Interview with Ken from Nonpoint
When speaking to bassist Ken “KB” Charman from Florida’s Nonpoint, we spoke about the veteran unit’s latest release MIRACLE, the goals the band still strives to reach, and covered some of the cool experiences and minor setbacks that come with playing musi
How did you get the title for the new album?
Basically, the title came from the song that Elias came up with. It was the first song that we actually wrote for the CD and we were tossing around ideas about the name of the album and stuff. The whole sentiment of the song is just kind of thumbs up. The fact that we came out with this disc and that we made it this far, especially with the industry being as vicious as it is. A lot of our comrades coming up didn't make it this far. So, it seemed to be as fitting a title as possible for us.
How was it working with the guys from Mudvayne as producers of the album? Could you describe how that went compared to other times in the studio?
Having them on board was actually the first time that we’ve had a producer in the studio. Our first time Jason Bieler oversaw a lot of what was going on but that was the first time we actually had someone come in from the outside and produce the album and what a world of difference. It really helped us get over that hump that we’ve been dealing with for years now where we had somebody else come in and help us sort through the crap. When you write music, you kind of get emotionally attached to things and that kind of skews your view of what’s best for what it is you're trying to accomplish. By having those two on board, the kind of clarity they brought to the project was just invaluable. It made a world of difference.
You guys seem fond of cover tunes and this time you tackled Pantera’s “Five Minutes Alone”. How did that come about?
It was actually brought to our attention the last three days we were in the studio recording MIRACLE. Metal Hammer was putting together a compilation of cover songs for Dimebag and they actually made it a point to call and involve us on the project. It just worked out really well because we were pretty much done tracking everything at that point but we had a little bit of extra time left over. We literally learned the song in a day. We were so thankful that we were able to be part of something that was so meaningful in the genre and it worked out for the best. It was literally a last minute thing but it came together so well that everybody was super happy with it.
The artwork for the album is definitely eye catching. Tell us about the origins of the design.
Rocket Science found the guy that threw it together. He was Grammy nominated for his artwork and it was the first time in years that I’ve actually been able to take my hands off the project because I was the one doing all the band’s artwork. It was easier to keep everything in house and I was able to do it But having these guys was great. They have everything in check. We went down and saw what the guy was doing on the new albums he was working on and we kind of gave them the theme of the album and some design ideas and they just ran with it and came up with the fold out artwork. We're looking at it going, “Wow.” The artwork alone just blows us up to a whole another level that we’ve never been at before.
The video for Miracle is pretty fuckin’ angry.
Yeah, it was brutal standing there watching it, because we were there doing live shots the same day that the girls were beating the crap out of each other. They were really taking some shots during that filming. It was choreographed, so they knew it was coming, but they still had to take some shots and they're not what you would call “unattractive” women by any means. To see them kicking the snot out of each other was kind of disheartening. But it was cool, we just kind of wanted to go in a different direction with it and have fun with it. The end result is it’s very eye-catching to say the least.
What can you attest your perseverance and your general ability to stay in the game this long?
Honestly to a large degree, the four of us are so stubborn and hard-headed that any time anybody was like, “You can't do this,” or, “You guys are dumb,” any time we’d hear that, it’s a big “fuck you,” and so we’d just fire right back and be like, “We’re not going anywhere, and if anything, we're gonna come back even stronger every time.” A lot of it had to do with the fact that people would constantly be trying to jam us into the new metal scene. And to a certain extent they still do, because of the era that we came up in. We’ve always something to prove. We're here, we enjoy what we do and it comes form the heart and we're not gonna let some snot-nosed kid who doesn't know anything about the industry with a website, tell us where we belong in the world. We do what we do, we’ve been around for so long, because it’s in our hearts and it’s what we love to do. It’s what we were meant to do. I think all of people’s awareness of that is finally coming to fruition with this new album.
Who would you say are some of your major influences? Not just musically necessarily but in general.
I think to a large degree, one of the reasons we’ve maintained such longevity is the fact that we don't try to follow anybody or do what anybody else is doing. We all have our individual influences. If you listen to the music, you can kind of pick this out or pick that out. The four of us come from such drastically different backgrounds, as far as music is concerned that it’s really hard to say who we look up to. I mean, there are bands that we admire and there’s a lot of bands that we respect the shit out of, just because of how long they’ve been around or their impact on the industry. And then you look at bands like Rage Against the Machine and Tool and the Deftones and all these super dug-in bands that will probably never go anywhere but further up. Those are the bands that we're constantly trying to compete with. The baby bands, the smaller bands, the underground bands, we love those guys, but that’s not where we wanna be. We aspire to be greater than the greats and I think that’s part of our motivation.
Having been around a long time, is it really hard to write a set list for a show?
That’s one of our biggest tugs-of-war internally, is writing a set list. Rob is a total old-schooler. He’s like, “You gotta play for the fans, you gotta do the songs that the fans want.” To a certain degree, we all agree with him, but the fact of the matter is that people do get tired of the same songs over and over again. We try to mix it up as much as possible but one of the issues that we’ve come across with having a lot of songs and being such a diverse band is that not everything you do translates lives the way we want it to. So, I don't know whether it’s a bad tendency or not, but we have a tendency to stick to our guns, to stick to the stuff that translates really well. But with this album and the last few albums, it’s really not an issue. It’s more us getting into confrontations about the personal flavor. There are a couple of songs that I love that we’ve done that we’ll never play live because the other guys think they're boring. So any time you get into a situation where there are four rock-headed opinions going at each other, that type of stuff happens. It’s rough.
Is the set list tailored to the event? Like a club gig as opposed to a radio show or a festival appearance?
