They're a raised-fist groove-metal band. I'm more a neuroses-infused post-punk guy. I like it when bands shred, but I want them to mitigate their shreddiness with a little irony, some artful doubt. Nonpoint does blast-beats. And groupies, probably. They don't do doubt.
Still, I was taken aback by a recent missive posted on the band's MySpace blog. Quoted by drummer Robb Rivera, lead singer Elias Soriano describes the Florida rockers' latest single, "Miracle," as a "gigantic 'Fuck you!' to all those that doubted this band's will and perseverance."
Soriano continues: "It's for all the naysayers that tried to lead us into defeat, and the fans that have stood behind us for over 10 years. We're here to wage war on the airwaves, and to stop us is going to take a fucking miracle."
Whoa! A "fucking miracle"? Admittedly, Soriano's fightin' words made me laugh a little. They seem to imply the existence of vast, imaginary windmills of anti-Nonpoint conspiracy; critics and record executives and rival musicians huddled in smoke-filled boardrooms, holding muted conversations that might sound something like this:
Naysayer One: "Bob, what are we going to do with this Nonpoint situation? Should we lead them to victory, or defeat?"
Naysayer Two: "Defeat, definitely. They just don't have the will to make it in this biz. Or the perseverance, for that matter."
Yeah, I know: Being a pissed-off, quixotic outcast (or, at least, affecting that image) is part and parcel with modern metal stardom. And an over-the-top display of defiance is certainly nothing you wouldn't expect from Nonpoint — a band, it should be noted, that contributed a song to the WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 video game. Who else is gonna do that? The Shins?
But is it all just theater? After all, most so-called alt-metal bands would sooner take the stage without their amplifiers than without their collective sense of persecution.
I caught up with Rivera during the Colorado leg of the band's current tour, and he acknowledged that the concept of "struggle" is part of the band's aesthetic identity.
"Perseverance, defiance, adversity, everything you said," agreed Rivera, a garrulous drummer-spokesperson in the mold of Lars Ulrich. "The fight in this band has never stopped."
When I pressed Rivera for specifics — Who exactly is fighting you guys? — he offered this:
"Former people that we worked for. People who perceive us as an old metal band. Hey, this has been our only job for the last 11 years. We're not gonna stop. It's gonna take a miracle to get us to stop. That's what the song's about."
Ah. It finally makes sense. Nonpoint has gone through four labels in 10 years. Their longtime guitarist, Andrew Goldman, quit in 2008 to pursue other interests. They recorded their upcoming Miracle album (set to drop later this month) on their own dime, over 10 days at Salt Mine Studio in Mesa. Rivera slept on the couch.
They've seen This Is Spinal Tap, and they're sensitive to the gone-to-seed heavy metal band stereotype. For the first time in their careers, they've had to consider a life after music. It makes them scared. And angrier than ever.
"I'm 40 years old, and I'm just as angry as I was when I was 20," insists Rivera. "Losing money. Going through labels. It fuels you to write stuff."
In the Nonpoint universe, obsolescence isn't an inevitability to be considered, but an enemy to be defeated. As a doubt-embracing post-punk guy, I can't really get on board with that thinking. But as an almost-40 workaday shlub looking for his next professional peak, God help me, I like it.