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Exclusive! Interview With Nonpoint Vocalist Elias Soriano

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Sunday, September 5, 2004 @ 1:31 PM

Stingley habla con el cantante

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Nonpoint’s new record, Recoil, just came out in August. With two records and a loyal following beyond them, Nonpoint is on a new label that is gunning to show the world what South Florida, and more than a few people already know: Nonpoint rocks.

Currently out on tour with label-mates, Skindred, I got to speak with lead singer, Elias Soriano…


KNAC.COM: Elias! How’re you doing?
SORIANO: I’m good, brother. How are you?

KNAC.COM: I’m good thank you! Just to remind you, in case they didn’t tell you, this is for KNAC.COM…
SORIANO: [Pronounces] KAY-KNACK! Home of THE RACK!

KNAC.COM: [Laughs] Ah, the good old days… you remember “The Rack”?
SORIANO: Of course I do! Her… and all her beautiful glory!

KNAC.COM: Yes, yes…
SORIANO: Both of them! [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: [Laughs] She’s no longer with KNAC, though -- now she’s somewhere in Texas, I think. I never got to meet her, sadly.
SORIANO: Yes, yes… I heard as well -- but I do listen to the station when I am online.

KNAC.COM: Cool… that’s nice to hear!
SORIANO: Oh, man, of course I do! You guys got awesome music…

KNAC.COM: Well on that note… let’s get going then. I got the record, and I saw you out with Skindred here in New York, I gotta say that I’m just fucking nuts about “Rabia!”
SORIANO: [Pronounces with accent] Rabia! It means “rabid”…

KNAC.COM: Ah… rabid! I thought it meant…
SORIANO: Well, in the context of what we’re saying, it’s a slang way of saying, in Puerto Rico, of people saying “rabid” or “on fire”… or upset… or…

KNAC.COM: That’s interesting… I live in Washington Heights in Manhattan, and it is a largely Dominican population…
SORIANO: Hey! I’m half-Dominican!

KNAC.COM: Are you?
SORIANO: Yes sir!

KNAC.COM: Well, this is the “Little D/R” right here where I live. And I was asking one of my neighbors to tell me what “Rabia” meant, and he said it was “rabies.” But then the foxy girl at my bodega said it was “rage”… so I’m glad you cleared that up for me.
SORIANO: Yeah… pretty much. “Rage,” like… it’s all of those things, “rabies”… but like a lot of English words, this word has more than one meaning… and, with Spanish, certain words vary from region to region… in this case from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico…

KNAC.COM: To Washington Heights. Fair enough. We’ll come back to “Rabia” shortly.

KNAC.COM: Now let’s see… when Nonpoint first broke out, I was living in Florida. I’d seen you a couple of times down there. You definitely broke out to new listeners as part of the “nu-metal” scene, and you got a lot of exposure on the “99X” stations down there. What are your thoughts about “nu-metal”? Is that a fair name to hang on your music? Are you being lumped in with a group because you came up at a certain time and play this kind of music? What would you say makes you different from the rest?
SORIANO: Sure, sure. I don’t know about… I guess there’s a horrible stigma on “nu-metal.” We toured with hundreds of bands, and we’ve played, God, over six hundred shows. We’ve been touring nonstop for years and years and years. And our label was strong behind us: we had some great friends at MCA that pushed the band and, incredibly, kept us out on the road. We made a different kind of mark than most of the nu-metal bands, because we really weren’t touring on any singles or anything that had to do with insane promotion. We were just trying to build a foundation for our band and build a fan-base. We spent a year and a half putting a thousand kids in our clubs every single month at home… and when MCA saw that, they wanted to help us get that going around the country. It was more, instead of, jumping in and jumping out because we wear baggy jeans and tight tee shirts, and stuff like that. It was more based on the music and the fans continuing to come out and knowing every single song. Not just having a song to grab on, a single for the radio. For us, it was about building on something; for the label it was about developing that on a wider scale.

