Over their decade-long career, Californian metal five-piece In This Moment has faced an onslaught of criticism, which frontwoman and lyricist Maria Brink tackles over the course of the band’s fifth studio album, Black Widow, released on their new home, Atlantic Records, this past November. During a short stint of downtime in between finishing up the European leg of the Black Widow tour and kicking off the American one with Butcher Babies and Upon A Burning Body in tow, Brink caught up with The Aquarian Weekly to discuss the band’s stage antics, the upcoming video for new single “Sex Metal Barbie,” and creating art out of others’ hate.
She also has a special request for fans who are planning to attend a show: wear a costume. “We’re going to give a free gift to everyone who comes dressed up,” Brink says. “We’re really trying to encourage it a lot more now because everyone gets to have fun, express themselves, and be in the show. It’s not just us on the stage, we want everyone to feel it.”
The band recently wrapped up headlining tour in Europe. How is playing to crowds overseas different than playing shows back home?
That was our first headliner there, and we were completely terrified—I was, anyway. We weren’t quite sure how it would go because we hadn’t been there in a while and had never headlined somewhere so far. But it was just superb. It was amazing, we sold out almost all of the shows and the fans were really exceptional. To me, it’s not necessarily “different,” because they’re all so loving and they’re all so welcoming, but that’s here too. Everyone is excited and passionate. One thing is that over there they are big-time clappers, and they are always doing something like a chant, and it’s loud and crazy. That’s definitely one thing that is a little bit different.
A live performance for In This Moment relies heavily on an intricate stage show. What was the inspiration behind the theatrics?
I just wanted it to be performing arts, whether we’re dancing or using some sort of props. But I want to be able to say that it all starts with the music. The music has to be that thing that really invokes different emotions from people and enchants them, even if their eyes are shut in the dark. Then to take the visual show and make it just as captivating as the music, it adds an element to really bring it all to life. So that’s really where everything started as far as my inspiration was in creating this whole show; having something that people can definitely remember, and that we can have our own path that’s separate from everybody else with what we’re trying to create.
Often the lyrics of your songs are deeply personal. Is it ever difficult to reveal such a private side of yourself to the public?
Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s a struggle. But I’ve learned to be pretty open when I express myself through music. When someone is emotionally lost in their song and you hear it and you feel their emotion, that’s the thing that touches somebody, you know? For me, all the singers that I love I can feel them, and that was always the most important thing for me. I always want to talk about things that are personal so there can be that real connection between me and the listener. It’s been challenging, like on Black Widow we did “Into The Darkness,” which was like the intro to “Out Of Hell” at the end of the album, and that was pretty hard. I had all the guys go into studio and say the most hateful things that anyone has ever said to them, and then I had my producer do mine so I hadn’t heard anything back. Afterwards I went in and heard it all organically, and then gave basically a forgiving or loving rebuttal to the hate. So that was pretty hard for me at the time for sure.
You recently directed the music video for “Sex Metal Barbie”—how was it being in the director’s chair?
Well I didn’t actually get much time to sit in the chair, I was running around like a crazy person the entire time. It is challenging, and then I have to have a monitor facing me because I can’t sit over there and watch it because I’m actually in the shot, but I think that we made it work really well. We’re in the midst right now trying to edit the video together and trying to get it to the point where we are as happy as we can possibly be with it. It is a little nerve-wracking. But I co-directed the last two videos as well: “Big Bad Wolf” and “Sick Like Me.”
The concept behind that particular song is a response to online haters. Where did the idea to use that as material come from?
I just wanted a song that was about thanking somebody or thanking a group of people for their hate, because somehow I turned that into something liberating or powerful for me. So I knew but I wasn’t quite sure how we were going to do it, and then we came up with the idea like, “Why don’t we just literally read all their hate and write it all down, then come up with the song from that?” But we didn’t go into it knowing that it would be called “Sex Metal Barbie.” We actually read different comments, like, “This is sex metal.” Right there I wrote that down like, “Ooh! Sex metal!” (laughs). I was just writing all the mean things they were saying about me and then put it all together—we had like five pages, so we went through it and picked out all these different things.
Five pages? Oh my God.
Yeah (laughs). It felt really good to thank them for their hate because I actually took that and turned it into something beautiful for myself. That’s something I feel proud of.
What was your first experience with music, and do you feel like it still affects you as an artist?
My mom loved metal when I was little, and she took me to all the concerts. She was a flower child; a stoner. She grew up with Black Sabbath and loved AC/DC, so she had all her records all over the place and they were horrifying, like Eddie from Iron Maiden. When I was young, I was actually afraid of all of the records! But she took me to see Stevie Nicks and Tina Turner, and I think it was just her love of music and me always being surrounded by it that made me believe I could do it.
What advice do you have for girls wanting to get into the industry?
I think it doesn’t matter what scene you’re in, because I used to have this weird perception in my head that was, “Well it’s harder to be a girl in metal. It’s harder to be a girl in rock and roll.” And now I think that’s complete bull. I think that it was harder on me in the beginning because I believed it was harder. I had this mindset that they weren’t going to accept me and that I had to prove something, and that I had to go out there and be really aggressive. I was trying to—I don’t even know what I was trying to do. But I learned to possess self-confidence and self-empowerment. Now when I walk out there, as long as I own that confidence and know that I’m in control of the show and of myself, they’ll scream louder when I’m standing there quietly than ever before. No matter if you’re a girl or a guy, no matter what you do, you have to believe in yourself 100 percent. You can’t go out thinking, “It’s going to be harder for me because I’m a girl.” You have to just know, “I will do this, and nothing will hold me back. I will own this.” And that’s it.
What are the band’s plans for after the Black Widow tour?
The summer is coming up, so I definitely want to stay on the road, for sure. Right now we’re creating everything as far as what’s going to happen this summer with touring.
In This Moment will be performing at The Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ on April 18, the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, PA on April 22, and The Paramount in Huntington, NY on May 14 with support from Butcher Babies, Upon A Burning Body, and The Nearly Deads. For more information, go to inthismomentofficial.com.