In 2011, Howorth and his musical partner, vocalist Maria Brink, were facing a lot of unknowns as they underwent changes in personnel and management. Rather than contemplate possible setbacks, the two used the situations as motivation to move forward. “It put Maria and me in a position where we were writing more than ever, writing with Kevin [Churko, producer],” says Howorth.
Those writing sessions were the first step in the making of In This Moment’s latest album, Blood, released in August 2012. Recorded at The Hideout Studio in Las Vegas in late 2011 and early 2012, the end result marks a new chapter for In This Moment, which includes bassist Travis Johnson, guitarist Randy Weitzel and drummer Tom Hane.
In this interview, Chris Howorth reflects on the career journey that he and Brink have traveled and how experience brought them to a positive new beginning.
This is your third album with Kevin Churko. How has the working relationship grown?
We met Kevin after our first album. We went to Vegas and did one song with him to see how it would go. We were there for two days and we hit it off with him instantly. He was so talented and such a great guy. Maria and I have always historically butted heads when writing because we each want our way, and back then, especially, it could be much more of a painful process to write songs. Kevin had a way of getting through all that and getting the best out of us. We both trusted him and his decisions, so we let him be the final word on things we disagreed about. We loved that album [The Dream] so much that there was no question in our minds that we would go with Kevin again for the next album [A Star-Crossed Wasteland] for the same reason: we felt that he was a great talent. With this one, Maria and I were adamant that we wanted to work with Kevin again. We felt that there’s always been magic and chemistry between us when we all write, and Kevin thinks that we’re a band that hasn’t gotten its due yet. He believes in us and has always made it work for us and that’s why we’re still with him. It was the right decision, because once we switched management and the members left, we were scared. “What are we going to do?” “Do people not believe in us anymore?” Are we done?” — these are questions we were asking in our heads. Kevin said, “You don’t need anyone else. The three of us can make this happen and make the best record you’ve ever made. It’s just a matter of time for you.” He’s a part of the team, and from the beginning we’ve said that. He’s integral to this process. He’s like a band member.
What is different about this album?
First, we lost our rhythm section, guys who were partners with us since the beginning and so they all had a say in everything. Even though Maria and I were always the leaders and the final word, we always respected everyone else and took their opinions into consideration. This time, writing and recording, it was just Maria and I and Kevin that needed to be happy. It opened a whole new realm for us. Everything is our choice and it makes it different in that way. We’re also feeling a lot freer to experiment and try new things. We’ve added new elements to our sound. People hear it and know that it’s us, but it’s fresh and new and more modern and it’s taking us to a whole new level.
What is that level?
We’ve been growing in small increments with each release. We haven’t hit a downturn, where sales have dipped or things have felt like they’re getting worse. I guess the missing link for us has always been the radio connection. We don’t want to write songs just for radio and sound generic. We’re artists; we’re very passionate about our original sound and making sure we have our credibility as well as writing great songs. All of our favorite bands through time write songs that they feel are great and that artistically make them happy and become timeless. The next level is getting more recognition for the songs, selling more records and making a little bit of money. Money’s not everything, and the whole thing with this band is we’ve been going with our hearts from the beginning. It’s OK to sacrifice right now for the bigger picture, and we need for that to happen because we love doing this, but we can’t afford to do it for free forever. Maria and I are all heart in trying to make this happen and sacrificing a lot of things in our lives to make it happen, but we want to get some success and stability from it.
How has your partnership with Maria developed over the years?
At the beginning, I was a metal guy who wanted to be in a metal band and Maria was a more diverse singer. We were very different and we still are, but I was a bit more close-minded at first. On the first album she went more in my direction, on the second album I went more in her direction, on the third album we met in the middle a little bit more, and now we’re meeting even more in the middle. She’s like my sister. We can annoy each other beyond belief. I push all her buttons and drive her nuts and she drives me nuts, but at the end of the day, it’s great.
Do you ever step back from the band and grasp the breadth of what you have accomplished so far?
When you're in it so deeply, like we are, sometimes you lose track of that stuff. The only way to do it is to step outside of it, if you can do that, and look at the whole thing. When we’re touring, if we have a bad show or we feel it’s not the right tour for us, it can feel like, “What are we doing? Are we falling apart?” You’re so deep inside of it. But when you step outside of it, you meet a new fan who tells you how much you mean to them, or how big the band is, or other bands tell you that. Otherwise, you don’t really know. So it kind of depends on where we are in our heads as to how we view the whole thing. We know we’ve been very blessed to do a lot of amazing things. Our band is established to a point where a lot of people in the metal and hard rock worlds know our name, but in the grand scheme of things we’re a blip on the radar. We want to break through that. So it’s hard to gauge. It depends on who we talk to and how we view ourselves.
Read more of Chris Howorth's interview here: http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-chris-howorth-moment-making-blood