Lead singer Sonny Sandoval looks back on the band’s 16-year career, discussing its new album When Angels & Serpents Dance, what it was like having original guitarist Marcos Curiel rejoin the band, and how its Warriors fan base continues to keep it real.
You just started the Hard Rock Tour this week. How did that idea come about?
It’s great. We did our first show two days ago in L.A. There’s a charity called Musicians on the Move, and that’s for the Hard Rock Café. They’ve been really cool with us. They’re doing this special intimate, unique type of thing that’s very exclusive, and they asked us to do it. At first, I thought it was like, “Where are we going to play in these venues?” Then I found out that they’re going to be kicking people out while they’re eating, and then we’re going to set up right there while people eat. So that’s kind of cool. It’s definitely different, but it’s definitely a way to get up close and personal.
After this tour is over will you be working on putting together a new Warriors tour?
We’re definitely thinking about it and trying to put together the groups, maybe take a poll on who are fans want to see. But we’ll see, man. I know there’s a lot of big tours being talked about, so either we could do our own thing or we could jump on with somebody. We kind of take it one day at a time.
Do you think there’s any chance of you touring again with Blindside or Project 86 in the near future?
We’re actually talking about doing a small run, maybe even in South America or Africa, with Blindside. I know they’re staying busy as much as they can. They’re always a good package for us to get together because we get along so well.
You have the new album coming out in a few weeks. What can you tell us about that?
I’m glad it’s finally here [laughs]. It’s taken a year for us to get it finished, but all in all when it’s said and done, I think everyone of us is really proud of it. It’s definitely P.O.D. going on 16 years later. The biggest thing is Marcos back in the band. You hear the guitars and you know it’s him, that’s for sure. Again, it’s just the same passion we’ve always had and we’re all proud of it.
What was the process like having Marcos back?
I think at first it was awesome more to just rekindle the friendship and hang out, play together and catch up on old times, you know? When we started jamming, Marcos had a bunch of ideas and guitar riffs. It just kind of fit like it always has. So the guys did their thing, jamming every day in the practice studio, writing awesome music.
Truby ended up leaving right as Marcos came back. Was that weird?
It wasn’t weird. It was actually pretty amazing. No one had known about our discussions and talks with Jason about him just wanting to be home and spend time at home. So nobody knew that, you know? We were trying to keep it under wraps and just figure it out ourselves. So while we were waiting on him to give us a decision on what he wanted to do, Marcos had called us all up out of the blue. He wanted to hang and get together, put everything aside and just be friends again. So, we didn’t really tell him about the situation. It wasn’t until we knew it was final with Jason that we could go, “Hey, as coincidence would have it…” We let him know what was going on. It was like, “OK, let’s just keep hanging out, and it’d be nice to jam again, too.”
The new record is entitled When Angels & Serpents Dance. What does that mean?
It’s definitely open for your interpretation. I think to us, it started with just always having differences. Obviously, we’re reuniting after differences. Even now we don’t always agree on everything, and that’s OK, you know? The band just started from the fact that every day you got to dance that life and walk that path of right and wrong, good or bad. It just comes down to the things that are leading you in your dance of life and the direction that it’s taking you. Of course it relates to rock ‘n’ roll metal and sounded cool, you know? So, it’s open for you to understand it.
In addition to the title track, you released “Addicted” as your first single. What was the inspiration behind that song?
I don’t know if I’d say inspiration, but it was one of those things where we were catching up with Marcos and he was asking about people. We started talking to him about people in our lives, and it came down to the fact that whether it’s drugs, it can be anything, there’s addictions out there and they can take control of your life. But it definitely started with one individual. You know, even in the four years that he’s been gone, it’s like, wow. I can’t believe that in such a short amount of time a life can be ruined like that. We realize all the struggles we have and all the things that catch our attention and our hearts – if we’re not ready for it, it will take control of us.
In addition to those two songs, what other ones are you really excited about?
I love “It Can’t Rain Everyday.” It reminds me of “Youth of the Nation,” and it’s got an awesome message. “Tell Me Why,” which we just performed acoustically at a radio station in Orlando, is probably one of our boldest moves. We’ve done slower stuff and incorporated acoustic guitars, but this one’s pretty raw with just the guys and one vocal and us putting our hearts out there. So, I’m pretty excited. We’ve been getting a good response from that song, and I think that’ll do well for us. I think just having Mike Muir, and then the Marley Sisters and Page Hamilton, on the record is probably the coolest thing.
This is your first record since parting ways with Atlantic. What led to that happening and are you satisfied with what you have now?
Yeah. I mean, we still had one more record with Atlantic, but with the last few records and the state of the industry – you know, obviously they didn’t do their job. So we pretty much thought a couple summers ago, “Hey, what’s the point in doing another record and you giving us all this money up front if you’re not going to support the record?” So we actually did them a favor and didn’t just take their money.
Obviously it was our fifth record with Atlantic, and that’s a lot of money up front, you know? So we kind of bargained with that and just said, “Hey, you know what? We’d rather have somebody that’s going to work the label than just someone give us a bunch of money and then not do anything.” So we fought and they released us. We teamed up with a company called INO, which is under Columbia, and they’re awesome people. They’re fair people, they’re honest, and we struck a good, partnered deal, which every band should have. So now we can go out and sell records and actually make a living by touring and selling records.
