INTERVIEW: Chris Howorth – In This Moment

IN THIS MOMENT are about to release new album Ritual next month, their sixth studio album which is focused around the idea of spirituality and religion. Known for their theatrical performances, and combating the darker sides of life in their songs, IN THIS MOMENT have steadily made a name for themselves in the rock world, and secured themselves some very dedicated fans. We chatted with guitarist Chris Howorth to lift the lid on Ritual, its themes, messages and sound and working with Rob Halford.

Are you happy with Ritual?

Chris: I feel really good about it, I know everyone says the same thing – it’s their best album yet – but I just feel like we put a lot of effort into it and a lot of thought into it, and it just feels a little bit more natural than our last album. Judging by the reaction from the crowd on a couple of the new songs our fans are really gonna like it.

Is there anything you would have liked to be different?

Chris: It’s easy to go back and second guess everything after you’ve done it, and as we’re playing songs now live, there’s a little guitar thing I wish I’d done and it’s like that with every album ever but, for the most part, we’re totally satisfied with what we’ve done.

In a couple of sentences, could you sum up lyrically what Ritual is about?

Chris: Lyrically, it’s touching on a lot of different things, with religion and the past and spirituality. Maria is the lyricist of the band, and she has to write things that she feels she can sing with conviction, and feel it when she’s playing it. So, it’s all stuff based on her experiences.

Ritual is different to IN THIS MOMENT’s previous work, what brought about that change?

Chris: I think we’re just always looking to grow and expand and try new things, we not like the kinda band who think ‘well, our fans expect us to do this so we have to stay in that certain area’ we just do what we want and I think that, just naturally, every album has its own change.

The sound grows with you.

Chris: Yes!

What was the writing process for this album? Was it different to IN THIS MOMENT’s previous work?

Chris: We basically have all kinds of different ways, there’s no set rulebook on how we write a song. Sometimes it’ll start with an idea that Maria has, or I have, or Kevin has, or somebody has and we’ll start working on a little piece that’ll become a song. Or sometimes it’ll be a whole part of a song that’ll turn into a song. There are a lot of different ways it’ll come about.

There is a lot of symbolism in your work with IN THIS MOMENT, on the album cover for example, how do you go about building that?

Chris: Well, it kinda goes with the theme of the album, spirituality, religion, and we’ve done a lot of photo shoots for it and we kinda had the idea of levitating, we weren’t thinking about the cover, we were just doing photos for the theme and that photo stuck out and became the cover.

What made you decide to cover Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight?

Chris: We were looking into doing covers, throwing around lots of ideas, and one of our guidelines we were trying to stick with was if it’s already been done, can we do it better? We kept avoiding that song, because obviously no one can do it better than Phil Collins, but we loved the song so much we decided to try it, and put our own spin on it not try to make it better or our version, just make our own kind of feel with the song. So that’s how it came about, and I think it came off really good, it doesn’t sound like Phil Collins’ version, it’s different but it’s very reminiscent.

You’ve been playing some of the new tracks live, how have audiences reacted to them?

Chris: Pretty good, we’re still trying some new ones on this tour, we’re only four shows in so some of them people have only heard a few times, but the ones we played on the last tour, people were really digging them and we had a really instant vibe from the crowd, we’re playing two new ones and some of them the reactions are like ‘what is this’ because no one’s ever heard them before, but once we’ve played stuff, it gets out on video, our fans find it and start learning the song even before the album comes out so that’s pretty cool.

You’ve got some dedicated fans!

Chris: Yes we do, we’re very grateful.

What was it like working with Rob Halford?

Chris: Completely amazing, I can’t believe we actually have him on our album, it’s so cool. We kinda became friends with him, we’ve all been huge JUDAS PRIEST fans forever and he expressed an interest in our band a couple of years ago, came out and saw us play and we all met him and he was very encouraging and inspiring and we just kinda had this relationship with him for a couple of years. When the song came up, the lyrics keep going back and forth between a nun and a priest and she just thought ‘Man, Robert Halford would be so cool for this’ so we called him and he jumped right on it! We were so stoked we got him on the song, it’s a really cool song too.

Black Wedding is clearly a take from BILLY IDOL’s White Wedding, can you tell me about the process of that?

Chris: Well the black wedding thing kinda goes with the theme of the album and everything, it doesn’t sound like the BILLY IDOL song at all, anywhere except for at the very end of the chorus where instead of ‘It’s a nice day for a white wedding’, it’s ‘It’s a nice night for a black wedding’. It does have that reminiscent feel of the BILLY IDOL song, it was just so cool we couldn’t not do it. We asked Billy, he was cool with us using it too.

Is there any band, dead or alive, that you’d want to tour or collaborate with?

Chris: Maria’s always wanted to work with Chino from the DEFTONES. METALLICA I’ve always said I love, the band has always liked them since we were little kids.

What are you currently listening to?

Chris: Myself personally, I’m currently listening to either 80s metal or 70s type stuff, kinda in this retro phase where I’m not really listening to a lot of new stuff, I’m just listening to songs, and I’m like ‘wow, all these great songs that people wrote back then. That’s a cool thing’. I’ve lost touch a little bit with some of the newer metal coming out, to me it’s all just starting to sound the same, lots of screaming and breakdowns, so I’m listening to older stuff.

Thanks for chatting with me!

Chris: Thanks!

Ritual is set for release on July 21st via Atlantic Records. Pre-orders are available now and can be purchased here.

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