“Music comes down to passion,” says P.O.D. frontman Sonny Sandoval. “There are not a lot of bands out there today who have that. But I think that feeling is coming back around again.”
P.O.D. (Payable on Death) certainly has the right to talk about passion in music. Passion has been front and center since the band formed in 1992 in San Diego, CA, and all the way up to the release of their eighth and latest record, Murdered Love. Over the last two decades, the group has sold over 10 million albums (including 2001’s triple platinum record Satellite), garnered four No. 1 music videos, three Grammy nominations and over a dozen rock radio hits, including “Southtown,” “Alive,” “Youth of the Nation” and “Goodbye For Now.” Music trends have come and gone, but P.O.D.’s fanbase has seemingly only grown stronger.
Still, after the release of 2008’s When Angels & Serpents Dance, the band took a lengthy hiatus. “You can blame me,” says Sandoval. “The record business was changing, and we all wanted to get back to our personal lives and families. When we do P.O.D., we want to enjoy what we’re doing, and not to do it to pay the bills or tour just to tour.” Fortunately, the time off served the band, and Sandoval, well. “Yeah, I got in a good place again. P.O.D. means so much to us and our fans – there’s a lot of love for what we do. I wanted to keep inspiring and encouraging people.”
The band initially reconvened with a few jam sessions and the intent to put out a hardcore, Bad Brains-style EP and tour a little bit. But the initial recordings were strong enough to convince the group to tackle a new album. “By taking a break, we kind of got back on the same page,” says guitarist Marcos Curiel. “Now, everyone has the same attitude going forward, the same feeling we had when we did those first two first two big albums The Fundamental Elements of Southtown and Satellite.”
The most startling aspect of Murdered Love lies in its diversity and the band’s songwriting having penned every track on the album. The opener “Eyez” might be the band’s heaviest song yet, with a cameo by Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta. It contrasts sharply with “West Coast Rock Steady,” a playful hip-hop ode to their San Diego roots featuring Sen Dog of Cypress Hill. Meanwhile, “Panic & Run” is full-tilt punk, “Bad Boy” brings a funky swagger and first single “Lost in Forever” ties it all together with an equal mix of aggressiveness and melody.
“The band is a fusion of all our musical passions,” says Curiel. “We can jump from punk to reggae to rap to metal. And funk — people forget we had a little funk on our first few indie releases. So on a few songs here, we took it back. The whole process was really organic.”
Lyrically, the record finds P.O.D. at its most thoughtful and introspective as the band contemplates their lives and the world around them. On “Lost in Forever” Sandoval shows a mixture of hope and unease to questioning the cruelty of man, as the band also does in the brutal title track “Murdered Love.” “It’s about people who have died when all they brought was love” explains Curiel. The sparse, catchy “Beautiful,” contemplates the afterlife while the teeth-rattling album closer “I Am,” finds Sandoval opening with the vivid line: “I am the murderer, the pervert, sick to the core” and never lets up. It’s the band at its darkest and most confrontational.
“I had been doing a lot of outreach to kids, talking at a lot of schools,” says the singer. “I see what they go through – suicide, rape, addiction –and that song is just about being vulnerable and honest. They’re wondering if they’re screw-ups, if they’re deserving of love and compassion. “
The band recorded Murdered Love with Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson (Kelly Clarkson, My Chemical Romance, Daughtry), a long-time friend of the group and the man behind three of its biggest records. “He’s family,” says Sandoval, then laughs. “He has the power to choose who he wants to work with, and I think he wanted to go back and make a real rock record.”
To promote the record, the band has already set up a late spring/early summer headlining tour, as well as hitting a number of festivals and larger shows this year. “It seems like there’s Warriors in every city,” says Curiel, noting the band’s affectionate nickname for their diehard fans. “They’re loyal. And it’s great, because we’ll see people who loved us around the Satellite era bringing their kids.” Given the closeness between the band and their fanbase, it’s no surprise that P.O.D.’s new logo was the result of an online contest with their fans.
In the end, Murdered Love showcases a band at its most energetic and vital, nearly two decades after its debut. Sandoval agrees.
“This is the best record we’ve ever done,” says the singer. “And that can only come from what we’ve put into this. We’re the same four down-to-earth guys we were when we were putting out indie records. There’s an honesty and an underdog vibe to everything we do that you can definitely hear in our music.”
Alien Ant Farm
Since the formation of Alien Ant Farm in 1995, the quartet has enjoyed worldwide success. Over the course of their four studio albums, cumulative sales surpass five million units a Grammy nomination and 4 top 10 singles. The band built a massive following on the road early in their career via high profile 2001 runs with Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Warped, and as the headliner on an MTV presented Fall Tour. In 2002, fame spread across the world, bringing Alien Ant Farm to the major European festivals, Australia’s Big Day Out and a headline run in Japan. The following year they returned to Europe with Metallica, and to this day the band has steadily delivered audiences in territories across the globe.
