Nonpoint Talks New Album and More
Wed, 10 Oct 2012 14:39:16
Rage Against the Machine Photos
"When I was done with this record, I knew it was our best record," declares Nonpoint singer Elias Soriano of his band's self-titled seventh album.
He's not kidding either. Nonpoint evinces all of the intense intricacies of the Florida powerhouse. There's a palpable intensity coursing through the collection's 12 tracks. The guitars slam with a distinct punch, the beats roll like a bulldozer, and the bass thuds succinctly. In the center, Soriano's voice captivates with unbridled angst and raw emotion. Ultimately, this isn't only Nonpoint's best album; it's one of the year's best rock records.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Nonpoint mainman Elias Soriano talks the new album, songwriting, and so much more.
Did you approach Nonpoint with one vision in mind?
With the new members being so open-minded and willing to work within the idea of what Robb Rivera and I aimed to be stylistically as a band, we wanted to let them do what they do best. Dave Lizzio [guitar] was sending me riff after riff. He'd do two or three minutes per riff, and I'd chop things up and move them around. Sometimes, his choruses would turn into my verses. I'd put vocals down, and he'd understand why they were the way they were. Rasheed Thomas [guitar] would give his input, and having Adam Wolosyzn [bass] on board was incredible. It seemed like it was happening so quickly and easily. We were able to compare everything song to song and say, "This is the direction we should be headed in. This feels like Nonpoint, but it feels new". By the end of the process, we ended up doing 30 songs. Johnny K stepped in on the production side. In pre-production, he was like, "These songs are where I hear you guys. These songs stand out the most. What do you think? Who do you think you are?" I felt like there hadn't been anybody in the scene who knocked everybody over since the days of Rage Against the Machine. Johnny K said, "That's a fucking great example! Let's put everything up against up that". We wanted to keep it aggressive and very meaningful. We made sure every single word I was saying, every beat, and riff belonged there.
Is it important for you to tell stories and paint pictures with the songs?
Yeah, there's a lot internally that I felt needed to get said in a therapeutic way. You get to be metaphorical and cryptic with things like lyrics and songs. It makes people dig deeper into who we are and who they are. This time around, I didn't want to hold anything back. I wanted to answer questions fans may have had about the last year of our lives and this band's survival. That way, I wouldn't have to answer the questions on a personal level. They could see where it was coming from and the frustrations we have trying to do things like release a record.
Where did "Ashes" come from?
It's funny. That's my favorite song on the record. I think that showcases the band the best. Dave's guitar work is insane. The fact we got both of the guys to do a solo in the bridge is amazing. I wanted to make "Ashes" an epic song of survival. When Dave sent me that riff, it was that intro which almost classical and flamenco-y. I thought, "Man, this is exactly where I want to be!" When the chorus hit, I felt like it was a "champion" song. That's what I wanted to do. At the end of the record, it's a great period.
What's the story of the song lyrically?
Lyrically, it's about survival. Getting through the last member change, you never want to go through things like that. It's a frustrating part of the business. People don't realize how you can ignite something you didn't intend to ignite by your attitude or words when you're not whole-hearted and someone else is. In a relationship, when you're heart's completely in it and you feel like someone isn't, a single word, sentence, sentiment, attitude, or look will completely light a fuse. There's going to be an explosion at the end. You hope it's not going to do that, but sometimes it's inevitable.
What about "Lights, Camera, Action"?
It pretty much comes from the same place. There is a basic, overall theme. There was a lot of turmoil in the last few years. I had the opportunity to voice a lot of those opinions as poetically as I possibly could. That song really felt like the start of something. Lyrically, I wanted to tell a quick story to our fans saying, "We're back and better than ever".
Has melding and merging genres always been a goal?
Yeah, that comes from everybody doing their part in the band. We're the type of the band that wants the guitar player to write their riffs and the bass player to write his bass lines. Obviously, we want everybody to put in their ideas. I lean on my guitar players' expertise, chops, and creativity to come up with something genius so I can focus on vocal lines and lyrics. As I'm singing, if changing a couple of notes makes the song even better, that's the great part about these guys. You can just say it. The process is much easier.
What artists really shaped you?
Classic rock is what I grew up on. That's probably the reason I have any kind of handle on vocals. Guys like Steve Perry, Boston, and Kansas knew how to sing. They'd write five-part harmonies that make the hair on my arm stand up to this day. Bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin did something really different, and they moved me the most. They made me love music. Watching Puya and Korn when I was getting into new rock, there was a wide gap between my young teen years and college years when I gave rock a real chance. I went to a Korn concert and I was like, "Man, I definitely want to do this!" The show made me want to do it. I looked around, and I said, "I think I can do this. I've got to figure it out". I loved being on stage and prayed to get by just doing what I love. I saw Korn in 1996 at the UCF Amphitheater. It was Korn, Helmet, and Limp Bizkit. It was sick! I'd never been a larger scale rock concert. I got floor seats, and I didn't know what to expect. I'd never been in a pit before. As soon as lights went dark and "Blind" started and the kabuki dropped, the whole pit went ballistic. I was in absolute awe.
If you were to compare your album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
It'd have to be early Quentin Tarantino like Reservoir Dogs. I'll also pull 300 out of my ass out here. This record was a really long battle, but it's a great story. I don't know how it's going to end. I've got lots of years left in me. There's nothing holding us back.
What's your favorite Nonpoint song?