Maria Brink of In This Moment
Few have been able to harness the delicate balance between aggression and melody quite like In This Moment. With their third release A Star-Crossed Wasteland the band has truly defined their sound – an emotional assault of the senses mixing the beauty of melodic softness with the grunge and grittiness of metal; no one seems to do it better.
Looking at In This Moment’s leading lady Maria Brink from the outside, few would expect the baby-doll dress adorned, tattooed, blonde haired maven to open up and let out some of her signature growls, but Brink has proved through music that there’s a lot more than meets the eye.
Brink along with founding member and guitarist Chris Howarth, Blake Bunzel on rhythm guitar, Jeff Fabb on drums and Travis Johnson on bass are currently out as part of the Music As A Weapon Tour alongside Korn, Disturbed and Sevendust, ITM’s Maria Brink took some time to fill us in on the tour, their latest album, and her advice to blooming metal goddesses.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette
So the Music As a Weapon Tour recently kicked off – how has it been going thus far?
It’s amazing, we’re so grateful to be on this tour. When we found out we were going to be on it we freaked out, these are big time bands and it’s a great opportunity for us. We couldn’t have asked for a better tour. We’re having a good time and making the best of it. We’re going out there every night and trying to make people remember our names!
You’ve pretty much become the queen bee of these killer package tours from Ozzfest to Mayhem to now Music as a Weapon – what’s the advantage to playing these kinds of tours as compared to maybe a club headlining tour?
The more people you can get in front of at one time is the best. We’re still a growing band. Every night on tour when we’re doing signings after our set we have people come up and tell us that it’s the first time they’ve heard us and that’s our whole goal. We want to progress as a band and be in front of new listeners who have never been exposed to our music. We don’t know how we get all these great tours, we’re always shocked and excited but yeah we are pretty lucky! There are millions of bands out there so we have a lot of gratitude. Sometimes bands that end up on these tours just disappear, they’re not buzzy anymore and you don’t hear about them so we’re excited to keep getting on these big tours.
For music fans that will be hearing you for the first time on this tour – what do you hope that they take away from your set?
Just that they like the songs, that they like our live show. We want to be something new and interesting for them and hopefully they’ll like us enough to go and buy our cd and tell their friends about us. Then hopefully next time we come to town they’ll come out and see us. That’s the whole goal as a musician is to gain new listeners and fans, that’s our job!
Your latest album A Star-Crossed Wasteland came out in July was called a “defining statement” by Chris (Howorth, guitar). Do you feel that this album defines you?
I absolutely do. We’re such a diverse band; it’s so hard for people to put us in one particular genre. All different types of listeners listen to us. I think that this album naturally brought in some heavy stuff from the aggressive side both vocally and musically but it also has a lot of really beautiful melodic stuff. Then there’s the in between and it all seems to flow naturally together, it doesn’t sound contrived or schizophrenic, it makes sense as a whole.
The album seems to have a theme – was that the plan and if so, can you tell me in your own words what the theme is?
It’s not a full concept album, but it definitely hints of a theme here and there. It was based around a post-apocalyptic wasteland and past relationships, where the people who I left behind are looking for new beginnings so there’s that kind of story and that kind of old west theme. It’s a metaphorical way of me talking about my own experiences; I tell it in a story form so people can apply it to their own lives.
What’s the general writing process for the band? I know you write all of the lyrics but how do you all come together as a band?
Everybody writes for the albums. For example, I wrote “A Star-Crossed Wasteland” on piano and then everyone else came in and brought music to what I wrote – or the opposite, they’ll come to me with music for a song and I’ll start putting the lyrics and melody to that. Sometimes we’ll use pieces from different ideas and pull it all together into one song – so we all contribute when it comes to the writing process, everyone is involved.
A Star-Crossed Wasteland seems to really combine the best of your last two albums and then takes it to a new level – do you see your sound continuing down that path with new music?
Definitely, I’m sure we’ll still be experimental and grow; you never want to just stay in one place. A lot of times it’s based on emotions whether you’re super pissed off or something really crazy happens your music will be impacted by that. Or the opposite, if something sad happens. It’s a natural thing. People can tell if it’s not real and honest.
You’ve said that within all of your music, you like to tie in some theme of hope – even if the songs are dark – why is that so important to you?
I think for me, that’s just how I live my life. I’ve been through super dark times and hard times but I always have to focus on something positive because you don’t want to be left in some pit of black despair with no hope. We also have so many influenced kids who write me all the time who have gone through suicidal times or have fallen on dark times and that really impact me. I won’t shy away from writing about dark things, you have to write for yourself inevitably, but even when things are dark I like to focus on the fact that there’s still hope. Something positive always seems to come out of the dark anyway, somehow or someway.
