There is no choice. When your manager says you won’t make it and you lose two of your bandmates to an “American Idol”, you either keep rocking or give up the dream.
In This Moment not only kept rocking, they got harder. In a month where Vinyl Music Hall had a show for almost every night of the week, the LA band touring with their new release “Blood”, lit up the calendar and everyone in the downtown Pensacola venue. One week before their show, guitarist Chris Howorth answered a few questions about their music, meeting Maria Brink and more for my weekly “Music Matters” column in the Pensacola News Journal.
-Full interview with Chris Howorth
MS: Congratulations on “Blood”. That is a brutally amazing album. You guys faced some incredible odds before that album was even created. (lost two band members and a manager) What pushed you to overcome those events and make such an amazing album?
CH: It wasn’t something we planned, “This is how we’re going to overcome it.” With everything that happened, what it did to us mentally, why it turned out the way it did. Maria and I were both determined more than ever, we want to do this and show everyone that we deserve to be here and we need to make an album that’s going to show everyone that’s doubting us, ‘oh, they’re good.’ That was our main driving force and we just worked like that. And also our producer Kevin (Churko), he’s been believing in the band since 2008 and the first album we did with him. He’s always thought that we should be fuller than we are and we haven’t got quite the right chance that some people we were working with before the split were questioning whether we should work with Kevin and I explained that to him and he was all pumped up and doing the same, “I’m going to show everybody” and the three of us having that vibe came through in the record.
MS: Hell yeah and it shows.
CH: Thanks man.
MS: What gets you off the most about playing live?
CH: One of the best things…what made me want do music was seeing my favorite band in concert, seeing the videos on Headbangers’ Ball on MTV back in the day. The “live” thing, you know. It’s always been (the) pre-live show feeling of “We’re doing this. This is going to be great.” And then we get onstage and have a great crowd that knows the words and gives it back to you, it makes it so easy for you to give it them. When it all comes together to have a great show, it’s hard to top that.
MS: Was there ever a moment when you were like, “This is it! God, I’m doing what I wanted to do since I was a kid.”
CH: Yeah. It happens all the time. You’re going from one great awesome moment through a little peak and valley to the next big moment. Part of it’s just kind of realizing when you’re in those moments that are so epic and appreciating it. Because it doesn’t last forever, everyone knows when you’re really stoked, it’s not like you’re stoked for the rest of your life; you go through pits and valleys your whole life. I guess, you know, having those moments when we did the Ozzy Osborne tour; it was us, Rob Zombie and Ozzy. I’ve been a fan of Ozzy since I was a kid; you see him on the side of the stage watching Ozzy play “Crazy Train” or “Mama, I’m Coming Home” and you’re part of the tour. I was a kid watching him from the outside and now I’m part of the tour. It’s like that moment where you’re thinking, “Wow. I can’t believe I’m really standing here right now. This is the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had.” Those happened throughout our career and those are the moments that you hang onto forever the most.
MS: Speaking of live, what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your shows?
CH: We don’t have the craziest Motley Crue type fans, but one of the best things was Mayhem Fest 2010, San Bernadino. The amazingly huge massive pit, like savage pit-dust flying up and there’s this huge circle and in the middle of the circle there’s four or five metal dudes going all nuts and they start burning stuff and burning shirts and flags in the middle of this huge circle pit with dust in the air…it was just insanely epic…from our vantage point anyways.
MS: You’ve got the album, you’ve got the tour, you’re joining Halestorm soon; what’s the next big goal?
CH: The CD’s selling awesome and we’re on the charts, we’re #11 on the Active Rock Chart and getting in the top 10 will be a huge thing for us-that’s really close. We’re also, we’ve been a band since 2006 and we’ve never managed to break that 100,000 sales mark and the album is selling like crazy right now and we’re rapidly approaching that, that will be a huge milestone for us too. And since we’ve been together and we’ve never really gotten to that next level, this album is getting us to that next level so all the things that come along with that is what we’re looking forward to and what we’re going to be seeing this year and the next year and we’re looking forward to our guarantees increasing and actually making a little bit of money from all of this…because Maria and I have been doing this out of love. We haven’t made money until just recently, we’re now sort of turning the corner where we actually put money in our pockets personally. We’re paying everybody else that works for us, but not ourselves and there’s a lot of great things we’re looking forward to like that.
