Interview: Maria Brink of In This Moment

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Strong and talented women have been taking over the rock and metal world and leading the way is Maria Brink, the female powerhouse fronting In This Moment.

Fans of the genre would be hard pressed to find a metal show with more theatricality than an In This Moment performance. Flanked by her Blood Girls, Maria owns the stage and the music she sings. While some may hear aggressive and dark messages in the music, look deeper and hear the empowerment, strength and control.

In This Moment’s newest album, Black Widow, proves to be a huge step forward for the band. It takes risks, combines previously known skills with a new sound. “Sex Metal Barbie” is climbing the charts as the band begins its US tour. After a crazy run headlining all over Europe, Maria and the band bring the show home and it’s a show worth seeing.  This isn’t your typical rock or metal show, it’s a complete show with overwhelming audience participation.

Recently Pop-Break caught up with Maria as she is embarking on this tour to take over the country to talk about the new music, how to overcome the haters and how pain makes you beautiful as In This Moment prepares to perform at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ.

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Obviously In This Moment is totally taking the world by storm right now so I want to start with the newest album, Black Widow. By the way, I love the cover art on the album.

Oh thank you so much.

So I know that it was released in November and it was your first on a major label. Did that affect you guys or was it just kind of like same deal, different name?

I mean it did feel kind of like same deal with a different name obviously a strong name. You know Atlantic has been around so long and so it felt fresh to us which was exciting. We have a great relationship with Century but we’ve been with them for four albums and we just felt like it was time for something fresh, like a next level. We kind of felt like we had done what we could’ve done with them and with gratitude, again we have a good relationship, we just wanted something new.

I know that right now “Sex Metal Barbie” is doing amazing. There are some powerful lyrics there and it’s such a unique sound. Can you tell us a little bit about the writing process behind that song?

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Well from the lyric standpoint, I wanted to something to take everybody’s hate that they’re always putting around, whether it’s me or other bands or whoever it is, I wanted to somehow figure out a way to take their hate and thank them for it and turn it into something powerful for myself. I just felt that it would be really something strong to do so I went on the internet and we, me and my guitar player and my producer, we googled my name and we went to like different sites and we just started writing all, for all the lyrics of the song, all of the mean things that they were saying about me and writing about me and it was so amazing and it felt so wonderful because it was literally taking their hate and turning it into something liberating for myself. And the vibe of it, I love all music. I’m a music lover, from Johnny Cash to Michael Jackson to Pantera to electronica, I love electronic music too. I love everything, so I was really feeling like a hip-hop-make-me-kind-of-want-to-move or dance vibe to this mixed with our heavy guitars and the elements that we bring to stuff and just kind of merging those too and I’m so surprised my guitar player was totally down for it. He was like yeah let’s try it and I was like Oh my god! He’s come so far!

It must have been interesting looking up all of these comments about yourself. Did any of them really like take you aback?

No. I have learned with my career to not read anything anymore so even with Instagram. You know sometimes it’s unfortunate, or Facebook, because I want to read the beautiful inspiring stories from our fans. They usually reach out one-on-one more for stuff like that versus just comments on a post or something like that. I’ve learned to just not read or absorb the hate. If I don’t subject myself to it, it won’t affect me. That kind of hate can sometimes be strong. Once in a blue moon I will see something and I’ll get rid of it or I’ll leave it there as a reflection on that person, that’s all it really is. I have learned to not subject myself to it and if I do read it, then I make sure i’m in the right mind frame.

The album is filled with so many awesome songs and I know you guys released a couple really quickly like “Big Bad Wolf,” what is your personal favorite on the record?

Oh gosh! I can’t! I don’t even think I can pick. Only because there is like such a diverse, like I love “Survivor” and “Out of Hell” but they’re such a different animal than like “Sex Metal Barbie.” I have favorites like “Sex Metal Barbie.” “Big Bad Wolf” is by far one of my favorites but I also love “Natural Born Sinner,” is one of my favorites. I don’t have like a one favorite.

For me personally, it’s really great to just see powerful women in rock and metal. Did you think that being a female lead singer is more of a barrier or a blessing for you when you really started this whole project?

I’ve been doing this for 10 years and I literally have gone from this insecure little girl into this woman who knows what she wants and who she is. I still have insecurities, obviously, we all do, but I used to have this perception that because I was a girl, the crowd wasn’t going to take me seriously. You know the heavy metal crowd and they weren’t going to.  I used to go out there and I had that perception to myself, and I think that when you have that perception within yourself, other people read it. So I would scream at them and I used to get heckled a lot. The craziest thing was waking up and finding my own power within myself and realizing that was all something I was creating in my head. I’m strong. They 100 percent can take me seriously if I take myself seriously. I know I am in control of this show. I’m in control of my song and what I’m representing and how I’m representing it. Genres of music don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s heavy metal or rock, if you own what you do and you’re confident in it. Now I walk out on stage and I stand there smiling and the crowd will be louder than they ever were when I used to walk out there and scream really loud at them like let me hear you make some noise. That was actually me being contrived. Now it’s about inner strength. I can stand there silent and feel it more than ever.

You really are lighting the way for other women in the genre, even with like Taylor Momsen and The Pretty Reckless and with Halestorm, it’s great to just really see that so, thank you for that! It’s great to see you guys representing women out there.

Thank you and I think that rule applies to everyone. No matter who you are, inner strength is really where it comes from.

