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  • Atlantic Records, Rolling Stone Magazine, and Garnier Fructis Present "Do You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star" – Halestorm Talks What It's Like Being on the Label and More

    Fri, 10 Jun 2011 08:20:57

    Atlantic Records, Rolling Stone Magazine, and Garnier Fructis Present "Do You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star" – Halestorm Talks What It's Like Being on the Label and More - In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and "Dolor" author Rick Florino...

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    Atlantic Records, Rolling Stone Magazine, and Garnier Fructis have teamed up for the "Do You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star" contest.

    The grand prize is every rocker-in-training's dream. Of 16 unsigned contestants, one will be the first unsigned act ever to grace the cover of Rolling Stone, win a recording contract with Atlantic Records, and perform on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

    Of the original 16 contestants, fans have whittled down the pack to two—songstress Lelia Broussard and Canadian rockers, The Sheepdogs. These final two contestants are set to play a battle of the bands-style set at this year's Bonnaroo Festival [June 9-12 in Manchester, TN]. Rolling Stone and Atlantic have put the power back in fans' hands, allowing them to choose "the next big thing" via this contest.

    Fans can vote on the finalists here!

    About the contest, The Sheepdogs frontman Ewan Currie excitedly exclaims, "This competition means awareness. So many more people know who the Sheepdogs are now. We always felt we had good music, we just were lacking in the attention department. This competition has really cast a big spotlight on us, and we love it."

    Like most musicians, Currie's journey towards a career playing music began at a young age. "As a little kid I felt like I listened to music differently from my friends," he goes on. "I listened carefully—breaking it down: thinking about how it was made, what the parts were, what instruments were used, and things like that. I didn't realize it was what I should be pursuing until I was about 20 when we started the band."

    Meanwhile, Lelia can't remember a time she wasn't singing. She says, "Being a 'singer' was always what I said I wanted to be when I grew up—that or a waitress [Laughs]. I'm not sure why I wanted to be a waitress. That's an awful job. But everything really clicked when I started writing songs when I was 13. I just sort of ran with it and never looked back."

    Now, she's only looking forward. "To be on the cover of Rolling Stone would be such a huge honor," she exclaims. "Thinking about seeing my idols on the cover growing up and then getting to be on the same cover myself is kind of mind boggling."

    Every rocker's story is different, so we spoke to Halestorm frontwoman Lzzy Hale about her experience signing to Atlantic Records, developing the band's sound with the label, and now working on Halestorm's sophomore effort for the label.

    Lzzy even got to play Late Night with Jimmy Fallon during the first album's cycle, which she describes as "Awesome!"

    Given her praise for Atlantic, Broussard or The Sheepdogs have a lot to look forward to…

    What's the story behind Halestorm's signing to Atlantic?

    In 2004, we started shopping ourselves to labels, and we met with absolutely everybody. They all basically said, "We love you, but we don't know what to do with you." I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that there hadn't been a female in rock for about 15 years. So, we decided to simply keep doing what we were doing. At the time, we were playing about 250 dates a year on our own. Then, we went up to play in New York City at a place called Don Hill's. It's actually closed down since because the lovely Mr. Hill has passed away. He was a pinnacle point in us getting signed to Atlantic. He loved us, and he told us to come back once a week like the house band. He wanted to help us build a following in New York City, and he said he would bring his friends to the shows. One of Don's lawyer friends came to a gig and really liked us. The next time we played, the lawyer brought Lee from Atlantic, who eventually signed us. However, nothing really happened for the next seven months. Every time we went back to Don Hill's, somebody from Atlantic would be there watching. We got to know everybody and their families [Laughs]. Slowly but surely, Craig Kallman [Chairman/CEO] came out, and one show was packed with everyone from Atlantic. At that point, they finally popped the question!

    Did you say "Yes" immediately?

    We already knew everyone and we loved them so it was like, "Why not give it a shot?" Atlantic was one of our favorite record labels because everybody we grew up listening to had been on the label. We ended up signing on June 28th of 2005. Atlantic has such a grassroots approach to their music. They're very passionate about it. They also let us find ourselves before we went into the studio. We were signed in 2005, but instead of going into the studio and trying to knock out a bunch of half-ass songs, we decided to record a live EP with five tracks. It was called One and Done because it was just that night with no overdubs. We ended up doing one of our first national tours after that, and we sold a ton of those little EPs. In the process, we really began building up a core fan base around the country. Then, when we finally went into the studio, we already had a bit of a foundation. We had an idea of what we were going for with recording because we'd gotten up close and personal with the people who were attracted to our sound on the road. It was a really cool way to go about things, and the label helped encouraged it.

