Latest release: X (Spinefarm)Website: www.nonpoint.com
Florida’s Nonpoint last visited our shores in 2015. Their live performance during that national festival tour was powerful and well received with a mixture of musical styles, all centred on the heavier musical spectrum. They’ve been in the game for twenty years, released ten albums and toured with a substantial list of successful, well established bands around the world. They are back in Australia as part of (hed) PE’s return tour. Loud Online had a quick chat with co-founding Nonpoint frontman, Elias Soriano.
You’ve toured with (hed) PE before and also toured to Australia as part of the old Soundwave Festival. It’s been several years since touring to Australia so you must be raring to go?
Oh yeah, (hed) PE put on a high energy show. It is definitely exciting and we hope to also put on a great show. It is going to be a good night. When we’re playing in the clubs, we get to do longer sets and we get to meet the majority of our fans so club shows are always good for us. We don’t always get to come over there and it can be a little bit more expensive than what we’d all like it to be. But, when we do get the opportunity to come over, we do.
Festival shows can mean smaller set lists am not delving into different material.
Right, normally it is anywhere between thirty and forty minutes for festival shows so in that case, we can normally only play six or seven songs. But when you’ve got ten records, you like to get in as many songs and if you’re a fan of the band, you’d want to hear plenty of songs too. So, as a band, we’re doing our best to keep them entertained as best as we can within those seven or maybe eight songs without them being sad that they didn’t get to hear their favourite track.
You’ve done ten albums so how would you say your song writing process has changed in that time?
Ah, right now or as of late, we just had a producer, Fred [Archambault] involved. There was a little bit more production and he did some intro and outro stuff and added layers this time around. I guess that is what we’ve done differently, more than anything as of late. I mean, we’ve really added and raised the production value to our music.
Okay, so when you’ve worked with previous producers such as Jason Bieler and Johnny K, what was their input into songs aside from production aspects, along the way?
Well, they are masters of the craft so we like to listen to their opinions and hear what they have to say but the producers that we have worked with in the past have normally been, you know, excited about the music that we’ve given them to work on. Not too much has changed from the demos stage but like I said, we really have upped the production value by really getting into our tones and adding layers and then adding background stuff. That is really where they have been a key input.
Nonpoint has done some decent cover songs over the years. How do you select the track?
Timing is normally the catalyst for any of those decisions and, just what we grew up listening to. The ‘In the Air Tonight’ cover was definitely a product of me and growing up in South Florida and being around the whole Miami Vice scene. That was a huge song in Miami Vice so it was a popular song down south and with the band being from South Florida, it seemed like one of the perfect fits for us. We could rock it out a little bit more and normally we like to find songs that we can give a little bit more of an edge. It is all timing, if I feel like we want to cover a song, we do. We haven’t done so for the last few records so I don’t see why another one is not on the horizon and probably coming up soon.
I can understand covering ‘Billie Jean’ because who isn’t influenced by tracks from Thriller?
Yeah, that was one that we took a stab at acoustic wise, just to have a little bit of fun. We were doing a longer acoustic set and just throwing around some stuff. So, that one was definitely fun to do.
Florida was a death metal haven, almost three decades ago now with the Scott Burns style of metal production. Did any of that scene influence you at all?
No, I’m a product of different or many eras of music. I grew up on a lot of classic rock, R&B, hip-hop and that kind of music. So, it led the things that were influencing me and my impressions for my few cents on the music writing was really based around that. The other guys in the band definitely had some more of that scene from being down south. Robb [Rivera – drums] was definitely into it and followed the heavier genres.
Robb and you are the band co-founders. Do you still throw different music ideas around when writing?
Yeah, we still throw ideas around, back and forth. A lot of us live in different states, so when we come up with something; we might hear a riff and when we get it in a room, if it kind of gives us a certain feeling and if it turns out to be one that we want to make aggressive, we kind of dive into it and the let that song take us where it is going to take us. Not every song that we write makes it onto the record but we are definitely students of letting the song define itself.
You’ve seen a lot over the years. When you were starting out, Pantera were still around and Slipknot were coming through with a new approach to extreme metal. How would you say the metal scene has changed during your time within it?
Not too much, I don’t think. It is not too far off from where it was even though parts of the genre have changed with sub genres that have happened. But it is really what people let it be to define who they are but the music is usually just left and right of the guys that are right next to them. So, there are only so many different ways that you can play it hard and in different patterns. We’re all family but I think that the genre and everything within it splits off because different generations define it in a certain way. They may not want to say that they are heavy metal because that might have been what their parents said so now they have to make it metalcore or rapcore or rapmetalcore and it all sounds…well, rapcore sounds just like nu-metal and all of this screamcore sounds like emo from not too far back in the day. It is not too far off from what Glassjaw used and other bands of my time that a lot of the bands who are creating the new stuff or sub genres that they are defining themselves as to be different. We are all borrowers of music and we just try to make it our own.
Lyrics have certainly become more socially aware for many bands, including for Nonpoint and even politically motivated, in some capacity.
I think socially we are all just motivated. Right now the world is dealing with a ripple effect of various concerns from climate change to politics and wars. There are so many different catalysts that are now affecting everyone’s lives on a daily basis. If anything, being downloaded and all of this just seems to be bad news after bad news. It is definitely fuel for the songs.
Large bands you’ve toured with like Disturbed, Stonesour and others are also feeling the pinch from downloading so that everyone has to tour a lot to survive. Digital has advantages too but how would you say the bigger names cope with it?
Hopefully the financial side of it balances out to allow bands to continue to grow their business to make up for the revenue that they lose which is definitely the case with the streaming game. We are up against monsters, you know, every single day we are getting news from streaming songs to labels making up bands of creating music that they have just put up there to get streaming revenue coming in, to lower shares and all of that. There are so many things that you are up against. Back in the day it was distribution and just trying to get your stuff into the store and to be on shows. The problem just goes from one way of delivery to the other so you kind of have got to roll with the punches and realise that you’re in a transition. When you’ve been doing it for twenty years, you see lots and lots of bands wasting their energy on delivery, trying to oversell. We’re just in the middle of a new era.
Self-management is one option given the way things are changing in the digital realm.
A lot of people are doing that nowadays. That is one way to cut a corner but at the same time, there a lot of promoters and gatekeepers who don’t want to talk directly to a band. So it is not always as easy as just saying, ‘hey, I’m self-managing’ because sometime people won’t deal with that, unless you’re solicited.
On a happier note, has Nonpoint jumped onto the vinyl format option lately?
Oh yeah, yeah. In this last year half, we are hopefully about to drop one of our older albums that was never released on vinyl. We definitely like releasing our albums on vinyl.
Great. Finally, if you look at your discography, is there one particular album that you are most happy with at this point in time?
You know, it is funny, it is out of the first one [Statement] and the latest one [X] because we had so much time to write them. There was so much care put into them when it comes down to each and every song and each part. It is nice to be able to compare the two albums and love them equally.