An interview with Chris Howorth, Jeff Fabb, Blake Bunzel, and Travis Johnson of In This Moment. It was originally scheduled that Maria and I would do the interview, however she had the flu that night and needed to rest before the show and save what voice she did have left. So the entire band decided to step in to make up for it! That was such a nice surprise! She definitely had the “show must go on” mentality and powered through her performance like a champion feeling so rough. Major respect to Maria for finishing the entire set and looking beautiful as always! <3
Do you feel that the Mayhem Fest 2010 was a breakthrough tour for In This Moment?
Chris Howorth (guitarist): Absolutely, it was a breakthrough tour for us. We did Ozzfest and that was kind of a breakthrough tour too, but at this time after doing Ozzfest and Warped Tour, then going, “What are we going to do?” We needed something good like that and it did the same kind of thing for us that Ozzfest did where it just kind of, it took us to another level and everybody’s perception. The shows were awesome, huge; all awesome. Even better than Ozzfest, you know, people kind of knew who we were more than they did when we did Ozzfest. Their reactions were just great, it was great the whole time.
Jeff Fabb (drummer): And also, the shows after Mayhem; now people were like, “Oh, I saw you at Mayhem! I saw you at Mayhem! I saw you at Mayhem!” So, yeah, it was definitely really good for us.
Blake (guitarist): Can’t go wrong with being on tour with a mix of all those amazing bands that we were on tour with; can’t go wrong with that, it was awesome.
What do you think it was that made you guys get a spot on the Music As a Weapon Tour?
Chris: We– I mean– Pretty much our talent.
Jeff: (laughs) That;s what we would like to have it be!!!
Chris: But you know what it is too, we’re sponsored by Monster Energy Drink, and we have a great relationship with them and they’re the title sponsor for the tour, and they helped us get on it. We’re just really stoked. And of course, Disturbed, and Korn, also had to say yes of having us on the tour.
So, I think we just– right place, right time. Antoher huge blessing for the band, because it’s another great tour that’s going to take us up on that plateau a little bit more higher and just make our everything just seem better for us. And the shows after that will be great. It just sets the year off perfectly, a great tour!
Do you guys feel a certain pressure because you’re on the Music As A Weapon Tour?
Chris: I think there’s always pressure on any tour, even on the smaller one. We always want to try to do something a little better than the last time so it’s not the same-old, same-old every time. But, we’ve done a lot of bigger tours like that, fortunately for us, so we have a little bit of experience with how it works and stuff, and we’re not just like going into the unknown.
We kind of have an idea of what it’s going to be like, but there’s always the pressure of we want to put on the best show we can. We know that Disturbed and Korn and Sevendust are all super/pro/amazing bands that will have so many good songs, and we want people to remember us in that lineup too. So that definitely puts pressure on us.
How did you guys initially envision the success for A Star Crossed Wasteland would be like, before it was even released?
Jeff: Loud. (laughs)
Chris: Well, honestly, we always want it to be [successful],. We always look what’s going on in the business and were following what’s happening with all of these other bands, the charts, and things, so we want to come out good, you know? Every band does. But, we were also realistic and as long as we did better than we did before, we’re going to be proud and happy.
We’re always proud of our music, what we write, so we have that kind of attitude. Like, lets just hope for the best and try to do better than we did the last time. As long as we keep growing, we’re climbing the ladder still, we’re not slipping and falling down, we’re still climbing up. When it came out and it was number 40 [on Billboard Top 200 chart], we were just super-stoked, it sold a couple-thousand more than the last one. In this day and age it’s a pretty rare thing to happen too. So, we were just stoked.
Blake: Just do it all! (laughs)
Jeff: Travis, you got this next one. (laughs)
How do you feel A Star-Crossed Wasteland has connected to your fans moreso than The Dream or Beautiful Tragedy?
Chris: I think it’s because we, as over the last three albums, as a group, we’ve grown and have played a lot of shows in front of a lot of people; we kind of found out who we were and what our audience was and what we were more about. This album tries to blend– the first album is us just working raw, fresh, kind of just doing more typical type stuff.
The second album is us completely, just out in the open, exploring every aspect we can. And then, this album is more of, “Lets focus in and what are we really?” And put the two things together, which is what we really are, is the melodic and the heavy, and that’s why I think it connected more.People liked us for that heavy part and people liked us for the melodic part. So, we’re kind of just trying to make all those people happy, and the new people too. It seems to have connected like that.