From the beginning, the clever humor of vocalist Dryden Mitchell and guitarist Terry Corso has delivered visual imagery that made the band vanguards in the realm of music video. All of the singles released received heavy rotation on MTV and MTV2, with “Smooth Criminal” was voted the #2 video of 2001 on MTV’s countdown. They appeared on the channel’s programs Celebrity Dismissed, MTV Cribbs, and hosted House of Style. Alongside the massive support from cable, Alien Ant Farm were darlings of broadcast television with multiple appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and support from Carson Daly, Extra, CNN, Access Hollywood and Mad-TV amongst many more. With all the notoriety also came a 2001 Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2001.
The early history of the band began when the name came from a daydream Terry Corso had while employed at a day job. The concept revolves around the human species being cultivated by alien intelligence, and the colony forming much like it does in a traditional children’s toy. In 1999, Alien Ant Farm self-released their debut titled Greatest Hits, which went on to win Best Independent Album at the L.A. Music Awards. In 2000, they signed to DreamWorks SKG, and went on to release Anthology. The following year, a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” became a massive hit overseas, rising to #1 in Australia and New Zealand, and on the U.S. Modern Rock charts. It also rose to #3 in the U.K. To set the record straight on the inspiration behind choosing this song amongst the millions of copyrights, Corso shares, “When we were a young local band in SoCal, we’d play a different cover song by a different artist every show we would do. Wild unexpected stuff and sometimes not even songs we were that into. Just whatever was going on around us on the radio or whatever fit in with our inside jokes at that minute, from Ileah to Gary Glitter to The Police, we had a lot of fun with it. One week we had been throwing the idea of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” around the jam room, I believe someone had just watched Moonwalker again. The very next show we played, we hadn’t learned the whole song yet but decided to klunk the main riff out for fun, the crowd loved it and went a little crazy. After that we learned the entire song and super charged it. The rest is pretty much history.” To this day, the cover is a crowd pleaser. This past October 8th, the band was asked to appear alongside Cee Lo Green, Smokey Robinson and The Jackson Family at the Michael Jackson Forever Tribute Concert in Cardiff, Wales.
In 2003, the Alien Ant Farm entered the studio with Stone Temple Pilots’ Robert and Dean DeLeo and cut Truant. Unfortunately, they ran in to unforeseen adversity with the closure of their record label, offering an insurmountable obstacle to continue building on the band’s successes. Still under contract to Universal, Geffen green-lit the opportunity for Alien Ant Farm to return to the studio. In 2005, they recorded with Jim Wirt, but that album was not released as scheduled. Alien Ant Farm chose to share it with with fans via a bootlegged version, which has affectionately been re-named 3rd Draft by the public. Looking back on the adversity the band went through, alongside the massive fame Mitchell reflects, “This Alien Ant Farm ‘Wave’ is a bigger, longer wave than I could have hoped for. All these years later, we are still intact. From friends to foes to friends again, this band is something special, and nothing short of tight and explosive.”
The next year in 2006 Up In The Attic was issued, and for the next several years the members went their separate ways reconvening in 2009 for performances in Kansas City, the Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth, UK and at the WARPED Tour in memory of Michael Jackson. They were back, and come 2010 began to rebuild a legacy that grows with each passing month. The band staged a very successful tour over the Summer and Fall, where they road tested new material in front of the live audience. In the New Year, they’ll release the new recordings. Mitchell shares, “The First batch of these new songs are pretty to the point and pissed. Angry, but not negative. That is possible in this non tangible, musical and lyrical world. Unfortunately not possible in the real world, and that’s why I love music. I can get this all out without hurting anyone.”
Come 2014 Alien Ant Farm are back, and the path for the future will unfold one day at a time. As their career approaches two decades, Dryden offers, “Its hard to believe we have been doing this as long as we have, I don’t think any of us thought when we started out that our career would go onto do what it has, or that we would face some of the hurdles and losses that we have but here we stand ready to give our fans and the world another piece of Alien Ant Farm, we honestly have the best fans in the business, not only have they stuck with us through all of the personal up’s and down’s but they have never given up on our music and how we create and deliver what we feel is real and pure. We are ready to head down this path again and could not be happier with our new partners at The End Records, there’s nothing like having a team of believers around you that support your visions.”
Distilling heavy metal, hip-hop, punk, and rock into a potent sonic strain, POWERFLO lives up to its name. The vision of GRAMMY® Award-nominated multiplatinum Cypress Hill spitter Sen Dog, downset. guitarist Rogelio “Roy” Lozano, Biohazard vocalist and guitarist Billy Graziadei, Fear Factory bassist Christian Olde Wolbers, and Worst drummer Fernando Schaefer, the band draws on this powerhouse pedigree to collectively smash boundaries with the 2017 full-length debut, Powerflo [New Damage Records].
Album out June 23rd.