Unmasking Godmode: A Deep Dive with In This Moment's Maria Brink and Chris Howorth

Unmasking Godmode: A Deep Dive with In This Moment's Maria Brink and Chris Howorth

- By Cori Westbrook

The veteran musicians reflect on their two decade tenure, their strong connection with their fans and how their latest album has reaffirmed the band's continued love for the craft.

In the ever-evolving landscape of heavy music, few bands carve out a legacy as distinct and influential as In This Moment. With a career punctuated by hits, platinum achievements, and a Grammy nomination, the band has continuously defied expectations, pushing boundaries both musically and thematically. 

After the 2020 release of their album Mother during the pandemic, which gave fans solace in turbulent times and led to their first Grammy nomination, 2021 brought a fresh wave of inspiration. As the pandemic continued, Howorth delved into music programming, experimenting with synthwave sounds which resonated with Brink. From this synergy, tracks like “The Purge” were born. Brink says the songs encapsulated “humanity and so much crisis and so many heart-wrenching things in the world.”

When they entered the studio in January 2023, the unrestricted flow they had nurtured allowed them to compile the highest number of songs they’d ever written at once. With Kane Churko, the son of their longtime producer Kevin Churko, taking the reins this time, the album got a fresh touch. “Kane’s got all the strengths that his father taught him--everything, all the bells and whistles, but he's got some new tricks because he's a younger generation, he’s hungry,” Brink notes.

As they release their much-anticipated eighth album, Godmode, we sat down with the powerhouse duo, vocalist Maria Brink and guitarist Chris Howorth, to delve into their creative journey, the challenges they've overcome, and the evolution that has culminated in their latest masterpiece. Join us as we uncover the stories behind the notes and the passion that fuels this indomitable band.

Discussing the origins of Godmode, Chris reflected, “We released Mother right at the beginning of COVID. We were literally heading out on tour for Mother when COVID hit, and we couldn’t go on tour. The album was supposed to come out while we were on the tour. Maria and I decided to release the album anyway. It was awesome to release it! We wanted people to have music to listen to.”

The global pandemic became an unforeseen muse for their creativity. Chris continued, “But what happened during COVID was we had this two year break from our normal routine of writing and touring and writing and touring. There was always a lot of pressure around that. You do your album cycle and then you need to write a new album and get it out there so you don’t lose any momentum. With this COVID break we were able to spend time compiling a bunch of stuff that we really liked. We’ve also worked with some great people like Tyler Bates on writing some songs. One of which got into that John Wick film which was awesome! We were able to expand our horizons because of the time we had. Having that two year break really changed the way Godmode came about compared to all of our other albums.”

Maria added, “Chris just said it! We released that album so people would have music while they were stuck at home. We wound up getting our first Grammy nomination from that too. But this album was different because the pressure was off of us. It felt like we were just doing whatever we wanted because we wanted to. Everything was really clicking with the writing process and it was exciting! We didn’t have anyone breathing down our necks; we actually had time. There was something really refreshing and exhilarating about that.”

The album consists of 10 dynamic songs that further elevate the band's stature in the heavy music sphere. The first single, the industrial-rich yet strikingly melodic “The Purge,” is paired with a visually dark cinematic video helmed by Jensen Noen (known for his work with Bring Me The Horizon and Demi Lovato). From the ominous beginning of the ‘90s-inspired title track “Godmode,” featuring Maria Brink’s enthralling primal scream, to a pitch-perfect rendition of Bjork’s 1995 hit “Army of Me,” and concluding with the emotionally charged “Everything Starts And Ends With You,” Godmode stands distinct.

The L.A.-based quintet's eighth album captures vocalist Maria Brink and guitarist Chris Howorth at their peak, penning some of the most powerful songs of their illustrious career. Brink elaborates, “We’re always striving for reinvention and growth. It’s been 10 years since our Blood album, and there's been a lot of transitions happening, this year particularly, but it all felt so meant to be.”

The duo's musical journey has been marked by exploration and transformation. Maria explained, “When we first started the band, it was very metalcore. Chris was telling me, ‘I’ll be in a band with you and I really want to do stuff that’s like Killswitch Engage,’ which was really popping off in the music scene at that time. I had never actually heard them before. I was into Pantera, Korn and Deftones, but I wasn’t turned on to the metalcore world. So when he started playing me some of it, I was like ‘I really like this! Let’s try to do some music in this world.’ When we did Blood, we were fully set free artistically. No rules, everything out the window. It was what we wanted.”

