped about it," says Hale.
The drummer credits the song "Wicked Ways" as the turning point for him on the album, with the double bass parts he laid down for the song causing Raskulinecz to ask that he re-track the songs they had done prior to meet the energy of the new drumming sound. "My bandmates loved it and Nick loved it and management, label, everybody in our team loved it, so really that song was the one that opened up the floodgates," says Hale.
"I'm just so glad that we're at the point where the four of us, Nick and Scott, we all felt like we had this incredible trust in each other. We know what we're doing and we all had this incredible vision of what we want this album to be, so let's just go for it."