Is there a song on the album that you feel closest to?
Yeah, it’s a B-side, it only came out with certain releases but I love “A Star-Crossed Wasteland” the live version which is just me on piano. I feel like that’s the most heartfelt. As far as fun songs, “The Gun Show” is really fun to play live and I love to perform “The Promise” because I’m both the masculine and the feminine roles in that song, so that was something new. I love “The road” – I wrote that for my son. I love “World in Flames”, but yeah there are a lot of favorites!!
How long is your set on this tour, are you able to play a lot of this new stuff?
We get 25 minutes but it’s okay, we’re just happy to be on the tour. It is hard to pick what songs to play each night so we’ve switched it up a few times!
I think that you are a great inspiration to women that want to get into music and specifically this genre of music that is predominantly a boys club. Can you tell us a little bit about your story and how you got into music and was it something you always knew you wanted to do?
I definitely always knew. My mom was a really young mom. She was a rock n roll, stoner who loved Sabbath and Queen and AC/DC. She used to take me to concerts when I was really young, like five years old. So she was a true rocker and she would bring me to these concerts and I just loved it. I followed the performers on stage and it was just in my blood. I’m definitely a deep, passionate, artistic type person, so I just always wanted to be a singer; it was how I felt I could express myself. I moved from upstate NY to CA about ten years ago with my son. I wanted to go to the big city of dreams to be a rock star – the whole cliché! It took me awhile to find a band, that’s for sure. I sound cute on the phone, I sound like a little girl so people didn’t really take me too seriously. Even my own guitar player, Chris, wouldn’t audition me when he first met me because I was a girl. In the beginning it was pretty challenging but I didn’t take no for an answer. I think no matter whom you are or what it is you’re trying to do, you just have to be really passionate about it, be very driven, and not let any obstacles or people’s opinions get in your way. You have to know what you want and push forward. Also you have to be honest with yourself, and not be who people expect you to be. It would be easy for me in the metal world to say ‘okay so this is metal, everyone is tough so I’m going to wear tight jeans, a wife beater and a wallet chain’ but that’s not who I am and I never did that. I’m more on the feminine side; I like to wear dresses, that’s who I am. It’s important for people not to change themselves just because it’s expected because people know. People see through that and if you try to be what everyone else tells you to be you’re just going to get swallowed up in the pack anyway, you need to have your own identity.
So how did you end up convincing Chris to give you a chance?
They had a jam session one weekend where musicians just show up to jam and switch up instruments so I went to hang out and I had planned out this whole a capela vocal thing. So when I got the chance I sang and Chris said he had underestimated me and we’ve been working together ever since!
So do you take the opportunity to remind him of that every now and then?
Oh yeah, he hears it a lot, especially in interviews. But unfortunately, a lot of the metal community definitely has a stereotype about women and what they’re capable of or thinking that they don’t belong in the metal world. It’s all just silly and I don’t let that stuff get the best of me. You just have to do what you do – and whether it’s metal or rock, or whatever people want to call it, do what you do and own it.
I know there’s already been talk of working on a new album but it seems like you guys pretty much live on the road so when do you find time for writing?
We’re slowly starting writing. It probably seems like next winter is when we’ll be ready to record a new album.
And what are the plans once this tour wraps up?
We have some summer festivals and we’ll be trying some new things but we can’t really announce the details yet!
*In This Moment Press Photo: Andy Hartmark
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Catch Maria and In This Moment out on The Music As A Weapon Tour NOW:
FEBRUARY 2011- MONSTER ENERGY’S MUSIC AS A WEAPON V: LEG 1
TU 1 Winston-Salem, NC LJV Coliseum
WED 2 Fayetteville, NC Crown Coliseum
FRI 4 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
SAT 5 Biloxi, MS Mississippi Coast Coliseum
TU 8 Corpus Christi, TX Concrete Street Amphitheatre
WED 9 San Antonio, TX Illusion Theatre at Alamodome
THUR 10 McAllen, TX McAllen Convention Center
SAT 12 Lubbock, TX Fairpark Coliseum
MARCH 2011- MONSTER ENERGY’S MUSIC AS A WEAPON V: LEG 2
TU 8 Belton, TX Bell County Expo Center
WED 9 Las Cruces, TX NMSU Pan American Center
FRI 11 Tucson, AZ Tucson Convention Center
SAT 12 Las Vegas, NV The Joint
SUN 13 Sacramento, CA ARCO Arena
TU 15 Portland, OR Memorial Coliseum
THU 17 Yakima, WA Yakima Valley SunDome
FRI 18 Missoula, MT Adams Center