Late last year, In This Moment guitarist Chris Howorth and vocalist Maria Brink received news that original members Blake Bunzel and Jeff Fabb were leaving the group in order to join American Idol alum James Durbin’s touring band.
As a one-two punch, the duo also was informed that the band was being dropped by their manager. The news came as somewhat of a shock, but rather than wallow in the negative, the band instead armed themselves with a new-found sense of direction and channeled that energy into their latest release, Blood, an album that has become their most successful to date.
Having reunited again with producer Kevin Churko (who also worked with the band on their previous albums, The Dream and A Star-Crossed Wasteland) the combination of Howorth’s guitars and Brink’s infectious vocals make Blood a must have album for both die-hard and new fans alike.
I had the opportunity to speak with Howorth about Blood and what lies ahead for In This Moment. In speaking with him, you not only get a sense of the band’s adversity, but you also understand that the best is yet to come.
GUITAR WORLD: The new album, Blood, is a lot harder than your previous albums. Did you set out to record it that way?
We didn’t really go into the project with the idea of making an album that was “harder." We kept saying, “Let’s be darker.” That was the phrase Maria kept using. She wouldn’t say things like, “Let’s have heavier guitars or be different." She would say she wanted it to be darker or more haunting. We went in with the idea of everything being “not happy,” and that sort of lent itself to making the album as a whole sound much heavier and meaner.
You also lost a few members of the band prior to recording this album. Did you feel like you had something to prove as well?
Definitely. Right before we really started working on the record, Maria and I had been writing quite a bit. Then we got the call from those guys (Bunzel and Fabb) saying they were leaving. Around that same time, our manager also dropped us. It felt like everyone had kind of given up on us. Everyone was bailing and thought that we were finished. To us though, we weren’t done. We had the fire in our bellies the entire time we were recording this record, just wanting to show everyone what we could do. That wasn’t the whole point of it, but it was definitely a driving force behind us.
Blood reunited you once again with producer Kevin Churko. What was the process like this time?
Kevin had worked with us on the past few albums and was another driving force in getting this one done too. He wasn’t worried at all about the band members leaving or our management situation; he just wanted to help us make a great record.
What guitars did you use for this project?
I’m endorsed by Schecter. I use them exclusively along with EMG pickups for touring. In the studio, I used the Schecter and EMG for rhythm and occasionally would use a Les Paul or Strat for some of my solos.
The title track of the album is much different than anything you’ve ever done before. How did the song come about?
Blood popped out of a weird situation. Maria and I were working on some songs with Kevin and his son, Kane. They had written a rough version of Blood with the same groove for the chorus but with a completely different verse. Maria and I took what they had written and came up with our own version of it. Then we all got together and hashed it out and it became what it is.
Once it was finished, we really didn’t know what we had. It was something that we had never done before. But our outlook has always been, “Let’s just go for it! If it’s cool, then let’s do it!” It felt so fresh and so different that we just rolled with it. It sparked the whole record.
A lot of the lyrics that you and Maria write are so profound. I especially liked the line, “Let me tell you something, baby … you love me for everything you hate me for” from the song “Whore.”
Maria came up with that line pretty quickly. That entire song came together fast. Maria was listening to the music and just started skit-skatting a couple of different patterns and almost instantly began singing “Let me tell you something baby …” It was so catchy. The meaning behind it is what also makes it so cool.
Is that the way a lot of your songs are written?
That’s how Maria writes most of her melodies. We’ll work on a few musical passages and before we even begin to write lyrics, she’ll hum along to them and skit-skat a bunch of different voices and ideas for a verse or chorus. Then, we’ll go through them with Kevin and pick out which style we like best for the song and use that rough match to go back and write lyrics with.
Who were some of your early guitar influences?
I was an '80s dude. I love Kiss, Van Halen and Mötley Crüe. And I’ve always been a follower of great players like George Lynch, Warren DeMartini and the Shrapnel Records guys. People like Marty Friedman and Jason Becker. They’ve all influenced my lead style.
What are the band’s plan for the future?
We’re going to be finishing out the year on a tour with Halestorm and are beginning to make plans to headline next year. We’re going to do it right. We have a lot of good opportunities ahead of us and Maria and I are putting all of our energy into that.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.
Photo: Robert John Kley