July 6, 2015 Interview – Chris Howorth of In This Moment
Sometimes when everything seems the most bleak is when the brightest light shines. The adversity of having one’s back against the wall can bring out the most in some, especially artists, and that is exactly what happened for In This Moment. Faced with the fact that their band may be done, in 2010, when co-founding members departed, vocalist Maria Brink and guitarist Chris Howorth stuck together and rebuilt the band from the ground up. The end result was 2012’s Blood, the band’s most commercially successful album to date, and one which would launch them into Rock-n-Roll super-stardom. Now one of the most recognized bands on the scene, In This Moment wowed audiences again with 2014’s Black Widow album. The road to the top has not been easy though, but when faced against the fire, In This Moment continues to rise to the occasion. Recently we sat down with Howorth for a deeper look into the rise of the band, their new album Black Widow, plans for their live shows, and more.
CrypticRock.com – Last we spoke, In this Moment was in the midst of supporting the highly successful 2012 album Blood. That album really turned a lot of heads and launched the band onto a higher level. Seeing that the band was essentially hanging by a thread prior to that record due to everything that happened, three years later now after its release, what do you think made Blood so successful?
Chris Howorth – That is a good question. I think it was a chain of events that lead to this moment that we could not predict, and it created a feeling in us to write Blood. Blood is one of my favorite album so far. It is one of the few albums where pretty much I love the whole thing and every song. I do not really have a good explanation of how it came about other than the fact that our backs were up against the wall and we had lost two members who were involved in the writing on previous albums. I love our previous albums, but this one was definitely different than that. I think the fact that Maria, Kevin Churko, and myself did everything as far as the writing, arranging, and performing all the parts. We had complete control over Blood and it kind of created this different sound. We felt no fear and I guess that just made it happen.
CrypticRock.com – Right, and Blood was certainly the beginning of a new era for the band. Then, in 2014, you followed up with Black Widow, which further exemplifies the progression of the band. What was the writing process like this time around for Black Widow?
Chris Howorth – We tried to mimic the magic of Blood. We did not bring in any outside people, we did the same kind of formula. The only thing we were trying to do is keep that same sound and style, but pushed boundaries; I think we did that. It is really hard to follow up a record like Blood. In your mind as an artist, every record you make is going to be your best record, it is better than the one before. If you are thinking like that, then your mind is not in the game. You do it and see where the chips fall. It is its own entity, once you get to the studio, it is hard to describe. You start working in the studio and the songs start coming together one after the other and the record becomes its own entity. We are not a band that is going to scrap all of our songs and start over if we feel like we are not on the right track, it becomes what it becomes, and that how it has been for everyone one of our records.
CrypticRock.com – Black Widow certainly is a very cohesive record. It is really solid, and every song is good from start to finish. Seeing that Blood had the success it did, did you, as a band, as a whole, add any unnecessary pressure on yourself to top that record?
Chris Howorth – We did have pressure, and it was one of the most painful start-up processes of any record because of that pressure. Literally every single song, everything we did, just was not good enough. It was a lot of feeling “I don’t like this.” That is how is was before it ended up on the record. (laughs) It took time for us to development what it became on the record. It also took time for us to get our minds around it and getting over the pressure we were putting on ourselves. Every song cannot be “Blood,” every song cannot be “Whore,” and even those songs were successful, nobody wanted to hear a regurgitated version of those songs over and over. We do not want to do that, so we are always trying to push the boundaries. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make it good.
CrypticRock.com – You definitely succeeded. This record has some new elements introduced to the songs. You said you have worked with Kevin Churko. You have worked with Kevin since 2008’s The Dream. How important is he behind the scenes working on In This Moment?
Chris Howorth – He is hugely important. We have talked about him being the sixth member of the band, which he absolutely is. We felt the magic with him on The Dream album. That still, to this day, is one of my favourite albums ever, that I have ever done musically. The songs are so cool and the production is so good; we had a magic moment. We knew right then that this guy was special. With Blood, when all this stuff went down, Kevin was one of those people who stuck with us when we basically lost our management and our band. Fortunately our label was still backing us, but we had no band, and Kevin said, “Dude, come into the studio, I am going to work with you guys, we are going to write some songs, and we will show everybody what we are doing.”
Prior to that, we also had our previous management and our previous band members saying we do not want to work with Kevin again, we have already done two records with him and he is expensive. Maria and I both said, “No, this is happening, he is our guy.” We told him about that, so he felt there were people doubting him and he got that same feeling of “let’s show everybody what we can do with Blood.” I think he felt the success as much as we did. I know he has had a lot of success with other bands, where it seemed to just be instantaneous. With In This Moment he has been with us creating these songs, creating this passion, and trying to do it with us in the trenches. It is like his band too in a way. He feels it like we feel it. It is really cool because we are getting a producer that is one of the most talented guys in the world, who feels like this is his band too, our success is his success. He is definitely 100% involved in everything we do. He is even involved in stuff that has nothing to do with the production side, he is a really strong business man, so we will give him a call on anything.
