Hit The Lights: In This Moment: 'Having A Female Singer Is More Of A Benefit'

artist: In This Moment date: 04/28/2009 category: interviews
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Hit The Lights: In This Moment: 'Having A Female Singer Is More Of A Benefit'
Earning its stripes, a fledgling outfit accrues supporting slots during its early career, something that is or was vital to the initial progress of Hit The Lights' interviewees. How much strength a group must lend to their performance, however, largely depends upon whom the headlining act happens to be. The weightier a live performance a headlining act has, the more that act's audience demands from a given live performance. Take Ozzy Osbourne for example; the man's solo personnel lend a vitality to the overall performance, whilst his armoury of known tracks virtually guarantees each crowd member will sing along to each and every composition. Megadeth's live concerts, on the other hand, is where Dave Mustaine enters his very domain, asserting his dominance as a skilled and talented guitarist. The supporting acts for such groups are placed under much pressure to deliver, and when you boast a female singer, sometimes the focus is upon that vocalist's status as a sex symbol as opposed to the music itself. In This Moment has supported Ozzy Osbourne and Megadeth amongst others, and happens to be one such act whose media coverage tends to concentrate upon the sexuality of its frontwoman, in this case Maria Brink. During January 2008, demo sessions in support of In This Moment's sophomore album began whilst the group still toured. Eighteen compositions were authored, that number being whittled down to twelve. In early May, Kevin Churko (who produced April 2007 Ozzy Osbourne album 'Black Rain') was revealed to be the producer hired to work upon the record. On June 1st, recording sessions commenced, and the album was cut at The Wolves Den in Las Vegas, Nevada. Additional recording, meanwhile, occurred at Las Vegas' The Tone Factory. Several new tracks were composed during recording sessions. During mid July, the name of In This Moment's sophomore record was unveiled as "The Dream". Issued on September 30th in the United States, the album shifted over eight thousand units in its inaugural week of release in that country, garnering position seventy upon the Billboard 200 chart. On April 6th 2009, "The Forever" was issued via single format in the United Kingdom. One week later, "The Dream" underwent its British reissue. Two original compositions in the form of "Dying Star" and "Sailing Away" comprised bonus material, as well as a cover interpretation of the Blondie track "Call Me". To promote "The Dream"'s re-release, In This Moment embarked upon the Give It A Name & Kerrang! Introducing tour. Beginning on April 9th at London's Islington Academy, the package paired the group alongside such acts as The Lights, VersaEmerge and Whole Wheat Bread. Such dates paved the way for In This Moment's Give It A Name Festival appearances, which transpired on the 17th and 19th at London's Brixton Academy and Manchester's Academy respectively. As part of the Give It A Name & Kerrang! Introducing tour, In This Moment performed at Cardiff's Clwb Ifor Bach on April 10th. At Clwb Ifor Bach at 5:30pm GMT, an interview was scheduled with vocalist Maria Brink. Tour manager and Panic Cell vocalist Luke Bell reported severe monitor problems, and so an interview didn't occur until roughly 6:45pm GMT. Guitarist Blake Bunzel and bassist Jesse Landry spoke to Hit The Lights' Robert Gray regarding "The Dream"'s UK re-release, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of having a female vocalist. UG: How are you guys? Jesse: I'm good, man. Blake: I'm feeling good. Tour manager Luke Bell informed me of tonight's problems with the monitors. Can such things be a pain? Blake: A little. Yeah, it's a pain in the ass - it's something which needs to be corrected. Do such problems usually occur? Blake: This is actually the first occasion that the monitors have proved to be a major problem, though this problem was bound to have happened sooner or later. 'The Dream' was issued in the United Kingdom during early April 2009, though has been available in North America for several months. Could you provide an overview of the album itself? Blake: We recorded 'The Dream' with producer Kevin Churko, who also produced Ozzy Osbourne's 2007 album 'Black Rain'. Our manager, Rob "Blasko" Nicholson, actually plays bass for Ozzy. We recorded the album at The Wolves Den in Las Vegas, though began writing its tracks roughly three months prior to that. Recording was a free for all so to speak, and we did whatever we wanted. We listened to much eighties hair metal, rock and so on, and pretty much, this is what emerged. This was as opposed to the previous album, 'Beautiful Tragedy', where we were at the neck of each other much of the time, and so on. For 'The Dream', everything went smoothly. Did In This Moment come to support Ozzy Osbourne as the result of "Blasko" being the group's manager? Blake: That was due to us appearing upon an Ozzfest package prior to that, as well as several other factors. Upon Ozzfest, we were one of the top three selling groups in terms of merchandise, and this was the main reason. That's how we came to support Ozzy Osbourne upon his North American trek.