Jeff: Yep. Yep.
(undefinable voice): HELLLL YEAH.
Chris: Its like they do a 30 second countdown and then they all start talking.
Blake: We gave him all of our answers to all of your questions before this whole thing started.
Chris: I’ve been doing these interviews so much since the band started, so I just have this instinct of blah answers for everybody.
Jeff: We just like to sit and watch.
Bands often just play music and not really ‘feel’ it, it’s obvious with each band’s on-stage presence, but since I’ve seen you perform live a couple of times, you guys FEEL it. What is it that makes you feel it when you play, especially with each album progresses?
Jeff: It’s pretty much all about the drums… The drums are the driving force of the band. So, I think what happens is I pretty much–
Chris: This is why I answer the questions. You want a go at this one? I’ve got a pretty good answer, I think…
Jeff: Actually I’ve– I’m sure your answer will probably be 10x better than mine.
Jeff: Well, it’s a combination of things, it’s a combination of loving what you do, and then experience, and being able to get into it more and more and more and not really think about what you’re playing. That’s what it is for me.
Chris: It’s the same thing for all of us, I think. We just, as the older songs, like he said, from back in the albums before, now we’ve been playing those songs so much it’s almost like, he’s trying to play like this, run across the stage, different things. He was never doing that before! (laughs) And newer songs, as we write the new album now, maybe we try to (inaudible) a little bit, or this would be really cool live, and we kind of just instinctively know what we’re all– kind of try to connect and feel it. And definitely, like he said, the crowd can pick up on it, when you’re not. We’re not always on “10” or whatever, but we try to look at every show the same and put as much energy as we can into it. This is like a new level on this tour.
Blake: Like, last night, I got to say, was– we were in St. George, Utah, and that was kind of like– I don’t know if it was a small epiphany I was having, but just one of those things that was just like, I was walking on stage and you’re just like, “Oh my God” Like, you don’t really think about playing, it just kind of becomes natural, and you just enjoy it.
You don’t have to worry about shit other than what’s going on around you and stuff, that’s where you really take it in and are just like “Wow! I can’t believe I’m just standing here in front of these people that are loving the music.” That just totally like empowers you and gets you in a completely–
Chris: He has this epiphany last night in front of about …350 people, and we all were at this last summer– well you guys saw us, we were in front of several thousand people!! I mean, it doesn’t matter, as time goes on you’re in a different head-space or whatever and that show, it was awesome last night, and it doesn’t matter if it’s 4000 people or 400 people, it’s– you feel that feeling and that’s what it’s all about.
Jeff: He’s got this move called the self-loving—
Blake: OH GOD!!!!! No, no, it’s not true!!!!
How do you guys take your raw emotion to make your music come alive while on stage or in the studio?
Jeff: I would say, not only is it the band, but Kevin [Churko/Producer] has a good helping hand with that.
Chris: Oh yeah, well our producer in the studio helps us bring a lot of mediocre ideas to life, I’m sure. On stage, I don’t even think that we think about it. We just kind of go out there like, (*makes grunting/growling sounds*) and caveman it. (laughs) We’re not like, this is our last performance– some nights, I’m sure all of us are going to agree, like he’ll have a great night, or I’ll have a great night, where we know we just nailed that solo grade, “did anyone see how good that was? Because that was perfect tonight!”
Most of the time you just go out there and do it and you do it again, and you do it again, and you do it again. And if you have a bad night, it’s like that night sucked, but guess what, we’re playing again tomorrow night. So, yeah.
Jeff: The best nights are where you’re just totally like laughing at each other, having a good time, just like.
Blake: Whether or not it’s turning it towards you and you’re like fucking around or whatever, I think those are like the most–
Chris: Like the stars align and it sounds good on stage, everyone’s happy with what’s going on, so no one’s having a miserable show, because if one of usis having a miserable show, you’re all having fun, and looking at each other, just like “ughhhhh…”
(everyone together: Ughhhhhhhh…)
Blake: Ughhhhhh…. Ruined that for me!
Chris: That was the greatest show ever!!! This show sucked. (laughs) But there are those nights when it’s like, everything is perfect, everyone comes off stage like, “Can you believe that?!” Those are the best times, for sure.
How do you connect through your music to express your passion? And has the way you connected changed throughout the years?
