Grammy Winners Take Wales By Hale-Storm

Striding out onto the stage with upraised hands and genuine grins, the four piece band is greeted by a roar of applause from and anxious, excited crowd. The relatively small Cardiff venue is packed with hundreds of adoring fans, whose ages seem to range from young teenagers, to older men in their forties or fifties – complete with biker jackets, tattoos and hairstyles that scream that they’ve been in the music scene before some of the other guests were even born. As if hypnotised, the moment that the singer, an attractive brunette in her twenties, opens her mouth and her smooth yet melodically gravelly voice floats through the air, the entire crowd quietens in awe. “In case you guys don’t know who we are, we’re Halestorm! This is our first time here in Wales, and we’re so excited to be here.”

The introduction’s clearly unnecessary, though, as the crowd is abundant with people wearing their shirts, hats and other merchandise, and the atmosphere takes on an electric quality during the wait for the set to begin. Fronted by the enigmatic and beautiful Lzzy Hale, Halestorm is a band that has taken the world of rock music by storm in recent years. Founded by herself and younger brother (and the bands drummer) Arejay, back in 1998 and having their career kick-started by Atlantic Records in 2005, the band has been on incredible journey over the last fifteen years and, after years touring the globe, have found themselves for the first time in Wales – a long way away from their small hometown in Pennsylvania.

As soon as the set begins, it’s clear how and why Halestorm have been able to make it so far and collect such a large fan base so far away from home. The music is reminiscent of an older generation of rock, but with a fresh new twist.  Both Hale siblings also possess a brilliant stage presence, with Lzzy freely interacting with the crowd between songs, as well as belting out flawless powerful notes, whilst Arejay’s drumming is less of a musical skill and more of a show, as he does tricks and spins with his drumsticks, all whilst never missing a beat.. But breaking up from the heavy rock songs and powerfully brutal lyrics, the band falls silent and still, and Lzzy takes her place behind the keyboard on stage.  With a soft smile the singer declares “this song is for all of our fans; without you guys we’d never have gotten this far.” With that, a soft melodic ballad begins to play, and sure enough it’s a love song – though an unconventional one as it addresses the bands fans, and not a lover. The sincerity behind the lyrics is painfully obvious to all those in the vicinity,  and all at once it’s clear to all in sight that this is a band whose kept a level head and still care deeply for the people who love their music – despite their rise to fame and recent success.

On February 10th of this year, just one month before kick-starting their UK tour in the heart of the Welsh capital, Halestorm won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for their hit song “Love Bites (So Do I)”.  It is the first major award for the band, and one which they never expected to win as they beat a cluster of major rock legends such as Iron Maiden, Lamb of God, Megadeth and Marylin Manson – all of whom Lzzy admits were the source of inspiration for her own music career. In a touching and sincere statement of humility, Arejay says of their win: “It’s still surreal. I’m still waiting for somebody to jump out of the bushes and tell us we’re being pranked. It was pretty obvious we didn’t expect that at all. Our version of winning was getting the nomination.” The shock of their win was evident at the Grammy’s themselves;  a stunned and tearful Lzzy clearly had no speech prepared as she tenderly thanked the family, friends and fans that had brought her beloved band so far, as well as their record label.

Despite the band’s own shock at their well-deserved success, to the fans it’s clear that the recognition is well deserved. Starting off when they were as young as 10 and 13, the Hale siblings have dedicated nearly 17 years of their life to crafting a career out of the thing they loved most – music. Born and raised in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, the siblings were encouraged to indulge in their musical talents from an early age. Both siblings were taught how to play the piano at the tender age of five, before Lzzy eventually progressed onto the guitar, and Arejay found his calling as a drummer. From that point, the pair made a valiant effort to become successful starting off small and entering local fairs and talent shows (they placed third in one, Arejay laughing that “We lost to a tap-dancing cowgirl, who came in second. That was the only time [previous to the Grammy’s] we ever won an award.”).

