On the eve of In This Moment's latest round of U.S. tour dates, we tracked down guitarist Randy Weitzel and gave him the "eight questions" treatment.
GUITAR WORLD: What got you into playing and made you think about doing it for a living?
Ever since I was a kid, all I ever I wanted was to be a crazy guitar player in a rock band. You can blame that on Ace Frehley and Angus Young.
You've been with In This Moment for about four years. In that time, the band has come into their own and grown pretty huge. Is there anything in particular you attribute the rise to?
When I came into the fold, they were down a couple members and had no management but still had one last album commitment for their label. There was a real "do or die" vibe in the air. They were just so focused on making something happen with that album.
I remember Maria [Brink] and Chris [Howorth] playing me a few rough mixes from what was to become [2012's] Blood, and it sounded brutal. It sounded hungry, something I could relate to at the time, having struggled as a musician in my own career. Sometimes when doors close, new ones open, and In This Moment suddenly had a new album, new management, new members and a new fire. I think that's just what the band needed at the time to punch it into high gear.
Coming into the band, replacing Blake [Bunzel], did you have to alter your playing style or were you able to do your own thing?
When I got the call to do Shiprocked 2011, I had to quickly learn material from their first three albums, and Blake was cool enough to get me on the right track by letting me in on some of the effects and techniques he was using. Blake is a very unique player and definitely added his own flavor to In This Moment. Although my style is different from Blake’s, Chris and I discovered on that Shiprocked gig that our styles totally blended and sounded great together.
Chris and I are cut from the same cloth. We were both raised on classic metal and we have the same guitar heroes. As we continued to tour and add songs from Blood to the show, I had the opportunity to translate my guitar parts from the studio to stage. Eventually, some of the older material was replaced with new songs like “Whore," “Burn," “Adrenalize,” “Blood," “Beast Within” and “The Blood Legion.”
In This Moment obviously has a very important visual and theatrical element. Was that something you were prepared for?
It's something I've always wanted to do, but the timing was never right. I grew up completely obsessed with Kiss, so this level of showmanship seems completely normal to me. I developed my guitar style from Eighties guitar heroes and very visually oriented metal bands. I've always had that theatrical side, but when I actually started gigging I was heavily influenced by bands like Metallica and Pantera, which had very heavy but visually stripped-down stuff. I feel like now with In This Moment, I'm lucky to be playing a mix of the two influences, the visual aspect of the early stuff and the heaviness of the later stuff. “The Sick Like Me” and “Big Bad Wolf” videos from Black Widow are perfect examples.
In This Moment are set to release their first greatest-hits collection, Rise of the Blood Legion: Greatest Hits (Chapter 1). How does it feel to get to that milestone?
I'm very proud to be a part of this. Travis [Johnson] and I were in a band that played with In This Moment on their very first show years ago. I've been friends with them ever since. Our bands toured together and I've done graphics and artwork here and there for them, but to be able to come in as a band member, perform and help take In This Moment to the next level is a very fucking cool opportunity. I'm blessed to be a part of the rise of the Blood Legion, and we really feel like this is only just the beginning.
You're quite an artist in your own right—with more than just a guitar. Tell us about your your work with acrylics.
I've always been the guy in every band I've ever been in who designed the logos and fliers. I've been able to do some spider designs for Black Widow, which I'm very proud of, as well as quite a few other designs for different things the band uses. At one point during the Blood tour cycle, we all started painting Tom's drum heads and selling them at the merch booth.
Lately it's really taken on a life of its own and I've been getting a lot of side work doing rock and roll and horror-movie-type stuff: Kiss, Judas Priest, Friday the 13th and other slasher-movie-type drum heads and canvas work. I've done some pieces for charity events as well, like Ride for Dime and some others and was honored to paint a piece for Rob Halford honoring the 30th anniversary of Defenders of the Faith. Talk about a childhood dream coming true! Painting is my place of zen.
In This Moment is a Schecter band. Can you talk about your weapons of choice?
Schecter is amazing to us, and I love their Flying V7s. I have a few Hellraisers equipped with dual EMG 707 active pickups and Floyd Rose tremolos. I like to customize some of my guitars myself. I add the Weitzel touch with bolts and paint, then give them names like “War Machine," “White Cell” and “Atomic Beast." I just received a custom V made to my specs for the Black Widow tour with black with gold hardware that the fans named “Widow Maker."
You're hitting the road very hard for the remainder of April and all of May. Anything firm for the rest of 2015?
We have a couple of super-cool tours coming up in the fall, but I can't say what they are yet, since they haven't been officially announced. I can say that the Black Widow Headline tour will continue into the summer months. We are encouraging fans to put on their war paint and "Become the Show" with us.
John Katic is a writer and podcaster who founded the Iron City Rocks podcast in 2009. It features interviews with countless rock, hard rock, metal and blues artists.