Jeff: That’s a pretty deep question.
Chris: Yeah, that’s a deep question. It’s almost like– we all have passion when we’re playing stuff, when we’re coming up with stuff; ideas and stuff. Like, if I have an idea I come up with, I’m trying to come up with passion for it. So it’s like, we get in the studio, sometimes you, you know, because of time constraints and stuff like that, you’re almost stripped of some of your passion because you’re trying to do a new record, or whatever. And then live, you come back if you have, like, if you say, we’re all feeling it, we all know the songs good, and then he can play the part he wants to play in the studio, you know, live, and really get into that and stuff like that, and change it up a little bit; I don’t know…
Because like, the passion, it’s there sometimes, but sometimes it’s not, as far as when you’re writing. Because when we first started, we wrote everything together, kind of in a group at practice, most bands, you would think too, like in a garage or whatever, just playing, and then as we progressed through our careers and people moved, now we do a lot of across-the-country pieces and parts writing, and then bring in these pieces and parts to our producer and we all sit together there and craft again. So, it’s almost like a surgical procedure, sometimes.
Jeff: It continuously grows, because he said too, then after you’re done with the record, you go out, and before you know it, you’r elike, “Man, this sounds actually better!” Or, “This sounds better too…” So, you’re always growing with it and now it’s always growing, you know?
Chris: Especially live.
At which album did you feel that you guys could really translate your on-stage energy into the studio?
Chris: Kind of like– I don’t know, like, have we ever had an album like that? (laughs) Maybe the first one.
Jeff: Yeah, I would say that.
Chris: Because, that’s the one where we wrote together playing and headbanging in the same room, and then we went in without much producer help and recorded it all the same way pretty much; very littleproduction. Whereas the new album, Kevin Churko’slike a partner with us, and we write songs together with him too, and everything kind of changes and we’re more open with it.
We just kind of grew and learned with the two other albums; the first one definitely is the one. The other ones, it’s more clinical now, like we write the songs in the studio, then we learn them afterwards, and, “That works live… And… Oh, that doesn’t work live…” You don’t know until you learn the song and play it, and practice it until after the album is already done.
How do you feel your music gives your fans an escape or freedom?
Chris: There are definitely those people at the shows that get that, like any metal fan at a metal show or whatever… But we have a lot of fans– with Maria’s lyrics and stuff that she writes from the heart, what she’s been through and things like that; she’s really passionate about what she writes. A lot of people connect with that and it touches them, it changes them. We get a million messages on our Facebook pages and individually, and tons of stories, and people that we’re friends with now that are almost like extended family that we see throughout the road that we’ve met over the years, that have stories about how the band’s music has affected them, it can be pretty deep sometimes, you know.
The connection people and our fans have with our music particularly. I don’t know if it’s like that for every band, but for us, it seems to be there’s a lot of that.
How do you feel it gives you guys an escape?
Chris: We’re here right now.
Chris: I mean, you know, we’d be working at Home Depot, Public Storage, on a lobster boat, and then going home, watching TV, and then waking up in the morning with the alarm clock, and going back to work again, and having the weekend off to go to the bar with friends, and then do it all again the next week. And instead, we get to see the country, see the world, meet people, and talk to people, and play– do what we love to do, we love to play music in front of everyone, and talk about guitars, and worry about strings, and stuff like that.
Jeff: Every aspect is an escape for us.
Chris: Yeah, everything about it is such a blessing.
Jeff: It really is.
Chris: And definitely don’t take it for granted at all, it’s like every day, touring is amazing..
What is it that gives you a stronger connection with the crowd more so than any of the other artists out there?
Travis: As far as being the new member and stuff, I saw them grow and stuff. So, I would say that the connection for sure– the message it self, is the big thing I think that really people feel a passionate, real connection which is like, “they’re awesome, I want to mosh and hurt somebody!” You know? It’s more of a heartfelt, true message that the band holds that people really connect with.
Chris: Well said, Travis. And also, we’ve always since we started, we made a point to like– especially in the beginning, all we did was hang out at the merch table because we were in a van, you know? And that’s what we did, just hang out with people and meet our fans. And still, to this day, our fans are super important to us and anyone that wants to say hi to us or anyone that wants anything from us, we’re going to accommodate them. And we’re happy, we’re blessed that it’s even happening. And so, that connection, I think [we are] very approachable, In This Moment is.
