For In This Moment it’s been a long journey to get to where they are today, for a band that released their first record in 2007, they’ve certainly gone through some changes. After the release of the third album two members left the band and their management dropped them but not everything was downhill. If anything this sparked the band on and their 2012 release Blood became the bands best selling album so far. Now in 2015 and the release of their fifth studio album Black Widow last year saw the band grow even more. The album is dense, diverse and vulnerable all rolled into one genre blending package.
On their first European headlining tour, which has been a long time coming, I sat down with lead singer Maria Brink ahead of their show in Leeds to talk about the new album, the new live show and how she’s learnt not to care any more about what people think or say.
BM: You’ve been to Europe a fair few times but this is your first time headlining, how have the shows been so far?
Maria: I can’t even believe it. We were so nervous coming this time because it’s our first headliner here. We didn’t know what to think, and like you said we haven’t been back in a while, and we can’t believe it. It’s all of these crazy sold out shows and the crowds are insane and they’re all dressed up and being a part of the show. We’re just so overwhelmed, I’ve actually got like emotional and almost cried at a few of the shows because they were so awesome.
BM: On to the new album and during the making of the previous album Blood you found a sound that really worked well and carried it over onto Black Widow but made it bigger and bolder. How did you come up with the concept for this album?
Maria: I just kept envisioning the black widow, I started with it, and then I kind of went away from it for a little while and came up with some other names. Natural Born Sinner which winded up being one of the songs on the record, was one of the names I was thinking of naming the album. But I kept going back to this black widow and I kept seeing the big hat and the claws and this whole kind of imagery around it so I just kept going back to it and presented it to Chris (guitar) and the guys and they were really feeling it and they just trust me. I’m the person that does all the visionary stuff and I just applied my experiences and I guess my story to this story with the black widow.
BM: Do apply your past experience to the music a lot?
Maria: Yeah, well you have to, in my opinion I just have to feel it. So if I don’t feel the music, if I can’t feel what I’m signing about then how is anyone else going to feel the music? And to me it’s all about music evoking emotion or making you feel good, or riled up or whatever it is it’s got to be true.
BM: Like you said, you are a strong believer in the music having truth but what is it about Black Widow that sets it apart from the previous albums?
Maria: I definitely think it’s the most versatile album that we’ve ever done for sure. It really has just such a broad spectrum and it think it’s very unique and I think it’s us being the bravest we’ve ever been. Like we’re not afraid to do anything. We will throw a hip hop beat in, I’ll rap, I’ll sing, I’ll be all schizophrenic. We just like let ourselves go and who cares, we’re not keeping ourselves in a box.
BM: So basically not give a shit.
Maria: Exactly, and there’s a beauty in that.
BM: For songs like Out Of Hell and the The Fighter there is a lot of emotion and it’s something you like to have in songs like you said before. Something I found interesting with Into The Darkness is you don’t like listening back to the track but still left it in the album, was it because it had that emotion that you felt needed to be in the album?
Maria: Well I didn’t know that my producer even recorded that, so he surprised me. It was my first time doing that whole thing with just the guys. And it was about the most hateful thing anyone had ever said to them, they said it in there (the studio). It was pretty intense so I winded up having a panic attack, I heard it back and I was like “I don’t know if I wanna keep it in there” but my producer Kevin Churko was very passionate about keeping it in there and he just thought that it was real and I don’t know but we kept it in there. It’s the truth, it’s an expression of a certain moment in time and I think it’s just a rawness that I guess we decided to keep.
BM: After Blood you became more well known for your stage show but how did all the ideas come around, did you just sit there and think I want a podium for Sex Metal Barbie and just go all out?
Maria: Sometimes it will happen while were doing the song in the studio. So we did a new song or we were working on Sex Metal Barbie and when I’m working on them with my lyrics and then singing in the studio then I’m brining whatever that embodies. That song (Sex Metal Barbie) to me is about other peoples hate and about all these mean things that they write about me. So it was me using their hateful words to create this empowerment within myself and do something strong with their hate. So I just pictured the podium and all the pink so I just started writing it down and drawing pictures. For Sick Like Me with the spider legs that we use I was just laying around, listening to the song and I try to visually bring the song to life.
BM: You said about Sex Metal Barbie and that you googled all the shit people were saying about you, how did you deal with the actual writing process for that song?
Maria: It felt good. I don’t know why but when I read it, the real beauty and strength in it, which is a struggle I think we all go through, it’s really easy to say don’t listen to other peoples words but enough of it can get heavy and really thick. But I really felt liberated reading all this yucky stuff they were saying. Some of it I put in there is actually true, some of it’s not, some of it’s rumours. But writing it all down it just seemed to flow really easy. I felt good doing it, I felt empowered and very riled up from it. I wasn’t sad or anything.
BM: You co-directed the last two videos for Sick Like Me and Big Bad Wolf and there is a new video coming out for Sex Metal Barbie and you directed that on your own?
Maria: Well, were doing it when we get home. But yeah it’s my first that I’m directing by myself which is really scary.
BM: And you like to take control of the visual aspect?
Maria: It’s very overwhelming and it’s a lot of work and everything but I love to do it. The biggest thing is I want what I see in my head to be what other people see and sometimes the best way to really make that happen is by doing it yourself. But hopefully it turns out really well.
