What do you get when you mix hard rock, metal and reggae? The answer is P.O.D, an abbreviation for Payable on Death.
They are renowned for hits like ‘Youth of the Nation’ and ‘Boom’ during the Nu Metal boom of the early oughties.
The band has just released Murdered Love, their eighth studio album in their career, but their first in almost four years. With heavy Christian and religious influences, it is no surprise that their single ‘Lost in Forever’ charted at #1 in Christian Rock on iTunes.
Vocalist Sonny Sandoval divulges about some of the hardships of presenting P.O.D as a Christian-influenced rock band in the early stages of their career. “We weren’t ever really considered Christian enough because our music was ‘too heavy’ or we ‘all had tattoos’ so we never targeted Christian venues only. We were happy to play wherever we had the opportunity,” says the vocalist.
As their profile has significantly heightened over the years, the religious community has questioned P.O.D’s decisions and as a result the band have faced some issues.
“When we were playing the OzzFest in 2000 we were being targeted by the Christian community telling us if we were real Christians, we wouldn’t be playing OzzFest,” Sandoval’s confusion as to why the religious community would object to their urge to share the “gospel” to the rest of the world is palpable.
Besides trying to appease the Christian community, the band are motivated to share their latest release with the rest of the world after an unofficial hiatus for a couple of years.
“We’re just four guys that love each other and love music,” reasons Sandoval “…so for us it is about getting back into the garage and playing from our hearts and making whatever music we want to make – not really trying to please anyone in general.”
There are a number of guest appearances which feature on Murdered Love, including Sen Dog of Cypress Hill on ‘West Coast Rock Steady’ and Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta on the track ‘Eyez’. “It is amazing for us to collaborate with people like Jamey. It was a heavy track and he was very keen after we initially contacted him,” Sandoval believes it was more of a bonus for them to have Jasta on the record than for anyone else.
With recognition as a Christian Rock band, its expected that powerful ideas on a biblical scale would erupt from Murdered Love. “It’s got a lot of apocalyptic/armageddon type themes,” admits the singer, “but there are beautiful moments in the album as well.”
“It is mainly about lyrically taking a stand and continuing my spiritual journey out there in the world with everything I believe in.” In addition to that ontological journey, the religious themes are explicitly present with the band’s intention to continue sharing their beliefs.
P.O.D recently performed at all of two regional Christian festivals in Australia over the Easter period, one of which was in Albany, Western Australia (five hours south-east of Perth), with many fans making the trip to see the band.
“Sometimes we have the stigma attached that we represent the head of this whole ‘Christian thing’ and a lot of the time people want to look at you as their ‘superhero’ or even as their own ‘saviour’ and that’s like idolatry in my eyes.” While Sonny recognises his role model position in society at times, he is also adamant that he is just a man who has to take care of his own family and trusts others to parent their own children.
On a lighter note, Sandoval becomes reminiscent when thinking back to some of the acts P.O.D have toured with over the years.
“We went with KoRn to their first ever European tour. There was 17,000 people in an Arena. It was moments like those where I trip out thinking to myself that this little band I saw play a club show in San Diego is now packing in stadiums, this is insane!”
The frontman is too humble to use his expression to replace KoRn in that sentence with P.O.D.; as by supporting them, they in fact also played that very stage with the nu-metal band to 17,000 people.
After an extremely brief Australian tour over the Easter period (only two shows), Sonny states “We know you guys have Soundwave and some other cool festivals that we would love to play. We will never turn down the opportunity to play in Australia.”
Murdered Love is out now through Shock.