Chris added, “We were finding ourselves for all the albums that came before that.” To which Maria responded, “And it was all beautiful. I like to say we grew up in the music industry. You’re trying to find your sound. You’re trying to find what makes you unique and different from everyone else. You’re always evolving and I think when we hit our Blood album something happened.”

On the topic of gaming and the tie-in with the album's name, Chris revealed his personal preferences, “I play Xbox, but I have been thinking about getting a Playstation too. I have a lot of friends that game and they have all of the systems. Because Playstation works better for certain things. I’m not snobby, haha! There is that bit of Playstation/Xbox rivalry, but I think, when you’re REALLY into gaming, they’re all good.”

High-caliber talents were on board for this project. Spencer Charnas from Ice Nine Kills makes a guest appearance on the raw and touching “Damaged.” Additionally, several tracks were co-created with Tyler Bates, known for his award-winning production and compositions across films, TV, and video games. Notably, their initial collaboration resulted in the haunting “I Would Die For You,” which was not only featured in the John Wick: Chapter 4 soundtrack but also clinches the closing spot on Godmode.

As the conversation steered towards their collaboration with Ice Nine Kills, Maria expressed, “We actually talked to each other a few years ago about wanting to collaborate. We just had to find the right song and the right time to bring that to life. When we started this album, there was this one particular song that we could hear that might be something cool for him. So we asked him and he was excited about it. And we love their sound. We love that band. They’re very unique as well and have a cool theatrical show and I think they’ve come a long way. We are super excited to be collaborating and I think both of our fans will also love it.”

Their upcoming 'Kiss Of Death' tour isn't the only exciting thing on the horizon. Maria hinted, “We are talking about more legs as well!”

In This Moment's performances are renowned for their theatrical flair. Maria elaborated, “We are all pretty passionate about it. Even the boys are! They grew up loving KISS and all that cool imagery and Alice Cooper as well. I’ve always loved the theatrical side of things and seeing that all come to life. When it comes to music, it has to evoke emotion without any visuals. So you have to start there. But then, when you figure that album out musically and you’re happy with it, then you have all these other platforms to bring it to life. I love focusing on the music videos, the live show. We will come up with all these different ideas, draw out costumes, we are really passionate about the lights, and we have a choreographer who helps bring things to life. The same way Chris and I will bring a song to life, she and I will bring the show to life with movement and the visuals. We have an amazing crew too! No band out there playing is really doing it on their own. Your crew is your whole world. We’re really fortunate to have this badass crew.”

Chris reinforced the sentiment, “That’s so true! And the band too. Everyone is really artistic. They’re also all used to this by now since we’ve been doing it since Blood. Everyone just gets on board and gets creative and just comes up with all sorts of stuff.”

Reflecting on their journey, Maria said, “I can’t believe it's been almost 20 years!” Chris interjected with a touch of humor, “That’s the most surprising thing, haha! Life is what’s happening when you’re making other plans and worrying about stuff and then all of a sudden you’re like ‘Woah, it's been18 and a half years!’ I’m so grateful and surprised how it all happened. I wanted to do this when I was 15 in California. Then I met Maria and we did all these albums together. Beautiful Tragedy up to Blood we were literally not making any money. We were broke. If we were successful, it meant we didn’t have to pull money out of our own pockets. There was no money at all. We did that for 10 years, we should have quit, haha!”

Maria continued, “We started young and had all these dreams of doing all these things, and here we are. I agree with Chris, it’s all surprising! We got to do our first co-headliner in arenas with pyro and people showed up! It’s surprising! We are so grateful. The Grammy nomination on the last album. We just got to be in that John Wick movie. And we have the best fans in the world. They’re the best.”

Chris humorously reflected on their progress, “We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’ve been playing in arenas supporting bands since the beginning. We’ve been very fortunate to play with Ozzy, Megadeth, Slipknot, Disturbed, big bands in big arenas, but we’ve always been in a locker room. There’s those group showers and I didn’t even know other rooms existed. On this last tour we were like ‘Oh my god, this is a really nice dressing room, with a nice private bathroom.’ It took 18 years to get where I'm actually seeing those dressing rooms.”

On staying grounded amidst their roaring success, Chris stated, “I feel like we’re just normal people. We’re not out on the scene, hobnobbing at the clubs every night. We’ve never been those kinds of people. We’re kind of hermits. We’re at home dealing with our families and dealing with life just like everybody else. So when somebody comes and tells us that they’ve been listening to us since high school or that they listen to us when they’re bummed out or whatever it blows us away. And that is what gives us strength and keeps us humble.”