What do you think will have people reminisce years from now about In This Moment?
Chris: I think our music. I think that the songs, a lot of stuff we’ve done in the past albums, people look at us and think, “Girls singer.” And that will turn a lot of people just to not even give it a chance at all, and they think, “gimmick” because Maria’s real pretty or whatever and that we’re just trying to sell sex. But I think if you listen to our albums, as a music lover– I never even wanted to be in a band with a girl, I never like any girl bands either, but our music, and I’m not just saying it because I’m in the band; I feel like we have good songs and I think that’s what’s really going to stand the test of time for us. That’s my opinion of it.
Chris: Sorry if I took the words out of your mouths.
How do you feel you guys drive the passion out of your fans?
Chris: God, I don’t even know. (laughs) We’re like looking at them, “What are you guys seeing out there that we’re ..not?” …It must be Blake’s moves! (laughs) Because we don’t see ourselves ever, I mean, sometimes we see obviously the YouTube recordings and stuff like that. I think like Travis just said, the music connection with the songs, and the words that are being said, and the message of the songs, and the fact that we are an approachable band, and we’ve always said we play from the heart, we’re real about it, you know, we don’t do anything just to do it because that’s what we need to do to sell a record, or something like that, we do songs that we like, and if it sounds good to us, that’s what we go with.
Travis: I was actually talking to Jeff [Fabb] earlier last night about the difference of FLATLINE and the feeling of the bounce back and fourth from the crowd and us, it was more of a, almost like negative, but you know what I mean, a dark, angry kind of [like], “Yeah, lets mosh and be pissed, you know?” And the feeling of playing with these guys [In This Moment] is completely different, I look and now see smiles, which is totally different, and just the whole room is filled with a good feeling. I think the fans are taking–
Chris: The fans are singing the words and stuff. It’s definitely a different- we have some cool, cool, awesome fans that make it really cool. Awesome cool fans make it cool and awesome! (laughs)
What would you say is one of the most significant transitions that you all have gone through being a part of In This Moment?
Chris: I would say our first bass player, Jesse Landry. He wasn’t our first bass player, he was our second one, but he was the guy who was with us when we first started. And this is my opinion, you guys might have a different one, a transition, but to me, that was like a big shocker.
Jeff: A band transition?
Chris: Yeah, is that what you’re talking about?
Chris: Because when he said he wanted to go fly airplanes and didn’t want to do it [play bass] anymore, that, to me, was a huge like, “ca-shinnnnggg!” Weird, like, “Oh gosh, what’s going on with the band?”
Obviously, we’ve gone through transitions musically, with the album and the way we sound and stuff.
Blake: Me, I would have to say, was just after the Ozzy tour, we did– everything seemed like it switched to like something–
Chris: He’s right about that too, something transitioned.
Blake: [continued] something more like– it was just a whole new chapter, you know? Just kind of knocked you into the next gear, and just like, “This is the reality now.” You know?
Chris: That was the last tour we did for the first album and it was like, we had gone from a van and trailer, to our first tour bus, and arenas all across the country with Ozzy Osbourne. And it was like we saw from the very bottom to the very, very top of the spectrum. Then we had to like follow that up. So, it was like a “SHING!!!!”
Jeff: Yeah, it was.
Chris: Yeah, new album and we got to get back to that again somehow! That was our whole like–
Jeff: This year kind of feels like that again. Mayhem and then we got Music as a Weapon.
Blake: I feel that like we also kind of like grew a little bit closer to each other. Like, just seeing like the great sides of each other, and the bad, you know, whatever it is stuff. And it just kind of like pulled us a little bit more together and just kind of–
Chris: We’re definitely as a band, we’ve been through a lot of shit together, and a lot of motions, and a lot of different, crazy things that we’ve seen and done together. And he [Blake] was like 19 when you were in the band, you know? Like we always say he’s grown up with us, you know? We’re like brothers. He’s like my little brother! You know what I mean? And so, that’s how it is now, even more so with all of us, including Maria. We’re just like a traveling gypsy band. That’s why Travis fits in so well too, because he was like my bro in L.A., and we lived together for years, before we even– not even got a successful band going. It’s like a real family feeling, it’s cool.
Jeff: Yeah, it is.
Blake: Yeah. HELL YEAH.
