At first glance, Newton County natives might have trouble believing Chris Nichols is a Mansfield boy. Sure he's the soft-spoken, 30-year-old head chef at Bess' Place in Newborn, but his exterior tells a different tale of his true passion.
Nichols is one of the guitarists for the Covington-based hard rock band POYNTE, a profession more fitting for the persona of a man with ear plugs, dyed jet-black hair with blond and red streaks and prominent arm tattoos.
While his look may not jive with most of Mansfield, the small, rural town of fewer than 500 people, it fit right in at the prestigious Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands contest in Atlanta, which POYNTE won by garnering lots of online votes and impressing a panel of four professional judges.
The band now moves on to the national level of the Rockstar Uproar contest, where a slot in a nationwide tour is on the line. If POYNTE wins, Nichols will be able to trade in his day job cooking southern-style favorites for a full-time gig as a rock star.
Dang kids with their loud music
Covington native Matt Bryant formed POYNTE in 2007; the band name is a playful acronym standing for People Of Young Nature Tormenting the Elderly.
"It was kind of a joke at first, and we really didn't have anything to go with," said Bryant, who said he was pleased to find out the word was a real one, having been used as the Old English variant of point.
What started out as a joke is now getting serious, and the band's five members hope they're on the verge of something big. Nichols could give up cooking for customers, drummer Tommy Roberts wouldn't have to spend his days at the metal working plant and Kenny Hathorne could give up his cabinet-making gig.
"It could be a big beak because this is the third leg of the competition, and there will be judges there watching our performance. We're actually going against the other 27 finalists who won the battle of the bands for other cities," Bryant said. "And if we win, it's a big package. The big part of it is we get to play Uproar 2013 - the entire tour, not just one day. If we can pull it off and win the competition, it could be a big break. Even if we don't win, it's a big step."
"Doors are opening just because of this," Hathorne said.
When asked to describe their sound, the guys calls themselves "a melting pot."
"I would say heavy melodic rock," said bass guitarist and newest member Andrew Davis, a Porterdale resident.
"It's really a collective of everyone's individual influences," Bryant said. "We never really had a direction we were attempting to go in... Everyone came in and said this is what I had to offer and everyone played off each other and found out how to meld it together."
The guys all have a love of famed-Seattle grunge band Nirvana, but their other interests run the spectrum from classic Guns and Roses to Australian rock band Silver Chair to heavy metal band Trivium to Beethoven (Roberts is responsible for the last one; he likes to mix up his playlist).
The guys have already played around the state and parts of the country, but having the chance to take that last step is still a little hard to believe.
"When I actually break it down and think about it, it's bizarre really going from where I came from to the possibilities of what could happen," Nichols said. "Definitely living a dream. You remember the first time you saw a rock band on MTV as a teenager and you go ‘Wow, I want to do that.'"
When he was a teenager, Nichols was milking cows at a dairy during the summer; next summer, he could be playing in front of thousands.
"Life is what you make it; you can do anything you want to," Nichols said, when asked if had any words for his fellow teenagers in rural Georiga. "It's up to you; it's your life. None of us have a whole lot of money. Yeah it can be stressful, but the end goal is what you want to get to."
Even so, Nichols knows he'll always have the homestead to return to. And he said it's the dichotomy of life that's make it so fun.
For more information about the band, visit poynte.com and go to reverbnation.com/poynte to listen to a handful of their songs, including their lead track "One More Day."
The band will next play Saturday evening at The Depot Bar and Grill in Covington.