"We always try to think of new ideas, but the ideas we have thus far aren't even enough to say we'll venture in a specific direction."

How does 'The Dream' differ to 'Beautiful Tragedy'? Jesse: 'The Dream'? 'The Dream' is more of a rock record, and isn't a metal record. Blake summed up the way the album came together. Old school elements were mixed against new school elements, as well as In This Moment's sound. Blake: In terms of Maria's vocals, we opted towards a different route. 'The Dream' doesn't have very much screaming, since Maria wanted to sing much more. We didn't exactly wish to intentionally refrain from screaming - 'The Dream' just materialized that way. You can hear Ozzy in some instances, and Whitesnake in others for example. Sometimes, the singing is slightly more prominent. Why was 'The Dream' issued during April 2009 in the United Kingdom, but issued during September 2008 in North America? Blake: You know what? I don't even know how to answer your question, since I don't actually know the answer to your question. Jesse: 'The Dream' has been re-released. When 'The Dream' was originally released several months ago, Century Media didn't promote the album as much in the United Kingdom as they did in the United States for some reason. Therefore, they've released 'The Dream'; now that we're touring in the United Kingdom, we're hyping up the press, and the magazine outlets. I was under the impression that 'The Dream' hadn't undergone a British release until this month. Jesse: Also, 'The Dream''s re-release boasts the Blondie cover "Call Me", and two B-sides that we recorded. Blake: "Dying Star" and "Sailing Away". Why do you feel that Century Media changed tack, opted to re-release 'The Dream', and attempted to gain In This Moment more media coverage? Jesse: We've experienced good coverage. Blake: Yeah, it's awesome. 'The Dream' has been promoted more so in preparation for our stint as part of the Warped Tour, in effect promoting our slot upon that package. They're making a fresh new start really - that's pretty much it. Why do you feel that Century Media changed tack though, re-releasing 'The Dream', and giving the album much more promotion? Blake: I think it's awesome, really awesome - they obviously feel that 'The Dream' is a great album. Do you feel that 'The Dream' was re-released due to 'The Dream''s North American sales performance, Century Media thinking the album could perform better in the United Kingdom? Jesse: I honestly don't know. The reason why 'The Dream' was re-released in the United Kingdom was due to the bonus tracks it features, and due to the push the album is receiving as a result of its re-release. How did "Dying Star" come to fruition? Blake: "Dying Star" is actually a track we had begun to write at the tail end of our supporting slot as part of the Ozzy tour, which was at the beginning of 2008. The track was written at the very beginning of writing sessions in support of 'The Dream', and was voted to be part of the album and so on. Both of these B-sides were meant to be part of 'The Dream', but due to the fact they're sonically different than the other tracks and would deviate from the album's sound, we opted to replace them with two other tracks. These tracks surfaced as "The Dream", which is the title track, and "Lost At Sea". "Dying Star" was a track which just came together. Actually, the process was pretty simple - the track was just laid out smoothly, and everything. What do the lyrics to "Dying Star" entail? Jesse: Actually, you would have to ask Maria that question. The lyrics are extremely personal to her, and you can interpret those lyrics any way you wish. Really though, "Dying Star"'s lyrics mean a certain thing to her. How did "Sailing Away" come to fruition? Jesse: The same way, somewhat. "Sailing Away" was written on the tour bus while we were part of the Ozzy tour, and came to fruition when we entered the studio with Kevin. Why did In This Moment opt to cover "Call Me" by Blondie? Blake: It's a hit, man. Jesse: Yeah - "Call Me" has already been issued as a single. Blake: We wanted to record "Call Me", and just give the track a fresh new take. It's a rad track, so why not try to push it out again, give the track our own little spin, and hear what people think? We've actually wanted to record many tracks, though we thought it'd be especially fun to record "Call Me". As opposed to venturing down an obvious route by covering a track by Metallica, Megadeth or similar such acts, is it great to cover a track by a less obvious choice of artist like Blondie? Blake: Blondie is different, definitely. In This Moment initially covered metal type material, such as Slayer's "Postmortem" at the very beginning - such tracks were just the heavier thing somewhat. Blondie is a rock slash pop group, so why not actually try to cover such groups? We're a heavy group - we can actually try to pull such covers out of our ass (laughs).. and so we did that. How would you describe touring alongside bigger acts such as Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth and similar such groups? You likely witnessed some of their performances each night, so did you notice certain aspects, learn those aspects, and incorporate those aspects into your performance? Jesse: Ozzy's an icon, as well as both Dave Mustaine and Megadeth, and it was just cool to be able to witness them in action every night. Blake: Touring with a group like Megadeth.. just stellar players though. Watching Dave Mustaine is just awesome. They're not only amazing musicians, but have great tracks. When we supported Ozzy, the whole crowded chanted the lyrics and so on - that was amazing. He has timeless tracks. Whilst hanging out with the guys from groups we've toured with and so on, we've definitely incorporated, in certain respects, what they add onto their music to make it greater. We've noticed what these musicians do and don't do, and we just try to follow their lead.