CrypticRock.com – That is great that you have such a great relationship with him. That is a long time to be working with one individual in this industry. As you said, he is almost like a sixth member of the band.
Chris Howorth – Yes, it is weird to think about because I am a fan of all kinds of albums, music, and producers. I have always been a “producer guy” who knows the name of the guy that did an album, and likes this sort of style. I like a lot of different producers, all of my favorite bands have used multiple producers over the years. It is really crazy to think we have been with this guy as long as we have, and I honestly do not see us changing it now. I know Maria feels the same way.
CrypticRock.com – That is a great thing. Now, one of the boldest things about In This Moment, you guys have stayed constantly on the road. It seems like you have been on the road now for three or four straight years, it really is quite amazing. While one can imagine the exhilaration performing live before packed crowds night after night is great, it has to be wearing as well. Has the lengthy touring schedule been wearing on yourself?
Chris Howorth – It absolutely has, and I do not mean that to sound like I am coming from an ungrateful perspective. We are so grateful to tour, and for this to be our job. You go out there, and if you are headlining, you are playing for an hour and a half a day, maybe working three or four hours a day, and three or four hours is a really busy day. The whole rest of the day is waiting and trying to figure out what to do, missing your family, and being bored.
That is the thing too with this business, unless you are Metallica, you cannot take a long time to do records. You have to do a record, and when you feel that the time is right, interest is waning, and the interviews are not coming in, you kind of just know it is time. You go do another record, and the only time you are not touring is when you are making that record. You get done with the record, you start thinking about the tour, what are we going to do, how are we going to push this, how are we going to promote it, where are we going to play, what is our show going to be like? It is a never ending thing. I just dream about the day when we can actually take a break for real and not even know when you are going to do the next album, until you feel the time is right. The way things are now, and most bands there is no extended break. You just have to keep the hammer down, keep pumping out new music, and playing shows so people know you are there.
CrypticRock.com – That is very true, a lot of other bands would agree with you for sure. That is just the way the industry is now, but In This Momenet have done a really great job of keeping fans’ interest through the recent years. Now you are on the road again after a short break from your Spring tour, and you are out this time with 36 Crazy Fists and Defiled through the end of July. How excited are you for this run of shows?
Chris Howorth – We are all really excited. It has weird because before Blood we were an opening band. We played, but we very rarely headlined. We did some headlining tours, which were great, but we did not feel we were great then because we would still be lucky if we got 400 or 500 people. That was a great show for us as a headliner, that was back then. Now, when we headline, we are playing bigger places, there is 800-1000 people, sometimes more than that. We are playing nice places with nice dressing rooms, and we are the headliners. We have kind of gotten used to being the headliner. We are more into having it be our show, and having all the production, the lights, everything that goes along with it, having the sound check and all this stuff . We really enjoy headlining, and it is really cool the way it has transformed from the beginning. Honestly, with this tour, there were opportunities for us to be opening bands for different things, and some of them were pretty cool, but we just keep coming back to headlining because we can do the show that we want to. We can show everybody this is Black Widow, this is the new show. There is no restrictions from the other bands, so we do what we want to.
CrypticRock.com – Right, that is another thing about In This Moment, the stage show. You stated in the past interview with me that you have this, you are a fan of the mystique and the creation of this image when it comes to Rock-n-Roll. What many be curious be is, are there any tricks up your sleeve possibly for some more theatrical elements for this upcoming tour or future tours?
Chris Howorth – Absolutely, it never stops. The only thing that is limiting us right now is finances, and because of that, we are always trying to change and adjust. For this new leg, it is going to be different. We have a whole new thing happening. Everything that everyone has seen prior to this tour coming up, it is going to be totally different now. Maria is always thinking of new stuff to do and how to update it, change an outfit, make something better, or putting in a new song. For this tour we are bringing in some new songs. The band too, we always are thinking, how can we update our thing. We want to become these characters characters. We can see if Randy wears a particular mask on stage, for a couple of weeks, for even just one or two songs, all of a sudden we are starting to see people in the crowd wearing this mask, or Travis’ mask. We are trying to update our thing, and become more of an entity ourselves. All that combined is making the stage show become this thing, and it is just all a work in progress. It is awesome.
CrypticRock.com – That is exciting to hear, and it will be exciting to see the tour. My last question, you know from our previous interview, is about Horror movies. You told me you were a fan of Horror movies. What I want to know is if you have seen any new Horror films that you enjoyed?
Chris Howorth – I have, I am trying to think of what I have seen recently. I have not seen the new Poltergeist. I love the old one so much. I do not know if I have seen any recent Horror movie. I recently saw Dark Skies (2013). That move kind of freaked me out.