Jeff: (In deep voice) Hell yeah, brother. Couldn’t have said it any better than myself. (laughs)
Musicians often say that they feel like they’re “on fire” when they’re recording or on stage, how would you describe your own ‘on fire’ feeling, and how it affects your ability to record or perform?
Blake: I’d have to say, for me at least, it’s just kind of like, in the studio, and that’s not so much actually on this last one, but like in the studio, just kind of like once you kind of get on a roll of just like ideas to come out of you, that’s where I feel most on fire, like “Oh my God, like I got this one, and I got this one, and I got this one!” You know? Just kind of like throwing it out like that… I don’t know.
Chris: That’s definitely an on fire, I think that I have too. But also I have– there’s the on fire with the, like where we were talking about the show when the stars align and then everything you play feels good, and even if you mess up, it doesn’t even feel bad because the crowd is so into it that it just makes it like, “AHHH!! King of the world shit!” You know? It feels so on top of the world…
Blake: For a little while. (laughs)
Jeff: And on fire for me also, I agree with both of you two, but like in the studio it’d be like when you want that idea that you have to come across, and you only have that certain amount of time to get it across. Or it’s going to be, it’s not going to happen, and it’s just like you’re fighting for it, and you’re trying to make it work, and maybe manipulate it a little bit, so it works within the part. That’s like another on fire feeling, you know?
How do you feel In This Moment is symbolized through the eyes of your fans?
Jeff: God like.
(Blake and Jeff laugh)
Chris: I don’t know, man. They definitely– I think they think of us as real people which is why I think we have the good relationship with them. But, I think they also really get deep into the message of the music and stuff like that, and what’s being said, and the dreaminess of the all, I think. Umm… I don’t really know a good answer for that.
Jeff: I kind of leave that up to them
Chris: You can’t really think about that stuff.
Blake: It’s more so like a, I should say like a vice, but it’s more like a positive energy that they can actually feel when they’re totally like feeling down.
Chris: There you go. And that’s a lot of the case a lot of the times.
Blake: We’re one of those bands not exactly like “I hate it, let’s put on In This Moment.”
Chris: It’s not like, “I’m pissed. I want to hear some kill stuff!” I mean, we have songs that are more aggressive and stuff like that, but a lot of the stuff is definitely, you can feel good about it when you sing it.
What do you think the most challenging part of 2010 was and what was the most rewarding thing that came out of that year for In This Moment?
Chris: The best, most rewarding thing would be, I think, our album [Star Crossed Waste Land], and the success it had, and Mayhem Fest, and just the touring, and everything seemed to have gotten better after the album came out. After the album came out, we did a tour.
Jeff: I mean, it was definitely coming out with the new record, I mean people didn’t necessarily, like our heavy fans didn’t necessarily really like The Dream, so I think people were anticipating it a lot, like, “What are they going to do? Are they going to go like more this way? Or this way? Or this way?” So I think we were all– it was just kind of like one of those times of–
Chris: It’s always challenging too when you’re doing a new record, putting it out, and you’re just like figuring out the marketing plan, the this, and the that, the tour…
Jeff: Is it going to be ready in time?
Chris: (Continues) The tour to coincide with it and everything. And, luckily we had Mayhem Fest confirmed before we went in the studio. So, we knew we were going to do that, so we had to be sure everything would be ready in time for that. So, it was going to be this perfect unveiling and a perfect tour to go with it and all of that stuff, and the perfect record for that tour, and all those things.
Blake: (in a dark, growling voice) It was…. It was…..
Jeff: It was perfect, it couldn’t have gotten any better.
Chris: And then to end the year like we did, and then, boom! Music As a Weapon to start out this year, and then a lot of other cool stuff to happen, like at the end of the year.
Chris: Can’t say anything about it. (laughs)
How do you want In This Moment to make an impact in 2011?
Chris: We definitely want to make an impact. We want to grow with each record, we want this record to sell more than the last one. We want the promise to be successful at radio, it’s doing pretty good right now, and we’re still going to be pushing it through 2011. So, we just want the band’s status and positioning in the rock and metal world to be a little bit more solidified this year, at minimum, at maximum; we want to sell one million records, and the year-end arena tour that we’re headlining…
Blake: But that’s just for this year, a million records. (laughs)
Chris: Yeah, exactly, that’s what I mean. That’s like the dream.
Blake: 15 million for the next coming years.