Nonpoint vocalist Elias Soriano and drummer Robb Rivera hoped they had put together a stable band lineup when in 2011 they replaced two band members – guitarist Zach Broadrick and bassist Ken “KB” MacMillan – with three new recruits, lead guitarist Dave Lizzio, rhythm guitarist Rasheed Thomas and bassist Adam Wolosyzn.
But as the band was writing and recording its new album, “The Return,” it became apparent that another change was going to be needed because of commitment issues, according to Soriano. And after finishing the new release, Lizzio was replaced by B.C. Kochmit as a full band member.
The switch in lead guitarists, while called amicable by both Lizzio and the band says a lot about just how serious Soriano and Rivera are, after a decade and a half leading the group, about keeping Nonpoint a viable, successful band for many years to come.
“Robb and I haven’t lasted 16-plus years because we’ve risked the livelihood and the life of this band on uncertainty. We make the smartest, best decisions for this band and the survival of this band,” Soriano said in an early October phone interview. “We put all of our efforts into this and that’s why we have lasted this long with this being our only source of income.”
And in Kochmit, the group brought in a good friend that Soriano and Rivera first tried to recruit when guitarist Andrew Goldman left Nonpoint in 2003. At that point, Kochmit had other commitments and had to pass on the offer.
This time, though, he was available and already working with Nonpoint in another capacity, although his skills as a guitarist and performer were also a big point in Kochmit’s favor.
“B.C. designs all of our T-shirts,” Soriano said. “He designed the cover of ‘The Return.’ That’s his hands in that. He does web design. And he’s probably the best guitar player right now that I could have found in our genre. The guy is a beast on stage. He looks amazing. He plays amazing. He’s a great songwriter. He helped us write (the song) ‘Pandora’s Box’ on the self-titled. This is exactly what we’ve been looking for. And he’s been doing this for 15 years, just like me. So it’s great to have him on board.”
With the new lineup now set, Nonpoint has begun the touring cycle in support of “The Return,” which was released on Sept. 30. The group plays the Cotillion on Saturday.
“(We’re playing) new stuff and then we’re pulling out some really, really old stuff that we haven’t played in awhile,” Soriano said of the band’s sets. “It’s going to be a bouncing show. We’re definitely going to be making the room bounce.”
The songs from “The Return” should help create that live energy. The new album continues a trend that started on the self-titled release of taking Nonpoint’s music in a heavier direction. That intent is obvious from the opening riffs of the prickly opening track, “Pins and Needles,” with the roiling riffs that power “Razors” and the title song, and the seething intensity that characterizes “Take Apart This World.”
As crunchy and aggressive as these songs are, the band doesn’t lose sight of melody, as most of the songs have big hooks in the choruses, and in the case of songs like “Breaking Skin” and “Widowmaker,” the verses and riffs are also plenty catchy.
The harder edge is something that characterized Nonpoint’s early albums, 1998’s “Separate Yourself, “ 1999’s “Struggle” and 2000’s “Statement.” And while both the self-titled album and “The Return” have been compared to the early efforts, Soriano doesn’t agree.
“It’s current Nonpoint. It’s new Nonpoint,” he said. “It’s not ‘Statement.’ It ain’t ‘To The Pain’ (the 2005 album that gave the band its best known single, ‘Bullet With a Name’). It may be reminiscent to our fans of that, but we’re trying to stay fresh for everyone’s sake – for our sake, for our fans’ sake. I want our fans to feel like every single record has its own DNA.”
One characteristic that helps give “The Return” a different dimension is the hip-hop influenced structure of the lyrics to several songs.
Soriano, a longtime fan of hip-hop, said he made an effort to acquaint himself with what had been happening in that genre over the past few years (he was particularly impressed by Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Eminem’s most recent music) and this carried over to his approach to the lyrics on the new album. Songs like “Misery,” “Never Ending Hole” and the title track extend the usual space in a rock song verse to allow Soriano to pack more words into the songs. He hopes fans accept this facet of his songwriting.
“I try to explain to rock fans, because I don’t know, for some reasons it’s a bit of a turn-off, the fact that I like hip-hop as much as I do,” Soriano said. “But you’ve got to understand that hip-hop allows people and songwriters and lyricists the opportunity tell a much more detailed story because of all of the rapid- fire (vocals) and the amount of lyrics and the fact that they’ve got 26 bars to lay down something. That kind of stuff allows for smart and clever hip-hop artists, and people that deserve to be massive, it allows us to get deeper (lyrically) into who they are.”
If You Go
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Cotillion, 11120 W. Kellogg
Tickets: $15. www.thecotillion.com, 316-722-4201