Nonpoint, He Is Legend
Letters From The Fire
223 North Water Street
Lancaster, PA, 17603
This event is all ages
It’s one thing to be prolific. It’s another thing to not only kick maximum ass with every album, but constantly challenge yourself and your audience in the process. In a modern rock landscape littered with lowest common denominator dreck, Nonpoint have risen above the pack with grace and thunder time and time again. And the seventh time’s yet another charm for the Fort Lauderdale outfit, as latest full-length Miracle fuses searing hard rock brutality with disarming honesty and introspection.
Together since 1997, Nonpoint still boast three of their four original members: frontman Elias Soriano, bassist Ken ‘BASTARD’ MacMillan and drummer Robb Rivera. Axeman Zach Broderick makes an auspicious debut on Miracle, dropping ferocious leads at will to offset hammering rhythms and complement Soriano’s distinctive narrative voice. (Quips the frontman, “We’ve been doing this for 10 years, so Zach joining the band was like that new pair of running shoes: they’re nice and they’re comfortable and they make you feel like you can run a mile longer than you used to be able to.”) Most critically, the quartet enlisted longtime Mudvayne pals Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett to produce. Gray appears in the rollicking call-and-response showdown of the title track (the more-than-worthy first single), which recalls the intense propulsion of previous Nonpoint hits “Bullet With a Name” and “Rabia.” Not only that, but he inspired Soriano to take album centerpiece “Frontlines”—an originally metaphoric slow-burner anchored by the refrain “on the frontlines, fighting for my life”—to an inspiring new level.
According to Soriano, “Chad said, ‘You have family in the military—we all have friends and family in the military. I see these guys out there struggling and they don’t get a lot of help when they come back home.’ He painted this picture, then said ‘Do you think you might wanna define it even more towards being an appreciative song for those soldiers who are dying for us every day?’ and I thought, ‘Absolutely.’ It’s the most evolved Nonpoint song we’ve ever written—some of the softest parts of my voice to the most aggressive parts, and some of the most intricate guitar lines to some of the simplest. And then the message puts the nail in the coffin.”
From revelatory acoustic EP predecessor Cut the Cord to deluges of explosive new material and rousing covers of Pantera, Black Sabbath and Phil Collins—“In the Air Tonight” was a breakout hit from Michael Mann’s Miami Vice—Nonpoint always seem to be a step ahead of the competition. The only bummer is that “Iron” Mike Tyson sorta reclaimed the latter with his memorable a cappella rendition in The Hangover. For his part, Soriano is magnanimous about the champ’s version.
“I felt like ‘Iron’ was feeling it more than I was,” he deadpans. “I never made anybody shut up for the drum fill part. Yeah… I’m gonna throw the baton over to Mike. I mean, come on—you know you feel it when you love it so much it causes you to perform acts of violence.”
He Is Legend
"Odd, intriguing and dangerous with a hint of sexy…" is how Schuylar Croom describes the name and nature of his new album, "Suck Out The Poison." He and cohorts Steve Bache, Adam Tanhouz and Matt Williams – known as He Is Legend – have been "running with lies" for some time now. Croom is able to spin these so-called "lies" into the intricate stories that comprise this sophomore album. Akin to a co
llection of Fairy Tales, with titles like "Attack of the Dungeon Witch," "The Widow of Magnolia" and "Goldie's Torn Locks," the songs on "Suck Out The Poison" paint fanciful pictures and children of all ages will come to believe Croom's Southern-Fried tall tales.
Twenty six months straight on the road will do some strange things to your head. The act of waving goodbye to family, friends, significant others, and even a bed of your own, can have you seeing things that aren't there. And in their place you may begin to find yourself living in an alternate universe, one that exists solely inside your mind. You may even begin to find a strange sense of refuge in fairy tale landscapes of epic battles, enchanted forests, evil maidens, and the emerald eyes of a voodoo princess.
Just ask Schuylar Croom, front man for He Is Legend. He'll tell you what it's like.
"The world that exists on the road is as real as anything in my imagination," Croom confesses. "What's the difference between a story about a man living inside a woman's head and the fleeting events of everyday life on tour? The visions I see in these songs are pictures of my home--the road. Losing all you know of comfort and reality is what this record is about. It's not just a collection of songs, but a visit to my abode, my dwelling place. And in that dwelling place you may find a man with flowers growing out of his hands, or you might find a widow mourning the loss of her sailor husband--who has just been devoured by a whale while at sea. Whether it's a witch who stole the moon or a wife that was made from a corpse, every song is a methodical, magical, mystical masterpiece."
The act of sucking out the poison is a myth, a fairy tale that will get you killed. But it's also a fascinating, fictitious picture of redemption. Your friend, your love, is bitten by a serpent, inflicting a fatal wound. In order to save them you have to place yourself on the wound, tasting the serum, to save their life. It is a both vile and virile act, much like the sophomore release from this North Carolina quintet. Dirty, disgusting at times, but always an alluring and fascinating picture. You are drawn to it, even though maybe you shouldn't be.
Consider the guilty pleasure of the opening track "Dixie Wolf (The Seduction Of)." Aberrant guitar dissonance rides the lightning of off-kilter drumbeats. The instruments seem to pull in one direction, while Schuylar pulls in another. A tense melody floats over the mayhem, making you feel at odds with everything He Is Legend is throwing at you. But maybe that's the point. Croom bellows, I am the villain to you, you are the princess to me. And I got you where I want you...If I cannot have you darling, no one will. This fairy tale is ending. Rest in pieces. Dark. Disconcerting. Disastrous. Such is the case with this entire sophomore work.
