Over two years ago I embarked on a journey that has taken me places that I never could have imagined. I’ve had the pleasure to meet, party and interact with some of the greatest talent rock n’ roll has ever known. My very first assignment that was given to me, as a test run at the time, was a review of Nonpoint’s new (at the time) album Miracle. I was so excited to get to start my career in writing off with a band that I’ve loved for nearly a decade, I couldn’t wait to get started.
And here we sit over two years later and I have the pleasure of interviewing one of the most underrated drummers in the current rock scene, Robb Rivera of Nonpoint. The most exciting thing about it is that it comes on the heels of hearing their self-titled album, Nonpoint, for the first time. A decade, more than a few lineup changes and a completely different music scene later, they have their best piece of work to date. Nonpoint’s self-titled album, for a lack of better words, is absolutely incredible. It’s insanely eclectic with jumps from old school metal to kick your ass thrash metal. And how they figured out how to put those two things within the same record and still make the ebbs and flows of it all tie together flawlessly, is a mystery to me. It speaks to the musicianship the Nonpoint guys have and the fact that they are easily the most humble and determined band out there. Without further adieu, here is my interview with Robb, as we talk about their current tour, their new record and the new talent they have in the band.
Aaron Manogue: You guys are in the middle of a pretty extensive touring schedule. How have things been on the road?
Robb Rivera: It is going really good right now. It's funny that you ask how it's going, besides having fun I can safely say that each and every tour we do we learn something new all the time. But it has been a lot of fun being out here again, reconnecting with the fans and playing shows!
AM: Nonpoint has been around for a better part of fifteen years and there have been a lot of ups and downs. What is about yourself and Elias that keep Nonpoint going no matter what happens?
RR: Simple. Passion. Elias and myself were the first two guys in Nonpoint. It's funny you ask this because I put up a post the other day about this same thing. I believe in Nonpoint and will until I die. I don't know the meaning of the words quit, done or giving up. I just can't find myself saying “Hey I am done.” It’s just not in me and a lot of my old friends know that about me. I think we still have a lot more to offer and we proved that with this latest record. Elias and myself have always had a vision for Nonpoint and we hit the reset button on this new record and made that vision a reality again. When you love something, you just don't let it go, you just find ways to keep the situation fresh.
AM: I had the pleasure of hearing your new record a week ago and it is incredible. It's a mixture of progressive, thrash and hard rock with the patented Nonpoint kick to it. Tell me about your idea for the album and how you think it turned out.
RR: I am always intrigued on how people respond to any new music we deliver. Basically what you have there are all of our influences rolled into one. I basically grew up on thrash/hardcore/metal and classic rock. I think on our last two records we followed too much of a pattern that we were not really used to. Statement, Recoil and To The Pain were unique in that there were different feelings in the songs. Where Development, Vengeance and Miracle had too much of the same structure. Elias brought back that fire spitting rap style as well that was very much missed in my eyes. A lot of bands like to experiment and we did the same. Don't get me wrong, I love all of our albums but on this album we wanted variety again. You have songs like “That Day”, “Left For You”, “Ashes” and “Temper” which all sound different from each other but at the same time it's the same band and that was the main goal of this record, to go back to the sound that people were familiar with.
AM: How have some of the new songs been received by fans out on the road?
RR: Really well. Especially "I Said It" which has old school Nonpoint written all over it! It has that angry Nonpoint sound that a lot of kids loved with songs like “Bullet With a Name”. And it has some of my favorite lyrics by Elias ever. He is very personal on this album and got a lot out in his lyrics. We have also played "Left For You" which is our first single of the album and it's awesome seeing the fans sing that one as well.
AM: One of my favorite songs on the record is "Go Time" and the reason it's a favorite is because its a sound RR: that Nonpoint really hasn't put on a record before, yet you guys killed it. It's one of the heaviest songs I think I've ever heard out of you guys. Tell me about the song.
That song came from Dave (Lizzio, guitarist). It's one of the last songs that he wrote for us! That song has only one thing in common from other Nonpoint records and that it’s in A tuning (which was the To The Pain tuning) but the overall feel is something we have never done. The beat of the song and the actual feel is a whole new vibe for us. When I first head that song I was like man I can do the best John Bonham to this. I get to just groove to the song and it's a lot of fun to play as a drummer. I can just sit back and bash away and not have to think about it too much. We have played it live only once but I am sure we will play it again.
AM: Throughout the entire record you can hear the impact and influence of the new members Rasheed Thomas (guitars/vocals/percussion), Dave Lizzio and Adam Woloszyn (bass). How has their addition to the band strengthened Nonpoint?
RR: I will say this first; all lineups that we have had have been amazing. You can't ever take away what all the people that were involved in Nonpoint before contributed but I will say that this lineup is my absolute favorite and that is not meant with any disrespect to our past but I feel like this is the lineup it should have been since the beginning. I have always wanted this band to be a two guitar band but it took this long to actually make it happen. The old songs sound so much better with an extra guitar because all of our older albums were all recorded with two guitars and with guitars doing different things and now we can actually do that live. The one thing we wanted to do first when we got the new guys was to see how it was going to be living with them. As many people know we do pretty long touring cycles and for a better part of a year you are living together on the road. So the first month of rehearsals, we did a lot of talking as well as playing to get to know each other and not just say, “Ok, you are in the band. Let's do this.” We have to deal with personalities and since Elias and myself have done this for 15 years we wanted to make sure they learned about what it is to really be in a band together. We wanted communication and a lot of open dialogue. It's a real family vibe and a fresh new start for us and we are extremely proud of what we have accomplished.
AM: It seems like every time something happens within the band or changes are made, that you guys only come back even stronger. How do you guys manage to persevere throughout the years?
RR: When we announced the change last year in the band, I read a lot of the comments and people were bummed out which was to be expected. When you have people in a band for the entire time of your career people fear change but we are in a business where this happens a lot. We are very fortunate to say that our first lineup lasted ten years together and wrote five albums and not a lot of bands can say that. I am very proud of what that first lineup accomplished together. We went through a lot together and it's a piece of our history that we have in our hearts forever. After the announcement, people were saying change the name, you guys are don, etc. For me that is fuel to the fire. That is something you can't tell me that I am done because of change. You are just making me want it more and we did. We got a new lineup and wrote one of the best albums of our career. Same thing when we made a change in management and labels, I was told that we would never get signed again and no one cared anymore. Wrong! You are just putting more desire in me by saying that. Passion!
AM: What are you most excited about with this new record?
RR: Just to get it out there to the fans. We can't wait for our fan base to listen to this record. We worked hard on it and had a killer production team in Johnny K and Brian Virtue to work with. Really stoked!
AM: You guys are yet again offering a great offer for fans to buy your new album. Tell me about the deals you're offering for pre-order.
RR: Well you can go to www.nonpoint.com and get four different pre-order bundles for the album. The Best Buy version will have two acoustic tracks, the advanced mix of “I Said it” and a live DVD. The iTunes version of the album will have a bonus Studio track called “Reborn” and studio footage. We are stoked for our fans to get this!
AM: Anything else you'd like to say?
RR: Well Aaron thank you so much for your never ending support. I have had the pleasure of knowing you and you have been an amazing help to me and my band, so I can't thank you enough for your help. Record comes out on October 9th everywhere and we’re on tour with Taproot as we speak.