    What was that whole signing experience like?

    They gave us this opportunity, and we didn't even realize how lucky we were at the time to have their guidance so early. We've been a band since I was 13-years-old. You read up on everything, and you try to prepare yourself for everything because this is going to be your career. However, nothing can really prepare you for the music business. The industry is constantly changing. Everybody at Atlantic was so nice and caring though. They were basically like, "You've never been here before. This is how things work." They taught us how to be smart about our career. They were behind us no matter what. It's like understanding your family. They invest in you, and you're investing in them, but everybody's on the same team. That's remained a constant throughout the years. We're all shooting for the same goal—a 25-year career.

    How did Atlantic encourage you to evolve and develop?

    It was so helpful to hear from other people who have seen every act under the sun, developed bands, and broken them to radio. Most bands make this mistake. You know yourself but you think about it very internally. Maybe you're doing something amazing, but you don't even know it and you're not accentuating it enough. They empowered me to open up and be the woman in rock 'n' roll that I wanted to have. Nobody had really said that to me before. Parents and band mates would always say, "Be yourself, do your thing." However, you don't really know what that is until somebody shines some light on it. It's neat to have that perspective. They wanted to help us hone and develop that voice. Julie Greenwald said, "I want to encourage you to be that rock star that you want to be, and we'll be behind you 100 percent. The only way we can do this is if you get on the stage and are a voice for these kids that don't have a woman in rock 'n' roll." It was incredible to hear that. You have to understand yourself as an artist before you can convince anybody else. Instead of trying to force something down our throats, Atlantic let us go out on the road and experiment with all of these songs in order to figure out where we fit. They didn't say, "You should be like this because it's selling right now." They have a great balance.

    How do you feel like you've grown since signing to Atlantic?

    There have been a couple different steps of confidence. I found my identity when we first started the band. I'm a girl in a band, I'm carving out my own path, and I'm not going to lead the traditional life with 2.3 kids, a husband, and a dog. I was very proud of that growing up. Getting signed showed me this other side of myself because as the leader of the band, I volunteered to be the politician as well. As nerve-racking as it is to be responsible for your band and your career, it forced my hand to be more confident in that side of myself. I'd already found my confidence in my performance and my artistic side. I knew this was what I wanted to do. However, I learned how I work politically and as a business person. This is the music business, and it's not the '80s anymore when you could be reckless and someone would take everything for you. I realized that I secretly love taking care of the business side too [Laughs]. Atlantic were very patient with me too. I learned that I could hold my own in that area. It's a great thing to learn about yourself and know that you can handle your own career even if you're a little girl from Pennsylvania.

    Has the experience of being signed help inspire new music?

    For this upcoming record, we're actually focusing on what we've experienced on the record. This is what I love about Atlantic. Everybody from the label came out at different times during the 300 shows we did last year, and everybody took something away from our show as an audience member. They weren't analyzing, but they were reacting to what they were feeling. At the big meeting we had about this album with the label, the conclusion was that this new music has to be for the diehard Halestorm fans. Atlantic has encouraged in writing for that area. A lot of that has inspired the new music because it's wonderful to have a label that comes down to the frontlines. It's easy to sit in an office and not experience what is going down on the road. It's not like they're developing a product here; they're developing a band and establishing a lifestyle and a career based off of people's passion for what we do, our passion for what we do, and the label's passion for what we do. Every time, I go into the Atlantic offices, everybody is so glad to be doing their jobs. It's not just a job to them, which was so refreshing. It's not just a job for us either. It's our lives.

    What separates Atlantic Records as a label?

    A lot of it is artist development and their capacity to care about the music. They really pay attention to what makes a certain artist stand out. They understand that not every song or band works the same. They want to be in it for the long haul with us. They're in it until it becomes "Cougar Rock" and I'm up there like Madonna trying to sing "I Get Off" [Laughs]. That means there's no time limit. We keep our eyes on the prize together. That's how you have a career in rock music.

    Rick Florino

    The contest is brought to you by Garnier Fructis' new Pure Clean, the most environmentally friendly haircare line ever: check out the site here!

    Photo Credit: Kennedy ETC [Lelia, Sheepdogs]

    Photo Credit: Phil Mucci [Halestorm]

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