KNAC.COM: People point to mainstream radio: a lot of stuff sounds the same. Nonpoint is different how?
SORIANO: I mean, well, those bands are getting dropped left and right now. Or they’re at the end of their record deal, and they’ve had four or five times our album sales. It’s coming down. We changed labels, but we’re going out with our third record right now because I think people see what we see in our band, which is something beyond a corporate name. ”Nu-metal”? You can say that, but it certainly wouldn’t be fair to say about us. Lava/Atlantic snatched us up… and it was an absolutely seamless transition for a reason. They’ve been to the shows, they’ve seen the mayhem, they see the 1200 kids that we pack every single time we play a show in South Florida. They can hit that most anywhere in the country with us, and that’s because we’ve worked hard at… what we’ve done over the years.

KNAC.COM: Well, moving to Lava/Atlantic… Atlantic has an excellent reputation as a rock label.
SORIANO: Well, they’ve heard the music…

KNAC.COM: Let’s talk about South Florida a little bit. I lived there for two years: there’s a really big, thriving music scene down there.
SORIANO: Well the music scene for rock is coming back up. The radio stations down here went through a couple of format changes and are starting to get rock fans back to shows. A new venue opened up here recently, Hard Rock Live. We played a show there a while back -- it was absolutely mobbed. It was an amazing show: sold out three days before the concert, so, even though we came up in a rock scene, I would have to say, yes, it’s still thriving.

KNAC.COM: It’s thriving long after it “exploded” or “blew up.”
SORIANO: Right. Still going strong. New life is getting breathed back into the scene down here, and it’s exhilarating.

KNAC.COM: Who are some of the bands that you “came up” with?
SORIANO: Uh… Darwin’s Waiting Room was one of the bands that came up with us… Endo. Marilyn Manson was out of the Orlando area scene a few years before us, so needless to say that was inspiring to a lot of kids. It was… let’s see… there were so many bands…

KNAC.COM: A lot of bands came out of Florida, South Florida. I remember Virgos Merlot, Cinder -- who were called, “Jesus Gun” for a time… it was A&R Heaven for a little while there.
SORIANO: Oh yeah. Some good ones that got signed, some good ones didn’t. The Grooveniks were out of South Florida. The scene kind of died for a couple of years because once everyone had gotten signed, all the bands were on the road and there weren’t many around to play. We would just come and play every once in a while, having just played everywhere else, you know?

KNAC.COM: Speaking of touring, you’re going out -- you’re out -- on a US tour to support the new record.
SORIANO: We came home for almost a year to make the record, which just came out in August, released on Lava/Atlantic. We have a few months on the road ahead of us…

KNAC.COM: That seems to be a characteristic of your band.
SORIANO: Oh, yeah. We love to get on tours that… where there’s other bands that “throw down.” You know, we don’t want to be on the tour where the bands just stand around and don’t move or don’t really “rock out.” We want people moving all the time and its good to tour with bands like that.

KNAC.COM: I’ve mentioned that I’ve seen you in Florida, at like -- was it a “Zeta-Fest,” maybe? I don’t know, but Nonpoint is, to coin a phrase, one of the “jumpingest” bands that I’ve ever seen.
SORIANO: Oh, thanks… [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Where does that come from? Tell me some of the bands that influenced you, or Nonpoint from the beginning.
SORIANO: My first big rock concert was Korn, Helmet and Limp Bizkit. Limp Bizkit opened the show… and they were horrible!

KNAC.COM: [Laughs] Elias, when I transcribe this I’m going to spell out, phonetically, the way you just said that word: “WHORRRRR-ible”!
SORIANO: They were absolutely horrible! I have to say, they’re definitely not horrible now, for me. I saw them during the tour for Three Dollar Bill[, Y’all], and they’ve definitely honed their talent. Not for everyone, I’ll admit, but a great live band. But, as I mentioned, I saw that show, and when the lights went out for Korn, five thousand people went absolutely insane. A helluva show.

KNAC.COM: Okay, this begs the question: how old are you?
SORIANO: Twenty-nine.

KNAC.COM: Okay, late-twenties. But, before that concert, what were you listening to?
SORIANO: Oh, everything and nothing. Rap, hip-hop, R&B. I was into pop music that was on the radio, or MTV. But one day I went to see Puya down in South Florida. And once I saw the energy and heard the music and… this was ’95, ’96, and I started to just go nuts buying rock records. I went to the Korn concert, saw them rock it, saw the audience go crazy, and I thought: “Man, that’s exactly what I want to do!”