"We pride ourselves in being the most random band in the universe. There is no one concept, no one rule to how we do things. We don't agree on anything besides the music we write. Why take yourself seriously if you are in a rock band? I can't even believe that people pay money to watch us make fools out of ourselves onstage. But still, we want everyone to come to the show and never know what to expect, besides knowing they will have a great time. This time around though, we are way more satisfied with the music we have written. I think people will come to the shows and do a little more than just swing their arms and do karate kicks."
Perhaps the overriding theme here is depth. Beyond the thin veneer of entertainment lies a successful reach to further recesses of motivation and influence. HIL have no interest in playing the "scene" game. They are unashamed about pulling from such influences as Pantera and Sevendust. The record is as much of a nu-metal barrage as it is a southern rock avalanche. The band has made a decision that they don't want to be pigeonholed as hardcore, or metalcore, or screamo, just because they play heavy music. And they are to be commended for this courage. This is beyond lip rings and black hair dye.
"It takes a lot for us to pull from any current influences. I love Rob Zombie, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave. I love true storytellers that can put out any kind of record that they want and it sells just because the music is good. We draw so much from the records of our childhood here. The Melvins, Neurosis, Foo Fighters, Nirvana. We wanted to pull from as many different places as possible."
Consider the fact that this band has toured with everyone from Atreyu to Story Of The Year to Eighteen Visions to Every Time I Die to hardcore favorites Norma Jean. Their debut disk has scanned over 40,000 copies. Not bad for a band of pirates who just want to sail the open seas and loot all in their path. Still, there is so much more on the horizon for He Is Legend, with the advent of Suck Out the Poison. But they don't want to be the largest band in the world as the only end. Ultimately, they just want to have fun and let whatever comes, come.
That goal takes commitment to something more lofty than sales...
Not unlike the stories in the lyrics themselves, there is something inside all of this that is tangible. Something you can grab a hold of, a picture that is worth more than a thousand words. And to capture these pictures in the layout, the band gave one song away to each of twelve different artists to create a package concept. Each picture is a painting, a drawing of what each artist sees in each song. The result is a collage of depictions that can't help but take you somewhere. But where?
"When I was growing up I was in a strict Baptist environment where things like vampires and monsters were taboo. Somewhere along the way I was drawn to fixate on those things and have come to explore them, more in my subconscious mind than anywhere else. Not to say that evil is a resting place, but I think in coming to confront loss, hurt, heartache--the dark things of the rock n' roll experience--you effectively disarm them. There is hope here, but you have to weed through all the painful things to get there. Loss is the hardest thing you can go through emotionally, and that is a large part of what has influenced this album. We have lived on the road for two years as an unbelievable fairy tale. After awhile you just naturally become a part of that fairy tale."
Letters From The Fire
"These are our stories our trials and tribulations. This is who we are."
That's Mike Keller, the guitarist/founder behind the Bay Area rock powerhouse Letters From the Fire, explaining his band's moniker.
Ostensibly lifted from an old lyric, the phrase now serves as both a reminder of the band's sometimes turbulent origin—as well as a rallying cry as the group moves forward and (re)introduces themselves to the music world. While Letters From the Fire hasexisted for a bit, the group only recently solidified a lineup that best represents Keller's original vision (the band is rounded out by Alexa Kabazie, Cameron Stucky, Clayton Wages and Brian Sumwalt).
The band found a modicum of early success doing national tours with the likes of Fuel, Trapt, Non Point and Pop Evil, recording with former Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody and scoring a few rock radio hits ("Zombies in the Sun," a cover of " Eleanor Rigby")
But singer changes abounded... until they met Alexa Kabazie. " We heard about this singer from Kyle Odell, this producer we were working with," says Keller. "She was killing it on the demos we heard. We had to fly to North Carolina just to see if she could do it in person. She nailed the audition literally on the first try. Two weeks later, we already had seven songs ready to go. She's a star in the making."
With Kabazie now helping out on melody and lyrics, the band shifted gears. " She was all over the heavy stuff," says Keller. " We actually scratched a lot of stuff and wrote around her voice. It's interesting what she brings, because we're not really like In This Moment or Halestorm or anything you're hearing in rock right now."
You can hear the band's new focus on Worth the Pain, 13 new songs that offer a beguiling mix of melody and heaviness. Along the way, the album offers twists and turns: The slow piano build of " At War" gives way to the harsher realm of " Control," while the heavy groove of " Last December" co-exists near the perfect mix of pop and aggression in " Mother Misery." Throughout, Kabazie sounds both defiant and reflective, stating " I've been a soldier in every battle except my own" and, in the title track, simply stating " Thank you for walking away."
There are wounds here. " The record is full of stories," says Keller. " And this is the first time I really felt something lyrically when we were writing the record. Alexa actually says what she means. Her songs actually have helped me get through a lot of my own personal shit."
The first single, " Give In to Me," a pummeling mix of electronics and heavy guitar, centers around a person who has an addiction that gives into their dark side. To compliment the song, the video features a mysterious stranger torturing a prisoner, who (Fight Club-esque spoiler alert) ends up being themself.
After the video and album release, the band plans to hit the road for the forseeable future, concentrating on the now. " We're just going to play the new stuff," says Keller. " Shed the past, let this stand on its own."
Expect the album's title track to be a highlight. Like the band's name, it seems to summarize the group's early struggles and present triumphs.
"With everything we've gone through, we kept fighting," says Keller. " There were times we were so close to giving up and moving on. At the end of the day, it's been worth the struggle and the fight to do this."