P.O.D.: The nu-metal veterans exploring the cycle of life

Friday 19th April 2019

Tony Cummings spoke to Marcos Guriel of San Diego's P.O.D. about the 'Circles' album and 27 years together as a band

P.O.D.: The nu-metal veterans exploring the cycle of life

As the successful release of their 10th studio album 'Circles' showed when it appeared on America's Top Album Sales Chart at number 93, there is still a large and loyal following for P.O.D.. Their recent European tour was to largely sell-out crowds and the nu-metal band from San Diego are clearly still able to deliver on stage. 'Circles', produced by Los Angeles production team The Heavy, was well received by the critics. Blabbermouth.net wrote, "The rap-driven 'Rockin' With The Best' has an old-school P.O.D. sound that nods to the Beastie Boys, while 'Always Southern California' is a reggae-inflected rocker and the groove-heavy 'Soundboy Killa' is a hip-hop/metal hybrid', going on to say that "the dynamic title track even boasts moody electronic flourishes, glassy piano, and laid-back rapping verses".

Cross Rhythms radio have selected five songs for its playlist: "On The Radio", "Fly Away", "Always Southern California", "Rockin' With The Best" and "Circles". Lead vocalist Sonny Sandoval spoke enigmatically about the title track: "Part of the thought was 'Man, is this new beginning for P.O.D. or is it the beautiful end?'"

In an effort to get a bit more clarity on Sonny's question, Cross Rhythms spoke to guitarist Marcos Guriel before their concert in Manchester.

Tony: We were talking about reggae and Southern California. Reggae has long been a musical influence on the band, hasn't it?

Marcos: "Yeah, it's like a musical buffet in Southern California; you can hear it in our music. It's definitely deeply rooted in punk, rap, reggae, pop, metal. And a lot of that is because of the diversity within each member of the band. We never want to come off contrived, we never do anything 'we have to do this because this is what's in or this is what's cool'. We do things because we honestly 100% love it and we feel it. It's all about vibrations. So, for instance, if I write a guitar riff or a chord progression, it's not the be all and end all. It won't be like 'This is it!' 'This is the way it goes!' It's more like 'hey guys, let's jam and let's see if we feel it, let's see if we can connect.' And then it turns into this thing and if it works, it works and if it doesn't I'm not feeling it. If it makes it past a certain point and then we toss it over to Sonny and Sonny will write vocals over the music."

Tony: A band is always developing musically and I first got into the band during the Snuff the Punk era. Do you still do any of the stuff from that album?

Marcos: "Oddly enough, we haven't played any of that stuff in over 20 something years. I need to go back and revisit that record. At the end of our sets we've been doing 'Who's in the house? P.O.D.' and it's been really fun to play because it's like a throw back for us but a lot of people think it's new. There's maybe one guy in the crowd, maybe yourself, says 'I know that one!' This whole tour, from Germany, to Switzerland, to Denmark and now the UK has been amazing. We haven't really been active over here, as we should, as other bands have been in Europe and we've made a conscious decision to come over here more and water the seeds that we planted many years ago."

Tony: You've got a very, very loyal fan base worldwide, haven't you?

Marcos: "Yeah, we're very blessed and grateful for that because when we started as a band we wanted to make it evident that we didn't just want to focus on the US. We wanted to be a worldwide band. It shows today and we're really grateful for that."

Tony: When you signed with Atlantic Records all those years ago, was there ever any pressure put on you to pull back on the Christian message, to pull back on the specifically Christian songs?

Marcos: "There wasn't ever any pressure; it was more us being aware of so many different cultures, so many different belief systems worldwide and we wanted to connect; we wanted to show people where we were getting our positive vibes from, which were faith driven, but we didn't want to force anything upon anyone. We wanted to be a little more universal. When we played one of our first times in Singapore, we played out in the park. We were the first rock band to do that in that country's history and thousands of people showed up. You had Jewish people, Muslim people and they were all singing 'Alive' and it was a beautiful thing to bring so many different cultures and belief systems together with a song. And that's kind of like what we set out to do in the way of the almighty U2. They do that very well and it's something we set out to do."

Tony: But the band have always been quite clever in writing songs which have one level on which a Christian would grasp them but a different level on which somebody who's not a Christian could relate to it.

Marcos: "That's the beautiful thing about art and music. We're not trying to segregate and say you can't listen to us because we're this way or that way. Music, ultimately, we want to be heard and we're gonna try to bring inspiration, hope and good vibes with our music, regardless of your belief system or your ideology."

Tony: But you're known throughout the music world as a Christian band, aren't you?

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