Moments of panic, averted

When manager, band members quit, the core of In This Moment persevered

Alan Sculley | Boulder Weekly

In This Moment may still be finishing up its touring cycle behind its fourth album, Blood, with the second leg of its “Hellpop” tour this January. But already, the band has mapped out the next phase of its career.

As guitarist Chris Howorth reveals, the group will go into the studio in February to start work on its fifth album, and plans to have the first single out in June and the album released in August or September.

“We want to jump out on tour right away in July, on a summer festival or something like that,” Howorth says. “We want to come out with something big.”

That talk of big plans for the next album is especially striking considering the situation In This Moment was in prior to making the Blood album, which was released in August 2012.

As work was set to begin on the album, manager Rob Blasko dropped the band. Then, three weeks later, two band members, guitarist Blake Bunzel (who shared music writing duties with Howorth) and drummer Jeff Fabb abruptly quit the group.

“At that point, [singer Maria Brink] and I were just like, wow, nobody believes in us anymore,” Howorth says. “Our own band doesn’t believe in us. Are we done?” Fortunately for Brink and Howorth, there were still some believers — namely their producer, Kevin Churko, and the band’s label, Century Media, which was not dropping In This Moment.

Churko, who had produced the group’s second and third albums — 2008’s The Dream and 2010’s A Star- Crossed Wasteland — suggested writing and recording a couple of new tunes that could then be shopped to help secure a new manager.

“He said, ‘Let me make them sound good for you, and then we’ll send them out to everybody and see what they think,’” Howorth recalls. “And literally the next day after I sent those songs, first thing in the morning, phone calls were coming in from all these different people. ‘We want to meet with you guys.’ ‘We want to set up a meeting.’ It was just like really, this is so crazy. It was like out of a movie or something. Everyone just completely flipped around, and we had management secured in maybe two weeks.”

The song that generated the enthusiasm was “Blood” — and it set the tone for the fourth album and reflected a new attitude from Brink, Howorth and Churko (who became a major songwriting collaborator during the “Blood” project — even bringing in some of the musical ideas that were developed into finished songs).

The song “Blood” was something different for In This Moment. Its spokenish vocal parts, industrial-ish rhythms and electronic touches that go with its metalish guitar work gave the song a notably different sound than earlier In This Moment music, which was a more standard type of melodic guitar-based metal.

And different was exactly what Brink and Howorth wanted with the music.

“We had this no fear kind of feeling of let’s just try whatever and let’s do something different and fresh. Fresh was a word we were saying a lot,” Howarth says.

The new sound was not only a hit with management candidates — the group signed with In De Goot Entertainment — it connected with fans once “Blood” was released as the first single. The song became the group’s first charting single — going top 10 at active rock radio. Two follow-up singles, “Adrenalize,” and the current single, “Whore,” also cracked the top 20 on that chart. The latter two songs (as well as tunes like “You’re Gonna Listen” and “Scarlet”) carry forward the dark, eerie and at times sensual personality that characterizes the hard-hitting Blood album, as Brink’s emotional vocals ride atop thick guitar riffs, heavy rhythms and synthy/electronic textures that add density and melody to the sound.

The group’s musical fearlessness and ambition has also extended to its live shows, which have steadily grown more elaborate as the touring cycle for the Blood album has continued.

Early on, the guys in the band — Howorth, bassist Travis Johnson, guiarist Randy Weitzel and drummer Tom Hane — started adding makeup to their stage attire, and Brink began changing outfits over the course of the show. As time went on, new visual effects and props were added to the stage show.

“We wanted to make it like a theatrical performance in a rock show, kind of like Alice Cooper does or Rob Zombie or Kiss, where things are rocking and everything, but there’s a plan and a show to be put on,” Howorth says.

“It’s really, really cool and something that we’re all really enjoying,” he says.