Lzzy Hale is kicking butt in her band Halestorm and putting a fresh face on the metal scene.
You don't need to tell Lzzy Hale she has turned into something of a role model.
"I've been trying to keep my drunken tweeting to a minimum," laughed the frontwoman for burgeoning hard-rock band Halestorm.
Revolver magazine just put Hale, 28, on the cover of its "Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock" issue. The brawny dudes on VH1's "That Metal Show" recently ranked her one of the five greatest frontwomen of all time. Even Billboard gave her band the distinction of being the first female-fronted act to land at No. 1 on the Active Rock singles chart earlier this year with "Love Bites (So Do I)."
"I thought that [Billboard] thing was a mistake, like they forgot Evanescence or something like that," said Hale. (Her real name is Elizabeth Hale but "Lzzy" is way more Googleable.)
If those credentials don't prove Hale is one kick-butt singer in a genre dominated by men, then Tuesday's long-sold-out show at First Avenue should do the trick, locally at least. Halestorm arrives atop the lineup for this year's Jägermeister Music Tour, whose past headliners have included Staind, Slayer and Slipknot.
Calling from a tour stop last week opening for none other than Alice Cooper -- "He's pretty close to what you see in 'Wayne's World,'" she happily reported -- Hale admitted there's a less celebratory story behind her being singled out as the new queen of metal.
"There just aren't a lot of us these days," she said.
The 1970s and '80s saw the likes of Heart, Joan Jett and Lita Ford make a sizable dent in hard-rock's manly veneer. There were plenty of heavy-hitting women in the '90s alt-rock scene, including Hole's Courtney Love, PJ Harvey, the Breeders and the Twin Cities' own Babes in Toyland.
Over the past decade, though, not a lot of female hard-rockers have been making noise on a mass scale. Evanescence has pretty much been it at mainstream rock stations such as 93X (93.7 FM). Like Evanescence's Amy Lee -- a friend of hers -- Hale can raise her voice from a soft bellow to a glass-shattering scream at the crash of a cymbal, but she's more of a flashy, leather-pants-wearing lead singer who can also be as saucy and sexually explicit as other peers such as Nickleback. (Sample line: "I miss the rough sex," in the new song "I Miss the Misery.")
"I think it still takes twice the amount of work to maybe get a quarter of the amount of attention," she said of being a female hard-rocker. However, she added, it can also be doubly satisfying when you do finally achieve the success currently enjoyed by her band.
Halestorm landed two top-10 rock singles off its 2009 eponymous debut for Atlantic Records, "I Get Off" and "It's Not You." Its follow-up album, "The Strange Case Of ... ," has also generated radio play with the snarling rocker "Love Bites (So Do I)" and the album-closing ballad "Here's to Us," which was re-recorded for a February episode of TV's "Glee."
"The coolest thing to come of all this attention about being a female artist is actually the attention from the female fans," Hale said. "I see them down there in the front rows and think that they might be saying to themselves, 'If she can do it, then maybe I can.' I meet a lot of girls, too, who say they want to start a band because of me. That's definitely something to be proud of."
Instead of putting the blame solely on the industry for the gender gap in hard rock, Hale said there might also be a more innocent and well-intentioned explanation for it.
"Parents maybe don't encourage girls as much as they do boys when it comes to playing in a rock band, and perhaps for good reason," she said. "It's just harder for a mom and dad to say to a girl, 'Sure, honey, go travel the country in a van and sleep on floors and live like a vagabond.'"
With another hearty laugh, she added, "I look back on my parents and think they were crazy for letting me do what I wanted to do."
A native of blue-collar Red Lion, Pa., Hale said she wanted nothing else but to be a rock star since she started the band at age 13. Her chief bandmate was always her kid brother, Arejay Hale, who took over the drum kit their parents bought for Lzzy and is still playing behind her. Their dad even spent a few years as the band's bassist.
The Hale kids were so serious about making it that they enrolled in a private school with a flexible schedule so they could tour in their mid-teens.
"I just had total tunnel vision early on, and being in this band became my obsession," Hale said. "When I was a kid, I even always introduced myself as, 'Hi, I'm Lzzy from the band Halestorm,' before anybody had any idea who we were."
Asked if she has any regrets about missing out on a more normal childhood, she retorted, "Absolutely not. I've gone my entire life trying not to lead a normal life."
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 Twitter: @ChrisRstrib