February 22nd, 2009:
I found myself at The Hayloft in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. On this very cold windy day, I had the good fortune to meet up some of the hottest stars in music today. Maria Brink and Chris Howorth are 2/5 of the band In This Moment. On this day they allowed me the chance to sit and chat with them on their tour bus prior to the show that night. With sandwich chef and guitarist Blake Bunzel nearby, Chris and Maria proved to me that there are still some really good people in this business. Not only did I find people who were passionate about their music, I found two of the nicest people in this crazy business we call rock and roll. While there has been much written about how In This Moment has climbed to be one of the hottest acts in the world, I wanted to find out what was behind the people who make such great music.
Read on for Scott Ward's interview with In This Moment!
While the band has had phenomenal growth, thanks to the internet and constant touring, it all doesn't matter unless the music delivers the goods. In This Moment does that. This group; whose members come from different parts across the country all found themselves in Los Angeles at the same time and somehow manage to find each other. While Chris was not too keen on the idea of a female singer, Maria showed him why she was the person to take the band to the next level. I think they're all are glad for this! While not a new idea, Maria brings something to the mix that makes this band totally unique. I asked Chris if when he got this band together did he think that this phenomenal growth would happen so quickly. "Yes, I did. I didn't know, but I thought Oh Yeah!" when he first heard themselves as a band. The music is such that there is little doubt of what the outcome will be. The main thing is to be able, in this day and age, to get the music to the people. In This Moment is not afraid to do that! With a tour schedule that would make anyone gasp, the band has been on the road for almost 2 years.
I had read somewhere that they did 300 dates last year (2008) and I had to ask them about it. Chris said; "Yes. It was right around 300. It started in 2007. We really didn't take any breaks that time. Pretty much that was our first coming out so we just stormed through the whole year. This time we are actually putting space in so she (Maria) can see her son." Maria whose teenage son is at home in New York does get to bring him out on tour occasionally and as Maria added, "We live together in New York and I get there whenever we have a break in the schedule. Before the Warped tour we get a few weeks off, so that's good and then after the tour I am going to try and get a few weeks off, I try to balance it out. It will be 2 and a half months and I will only have about 5 days before we leave for Europe for another couple months. So, it's pretty brutal."
I then had to ask them about Europe. Maria says: "We have been to Europe. Europe is awesome". Chris then added, "We went there in 2007 when we first started and it went great. All the shows were amazing over there, but we're still not very well known and that is the whole point of this trip. Trying to booster it up with some of the magazines like Kerrang behind the tours over there and we are doing a bunch of sold out shows with Papa Roach and Filter. Papa Roach is huge in Europe so we will be playing in front of a lot of people with them so I think it will help spread the word a little bit". The word is getting spread. With trips to Europe and Japan along with The Warped tour on the agenda for this year, In This Moment is poised to take the world by storm.
One of the things that make In This Moment such a dynamic band is its songwriting. The music they make is not the normal run of the mill, sex, drugs and rock and roll. Instead, the lyrics deal with real issues in a very personal way. I asked this pair about who does the writing and was surprised to find that Maria writes all the melody lines and lyrics. With the amount of emotion in the songs, I had to ask if they were her story. "Yeah, they're me!" Their first album Beautiful Tragedy dealt with much deeper and darker issues, while The Dream is a much brighter record. Maria then added, "I think I was in a darker place writing the first album than the second one, I just kind of write what I am going through at the time". "I was in a much better place with the second album".
There was one song on the second album that I had to ask them about. The very emotional "Into The Light" which is a piano ballad that gives Maria a chance to really showcase her singing talent. It is quite a departure from their other music but is one that also highlights their diversity and desire to create the best music they can. The song is about death and as Maria adds, "Actually it is about a few deaths. A close person to us died of lung cancer, my dog died and then we got this e-mail from a woman whose son died at 15 years old". "He loved our band and was a really die hard fan." "One of his make a wish type things was to go to Ozfest and meet us." When he died, they were listening to a song I wrote for my son off the last album, he past away while listening to it". "He touched all our lives." "So it was inspired by that little boy too".
