The San Diego, California-based nu-metal/punk/rap outfit P.O.D. has been creating music for almost twenty five years now. Known for their positive message, the band has now released their ninth full-length album. It was The Awakening that we talked about with drummer Wuv Bernardo and guitarist Marcos Curiel.
So, when did you start writing these new songs?
Marcos: We started probably… last year, or even before that. It kind started a while ago and then we started recording the record in February of this year.
Did you know from the get go that it would be a conceptual album?
Marcos: Not at first. We started actually writing tunes first and then we got into a brainstorming to see what producer we would choose and we started talking about the idea of possibly doing a conceptual album with P.O.D. in the near future era. We liked it and we felt the urge of doing it immediately. So, we decided to give it a go and… I have to confess that it was a lot harder than what we were expecting to be, at first. But it turned out amazing.
What did you find hard doing this conceptual album?
Marcos: You know, a lot of conceptual albums are done by progressive rock bands and they have like fourteen minutes songs. We’re not a progressive rock band and we didn’t want to lose sight writing these tunes.
Being the new album a conceptual piece, did you feel any restraint in having to provide singles to promote it?
Wuv: You know, I don’t think we saw any restrains; it was more like writing the songs… Musically we would have Sonny [vocalist] turning the song into what they were and singles just popped out naturally, you know what I mean? But like Marcos was saying that was more the hard part was lining up the storyline with these songs. We didn’t want purposely go out and try to write a single. So, they kind of popped out on their own, just naturally, and we’re really grateful for that because when trying to go in and write a single… it just doesn’t sound natural.
You’ve recorded the album with Howard Benson, who has been a long-time collaborator. How was it this time around? Did you find yourself changing the process?
Marcos: I think Howard understands our band. He understands everybody individually and collectively in the band, and he was a big part on getting this final result.
“This Goes Out To You” was the first song off of the new album to be unveiled. Why did you want to start with this one in particular?
Wuv: That one just kind of came natural. It’s more like an upbeat, uplifting type of track. Ourselves and the label, we thought that it would be cool to come out of the box with a more uplifting and positive type of song, and kind of catchy. The chorus is meaningful for us as far as coming out of the box giving props and thanks to the people that have followed us over all these years, whether it be industry or whether it be fans, loved one… whatever. Just coming out with that positive vibe. We and the label were in the same page so once that’s the case it’s just moving forward and have it a go.
Maria Brink, from In This Moment, and Lou Koller, from Sick Of It All, are guest on this new album. How did those collaborations fall into place?
Marcos: We try to collaborate with bands that we feel something for, bands that we have a deep relationship with for touring with them. Maria was a fan of our band and we thought it would be awesome to have her collaborating in one of our records, and we’ve always been fans of hardcore punk rock so to get Lou on a track was definitely a big honor. It doesn’t shy away from doing that. Just few rock bands can get away from doing with it, and we’re one of them. Back in the day we did one with H.R. from the Bad Brains, Page Hamilton of Helmet, Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies, and now we have Lou from Sick Of It All.
“We have never been a dark band, we have never been… We touch on world and life
topics but the meter of our band has always been on the positive side.”
P.O.D. is known for its positive message. Is it hard to provide that positive message nowadays where everything seems to be fucked up or is it even more important and urgent now?
Wuv: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s more important for us now. We don’t really strive to write positive music. It’s one of those things that comes natural for our band. We have never been a dark band, we have never been… We touch on world and life topics but the meter of our band has always been on the positive side. I think Sonny reaches for that in his life and lyrics as much as he can, so for him it just comes out naturally. I think we all agree in the band that we rather be that type of band than not. Like you said, in this world it is fucked up but how much more important is it now to live for positive things? That way we’re a band that means something rather than just another band that doesn’t mean anything.
Sonny said a few years ago, after coming back from the hiatus, that he was “tired of the industry and how it just kind of becomes business, show after show.” What do you guys, collectively and individually, feel now regarding this issue?
Wuv: To be honest, for us we don’t even see the industry. We’ve been a band going on for 24 years now, we’ve always did our thing, and when the industry or the business people come alongside us to promote the record… Hey, that’s awesome and we let them do it. But we don’t really put our band in the hands of the industry. The way we see it now is that this is a tough industry, if there’s any industry.People don’t sell records anymore. The way we make our living is going out on the road and hustling. We’ve been doing this since 1992 and nothing has changed for us. We’ve always been the blue collar, hustling, play-in-front-of-your-face type of band. Nothing has changed for us, is just that the industry around has changed, even though we’ve seen than happening a few times already in our career. So, we just kind of let it be and we go on with our thing. Thank God we have the opportunity to get in front of the kids faces and play our music for people that appreciate our band, and we will do it as long as everybody in the band is happy to do it and as long as people want to hear us.
P.O.D. has been active for more than two decades now. How does it feel to be active, well and still relevant after all these years?
Marcos: We’re very privileged in that, and just to be together as a unit for as long as we have… It’s a privilege to be established and not trying to prove who P.O.D. is. People know who P.O.D. is. You either love the band, or you don’t like the band, or you even hate the band, but when you have a P.O.D.show or a P.O.D. record, you know exactly what to expect. It’s a tough road for a band be together, especially for as long as we have been together. We’ve seen bands on the scene that sign to a label, blow up, and the next record they’re already dismembered.
Wuv: Going back to why our band has that positive message… We need to seek after those things even to stay a band together. Part of being a believer, or looking for positivity, is forgiveness. We’re like family so to forgive your own band members and to be able to put out with your band members whether you’re on the road, or writing an album. You get tired but to dig deep and to have those things that have equipped you, and to push forward and have forgiveness, those are the things we need to have within the band and then also…
Marcos: That’s actually a key element in the story of the new record. Forgiveness! When you hear the entire record, as a whole, it comes out.