Maria Brink can't help the way she looks (tall, blond, blue-eyed and voluptuous), just as she can't help who shows up (uncouth, basement-dwelling dudes with spare tires and beer muscles) to her melodic metal band In This Moment's gigs. But she can control who stays and who goes at her shows.
"I won't let people disrespect me," she told Metal File last week, just days before In This Moment's sophomore LP, The Dream, hit stores. "I've been onstage and I've had people harass me, and if it gets to be too much, I just have security usher them out. [Last fall's] Megadeth tour was probably the most challenging for me, as far as learning how to deal with an aggressive crowd. Most of the crowds we played to were 95 percent male, and the drunker they got, the louder they got."
And, apparently, the cruder they got. Brink — who by most men's standards is a bona fide knockout — said she's learned to deal with the rude hand gestures she's often met with when she takes the stage. She's also learned to block out the boorish comments guys toss her way. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, hasn't — and he's been known to take care of business from time to time.
"I've been onstage and guys have yelled, 'Show me your t--s, bi---,' and I've been able to ignore them, but then I see my boyfriend plowing through the crowd, into the pit, attacking somebody, and I'm trying to sing, and he's on top of someone, and I'm singing and I'm terrified," she explained of her beau, DevilDriver bassist Jon Miller. "He definitely doesn't take too kindly to people sexually harassing me when I'm onstage. On the Megadeth tour, some guy in the crowd said something, and I stopped the show to have him kicked out. I remember the next day, [Megadeth frontman] Dave Mustaine wanted to have a meeting with me, because he'd heard about what had happened, and he told me I was 100 percent right. He told me to tell the crowd that Dave Mustaine would kick their ass if they stepped out of line, and that was pretty awesome."
Unfortunately, Miller and Mustaine won't be able to shield Brink and In This Moment — who'll be on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, Bury Your Dead and Another Black Day through December 4 in San Diego — from some of the critical backlash they're liable to face from fans. The Dream is a decidedly different album than the band's 2007 debut, as it forsakes the metalcore feel of Beautiful Tragedy in favor of a more straight-up rock sound. But Brink says she wouldn't call it a drastic departure.
"It actually, to me, feels a lot more comfortable than the first album," she said. "I think our fans are really going to like it. We didn't really want to worry about what everybody else was going to say. We tried to just do what we wanted to do. Of course we care about our fans, but we thought if we stayed true to what we really wanted to do, that hopefully everyone else would get it. Not everyone is going to like it, and that's OK. We are who we are, and we never claimed to be a brutal metal band or that we're really heavy and hard. We just do what we do — that's it."
On The Dream, Brink elected to give her pipes a break, so instead of screaming her way across the album's 11 tracks, she wanted to let her natural singing voice shine through. Brink said the rest of the band was cool with her ditching the screams, and the music just naturally followed suit.
"As a vocalist, screaming always came really easy for me — it wasn't much of a challenge, it just came out of me," Brink explained. "The singing vocals were always more challenging. People always complimented me on my scream, but I didn't get a lot of feedback on my singing, so I just wanted to challenge myself a lot more on this record. I'm not anticipating a backlash. If people like us, then they like us. If they don't because we don't fall into their standard of being a brutally heavy band, then that's OK. We don't feel like we have anything to prove to anybody."
And just as she's learned to ignore chauvinistic fans, she's also learned to ignore criticism. "I try not to read what the critics write or Blabbermouth," she said. "A lot of people love Blabbermouth, but some of the people who write on it are just brutal."
Brink said she's thrilled with the band's maturation, which is more than evident on The Dream, but ultimately, the album isn't everything she'd hoped it would be — thanks to Chino Moreno.
"I wanted Chino to sing on this album with me more than anything," she said of the Deftones frontman. "That was, like, my dream, and I had somebody talk to his management, and he sounded like he was maybe into it but wanted to hear the song. But we just didn't have enough time to push it or dwell on it, unfortunately. He's my favorite singer, so I'm really disappointed that didn't get to happen. Let's see — maybe we'll get it to happen on the next album."
The rest of the week's metal news:
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The Black Dahlia Murder, Misery Index and Soilent Green will be hitting the road together this December for a mostly Canadian run of shows. Aside from a gig in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on December 3, the remainder of the tour will take place north of the border, wrapping December 18 in Toronto. ... Brutal Truth will be entering the studio next week to start tracking their next LP. They've written 24 songs for the effort, including "Grind Fidelity," "Evolution Through Revolution" and "Detached." ... Born of Osiris, Shai Hulud, After the Burial and Burning the Masses will kick off the Progressive Damnation Tour next month. The trek launched in Seattle on November 16 and runs through December 22 in Des Moines, Iowa.