MS: How did you meet Maria? You have such an amazing dynamic.
CH: We kind of met by chance out here in L.A. I was in a band and one of the guys in my band had met Maria and found out that she was looking for a band. He thought she was awesome-I’d never heard her-he brought her over and she was trying to get us to try her out and I never really wanted to be in a band with a girl-I support girls and everything, but I just never really was giving it a lot credibility and I was going like, “Ah, whatever” and never tried her out and then a couple of weeks later, she came again and forced herself into the band session we were having and sang. And right when she sang, I was like, “Oh! I dig this.” And right from that moment on, her and I just started working on getting a band going and we’ve been in a couple of different things, but we just stuck together ever since then.
-MS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
CH: That’s a good one. I’m trying to think. The funniest advice I’ve ever been given was our first manager-I think it was like…we were still in a band touring in a van trailer and we were all in one hotel room, our first album had come out, we were all really excited, everything was going so good, we were thinking big and we told him, “We’re going to sell a million albums” and he was like, “I don’t want to be the first one to tell you ‘You’re not going to sell a million albums’, but you’re not going to sell a million albums. (Laughs) And we were devastated, man. We were like, “What? We can’t think like that.” We all sat there like, “That was fucked up!” We’re going to call him back and just like, “I just want you to know that that is unacceptable. We need people that are positive working for us; people that believe!” We’ve been given some pretty weird advice and different things because some people are believers and some people are practical, you know, in the business. So you gotta’ deal with the bad, but we’re believers and so we always shift from that and just, it’s all about being practical, it’s about what you can do when you’re dreaming in your head and working towards that and wanting to keep believing it and seeing it and working to make it happen; it can happen. That’s how things happen, man! So, sorry it wasn’t good advice. Advice I have for anyone is, “Don’t give up.” Because Maria and I-before we met, we’d both been trying to do this for a long time, ups and downs and thinking “oh, this one is going to do something” and doesn’t do anything. The only way to really make it happen for yourself-and this can be for anything in life-is not giving up. That’s the first key thing. Is to just not give up on something, because once you stop trying for something, you’re never going to get it. That’s my advice.
MS: Let me backtrack, I have another question; you guys toured with Rob Zombie and Ozzy Osbourne…are there any other great artists that you would love to tour with or work with in the studio?
CH: Yes, man. Maria’s a huge Deftones fan and we’ve been trying to play with the Deftones or get with Chino on something…anything that we can do with them. And that’s one band that it has never happened, they’ve never invited us and our paths have never really crossed where we have been on tour with them or anything. So that’s a huge one and I’ve always said Metallica. We’ve got to tour with Ozzy, why not tour with Metallica? For me it’s like-I know it’s a little heavy, but I think we’d do good. There’s a few that are really good ones that we’ve always kind of wanted, but it hasn’t happened yet. You never know. We’re not saying anything is impossible.
MS: Chris, I have to ask you, this question is a crazy one; do you prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?
CH: Oh, crunchy, man! Crunchy. Put a whole peanut in there and I’m fine with it.
MS: This is my last question for you, Chris; is there anything you want the Pensacola fan to knows about the show, the tour before you hit Vinyl Music Hall?
CH: Well, we’ve never been there, so I’m really excited to see who shows up and what’s going on. If you haven’t seen us, come see us because we’re better than ever, we’re pretty much a theatrical production. You’re going to see more than just us standing up there in our shorts. You’re going to see a full production as much as we can do in that club. And we’re also learning a bunch of new songs at practice, so we’re going to be playing some brand new stuff that no one’s ever heard live. It’ll be really cool, man.
MS: Is there a chance you’ll have a new album out soon? I know that “Blood” just came out not too long ago, is there a chance for a new album soon within the next year maybe?
CH: Not soon, but I guarantee you, man, by the end of next year everyone’s going to be going, “Alright, well, I guess you’re going to start working on something else.” It depends on where we’re at. If this album’s blowing up even more next year, we might ride it a little longer. But it seems to be a good year and a half is how long an album’s success usually goes. We’ll start working on other stuff, because you know, they’re immediately going to want a follow-up right when we end the tour. Nothing too soon though. Come say hi, introduce yourself.
– Michael L. Smith