Halestorm likes it dark and heavy.

Its tough-love tune "Love Bites (So Do I)" earned a Grammy nomination earlier this month. The band will go up against artists including Anthrax, Iron Maiden and Marilyn Manson in the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance category.

"I slither like a viper/And get you by the neck," Halestorm lead singer Lzzy Hale croons on the track.

A decade ago, locals fell in love with the polite teens, who formed Halestorm in Red Lion around 2004. Now in their late 20s, members sport leather and scowl from album covers. They scream and crash drums during concerts.

7/28/05: SUBMITTEDLzzy Hale of the band Halestorm belts out a song. The band was recently signed with Atlantic Records. See page 3 for story.
7/28/05: SUBMITTED Lzzy Hale of the band Halestorm belts out a song. The band was recently signed with Atlantic Records. See page 3 for story. (Submitted)

But they haven't ditched their roots. Earlier this month, Lzzy said that after they learned about the Grammy nomination, they all called their moms.

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"Hard rockers have a hard image," Steve Whiteman said. "You're projecting more of a character. It's a persona."

Whiteman knows that from three decades of experience as frontman for the hard rock group KIX. And he knows an image means nothing without musical chops.

When Lzzy was 13 or 14, her parents called him up and, for a few years, drove her to lessons at the former Wray's Music House in Lemoyne.

"She had all the tools, but didn't have any projection or power in her voice," Whiteman said.

He taught her how to warm up and cool down. They did breathing exercises and worked to strengthen her vocal chords. They listened to Ann Wilson of Heart, who has a similar range.

Whiteman said good students put in the work at home. They get rest and care for their voices. Metal and hard rock singers, who scream and sing loudly, have to make sure they don't blow out their chords.

Lzzy was one of Whiteman's best pupils. All she wanted to do was sing, he said, but she learned to manage her schedule based on what her chords could handle.

"She was sweet -- very well-mannered, always on time, always attentive," Whiteman said.

Every once in a while, Lzzy will call to pick his brain. And when KIX and Halestorm both had concerts in Baltimore about a year ago, she sent Whiteman an album, T-shirt and thank-you note.

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Annette Fullerton-Thoman first met Halestorm more than seven years ago when she took over as owner of the Tourist Inn in Hellam Township. At the time, Lzzy and her brother and drummer, Arejay, performed as an acoustic duo. They were still in their teens.

Their parents home-schooled them so they could take lessons and play shows. Mom, Beth, served was the band's manager and dad, Roger, played bass when needed and drove the van.

The Hale family relocated from the Philadelphia area to Red Lion around 2003. The next year, Halestorm added two Ohio natives to its band family: Joe Hottinger on guitar and Josh Smith on bass.

Lzzy was the first person Fullerton-Thoman would contact if she had an open night at the Tourist Inn. The group was always on time to load in their own equipment. They would play multiple sets from 9:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. the next morning.

Their songs and Lzzy's voice attracted fans -- and one time an MTV crew -- to their gigs. Fullerton-Thoman said the members were always gracious to their ever-growing fan base.

She never doubted that Halestorm would make it. And despite a Grammy nomination, the band hasn't forgotten the Tourist Inn.

"To everyone from the area who came out to shows at the Tourist Inn and places like that ... a huge thank-you is in order," Lzzy said earlier this month. "This is your triumph, too."

Fullerton-Thoman said when Halestorm's Grammy nomination was announced, local fans rang her phone nonstop.

"We still keep in touch with them," she said of the band. "We're so proud of them. They'll always be welcome (here). They know that."

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Eric Wirsing first heard about Halestorm when it was playing every gig it could book in the area.

Then, one day, Lzzy contacted Wirsing for a few guitar lessons at Wray's in Lemoyne. They worked on guitar chords, pentatonic scales and blues riffs. But Wirsing knew Lzzy's voice was the instrument that set her apart.

"You really didn't have many female singers at that time singing heavy, heavy rock," he said. "She had grit. She could scream."

The band's skill earned it a contract with Atlantic Records in 2005. Soon, the band was booking national tours with big bands and landing slots at festivals, including Milwaukee's Summerfest.

A few years ago, Wirsing and his wife attended a Halestorm concert at a Delaware music conference. He saw that fame hadn't changed a thing about the band.

Wirsing now runs The Perfect Fifth Musical Arts Center in Mechanicsburg, which focuses on music education and bolstering the local music scene. In classes, he can see a male-dominated genre changing. More girls are signing up for rock programs.

Halestorm, Wirsing said, sets an example for female students.

"Lzzy is paving some new ground," he said.

Since he follows Billboard charts and Grammy news, Wirsing said he saw Halestorm's nomination right after it was posted.

"With them it's like they deserve it," he said. "They have a trilogy: Great singer, great songs and they can play."

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Halestorm put on a show at the 2009 York Fair.

Lzzy made menacing faces as she shredded on her guitar. Arejay broke several drumsticks. Hottinger banged his head to the beat.

Before the concert, Smith hung out with his father, Brian. He said they keep in touch with texts and emails when Halestorm's on tour.

Arejay and Hottinger high-fived a 17-month-old fan at his first show.

After the show, the band spent more than an hour posing for pictures with fans and autographing homemade posters and shirts.

Sometimes when they're back in Red Lion, Halestorm members stop at Tom's Music Trade to browse albums and shoot the breeze with owner Tom Anderton.

"When they come into the store, you would never know (they're) famous," he said.

Even though Anderton doesn't pay much attention to Grammys, he's rooting for Halestorm because he knows they're the real deal.

"It's cool for a small town like Red Lion," he added.

Halestorm concert

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Where: Baltimore Soundstage, 124 Market Place, Baltimore, Md.

About: Halestorm will celebrate the New Year during a sold-out show in Baltimore. The band is slated for a short southern run in early 2013 before heading to Europe in March. Bad Seed Rising, comprised of Maryland tweens, opens the Monday concert.

Details: 410-244-0057; www.baltimoresoundstage.com

More

More on Halestorm's Grammy nomination

More on Halestorm

Read an interview with Steve Whiteman before KIX played White Rose Thunder this fall.