"We didn't exactly wish to intentionally refrain from screaming - 'The Dream' just materialized that way."

When you open for a group such as Megadeth or Ozzy Osbourne, is it more difficult to keep up so to speak? Jesse: We just do our thing so to speak, whether we're supporting Ozzy, or performing at a small club like this. It's the same. Blake: Yeah. If they like us, they like us, and if they don't, they don't. Every group performs to bad crowds and so on, but there's always the good crowds which make you want to continue. You just place yourself out there, as real as you are. Whenever In This Moment act as support, would you say that the crowds have been more difficult then? Tonight, much more of those in attendance will be In This Moment fans, whereas whenever the group has supported Ozzy Osbourne for example, much more of those in attendance have bought tickets to see him. Jesse: If the whole venue is filled with our fans, it definitely makes the show easier for us. If people like us though, then they like us, and like Blake said, if they don't then they don't. We can't control that. We just enter, and leave a pint of blood on the stage (laughs). (Laughs) In This Moment will tour as part of the Vans Warped Tour from late June to late August, and perform other dates. Is the group looking forward to such performances? Blake: Oh yeah. We're due to perform in Japan, and are due to perform at Download I believe. Following such things, we have no plans just yet. Everything is in the works though, and we're really excited, especially regarding the Warped Tour. Will touring as part of the Vans Warped Tour be somewhat different? Stylistically, the package's other groups differ from most of the groups In This Moment have previously toured with. Blake: Yeah, it's a completely different crowd. We've been part of Ozzfest for two years in a row, so why shouldn't we actually try to be part of the Vans Warped Tour, and see what their audience actually think of us as well? We're definitely wondering how their audience will react. With our new material and our old material, our set list will mesh pretty well. So In This Moment like to branch out, and play before new audiences? Jesse: Yeah, of course. That's the whole point - to perform to as many people, and to perform to as many different genre minded audiences as possible. Whoever grabs onto In This Moment, and whoever sticks with us, is welcome to. It would be quite easy for In This Moment to solely perform before one type of audience. After all, the group was part of the 'Hottest Women In Metal' North American tour. Blake: Yeah, alongside Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, Stolen Babies and The Gathering. Jesse: 'The Dream' incorporates all different kinds of music genres, I think, so you couldn't really lump us with one certain type of group. That's why we can perform alongside Ozzy and Megadeth, and subsequently be part of the Warped Tour and so on. Does it annoy In This Moment when the group is simply labelled as a female fronted metal act? Blake: People can say whatever they want, really. Whatever sticks in their head, and whatever pleases their ear, is cool with us. If listeners want to call us metal, rock, emo, pop, or whatever, then they can do so. Tell your friends. Tell anybody. Do you feel these people miss the bigger picture though? Jesse: Yeah. If they don't give In This Moment a chance, and just automatically classify us as just another female fronted metal act, then obviously they miss the bigger picture, but that's just being closed-minded somewhat. If you listen to us, and like our material, then that's one thing. If you just see us and notice that we have a female singer though, and automatically just write us off, then that's stupid (laughs). Blake: Yeah, bullshit like that definitely sucks. With that in mind, did In This Moment have any apprehensions about participating in the 'Hottest Women In Metal' North American tour? Jesse: We didn't really know how the tour would turn out, though it turned out well, except for the fact that we were inadvertently the heaviest group on the tour, which is pretty rare for us. Ironically, we're the heaviest group upon this GIAN tour too. It works however, since it isn't as though we're a death metal group. Do you feel that when Maria has cut rough, heavier vocals as opposed to clean vocals, that it has proven a point? Jesse: I guess. I think that's what happened before, and this is what's happening now. We're not trying to adhere to a specific plan, but are just tackling things as they come. Blake: Some people have just realised we have a female fronted singer, and grouped us with Lacuna Coil and so on. Especially in metal radio and what not, some people don't want to air female fronted music in general. To be honest though, it's all music. People will hear our music, and like it or not like it. Would you like such journalists to concentrate more upon In This Moment's music then? Maria was recently interviewed by Playboy magazine, and such items shift the focus from her as a vocalist to her as a sex symbol. Blake: These features definitely make people look at the group, and other items such as Chris being featured in Guitar World where there are Schecter adverts and so on, all just point towards the group itself. We can definitely benefit from having a female fronted vocalist, and can definitely benefit from Maria being in Playboy, and from being in this or that. Having a female singer is more of a benefit actually. When it all just boils down to it, In This Moment is a group, and that's how we look at it.

