Nine years later, Evanescence and Halestorm are embarking on a co-headlining tour that is scheduled to make a stop at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth on Saturday, Nov. 20, with special guest Plush.
Lee recalls that first night in El Paso fondly, saying she had been admiring Hale’s performance of “Break In” and simply asked to join her.
“I love harmonies and had been singing them to myself just for the enjoyment of singing along,” Lee says. “That day I went over to Lzzy and said ‘Hey, if you want me to sing on that song, I’d love to!’ So, we went to the dressing room and practiced it a couple of times on a keyboard and that was that. For the rest of that tour, and now nine years later on this one, it’s been a highlight of my night.”
Whether it’s a professional appearance or during fan interactions, Lee and Hale seem to always be in great spirits when they appear together.
Hale likes to keep her fans close, constantly interacting with them via Twitter and other social media platforms. In many ways, she says this relationship with her fans has strengthened into something more like a family than a typical fandom in which she and the band would be the focus.
“I see this amazing community of people," Hale says. "And if I see anybody saying ‘I’m having a rough time, I’m in a dark place' or any one of those things, [other fans] will come out of the woodwork and be like ‘Hey, I’m here if you want to talk, DM me, we all see you and appreciate you.’ It’s just so great to watch all of this go down.”
If you spend enough time on Twitter, you’ll eventually bump into an #AskLzzyAnything conversation in which Hale, during her downtime, throws out the hashtag and fields questions about her gear, shoes or even heavier topics like sexuality or mental health. Hale has always been candid about, well, everything, which is surprising given her “past” personality.
“I call myself a ‘reformed introvert,’” Hale says. “When I was a kid, I was really shy and I didn’t know how to come out of that. I credit being in this band for forcing me to find that. Over the years, I think those two separate entities have come together to form who I am and I’m really proud of that.”
This candor is also present in Halestorm’s music. Many of the songs Hale writes are true-life tales, and not all of them are squeaky-clean. She says that while she had some apprehension about being so personal at first, it ended up endearing her to many fans over the years.
“The more I am transparent and honest with myself — and believe me, I’m going to make mistakes with that — you find yourself more connected with the people that love you,” Hale says. “I was able to be more creative in my songs knowing that these people do know a lot about me. It feels good to just put everything out there versus trying to hide things or stand behind the veil of the ‘rock star thing.’
"The reward from that is that I get these kids with their parents at the meet-and-greets and they’ll say how much that meant to their daughter and the fact that she sees me as a real person and that gives her confidence.”
Hale recalls one particular fan from El Paso named Eduardo who attended all of Halestorm’s early gigs in the city. She admired his dedication to attend every show and kept in touch with him online for an extended period of time.
“I don’t know if I would have done that for one my favorite bands,” Hale says. “These amazing people that take time out of their schedule, buy the tickets even though they probably already know the setlist or whatever, it’s neat. Considering we’re a bunch of dorks from Pennsylvania who never even thought we’d get to this point, it’s just a beautiful thing to be a part of. We travel around and see so many things, it’s so great to see a familiar face.”
While Lee also maintains a healthy, loving relationship with her fans, she is undoubtedly the more reserved of the two when it comes to “putting oneself out there,” as she says.
“It feels good to share as much of my real self as I can,” Lee says. “But I’m also protective of my family and we like our privacy. I take breaks from social media here and there; it helps keep my feet on the ground.”
Lee says she's learned to balance being vulnerable with her own desire to connect with the public.
“No matter what you do, when you’re on anybody’s pedestal, somebody’s gonna try and take you down,” she says. “I’ve learned to flick right past the hateful stuff — it’s worthless. By keeping my heart intact, remembering what I’m worth isn’t based on public opinion, I can share as much of myself as I want to without the fear that somebody won’t like it."
And Lee sees a great benefit to sharing her inner world with fans.
"I’ve found that particularly through music, the more vulnerable and real I allow myself to be, the greater the reward both for me and the fans," she says. "Because I feel such release, and it’s also potentially more relatable. I think we’re all very similar deep down.”
While Lee and Hale are preeminent ambassadors of rock music in the public eye, Evanescence and Halestorm have their share of pop hookiness that allows their music to reach a wider audience, and in an era of genre lines blurring ever increasingly, that’s always a good thing.
“I love good pop, especially on the electronic side,” Lee says. “I grew up loving Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Bjork, et cetera. I’m also just a big fan of vocal melodies. Things that grab you and stick in your head. I listen to Kiiara, Halsey, love Billie Eilish. For me personally though, the weight of the band behind a catchy, singable melody is what sets it on fire.”
Hale echoes the sentiment.
“I love catchy tunes, I love everything [pop music] is known for," she says. "I navigate that line in the same way I did as a teenager. There were two types of female-fronted anything: There were the pop girls, Jewel, et cetera, and there was the complete opposite, girls who wanted to be like Disturbed or something very heavy. I didn’t see myself on either of those sides, so I had to create a path for myself that I felt comfortable in. It’s this kind of melting pot of all of those things.”
"Considering we’re a bunch of dorks from Pennsylvania who never even thought we’d get to this point, it’s just a beautiful thing to be a part of." – Lzzy Hale on her fandom
Hale says the fact that she was raised on a combination of classic pop music like The Monkees and the Osmonds along with what's now referred to as “classic rock” lead to her path of making her own hooky brand of hard rock music.
“This kind of gut feeling happens whenever we’re creating something,” Hale says. “We know that we might be leaning too far into the pop world or too far in the other direction. We’re creating the blend of music that we enjoy and want to hear.” She pauses, chuckles, and says something that, according to her, many rock and metal fans disagree with: “Pop is not a dirty word.”
Commenting on Parque Courts singer Andrew Savage’s recent observation that rock music has a tendency to “cannibalize itself,” Lee says that she hopes to avoid the trappings of stylistic repetition in her own music.
“I think you always have to look toward the future, reinvent, reimagine,” she says. “That’s what really makes it art — to look at something in a new way, to express and interpret another side of it that maybe hasn’t been considered so much before. Exploration and experimentation is what makes it exciting. And if you think about it, when we look back to music of the past that’s influenced us so much, that’s why. That’s what they were doing then.”
Hale jumps in, saying that all of her collaborations outside of the rock world, such as her ventures with Lindsey Stirling or Eric Church, always beg for that rock ‘n’ roll touch that she carries with her no matter what genre she’s operating in.
“I love being an ambassador of ‘rock,’ and all of my collaborators have said, ‘We just want you to be you, that’s why you’re here,’” she says.
Hale lets out a sharp laugh, speaking with an audible mile-wide smile as she readies her final thoughts.
“I doesn’t matter whether you’re a pop star, a rap star or a country star,” she says. “Everybody wants to be a rock star.”