A lot of it is dictated by set length or even whom we're playing with. If the lineup is a heavier lineup, we have an arsenal we can pull out for that. We try and cater to that side of the crowd. We enjoy being different enough from whomever we're playing with that people remember us. We don't wanna be perceived as so different that we don't belong there or we’d be better suited for another kind of crowd. We feel we have enough to offer to be accepted across the board, so there is a little bit of catering that comes into play, but it’s not so much where we're trying to placate people. It’s more like hey, if you like this, then you're gonna enjoy this side of our band, too.
Is it frustrating at this point that you still aren’t at the level you want to be at?
Yeah. I mean, at some points it is. What kills us the most is when we go to a club and they have our names spelled wrong, like a space between Non and Point or they have point capitalized and it’s all one word. And there’s a dash between it. Come on, man, all you have to do is pick up a CD or look at the website. You’ll see the spelling. At first it seemed like kind of a trivial concern, but after being in the industry and touring for a decade now, that’s really what gets us all worked up is the fact that it’s like, “Come on, man. Our booking agent should have been on top of that. Somebody’s dropping the ball.” We’re realistic about the crowd’s perception because of the fact that we understand that we're still, to a large degree, somewhat of an underground band. A large underground band is how we see ourselves. We’ve yet to hit that point where we are a mainstream band. We look to compete with large bands. Lincoln Park, Disturbed, I mean whoever else is on the chart, that type of stuff. We don't wanna play that type of music, but we wanna have the same perception from fans that we could hang with any one of those guys any day of the week. We understand that there’s always more work to be done. We’re never satisfied with where we are at, but I would definitely say as far as that whole idea of not being accepted or not being known is concerned, it’s definitely like, “Just get the fuckin’ name right, please.”
How did you guys get so lucky to work with the WWE for so many different instances?
It turned out that a fan of the band was working for THQ, the video game company. And they wanted us on one of the video game soundtracks, on one of the WWE games. They contacted the label and the ball started rolling from there. We did have a little run there where we kind of seemed to be involved in everything they were doing, which was nice. But our biggest surprise out of that is just how much notoriety the band gained from the games. I mean, you figure, at any given point, I think we’ve sold just over 700,000 CDs collectively between our seven discs to date. But the friggin’ one video game will sell two million copies. And that’s like instantly, quadruple and five times the amount of CDs we’ve ever sold in one shot. And usually those are generally strong tracks that are put on video games. A lot of people took notice of the band because of those…it was a really great thing and video games are amazing as far as distribution and advertising goes.
You guys are always on the road. What do you do when you're not on the road?
Well, it depends on the year. If it’s a writing year, we might have the benefit of staying home for six to eight months. Because of the writing process or whatever, but a busy year, we go home scattered throughout the year. I do basically nothing. I sit home on the couch. I hang out with my wife or my dog and I go to the gym. We’re gamers. Zack’s a huge beach fan. Rob’s a homebody. He likes the peace and quiet. He likes the Internet. All of us just sit back and decompress as much as possible. The fact that we're living with each other constantly, there’s never any privacy and there’s never any place to find any kind of solitude or solace or do any kind of personal reflection at all because there’s always noise around…you’re always around somebody. You’re always trying to squeak by somebody on the bus. So we try to spread out as much as possible and read comic books or something.
What’s coming up live for you guys? I know Ozzfest is coming up…it’s gonna be your second time on Ozzfest?
Yup, second time. First time was 2001 and we did the entire tour. This one, we're on six of the twelve dates, the first half of it.
And you guys are doing some stuff with Sevendust if you're not already?
We just got done with Sevendust. We did two and a half weeks with them and there was some talk of maybe doing some stuff in the future. That’s not locked in yet. We actually leave tomorrow to start doing dates with Drowning Pool for about three weeks. We’re playing the Download Fest and the Metal Hammer Awards over in the UK and at the end of this month we're also doing a date with Hellyeah over there. So it’s pretty much a press blitz that we're doing over there. We come back and then we're gonna do some more Drowning Pool dates after that. And there’s other stuff that’s in the works right now but as far as spilling the beans, I wanna make sure that it’s locked in before I go mouthing off about it. The number one way to jinx yourself out of a tour is to talk about it before it’s on paper.
Even though you guys are striving to do more, you've really done a lot already. What’s on the bucket list for you guys still? Any major achievements you're striving for in general? A longing that might come true this year or anything like that?
I gotta tell you, I think collectively, the goals are platinum record. It’s one of these things where we’ve seen friends of ours do it, and once, if not two or three times. And we see that and we're just like, “Man,” it kills us. It’s our holy grail. I would describe it as that. We also wanna play with these guys or go on this tour or be in this movie or something like that. But I would definitely say the gold or the platinum album would definitely be a nice Christmas present.
Do you feel like it’s harder to sell gold or platinum? Compared to how people get their music?
It’s impossible. It’s damn near impossible. I mean, they crunched the numbers and we were actually up a bunch as far as CD sales for this album, in a market that’s considerably softer from two years, from when our last CD came out and we're still doing average numbers. But it’s to the point now where I’ve had friends come up to me, just recently, and they’re like, “Yeah, we downloaded your album.” I'm like, “Dude, do you know what that’s – you stole from me.” Basically, I have arguments for both sides of the fence, like downloading illegally and stuff. So, I understand both sides, but don't tell me that you're ripping my CD off. But it’s just so commonplace now. It’s just integrated into society now. It’s integrated into people’s psychology. You go online, you click this and it’s not hurting anybody. But as far as sell in general those numbers anymore? And you look at a band that sold ten million copies five years ago and now they can't sell a million records and it’s all because of the industry. The Internet. So, I mean, we may never see the Holy Grail that we're looking for but we're not gonna stop.
Pick up the new album MIRACLE by Nonpoint and visit the band on the web @ www.nonpoint.com