 Persistence proved to be their strong point, and in a bid to prove how dedicated they were to making it big, the band went on an almost permanent tour – at one point doing as many as 260 shows per year. Their persistence paid off, however, and soon the former small-town band was getting the recognition it deserved; touring with rock giants such as Shinedown, Welsh legends Bullet For My Valentine, and Three Days Grace. Lzzy even found herself with her own custom made range of Gibson guitars, and in April 2012 their latest album “Strange Case Of…” dominated the number one spot in the rock charts. In the same year, the hit single from the album “Here’s To Us” featured on the popular show, ‘Glee’ allowing the band to reach out to a larger, mainstream audience. It’s an incredibly different world from the one they used to live in, and going from placing third in county fairs to winning Grammy’s is a testament to their skills and determination to never back down. “16 years I’ve been working at this,” Lzzy states, demonstrating how hard work prevails yet still retaining modesty “and be a part of the event was more than four kids from Pennsylvania could ever ask for.”

But far from being simply the heart-warming tale of a small town band rising to the top, Halestorm’s recent Grammy win also signified a new era in music.  Halestorm currently holds the title of being the first and only female fronted band to have won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock/ Metal Performance – a massive achievement for a genre that’s dominated by men and male fronted bands. Working hard to set themselves apart in a musical niche that see’s very few females grace the stage, Halestorm have seemingly done the impossible. In a massive achievement for women vocalists everywhere, particularly of the metal and rock genres, Lzzy Hale has risen to the top and is now one of the most popular and sought after rock-stars of the era. With her powerful, inspiring lyrics, often describing how women can be strong and independent, she has become an inspiration for girls across the globe.   With a delighted, if not a little awed grin, Lzzy recognises her achievement for her gender with pride, accepting the award on behalf of female rockers the world over: “I’m so proud to represent for my genre, which is the beating heart and inspiration for so many other genres. I’m also proud to represent for all my female rockers out there as I am the first female to win a Grammy in this category.”

Back in Cardiff, the show comes to an end, and a perspiring Lzzy grins at the crowd, speaking as the last of the guitar riffs still linger in the air, “we’ve been Halestorm, and it’s been an honour playing here tonight. I’d like to thank all my Welshmen and women for supporting us and being so patient. You rock and we love you.” Finishing with a bow, Arejay throws his drumsticks into the crowd, whilst Lzzy scatters her picks at her adoring fans. Then, in a touching display of affection, all four band members hold up a Welsh flag, with the promise than they will return to the country shortly.  Despite their tired eyes and obviously aching muscles the four-piece linger backstage to meet as many of their fans as possible – including some that had waited in line for up to five hours, just to catch a glimpse of their idols. As Halestorm sign merchandise and tickets, their soft smiles indicate just how overwhelmed they are by their own success and with the next stretch of their next tour about to kick off, refreshingly it is blatantly obvious that their recent triumph has not transferred to their egos.


Writing & shit.


As some of you may or may not know, I am doing a degree in English Lit & Creative Writing, and in my final year I get the opportunity to be published, should I so wish. Without giving too much away, here’s a couple of little snippets from a piece I’m working on. So if anyone could give me some feed-back, it’d be much appreciated.

Snippet 1:

The kid was using me as and when he pleased, as if I was some kind of toy whose sole purpose was to satisfy his boredom. If it had been any other person on the planet doing that – picking me up and dropping me again on a whim – I’d have walked away right there and then. But it wasn’t anyone else, it was [Name], and the kid was so embedded into my very being that I was more than happy with my sanity suffering, all just so I could continue to be his fucking yo-yo.

The realization that I might actually love [Name], not that high school bullshit but the real thing, hit me then and it frightened me beyond belief. Not only did I care for [Name] more than I’d ever cared for anyone or anything, but I had to cope with the fact that the person I was in love with used me whenever it suited him. I knew that I was tumbling head first into something dangerous, something that had the potential to rot my heart from the inside out, but by that time I’d given him too much of my soul to simply walk away.

A romantic might have praised me on my blind adoration and dedication to such a masochistic romance, but I knew better.

I was an addict, plain and simple, and [Name] was my drug. I was heading down a dark and poisonous path, but I needed my fix too badly to care. 