You guys were one of the first bands to get Christian rock into the mainstream and now it’s not a big thing anymore at all. What was it like to experience that?
I think when we first started, like when I got in the band, I didn’t know there was Christian rock or Christian music. I didn’t even know there was Christian venues to play. I just thought we were a rock band that stuck to our convictions, you know? The more we grew, it was like, wow. There’s actually a hardcore Christian scene and there’s all these different clubs to play. But we also saw that there was a lot of doors closed and there was a lot of prejudice because of the fact that we claimed to be Christians. We knew that as things would go, if we were just honest and did our thing, we’re the type of guys that…
You know, we weren’t raised in a church. It was something that was real to us. It was something that was meaningful, so we weren’t afraid to speak about it. It was what we believed in. Just like every other hardcore band out there sang or screamed what they thought, we did the same thing. We knew eventually that if just stayed true to ourselves, it would open up doors. Obviously, once the industry finds out that a band like P.O.D., who are known to be Christian, can sell a million records and make money, well then obviously the dollar speaks, and it opened up a lot more opportunities for other bands to get out there. Then it wasn’t so much about what they sang about. Honestly, that’s what music’s about, to say what you feel, and that’s how I felt. We can say what we want.
With Southtown and Satellite, you guys kind of peaked right at the pinnacle of the whole rap rock/nu metal scene, which has pretty much died off today. How have you been able to adapt and stay relevant?
You know what? If you had listened to our demos in ’92, it’s like we’ve always incorporated reggae music. We’ve always, with Marcos, had that rapid guitar playing. We’ve done the hip-hop mixes. We’ve done all the loops and stuff before. You know we’ve always been a rock band, a hardcore band, a punk band, and so we’ve always sliced that in. If we do a record and there’s a reggae song, it’s not shocking to us. If we do an all hip-hop song, it’s not shocking to us. We all listen to that sort of music. It’s not about what’s in at the time, it’s what feels right to us and what we’re comfortable in doing.
Not only that, but we’re a band going on 16 years. You go through changes as you get older, and these guys have definitely grown in their skills on their instruments. But we’re still the same teenage kids that started playing punk rock and hardcore in a garage, you know? Obviously now, we can’t always play that kind of music, so for us it’s just a growing process.
Looking back, Satellite hit stores on 9/11. In hindsight, with that album having its positive messages and whatnot, do you feel it was sort of Providence for it to be released then?
You know, man, I think it’s a very spiritual thing. Obviously, it has nothing to do with us, but at the time it happened to be a record that was relevant, you know? I’m proud to say that when we wrote that album, it’s like this was our hearts. We’ve always thought this way, and then after one of the worst disasters ever in America, it happened to be a record that comforted a lot of people. So for us, that’s what it’s all about. Music speaks. It’s comforting. It saves. And I’m just glad that was us at the time.
Satellite has been your most successful record with singles and everything, but what are you most proud of that you’ve done throughout your career thus far?
I think that just in all these years, with all the ups and downs and craziness and struggles, I think what I’m most proud of is that we still have real fans. We have real people with real hearts willing to come out and dig our music. They love P.O.D. whether or not they’re on top, whether they hit the radio or have the number one video on TRL. They love this band.
They’ve allowed us to go out and tour the world and have a career doing it because they’re loyal and they show up. They dig us, and no matter what music is in, they’re down. They’re the realest people. From talking with them every time after a show, connecting with them on the Internet, seeing videos that people make. It’s like P.O.D. has impacted them in a way that not a lot of bands have done. A lot of bands just entertain you. I’m all about entertainment, I do it everyday, but there’s only certain things in your life that stick around. I think P.O.D. has done that for a lot of people, and I’m happy for that.
Is it crazy to think that you’ve stuck together for 16 years?
Yeah, for sure [laughs]. I think that’s a big part of all our lives. We were just kids when we did this, and now we’re not kids anymore. As long as we can stay brothers in our hearts, I hope that we can do this for a long time. Right now, I think I’m just being humble with every day that comes.
What do you think you’ve learned since the Snuff the Punk days and how do you maintain that drive to keep going?
It’s just a progression from those days when we were teenage kids playing in all the small clubs and whatever bar we were allowed to get into. We were those fresh kids that were going to say it, do it, and play the music that we felt no matter what. I think that was the punk rock and hardcore mentality that we had back then.
Now as we grow, we have a lot more experience under our belts, and have been through a lot of hard times and good times. I think if anything, we all meet at love, and we try and connect with people on that level. We try to meet them on a human level. If they love the music, hopefully that’s good, and it’s going to mean something. With me, it’s like I said before. If you want to talk about the things I believe in, if you want to talk about what I feel, what I think, meet me on the street. I’ll talk your ear off. You know what I mean?
During your career, you’ve pretty much done it all. Is there anything else left you still want to accomplish?
I’m grateful for what we’ve done so far, man. I simply love traveling to new places. You know the first time you tour America, it’s like your eyes are completely open to different people and whole new ways of life. To travel overseas and whatnot and to see different cultures, to see how they live, to see what they believe in and try and connect with them on a human level – I dig that. I dig traveling, and I hope we’ll still be able to do that in the future.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
I’m just thankful for all the people coming out for this promo run and charity stuff. These shows have been sold out and the Warriors out there are proving that that’s what it’s about, that they’re giving. So, I thank you. I’m just grateful for everybody coming out.
Originally appeared in Mammoth Press