KNAC.COM: And then…
SORIANO: …and then I befriended a bass-player for a band that was called Nonpoint Factor, and the rest is…

KNAC.COM: So… you were listening to pop and hip-hop and now you’re completely converted to “the rock”?
SORIANO: Oh, absolutely! I mean, I still have a love for hip-hop, rap, and pop, but now I just have a broader appreciation for music. Eclectic.

KNAC.COM: You said Puys was the band that changed everything for you. That’s high praise to Puya to have had that kind of effect.
SORIANO: Absolutely. They’re an amazing live band, they’re exceptional players, and they’re all… they graduated from Berklee… they’re just a terrific band.

KNAC.COM: You have a line in your press kit, “It’s hard to capture the energy of our live shows,” and I think you’re talking about recording here--

KNAC.COM: “If I had to describe it,” you say, “I’d suggest putting yourself in a room with no doors or windows and repeatedly punching yourself in the face. Pretty soon you’ll begin to get the idea…”
SORIANO: [Laughs] Yup.

KNAC.COM: Is that indicative of your live shows?
SORIANO: Yeah, pretty much. I was pretty stoned when I said that. There’s two kinds of ways that I look at it that people when they see our shows: there’s those hardcore bands and emo bands that you go see, kids pressed up against the barricade, crawling over each other, singing every single word of every single song. And then there’s the kids in the pit that are just beating each other to death because they are just do fueled about what they’re getting out of the music. It’s the solitary… angst and power, that brutal power that is exerted. We try to put that out, and reflect it as well, when we’re on stage.

KNAC.COM: The first single that’s out, “The Truth”…
SORIANO: “The Truth…”

KNAC.COM: A little bit of a moody song… a little slower.
SORIANO: Slower? It gets pretty brutal in the pits, on some of the verses of that song.

KNAC.COM: …As compared to some of the stuff that’s on the record.
SORIANO: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah…

KNAC.COM: “Broken Bones,” for example. And of course, “Rabia”… is there a video for “The Truth”?
SORIANO: We’re working on it. Of course, since it’s the first single.

KNAC.COM: Well now, I have to ask: is “Rabia” going to go to radio, or even get a video?
SORIANO: American radio? <> KNAC.COM: Yes, American radio! I love that song. I know the whole song is in Spanish, but it’s a killer song. I’m sure the record company is going to balk at the idea. But what difference does it make if people don’t know what you’re saying? You think anyone could ever understand James Brown? Or Michael Stipe? To this day I have no idea what the hell is being said in most mainstream radio pop-songs -- and they’re in English! I don’t think I’m wrong here: people don’t give a shit as long as it rocks. Can you tell me any lyrics to a Slipknot song? How many records sold? It doesn’t matter: it sounds great and it annoys the parents too, so there’s a plus.
SORIANO: [Laughs] So… you think it should be a single?

KNAC.COM: [Laughs] Oh, my God yeah. It’s contagious! I guarantee you that by the time you’re at the end of the tour, people will be screaming for that song to be played.
SORIANO: You know it’s funny, the guy that signed us to Lava, Andy Karp, said the same thing about that song.

KNAC.COM: Well, it’s a winner. Totally rocks. I’m sure you already get that feeling playing it live.
SORIANO: Every time. I appreciate that man.

KNAC.COM: Well, I just hate to see good music get overlooked. Everyone has a band, or a song that they know, that they love, that makes them feel great or whatever, and no one’s really heard it. You make a CD for your girl, you put on a bunch of cool songs you think she hasn’t heard, but will enjoy…
SORIANO: Right, absolutely… ,p> KNAC.COM: I’m getting carried away. But this is a no-brainer. The song is great.
SORIANO: [Laughs] I’m glad you like it man, really. Thanks.