BM: You’ve evolved so much as musicians, as a band and as a vocalist. Do you feel like every album is leading up to this point where you can go across the world and headline shows and put on big performances?
Maria: I still feel like we have so much to do, I want to be headlining arenas. That’s my goal. Everything that we do should be about experiencing things and then learning from them and then growing from them and evolving. So I’m really glad about all the experiences that we’ve had, even when I did it wrong because I just kept growing and trying to figure it out and that’s what I’m still doing now. I’m so happy I had that moment when I just said F this. What do I care? What was I afraid of not expressing myself the way I do now. Thank God I kind of let myself go in that way. So now I’m like the sky’s the limit. I want to come down from the ceiling with a hat on and whole things are falling from the ceiling, my minds always going so it’s hard to cap it.
BM: So do you feel you have evolved from a girl into a woman in some ways throughout your time with the band? Like you’re learning all these things and coming to deal with things?
Maria: One hundred percent, yeah. Through music and since I’ve been in this band and I moved to California in 2000 to make my dreams come true from this small town. I’m almost like a different person than I was when I first started. I think I’ve evolved a lot as a person, as an artist and a singer, always wanting to be eager to learn, then grow and evolve and try not to be too stuck in my ways.
BM: You’re a very empowering figure in metal, songs like Whore and Natural Born Sinner I think prove that. Was it something you envisioned? People seeing you as a role model?
Maria: No, I don’t look at it I guess in that way. It’s such a fine line because when you say role model, I don’t think young girls or children should listen to our band. I do think that were a more evolved mature band. (laughs) PG 13 definitely. You can have a conscious understanding of what I mean when I say whore. Taking something dirty and turning it, I love the concept of that but kids don’t really get that. It’s not for children. So I don’t think a role model for kids but maybe for teens and maybe women who are struggling with things, letting other people opinions get to them or doubting themselves. Men and women, any of us who are just suffering and in that real pain and I do like to have that connection with our fans that we can overcome and that it is okay to be in hell and experience that and that’ll make us beautiful but it’s also beautiful to transcend into the light too. It’s not about being stuck in the dark and about Satan and it’s cool and let’s slice our wrists because it’s cool. It doesn’t have to be self-destructive.
BM: Now, taking it back a few years you released a song that was meant for Ivan Moody (Five Finger Death Punch), obviously that didn’t happen, I read somewhere that he was supposed to be on this album?
Maria: No he wasn’t supposed to be, I don’t know where that came from. It was probably just confused with “The Promise”. I mean he may have come up. I love Ivan’s voice so he may have come up in this song where I was like “maybe Ivan should do it.” But “The Promise” was written with just him in mind and his voice specifically.
BM: Ivan does have a fantastic voice but obviously that fell through.
Maria: But it’s okay! Because I sung with them and I got to do that amazing song (Anywhere But Here) with them and I love Five Finger and I love Ivan, we have a special weird connection. I think we identify with each other’s crazy.
BM: Will there being anything happening in the future with them?
Maria: I don’t know, maybe we will tour together. I think that’ll be amazing to do one of those songs together.
BM: Speaking of featuring, you teamed up with Papa Roach lately for Gravity on their last album and I met Jacoby in the back end of 2013 and because I was wearing my In This Moment shirt he was just like ‘Maria’s my homie man’ and he was telling me how they were trying to get you on their new album, how did that all come around?
Maria: I mean really that’s how it came about were friends, we’ve toured together, He’s an awesome guy. Then we were doing our albums at the same time at the exact same studio. Our producer and his son, Kane Churko, they’re kind of like a co-team or whatever so they were both recording and Kane was doing the rest of their album and we were like all together. So it just kind of came up in the studio like “hey you should do this song with us” so I was like hell yeah. I love Papa Roach.
BM: And there’s a video for that song coming out soon? Even though I saw some screen shots from the video the other day?
Maria: Yeah I think it may have leaked, because I watched the video and I was like nobody even told me this was out? And then last night we went to look and it was totally gone! So I think it must have leaked for a day and some people just screen shot some stuff. But I had a really good time recording and doing the video with them. I flew to Sacramento and I mean it was pretty simple it was just a normal day recording, a lot of hanging out. People recording then people recording with me and Jacoby. It was a little funny because we had to record the whole thing at fast motion because they wanted this slow effect to it so I had to be doing all my parts like (sings a line at twice speed) and it’s kind of hard to feel it when it’s all fast forward so I was working with that a little but the outcome ended up being beautiful.
BM: Over the past few years you’ve worked with the likes of Motionless In White, Five Finger Death Punch and Jake E Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel, Is there anyone you are planning on working with in the future or wanting to work with? I know you really like Chino from Deftones but is there anyone else?
Maria: Well I’m actually doing something new which I’m very excited about but I can’t tell you it’s a secret. But he’s one of my favourite singers, obviously Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) is one of my favourite singers, I would love to work with Maynard (James Keenan) from Tool and I love M83 and Sigur Ros, just the total other end of the spectrum. I love all different types of music.
In This Moment: Facebook / Twitter / Website
Photos courtesy of Forte Photography UK