In This Moment singer Maria Brink rocks, spits, screams, and sweats. Meet the new face of metal.
A couple of years after moving from Albany, New York, to Los Angeles, In This Moment frontwoman Maria Brink almost gave up on her dream. It was mid-2004 and she was living alone, had no friends, hated her day job, and none of the groups she called to audition for would call her back. But instead of following her judgment, packing up her car and heading back east, the singer drove to a local tattoo shop and had the words “We Will” inked on the underside of her left wrist and “Overcome” on her right one. The phrase, once the slogan for the civil rights movement, became a mission statement for the tenacious singer. “Another time when I was down and frustrated, I had the word ‘Believe’ tattooed over my knuckles, which was the most painful thing ever,” she says from the table of a cozy coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, between sips of a soy latte. “I did it for the same reason; to give myself motivation. It’s visually in front of me all the time, pushing me on.”
For Brink, a self-admitted romantic and fan of The Secret, “belief” isn’t a marketing slogan to spit out between royalty checks. It’s a means of survival, a force that has sustained her through childhood abuse, teenage pregnancy, severe depression, and frustrations as a musician. It has also given her the strength to persevere.
Today, after a half-decade of pavement pounding, she’s one of the most charismatic and endearing singers in heavy metal and the primary reason for her band’s success. In This Moment’s debut, Beautiful Tragedy, came out in 2007, and the title track peaked at number three on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. The band was one of the highlights on last year’s Ozzfest, and the Osbournes were so impressed they invited In This Moment to join Ozzy’s winter tour, which ended in early 2008 with a string of dates in Japan and China. “The shows over there were amazing, but the food was so crazy,” says Brink with characteristic fervor. “In China, I had a bowl of soup that I thought was going to have an arm floating in it. We went to a restaurant where they served raw horse—and I’m a vegetarian. But it’s a different culture, and you gotta accept it I guess. I mean, they probably think the stuff we eat is weird.”
Sitting across the table from Brink, it’s easy to see how she has charmed everyone from Sharon Osbourne to her current boyfriend, DevilDriver bassist Jonathan Miller, who recently moved with her back to Albany to live with her son and mom. Spirited, quirky, and spontaneous, Brink is also a mass of contradictions. Today, she wears a pink knit sweater and a purple daisy in her hair, and carries a frumpy handbag that makes her look more like a Phish fan than a metalhead. But the full-sleeve of tattoos on her right arm and the tattoos of sad children with bleeding eyes (from a Mark Ryden painting) reveal a darker side. Onstage, she often wears an ornate flowing dress with a studded wristband, carrying herself with the grace of her hero Sarah McLachlan one minute and banging her head like another of her inspirations, Pantera’s Phil Anselmo, the next. Her singing encapsulates both of these influences. Throughout Beautiful Tragedy, Brink whispers, coos, groans, shouts, and growls, expressing a range of emotion from tender vulnerability to raw-throated rage. Her schizophrenic style complements the band’s music, which combines elements of thrash, numetal, and anthemic rock. As seamless and natural as the amalgam sounds, it was achieved only after hours of begrudging compromise between Brink and chief songwriter and guitarist Chris Howorth.