That’s beautiful. So you talked about the power, stepping on stage, In This Moment just came back from Europe and now you guys are going to be touring here in the States.  Tell me about the Europe tour and then the up and coming tour.

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Well, for Europe we were blown away. We had never headlined over there. I was nervous. I was actually questioning it a little bit — like maybe we need to open up for somebody over there really big first, then go over there and headlining. I was a little bit still in that in between and we went over there, and it was crazy. We sold out almost every show. They knew every single word. They were dressed up because we love when our fans dress up. I want everyone in the crowd to dress up, and have fun. We like to say ‘become the show’ because then the show isn’t just us on stage. Everyone can be a part of that night, and let go, and express themselves. Even though they’re in Europe, they’re dressed up. We were so happy. And our up and coming tour here, I’m really excited for as well. We’re doing a show that we’ve never done before. We’ve added a new thing and it’s more theatrical. There is a wardrobe change after every single song and there is a new scene change every song and if somebody doesn’t like our band, if they didn’t even like our music, I could probably get them with our show, with the visual because it’s very interesting and exciting and I can’t wait for everybody to see it.

I heard that a lot about Europe, that metal and rock fans are just out of control.

In Scotland, I don’t know how they did it, but I don’t know if one fan brought thousands of little pieces of paper that says Scotland Loves You but towards the end of the set, I looked up and the whole crowd was holding these pieces of paper in the air that said Scotland Loves You — but there were thousands!  Like a million! I was like how did they even pull that off? It was one of the coolest moments I’ve had in my career.

I actually saw you guys on Uproar a while back and the theatricality is engaging and amazing to watch.

Oh wait till you see the new show.

I was going to say what does the new show do to take that to another level because there was already a high level of that back then!

Oh it’s night and day since Uproar. I mean it’s like a completely brand new show where every single song has some sort of excitement — like wardrobe and some sort of all different types of things. I can’t wait till you see it and I have my performers now, I call them my Blood Girls. They’re just such amazing, they help me out so much up there with them expressing themselves with their dancing and performing arts and I’m just proud of our show and we’ve worked really hard for it.

In the show do you revisit the old material or is it focused on the new album?

We’re definitely focused on the new album but we do play a lot of the old, like of course we play “Blood” and “Whore.” We play a lot of the blood songs and I play a song off of The Dream album so it’s definitely a little bit more of the Blood album and the new album with a few of the older ones.

Now obviously you guys didn’t get much of a break between tours. How do you balance all of that?

Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi
Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi

I actually have off four weeks and for me four weeks is kind of a perfect break for me to relax and try to balance myself and be with my family and just kind of be normal. If I go for like two months, I like to take off a month. Because that’s the type of person I am. If I am sitting around for more than a month then I get itchy like I have to travel and go do something. I make it work.

So I want to go back to the idea of looking at what’s written about you online and the messages out there. If you could control all of that and you could get a message out to your fans, what would you say to them?

I think the universal message is always love. Right? For kids, especially, I think in more the rock ‘n’ roll and metal world, I think a lot more of the … which was me when I was younger, the misfits… consider themselves misfits or the underdog or the people who are experiencing darker things, when I was young I was pulled into a lot of things like that. I think it’s important to teach younger kids, not only just younger kids but all of us, all of us, because all of us are continuously struggling with, no matter what, life, is just self love, most importantly because I think that’s where it all stems from. I think that if you’re expressing a lot of hate to a lot of people all the time then you are probably filled with self hate. So I think self love is where it starts from and just expressing love and being kind to people. That’s what I am. I am pro love and I am pro human rights and I am pro like people being kind to each other and loving each other. I know that people don’t think that about me which is crazy but it’s because I express myself in a dark artistic way.

Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi
Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi

Sometimes it’s tricky for me, as a challenge too because when I sing a song like “Whore,” that song is to empower women. It’s about women overpowering when people are trying to degrade us or to hold us down. It’s about lifting yourself up and being strong but when an eleven-year-old girl is seeing that, and maybe doesn’t understand that concept so it’s tricky for me as an artist sometimes. I do think that we are an 18 and older band. Maybe. I think that we are late teenager years. As long as they can have enough of a mind to understand the empowerment in it. I’ve seen girls come to our show wearing my outfit, like half naked walking to the door. I’ve literally gotten off our bus and put one of my little poncho things around them because they’re standing outside, these little girls coming to the show. I just want people to understand that my message and the way I express myself, it is in a darker way because that’s what I came from. I came from struggling with depression and darkness and a lot of traumatic things but I think that people who are in that same place can see that but they can see the message and power within it. And it’s about the struggle, not only getting away from it because dark things can be beautiful, but balancing them all out. My darker side, I wouldn’t be the artist I am without it. That’s why sometimes I say to my fans, suffering makes you beautiful because without all the horrible things that I’ve been through, I wouldn’t come up with the imagery or the way I do what I do so it’s all a blessing too so it’s just a big crazy journey I guess. I’m rambling at this point!

That’s a beautiful sentiment. The last thing I really want to ask is, obviously you guys are going on this new tour, what’s next?

We’re trying to figure that out right now because I want to be touring all summer so we’re talking about all the possibilities that can happen right now. We’ll let everyone know when we know!  Let everyone know the “Sex Metal Barbie” video is coming out soon too!

In This Moment performs Saturday at The Wellmont in Montclair, click here for tickets.

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