KNAC.COM: All right, enough of that. Tell me about the cover song on the record.
SORIANO: It was a last minute thing. We were finishing up, we had room on the record for something else, to explore. And the idea actually came from Jason Flom, at Lava/Atlantic. He suggested we do a cover song. And we said sure. So… we had about two months left before we had to turn over the album, and we were tossing the idea around about covering this song.

KNAC.COM: But “In The Air Tonight” is a Phil Collins song. It seems like a strange choice for a hard rock band cover.
SORIANO: Oh, man, it’s Miami Vice, are you kidding me? For a bunch of kids from South Florida… that was a huge song, huge for us. That song, that show, helped put South Florida on the map. That’s when Crockett and Tubbs were fighting drug-dealers, busting the Cubans… c’mon!

KNAC.COM: [Laughs]
SORIANO: We had actually discussed doing the song, among the band members, for almost two years, so…

KNAC.COM: Now, there’s also, as a stand-out song for me, there’s an acoustic song on the end there.
SORIANO: It’s an acoustic version of “Past It All,” which is a heavy song. It’s a secret track, on track 13 at 9’54”, which (954) is the area code for Ft. Lauderdale. A clever idea of my guitar player.

KNAC.COM: A great song. What brought that about?
SORIANO: We just felt like it would be a cool way to end the record. We wanted to do-- we do acoustic songs for the radio all the time. It’s something that bands almost have to do when doing radio anyway, “Acoustic In Studio,” you know? But we liked how it sounded this way, so we added it on. We actually did “The Truth” acoustically recently, and it came out, sounded great.

KNAC.COM: Now… there’s something here about… your manager. Your manager is Jason Bieler?

KNAC.COM: This is the guy from Saigon Kick.
SORIANO: [Laughs] Yes, it is!

KNAC.COM: [Laughs] Are you familiar with Saigon Kick?
SORIANO: Of course I am! I mean, I mentioned growing up, listening to hip-hop and pop, but I still loved [Motley Crue’s] “Smokin’ In The Boys Room,” and “Dr. Feelgood,” “Home Sweet Home”… a lot of rock/metal had gone to pop-radio. So I was very familiar with “Love is on the Way”… you know, like you said. Mix tapes for your girlfriend!

KNAC.COM: Right! Dude, I’m still doing it, just on CDRs…
SORIANO: Hah! Well, you can’t not do it if you have good music around, you know? But Jason is a great guy… he’s a bigwig in the industry now!

KNAC.COM: So the new record is out, you’re going out on tour. For people who are just getting exposed to you -- why go see Nonpoint?
SORIANO: Because… I believe that we match our live show, musically, with what we do on record. We give everything we possibly can live, it’s a like a huge party, but it’s like a rock party! Guys, girls… 50/50, definitely half-and-half… guys, bring your girlfriends, girls -- bring your boyfriends!

KNAC.COM: How do you pass the time on tour between shows?
SORIANO: Uh… I’ve been listening to the Jay-Z Black Album alot; Mars Volta; some Glassjaw; Deftones, Deftones, Deftones! I have every single Deftones CD and they all come with me.

KNAC.COM: So you’re saying you’re a Deftones fan?
SORIANO: Oh, yeah! Huge, huge, huge! That was another life-changing show that I saw. Just amazing! So I’ll them with me… maybe some Floyd.

KNAC.COM: Pink Floyd? I’m surprised. But then again, not really.
SORIANO: Back to being “eclectic.” I think most rock fans, of any age, can appreciate having eclectic taste. And… Floyd just fits certain moods.

KNAC.COM: I meant to ask you earlier -- before we wrap up -- you have one song from your previous record that you did in Spanish, and now, “Rabia.” Do you have a big Latin following?
SORIANO: Yes! Huge, huge. I mean, we’re South Florida. Cubans, Domicans, Puerto Ricans. We play Texas a lot, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston -- the kids all come out and its awesome.

KNAC.COM: All right, Elias… we’ll see you on tour.
SORIANO: Thanks man. I hope everyone can make it out. I’ll be listening to KNAC and reading the “rants” when this goes up -- so let me know…

KNAC.COM: You bet. Take care…
SORIANO: See ya! And thanks…

(Live photos: ©Amy Cooper/ Nonpoint.com)

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