Maria shared her perspective, “Yeah, I’m barefoot in the woods hiding away from the world when I’m off. You have to stay living your life in gratitude. Every life is short and you just have to stay grateful.”

Despite all their successes and challenges, Brink maintains a deep connection with fans, drawing strength from their stories and interactions. “It’s amazing if my songs help people feel empowered. When humans share painful things that we went through and how we heal from it, we can help each other and pass that energy on,” she reflects. 

Discussing her influence on young women in the metal scene, Maria said, “It fills my heart with gratitude. I think it's important for everyone to be seen and it's empowering right now and you’re seeing it more and more. And if I could be part of bringing any positive energy like that or having that girl at home think ‘Hey, I could do that!’ it’s a beautiful thing! It started off a lot harder. When we were on OzzFest, you didn’t see it quite as often. And it’s ok to be in touch with whoever you are. If you’re feminine or not feminine, or you’re this or you’re that, it’s ok! Just be whoever you want to be and express it authentically. Everybody should do that. Dave Mustaine once told me ‘Don’t be afraid to be beautiful. You can still be powerful and beautiful.’ That was a tour of straight metal people. And Maria was trying really hard to headbang and fighting with these really hardcore judgmental dudes.”

Maria added, “But I loved it! It helped hone us. There were shows where the entire front row would stick their middle fingers up at us all in a line. And Dave didn’t like that, but to this day I love that tour so much. That tour taught us how to be strong. And how to own your confidence. And that you can’t let the crowd control you, you control the crowd. You have to have that self empowerment to know who you are. It taught me how to have that grit!”

Diving into up and coming bands they’re currently vibing with, Chris said, “I have a couple bands that I have been listening to that I think are awesome. Bleed From Within is awesome. Slaughter to Prevail is definitely pretty hot right now. There’s this band called In Retrospect that popped up on my Pandora and they have a couple singles out and they’re really cool.”

Maria added her favorites, “Recently, I was telling people Sleep Token but that doesn’t really count as an up and comer anymore! We took them out on tour with us last year and Chris had no idea who they were. But I wanted to take them out, they’re really phenomenal, we gotta get them over to the states and look at them now! We took Bad Omens out before that. It means I have a really good eye for bands that are going to explode. Starcrawler is really cool too and has this punk rock energy to them that I think are really cool too.”

Concluding the conversation on a light note, Chris said his favorite dinosaur is, “I’m going to say T-Rex.” Maria chuckled, "Sometimes when I scream really high, we call it the pterodactyl scream and the pterodactyl is badass. It can fly and carry off a whole person!”

Fans are eagerly awaiting the release of Godmode on October 27th and their upcoming tour with Ice Nine Kills promises to be a monumental event.

Get tickets - HERE
Kiss of Death Tour Dates:
Fri/Nov-3 Gary, IN Hard Rock Live Northern Indiana
Sat/Nov 4 – Maplewood, MN – Myth Live #
Sat/Nov 5 – St Louis, MO @ Dome At America’s Center*
Sun/Nov 5 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater#
Tue/Nov-7 Indianapolis, IN Blue Ribbon Pavilion (Indiana Fairgrounds)
Wed/Nov-8 Cincinnati, OH The Andrew J Brady Music Center
Thu/Nov-9 Milwaukee, WI Eagles Ballroom
Sat/Nov 11- Green Bay, WI EPIC Events Center #
Sun/Nov 12- Detroit @ Ford Field *
Tue/Nov-14 Greenville, SC Bon Secours Arena
Thu/Nov-16 Estero, FL Hertz Arena
Fri/Nov-17 Jacksonville, FL Daily’s Place
Sat/Nov-18 Orlando, FL Orlando Amphitheater
Mon/Nov-20 Atlanta, GA Coca Cola Roxy
Tue/Nov-21 Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum Complex
Wed/Nov-22 Reading, PA Santander Arena
Fri/Nov-24 Wallingford, CT Oakdale Theatre
Sat/Nov-25 Bangor, ME Cross Insurance Center
Tue/Nov-28 Washington, DC The Anthem
Thu/Nov-30 Norfolk, VA Chartway Arena
Fri/Dec-1 Johnstown, PA 1st Summit Arena
Sat/Dec-2 Wheeling, WV Wesbanco Arena

# In This Moment only
* Ice Nine Kills only w/ Metallica
Godmode Track List:
  1. Godmode
  2. The Purge
  3. Army of Me
  4. Sacrifice
  5. Skyburner
  6. Sanctify Me
  7. Everything Starts and Ends With You
  8. Fate Bringer
  9. I Would Die for You
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