The idea of giving up on [Name] was destroying me, because as cheesy as it sounded, I literally couldn’t imagine my life without him. It was as if he’d taken a bowie knife and carved his name deep into my very being. The cut would heal, but it would scar and leave a permanent reminder of him. The brutality of the situation hit me hard, but nothing could ever stop me craving [Name] the way I did. No matter how badly he hurt me, no matter how deep the kid cut, I would willingly give myself to him. I was a pathetic, weak mess, willing to fall to my knees for a person that would undoubtedly hurt me repeatedly.

The fact of the matter was that I was in love with someone who I was pretty sure didn’t reciprocate my feelings. The enormity of that realization was something that stole the breath from my lungs, and had me trembling. Logically I knew I should just walk away. But the name was already carved, the cut already scarred, and the addiction bone deep. 


Snippet 2:

There’s something extremely personal about getting a tattoo, and unless you’ve had a tattoo or you’re a tattoo artist, you cannot possibly understand the connection that passes between the client and the artist. As the person being tattooed, you’re letting someone else touch you, touching areas of your body for extended periods of time, and inflicting pain on you in order to create something beautiful. As an artist you’re leaving something permanent on someone’s body, and you’re being trusted to turn something personal into something tangible.

Often I’d talk with clients, and even if I never saw them again a bond would be forged between us. I’d left a legacy of myself on their body, and they’d told me their stories. Snippets of their lives spilling easily from the tongue as they explained the reasoning behind the tattoos. I felt like a therapist at times, but now I was faced with the one person who knew me most of all.

And the one person who I was petrified of opening up to again.

He winced when the needle first touched his skin, but said nothing. The silence was choking me, so I had no choice but to break it.

"So what are you doing back? I thought you were rid of this town from the moment you went to university."

"I dropped out," The outline of the [tattoo] was almost completely done before [Name] replied.

"Well, shit," I mumbled, using my hand to still [Name] when he shifted. For the first time in nearly a year I was touching him. "What happened?"

"Something was missing."

The tone of his voice told me that no matter how hard I pressed, he wouldn’t tell me anymore. I began working on the colour, and predictably I felt [Name] relax. Colour and shading were typically easier to endure that the outline, and the change in pressure seemed to have an effect on [Name]. He took a deep breath, held it before letting it out slowly. His head tilted up, watching me as I worked, and his gaze burned into my skull.

"[Name 2]?"


"You really did love me, didn’t you?"

The question was unexpected, and although a shiver ran along my spine, my hand stayed as steady as a rock. That, at least, was one of my better qualities. When it came to my art nothing could sway me. Not even the love of my life ripping open the wounds that had only just began to knit together and scar.

"Do you even have to fucking ask?"

"I just need to hear it."

"Yes," I sighed, reaching for a fresh cotton cloth to wipe away at a few spots of blood that were beginning to form on [Name]’s’ skin. "I loved you so fucking much. Not that it matters anymore."

"Fuck," [Name] hissed. "Shit, I’m sorry."

They were the two words I’d wanted to hear most over the last 12 months. The kid had made me fall in love with him, made the choice to publically deny that love in order to protect himself from demons that seemingly only existed in his mind, and then had upped and left me, leaving me miserable and alone. An apology was all I had wanted, and now that I’d had it I didn’t know how to feel.

If I was honest with myself, I’d always secretly hoped that should [Name] ever apologise, that would be it. He’d come back into my life as the person I’d fallen in love with, but this time without the secrecy and deception. We’d be together and happy. But today I’d had the confirmation I’d dreaded getting. [Name] had admitted that he’d loved just one person in his life, and the name didn’t match mine.

Apology or no apology, my delusional happy-ever-after would remain nothing more than a fairytale. 


Novel snippet:


I haven’t posted one of these in a while, but I thought I would now as I’m currently reworking a chapter. Please bare in mind, it is still a very early draft, and is a work in progress.

Without hesitation I downed the shot, wincing only slightly at the taste. Just nineteen years of life meant that I had not acquired a taste for drinking straights, even if I did love the sense of emptiness they brought.  I would not grumble, though, and that shot would be followed in quick succession by several more, each one bringing me closer and closer to the oblivion I desperately sought after.