I then asked if they have ever played the song live. Maria told me; "No, I will have to get my keyboard to do that. I'm like mediocre on keyboard; I taught myself and have a lot to learn. I wrote the whole song but our producer helped with the trickier stuff so I would have to learn those parts". So then I asked them if we might see it live in the future. "Oh absolutely!" Marie told me. "I am going to have to start practicing cause as headliners we would love to do it." "I will just have to get it down a little better." Chris added; "There could have been more keyboard on The Dream. We are not a band like "no keyboard ever", you never know what you might find, we are not afraid of it". With that kind of attitude, this group will be hard pressed to continue in the smaller venues for very long. They simply will not quit! So many bands now a days want to rest upon there achievements and forget about growing musically. It's good to hear that In This Moment is not staying... In This Moment and is already looking to the future.
I was curious also how they felt about the press they have been getting. First a metal band, then not a metal band, just how do they feel about what In This Moment is called. Maria says, "Actually we have been quite fortunate. Our write ups on the newest album have been just great". Chris said on the subject, "Some of the more metal people, fans, people like that who liked the first album because of Maria screaming a lot, might not like it as much, but no reviews by the press have been that bad". Maria then said "We have not read any reviews like that in any magazines." Chris added, "We are not worried by where we are going. A label might call us this, but each of us would call it something different." "I would not even call it a metal album (The Dream), I would call it a rock album, a hard rock album with some metal influences but a ton of other influences also." Maria says. She then added, "That is why we don't get mad or anything when someone says this or that about the album, it's just good music!" "Maybe they will like the next one". Chris says also.
The independent label Century Media is the people responsible for the distribution for In This Moment. In this ever changing world of music, I wondered how a band such as them feels about the backing they receive from the label. "For an independent label they are great in what they do. They believe in us and so far everything has been great. They have made us one of the priorities and have backed us any way they can", Maria told me.
Another aspect of the band is all the press that Maria has been getting lately. It seems that everywhere you look, she is on the cover of a magazine. From the latest addition of Metal Edge (with the whole band) to Tattoo mags galore to many others, she is quickly becoming one of the most sought after personalities in rock. As one of the most beautiful women in music, it is understandable that her face is gracing so many covers. I had to ask her about a couple that I have seen recently. The first being a tribute to the movie Carrie in Revolver magazine, "It was my idea, they were doing a horror movie issue and wanted me on the cover. It was fun, it was cool to not have to be all pretty, instead all bloody, grimy".
Then we had the Playboy article, where a very sultry Maria tells about life on the road with four guys. I asked Maria if these guys get pretty wild on the road. "No, you know what winter tours (it is February when we talked) are like the boring(est) tours ever, but summer tours, we have fun". So I tried to get the dirt on what happens during a day off on tour. Maria says they get totally crazy by, "Finding a local mall or a good restaurant". Chris tells us "We park the bus by a mall and everyone just goes and sees what they want to see". Maria added, "Going shopping, eating good food, doing laundry, that's about it". Chris tells me "We are driving over everywhere. We have been to most places more than once, we kind of know the towns, we don't get to see a lot of it but if there is something we want to see we will go see it". Maria added, "We will go look at something if the city has like monuments or like when you are in Tokyo you want to go look around or Amsterdam, no matter how tired you are I gotta go walk around". Chris adds "When you are in San Antonio, you go to the Alamo". I hope Ozzy didn't give him any tips on visiting there!
It is amazing how some bands get together. As we were ending our chat, the topic came up about where everyone was from. With Jeff and Maria both being from the state of New York, Jessie from Louisiana, Chris from Kansas and Blake being the only Californian, it seems like a miracle that they would find themselves all in the same place seeking the same thing in sunny California. Chris tells me he moved out to California right after high school to pursue his music career. "We all moved out there for the same reasons. Other than Blake, he is the native Californian. Everyone else moved out there from our little towns to pursue music." "We all just met up out there, me and Jeff were in another band together, I met Maria, then Jess come in and then we found Blake". However they found each other, these five have come to be one of the most dynamic bands there is.
You don't often run into such down to earth people in this business. Their openness was refreshing and they welcomed us as friends. I have to thank Chris and Maria for the great help they were in doing this article. We actually spent most of the day with the band before their concert. What happened before the interview and the concert that followed will be in an upcoming article. Stay tuned for that!
Click here for SoT review of Beautiful Tragedy
Click here for SoT review of The Dream