Despite being a diehard metal fan most of his life, Chris Howorth had never been to Ozzfest, the annual heavy music festival founded by Ozzy Osbourne. He told his friends that he wouldn't go "until I'm playing it." Little did he know he would soon get his wish – and then some – as the guitarist for In This Moment.
Growing up in Kansas, Howorth latched onto the "outcast" aspect of hard rock bands like Motley Crue and Judas Priest at a young age, but it was KISS that decided his future.
"I saw a KISS concert – my parents took me – and after that was over, I was like, ‘I'm being in a band and I'm playing guitar,' " Howorth explained.
He moved to Los Angles at the age of 19 to pursue his career and was trying to make it for about a decade before meeting singer Maria Brink through a mutual friend.
"When I first heard her sing, I knew she was awesome and decided right then that we were going to start working together. I tried with a lot of bands to make it. Every band I was in I thought was going to make it, but Maria and I's project just instantly started getting a lot of attention and people started liking it. We put it up on Myspace and it just took off, unlike everything else I've done," he recalled.
After forming the sludgier Dying Star, Brink and Howorth broke away to form what would become In This Moment.
"We would put everything on Myspace," he noted. "Maia had been hearing about it from some friends and she was like, ‘We should get our stuff up on this Myspace thing. It's pretty cool.' So we put it up there and got good responses right off the bat. We were realizing if we worked actively on there and talked to people and added people from other bands that were actively commenting on music that we could get some kind of feedback going. Once that started, it seemed to kind of snowball."
Seemingly out of nowhere, the pair received a message from Ozzy Osbourne bassist Rob "Blasko" Nicholson, who ended up managing the band and taking them on the 2007 national Ozzfest tour. They soon found themselves opening for Osbourne on his subsequent arena tour and recording with his producer, Kevin Churko.
" It felt just amazing to be getting the phone call. ‘Hey, I got you this tour. Hey, I got you that tour.' It's still amazing, but even today it's kind of surreal, getting to do stuff like that," Howorth shared.
"Maria being a pretty girl and looking sexy got people's attention right off the bat; that combined with the fact that we have an aggressive style and the songs are heavy and she's singing and screaming and stuff like that. It's kind of a double-edged sword, though, because that always draws people in, but there're a lot of people that just don't take us seriously because of that."
This only motivates Howorth to work harder to prove that there's more to the band than a pretty face.
"Even though the initial reaction of, ‘Girl singer!' or ‘Hot girl singer!' is what kind of gets people to look at us, we have to have substance because there're a lot of bands with hot girl singers that don't do anything. They don't have any good songs or whatever it takes. It takes a lot more than that, but I think that does help get everything going, get people excited," he said.
In just a few short years, In This Moment have already made four albums; their latest, "Blood," was released on Aug. 14. Howorth admitted that he and Brink may have butted heads over the years over their ever-developing sound, but after the group lost two of its founding members in 2011, it actually brought them closer together to create the record they're most proud of.
"At first when it happened, it was very scary, and you never really want to do that kind of stuff when you're in a band. We didn't really realize what it was at the time, and now that it's done, it's so much better for the band than it ever could have been. It opened us up. It basically stripped us down to Maria and I to make this record with Kevin (Churko), and that opened us up to a whole new world of drums and what we wanted to do. There were no other opinions that mattered besides Maria and mine. We didn't have to consider anybody else besides Kevin," he emphasized.
"It changed the energy in the band, and getting these news guys in who are amazing players and very excited to be where they are and hungry for doing this and appreciating everything…Getting that new energy into the band just kind of reinvigorated Maria and I and just changed everything for us with those guys leaving in a good way. We have the best album of our career and it wouldn't have happened with those other two guys. The band is sounding tighter and better than ever before."
It's appropriate, then, that at the height of this energy that they return to another heavy music festival this summer on the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival, stopping by the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain on Aug. 28, to gain more fans .
"We love the summer touring situation. It's a lot of fun. It's kind of like summer camp for bands, " said Howorth.
What: Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival with Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind, In This Moment, and more
Where: Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Rd., Scranton
When: Tuesday, Aug. 28, doors open at 1 p.m.