Fort Lauderdale based Nonpoint are true survivors of today’s competitive hard rock scene, having recently parted with their original guitarist, and experienced label change trauma. Not a band to dwell on adversity for long, Nonpoint are emphatically BACK with a new digital download acoustic EP, Cut the Cord (released December 9, 2009), and their new full length CD Miracle is due out April 27, 2010. The current line-up is vocalist Elias Soriano, drummer Robb Rivera, Ken “Bastard” MacMillan on bass, and new guitarist Zach Broderick. Catch Nonpoint on tour at The Rock March 5th in Minneapolis, March 6th at The Rave in Milwaukee, and March 7th at Appleton’s new club Revolution. I had the pleasure of talking to Elias and Robb recently - here are the highlights of our conversation.
MAXIMUM INK: When you chose the five songs to record unplugged for Cut The Cord, was it the popularity of those songs that made you want to put a new spin on them, or did the songs lend themselves to that kind of arrangement?
ELIAS SORIANO: Both, I think. It had a lot to do with availability too. We could only pick from the first three records, because licensing had come up. We’re the type of band that doesn’t like to cover songs as they are. If you look at “Evil Ways”, “War Pigs”, or “In The Air Tonight”, we change up the music. Other than “Five Minutes Alone”, that we just did for the Dimebag tribute record, if it’s rock you kinda got to keep it as rockin’ as possible, but taking a song like “In The Air Tonight” that really wasn’t rock, we elevated it to that genre. We try to do the same thing to our acoustic stuff, take our songs and change (them).
MI: Was “In The Air Tonight” the biggest single you’ve had?
ROBB RIVERA: I think “Bullet With A Name On It” was. They get the same kind of response, live.
ELIAS: But “In The Air Tonight” was so many years prior to when everybody got an ear of it. We had done that in 2004, and “Miami Vice” didn’t come out until 2006 or ’07, so it gained new respect and got a little bit of momentum later on.
ROBB: “Bullet” live has been the most (popular), but as far as use in TV shows it’s been “In The Air Tonight”. It’s been used for the Olympics, movie trailers, and stuff like that. It’s kept us out there, that’s for damn sure.
ELIAS: It’s helped us stay in the eye of the industry.
MI: You’re very popular here, and thanked Madison in the Vengeance CD cover. How did that connection get established?
ELIAS: Mainly it came from WJJO, but honestly the only reason (for that) is because of how great rock fans are up here. JJO has championed us for so many years that we’ve become a mainstay here. Even on our downtime, Madison stays alive for us.
MI: I think the last time I saw you was when you were backing up Sevendust, and I remember walking out of there thinking you should’ve been the headliner… just from the crowd reaction! Are there certain bands you’ve toured with that you feel a real solid connection to?
ROBB: Sevendust, definitely.
ELIAS: Hellyeah and Mudvayne. Those guys are like family to us. We’re blessed we have a lot of old friends. The guys from Staind are really cool. I remember (when) Fuel was one of my favorite bands, and even though we only did one run with them, those guys were probably one of the most hospitable bands I’ve ever been on tour with. We’ve been lucky that people have taken a liking to us.
ROBB: Disturbed too.
ELIAS: Yeah, Disturbed, all of their members are really friendly to us.
MI: Back to the Wisconsin connection, you recorded your new CD in Racine.
ELIAS: Yeah, at Belle City Sound (with) Chris… what is his name?
ROBB: Chris “Wisco”.
ELIAS: I call him “Wisco” ‘cause it’s Wisconsin, but Chris (Djuricic) owns and runs that studio. We had Chad (Gray) and Greg (Tribbett) from Mudvayne - Yep! Productions - come in and do a couple weeks of executive producing. We did months and months of pre-pro with those guys. Emails sending music back and forth. Once we got everything 90% there, we flew up to Wisconsin, took a couple weeks getting tones, and getting a couple of the important songs done. Chris, and that studio are very cool, (but we’ll) probably never do it in winter again! It’s tough on my voice and tough on our bodies. The guys gained like 10-15 pounds sitting in the studio eating beef jerky and Jimmy John’s.
MI: I can tell you guys are from Florida because this hasn’t been bad for a Wisconsin winter!
ELIAS: The average yearly temperature in South Florida is 86 degrees!
ROBB: Next time we’ll probably do our record in August.
MI: Speaking earlier about that Pantera cover, whose decision was it to do “Five Minutes Alone”?
ELIAS: That was my decision! (And) the fact that nobody else did it! It’s an epic song of theirs and probably one of the baddest riffs ever written.
MI: Did you ever play with them, or with Damageplan?
ROBB: Unfortunately not. Well, Damageplan, but we were on different stages. That was like a couple months before (Dimebag’s) passing.
ELIAS: Then, we were supposed to play the Alrosa the day after they played… it was weird. (Editor’s note - this is a reference to the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, OH where Dimebag Darrell was assassinated.)
ROBB: If you see the CNN article, you’ll see our name on the marquee. But this (tribute) was actually pretty cool, and Metal Hammer approached us to do this. Our song is like an online bonus. You can hear (it) on our MySpace.
MI: What happened with Andrew (Goldman), your former guitar player?
ELIAS: I think he was done. He didn’t want to do music anymore. I don’t think he was happy with the industry, and decided to move on.
ROBB: Honestly, we can’t blame him. It can take a toll. It took a toll on him, and it’s taken a toll on us. But me, (Elias), and Ken, we just love doing this.
ELIAS: I think we just have a different goal. We can last a little bit longer than he was allowing himself. And he was the youngest one in the band, so I guess he felt like he had another 10 or 15 years to build something else if he wanted to.
ROBB : He’s back in school now, veterinary school. But I think he gave us a good, solid, ten years. Not a lot of people can give ten years to one band.
MI: Did you already know Zach, or did you audition guys?
ROBB: I found Zach through a friend of mine, Shaun Glass, who plays with Dirge Within now. He used to be in Soil. I just called him because that guy knows everybody. Zach was the first person he mentioned. I liked his influences and stage presence and he was actually the only guy we sat down and played with.
MI: Any words in closing for your Wisconsin fans?
ELIAS: Our new website is up, nonpoint.com. There’s a bunch of way to get in touch with us, and buy our merch. A lot of new info is going to be on there, probably even more updated than the MySpace. We’re ready for the new year!
CD: Cut The Cord Record Label: 954 Records
• Download Cut The Cord on Amazon