"Whoever grabs onto In This Moment, and whoever sticks with us, is welcome to."

Is any new material in the works? Jesse: We'll work on new material soon. Blake: We always try to think of new ideas, but the ideas we have thus far aren't even enough to say we'll venture in a specific direction. In terms of the album process, is a new album in its early stages? Blake: Very, very early. Jesse: We haven't even began to get together at all. Blake: We sit on the bus pretty much, when there is a bus, and jam on acoustic, and just that type of thing. A new album is in its very, very early stages, but we always want to jam and shit. In terms of musical direction, do either of you know where In This Moment will venture towards? Blake: No. So you don't know if In This Moment's sound will return to 'Beautiful Tragedy', or might eventually incorporate a mixture of the first two albums? Jesse: I can tell you that our third album won't return to the sound of 'Beautiful Tragedy' but won't just be 'The Dream' all over again. In This Moment's sound will be the same sound, but just done differently. Blake: 'Beautiful Tragedy' and 'The Dream' are both us, as the same five members recorded both albums. We boast the same influences, so the third album could be god knows what. Will In This Moment explore styles which the group hasn't previously explored? Jesse: We don't know yet. Blake: I can't even say, as it isn't something we've actually pinpointed yet. Will In This Moment work with producer Kevin Churko again? Jesse: I would like to, yeah. I think each of our members would like to. Blake: Yeah, I would love to. Our feelings are steered in that direction, so Kevin will likely be our first choice. No recording dates have been pencilled in then? Blake: No, not yet. We'll see what happens for the rest of the year, though ideas are just being discussed - nothing is concrete yet. Following the conclusion of the Vans Warped Tour in late August, what are In This Moment's plans? Blake: We're hoping to actually conduct a headlining tour at the end of the year. Will this proposed headlining tour be a tour of the United Kingdom, or North America? Blake: Most likely this headlining tour would be just a tour of North America. As for the United Kingdom though, we'll be performing at Donington's Download in June. Where would you like to take In This Moment in the future? Jesse: Platinum (laughs). Blake: (Laughs) We'd just like to make In This Moment a career pursuit. If we could just tour, and make all that it entails a job, that'd be amazing. Music is our lives. Do you have a message for the fans of In This Moment? Jesse: Thank you. Keep attending the shows, and keep buying good music. Blake: We love meeting the people, so just attend our shows, and shake our hands. Interview by Robert Gray Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2009
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