Soon I would be losing my best friends and part time lover, and I feared the isolation more and more with every passing minute. The sun was setting on our summer, and all that was left of our time together were the last vestiges of sunlight peaking over the horizon. I’d interwove and anchored what was left of my own shattered self with the lives of my friends, so much so that I was no longer sure that I was actually my own being without their presence. I relied so heavily on their near constant companionship that the realization that soon they would be leaving, and I would be left to cope on my own, had me up at night, pacing the room as my stomach did somersaults. When that car had crashed and burned, it had taken me down with it. Though I could be patched up as best as humanly possible, I would still be little more than a cut-and-shut person. Simply parts strewn together in a parody of repair. I could mimic the actions of a fully functioning person, but that didn’t mean that the reality was I now little more than a crumbling shell, with rotten insides and a mentality that left me teetering somewhere between grossly at the mercy of on others and utterly insane. Sometimes I would lie awake at night, having just expelled the contents of my putrid stomach into the toilet bowl, and I would honestly fear for my life. Something would tell me, as I struggled to breathe, that my existence was entirely dependent on Frankie, Noah and Jake. If a tree falls in a forest, but there’s no-one around to hear it, does it make a sound? If I’m left alone, and there’s no-one to watch me suffer, will I still exist? Somehow I would convince myself that my life was conditional, and the moment that the three of them left me, I would simply fade from reality. It was in those moments, as I would claw at my scalp, pulling hair at the roots in great fistfuls, that I would ping-pong between being completely terrified by the prospect of my impending extermination, and begging the world to just hurry up and destroy me. I was tired of living my contorted, mangled life, full of cold sweats and abusive love affairs.

And if I found my temporary oblivion in a vodka bottle, then so be it.



By Leah-Marie Cain

When I close my eyes I see
Your lips pressed to his
As supple hands explore bodies
Through layers of fabric
And regret.
Fingers woven in hair,
Mouths biting, sucking, intertwining
And I am a foggy memory
Lost in the haze of selfishness and lust.

Though now he sleeps
Soundly by my side,
Content and in love with a girl who aches
With adoration for him,
When I close my eyes I see
Your lips on his,
A million possibilities of what happened next.
So I weep
For the time I was forgotten
And how I ‘ll never know the truth.

Sometimes I write poetry and it’s almost always angst-y, and always a pile of crap.


By Leah-Marie Cain

In the dead of night
After sweaty skinned clinches
When she is collapsed on his chest,
She wonders if it felt the same
When another’s lips were affixed to his throat
And a strangers body
Was moving in rhythm with his.

And did the foreigner moan,
Or arch into the hot, sultry darkness
The same way she did,
When skilled hands played writhing bodies
Like an instrument,
Or tongue’s trailed from ear to clavicle 
Tasting salty skin;
Leaving a trail of goose pimples
Across trembling flesh,
As hands clawed desperately at sheets
Whilst limbs shudder and fail.

But most of all,
When she is buckled and limp
Resting in her paramours arms
Like a fragile, naked doll
Being serenaded by his beating heart,
She wonders if it meant something.
If he ever thinks back to that encounter
With the unfamiliar fiend,
And prefers the way the other moved their hips,
Or breathed his name
In a moment of ecstasy. 
And she tortures herself,
In the dead of night,
With the images of her lover’s lover.



By Leah-Marie Cain

There once was a girl captivated with the boy,
Who fumbled nervously
With the lighter in his pocket
And offered her his jacket
On a starlit Winter’s eve.

And she became enamored with the boy, 
Who forgot her coat,
And left her bag in the restaurant
Without reservations,
So serenaded her over  a Starbucks.

And she was infatuated with the boy,
Who walked her to the station,
And held her close
Kissing her tentatively 
And forgave her when she giggled.

There once was a woman who loved the man,
Fumbling nervously with his lighter,
As under the  stars in heaven,
He told her that he loved her
And proved that fairy-tales come true.

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By Leah-Marie Cain

Brilliant, beaming, bright
I bask in the glow of your excellence
Face turned to admire
The pristine curve of marble lips
Cuts of sardonyx famed by a fan of black
The urge to reach out and touch
—To cup perfection in the hands of inadiquacy—
Surges through veins
To aching, waiting fingertips.
Yet such faultlessness comes at a price
And should I fly too close
My sun,
I shall melt into feathers and wax.

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