Nonpoint flits just under the tipping point of huge commercial success, miles away from hipsterdom and its particularly stringent sense of cred and inches away from being a household name. From the band's origins in the insular South Florida metal scene and the Fort Lauderdale club circuit, this brand of nü-metal has reached audiences around the world. These guys are popular, they don't hold day jobs, and they are a perfect example of how to be a working band.
Radio loves Nonpoint. A cover of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" was featured on the Miami Vice film soundtrack, and the undeniably catchy "Bullet With a Name" worms its way into the ears of wrestling fans and gamers via Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 and other WWE spots. Nonpoint records sell lots of copies; of their eight major releases, five have made the top ten on various Billboard charts. In 2004, the band's fourth full length, Recoil, charted two spots above critically acclaimed alt-metal heroes Mastodon's masterwork, Leviathan. They fill venues with eager fans — expect more of that for the 2010 Ozzfest ticket.
The band's new album, Miracle, out May 4 via their own 954 Records, is classic Nonpoint, although the guys have come a long way from the rap-metal crunch of their first few releases. Since the band's aptly titled 2002 release Development, Nonpoint has defined a sound that is more its own and less a product of the genre in which it was birthed.
With the celebratory leadoff single, "Miracle," Nonpoint asserts it has what it takes — a promise that the guys are nowhere near quitting time. Frontman Elias Soriano declared this album to be his response to anyone who has ever stood in the band's way, a response to all the naysayers.
"I'm kind of taken aback by your question," Soriano says when asked about the people standing in their way, the naysayers. "As far as crowds and the public, radio, and everyone else, we've had nothing but positive feedback for ten years, which is what I actually think attests to our survival."
When pressed, Soriano suggests that Pompano Beach-based Bieler Bros. — the band's longtime label and management home until an amicable split about two years ago — could shine some light on the darker end of the Nonpoint love spectrum.
"I think any degree of success has an equal and opposite reaction, with people thinking they're the worst band that ever happened to music," Jason Bieler says. "It does make things difficult in the short run if you live and die by that genre [nü-metal], but I think... if you're making music people like, you always have a shot at some success."
Much credit for that success goes to singer Soriano. His vocal range and timbre allows him to find purchase on everything from lush ballads to pensive and restrained rumination to anguished howls. "Stunning" is how avid Nonpoint fan Lisa Medina describes Soriano's voice. "He kinda captures everything, all in one song."
Medina, who lives in Montrose, Michigan, has listened to Nonpoint nonstop since Statement came out: "[Back then] I didn't know who it was. When Recoil came out, I became a complete addict, all at once." If we're looking for yeasayers, she's one of the people watching intently as Nonpoint has embarked on headlining tours as well as support slots with Sevendust, Mudvayne, Papa Roach, festival slots with Ozzfest, Music as a Weapon, and others for more than a decade. Medina needs both hands and then some to count the number of times she's seen the band play.
"When you go see them, you're able to get out all your rage and all your frustrations for the things that have gone on in your day and in your entire life," says Medina.
Soriano takes a more direct view of the band's live impact. "We fuckin' sweat, that's why," he says. "We sweat; we do it all the way. It's not a CD. We are moving around; everyone's singing along, in the pit, jumping. The band is live as it can be, and the people remember that, and they'll pay over and over again to come see us."
In 2008, those sweat rewards were put into question. Nonpoint saw the departure of original guitarist Andrew Goldman, a turn of events that caused great concern among Nonpoint's longtime fans. However, Goldman was quickly replaced by Zach Broderick, and the band continued its intense tour schedule, giving fans a chance to embrace him and allowing the band to move forward despite the shakeup.
The groove is still there on Miracle, which finds Nonpoint exploring its softer side — to the extent the band has one — focusing more on melody and mood than on aggression and volume. So is the signature lyrical angle of Darwinian evolution, survival of the fittest, with the band sounding off against negativity and the forces that hold you back — a veiled address to those who might prefer to have them put down rather than being their champions.
The band's message speaks to Medina, who takes away a definite sense of positivity. "You don't stop," she says. "Keep going, no matter what happens to you, what gets thrown in your way — you just keep on. You don't give up ever, for any reason. Elias has kind of impressed that upon me. They all do."
That positivity has given Nonpoint a living career. Enough people love the band that it can continue to play concerts and release records, and isn't that the whole damned point? For better or worse, all the rest is just posturing, and Nonpoint's pretty damned good at that too.
Any press is good press, and Nonpoint just might be getting some mileage out of its haters anyhow. That's certainly the case with similarly popular, critically derided bands like Nickelback and Insane Clown Posse, both of whom boast intensely loyal followings and ridicule in equal measure. Perhaps Nonpoint hasn't reached the same critical mass of either devotion or derision, but it's working at it.
Take Elias' parting remarks for those counted among the band's adversaries: "I challenge them to go to our show. You don't like us by the end of the show, I will give you your money back. People can tell whether or not you're honest in your confidence and you believe in what you're saying. If you don't have that bravado, you're not going to convince anybody." It's one thing to preach perseverance, but Nonpoint also practices it.