P.O.D. Holds to Its Beliefs

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Over its 16-year career, multiplatinum rock band P.O.D. has never been afraid to roll with the punches. Its seventh album, “When Angels & Serpents Dance,” hit retailers April 8 and even though the release proved a turbulent ride, the band hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down soon.

One of the major changes the group underwent was welcoming back original guitarist Marcos Curiel, who left the band in 2003 under somewhat bitter conditions, was replaced by Jason Truby, formerly of hardcore act Living Sacrifice. However at the end of 2006, Truby began contemplating life apart from P.O.D., feeling a greater need to focus on his solo career and family instead. It was at that time Curiel reentered the picture.

“While we were waiting on (Truby) to give us a decision on what he wanted to do, Marcos had called us all up out of the blue,” vocalist Sonny Sandoval said in a phone interview last month. “He wanted to hang and get together, put everything aside, and just be friends again.”

When Truby did finally decide to move on, the band called up Curiel and explained the situation. Curiel began playing with them again and the music evolved from there.

“When we started jamming, Marcos had a bunch of ideas and guitar riffs. It just kind of fit like it always has,” Sandoval admitted. “You hear the guitars and you know it’s him, that’s for sure.”

In addition to Curiel’s return, the band, which also features bassist Traa Daniels and drummer Wuv Bernardo, parted ways with longtime home Atlantic Records. As the title of its latest album implies, P.O.D. went through a balancing act of its own.

“The band started from the fact that every day you got to dance that life and walk that path of right and wrong, good or bad,” Sandoval said. “It just comes down to the things that are leading you in your dance of life and the direction that it’s taking you.”

Lead single “Addicted” explores the darker side of that battle, written from the perspective of someone caught in a serious addiction that is threatening to destroy his life.

“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,” Sandoval explained. “Whether it’s drugs – it can be anything – there’s addictions out there, and they can take control of your life.”

Besides “Addicted,” Sandoval is also excited about “It Can’t Rain Everyday,” which he described as in the vein of “Youth of the Nation” with a positive message, and “Tell Me Why,” a stripped-down acoustic track he considers one of the band’s boldest moves. The diversity on the record continues what the group has always set out to incorporate, he says.

“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,” Sandoval noted. “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.”

Another thing the band members have always been open about is their faith. As one of the first bands to successfully bring Christian rock to the mainstream, it’s a subject Sandoval has addressed since day one.

“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,” he pointed out. “When we first started, I didn’t know there was Christian rock or Christian music. I just thought we were a rock band that stuck to our convictions. … Like every other hardcore band out there sang or screamed what they thought, we did the same thing.”

Even though Sandoval still views the band as the “same teenage kids that started playing punk rock and hardcore in a garage,” his point of view has gradually expanded over the years.

“As we grow, we have a lot more experience under our belts and have been through a lot of hard times and good times,” he said. “I think if anything we all meet at love, and we try and connect with people on that level.”

With a devout following known as the Warriors, the San Diego quartet has been successful in developing a strong rapport with fans. Despite all the records sold and the fame achieved, it’s this type of relationship Sandoval values most.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Originally appeared in The Orange County Register

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