Halestorm: Rocking hard, making history and planning third album _lowres

Photo provided by Atlantic Records -- Halestorm

Singer-guitarist Lzzy Hale and her little brother, drummer Arejay, founded Halestorm in 1997. She was 13, he was 10. Their parents gave them permission.

Halestorm played in bars when the Hale siblings were still underage. In 2005, they signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records. The group’s album debut, released in 2009, sold 300,000 copies.

A little more than 17 years into Halestorm history, the central Pennsylvania band has made rock history. “Love Bites (So Do I),” the first single from the group’s 2012 album, “The Strange Case of …”, is the first song by a band featuring a female front person to top Billboard’s Active Rock chart.

“It’s cool to look back today and be like, ‘Wow, we’re still doing this, guys,’ ” the classic rock-inspired Lzzy Hale said recently.

Halestorm, on Eric Church’s Outsiders World Tour, opens for the country music star Thursday at the Smoothie King Center.

Halestorm’s “Love Bites (So Do I)” also won a Grammy award for best hard rock/metal performance. Follow-up singles “Freak Like Me” and “Here’s To Us” were Active Rock hits, too. “The Strange Case of …” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock albums chart.

Other achievements by the rock-based yet impressively versatile Halestorm include Lzzy Hale’s two cover appearances on Revolver magazine’s annual “Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock” issue.

To get to where they are, Lzzy Hale and her bandmates put in plenty of work.

“The work has always been a passion of ours,” she said. “To do anything you love as a living, it takes a lot of hard work. We played everywhere and anywhere they’d let us play. We’d play bars and there would only be, like, six people in the room. Many things in the past 17 years led us to this point.”

Speaking by phone prior to a sold-out Halestorm headlining show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the enthusiasm Hale continues to feel for her work couldn’t be missed.

“I’m just as proud to be playing a sold-out show tonight in Lancaster, right now, as I was getting our first bar gig,” she said. “It’s still the same sense of pride and fire that we had when we were kids. That’s probably why we’re so immature on our tour bus.”

Meanwhile, Halestorm’s recently completed third album is waiting in the wings for release this year. Halestorm recorded it in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce, who previously worked with Cage the Elephant and Eric Church.

Church invited Halestorm to join him on his Outsiders World Tour.

“Eric sought us out,” Hale said. “His entire band, they’re just crazy rockers and metal heads. It’s really cool that some country guys are fans of ours.”

Fans of country stars Church and Jason Aldean, to name a few, know there’s a lot of rock in country these days. And some songs on “The Strange Case of …” — especially anthem “Here’s To Us” and the piano-based ballad “Break In” — are easy fits for modern-day country concerts.

“We did our first couple of dates with Eric last week,” Hale said. “It’s cool to play for a country crowd, 90 percent of which has no idea who we are. We get there and we do our thing. It’s been awesome.”

Hale is proud of the gender breakthrough she achieved with “Love Bites (So Do I)” and pleased that, in recent years, more rock girls are attending Halestorm shows.

“In the past couple of years, it’s tipped from being primarily dudes to a 50-50 split, if not 60-40,” she said. “There’s a lot of crazy girls.”

Hale’s also super-honored that Gibson USA issued the Lzzy Hale signature limited edition Explorer guitar in September.

“That’s a personal triumph,” she said. “I sent my mom and dad one. They cried.”