Uproar Interview Series: P.O.D.

lisa pikaard heads to the southtown…

Music with a message, community awareness, and the importance of family. The sad fact is that a lot of these things have slowly seeped out of current rock music. Most bands and musicians fall victim to the cliche of sex, drugs, and rock and roll but, after 20 years, the members of P.O.D. have stayed true to themselves and are great role models for the up-and-coming bands on the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival.

Like many bands that have been around for two decades, the P.O.D. has had its ups and downs: members leaving and returning, label struggles, friendships falling apart and coming together, creating families, hit records, and Grammy nominations. The Uproar Tour helps to mark the return of this rock super group to the scene. After a lengthy hiatus, the band has returned with a new album, Murdered Love, and a huge tour. The Southern California natives have brought forth their personal experiences and a taste of their culture to create powerful and meaningful songs for the masses.

Pop-Break’s Lisa Pikaard caught up with lead singer Sonny Sandoval on his bus just before he was set to headline the Ernie Ball stage at the Uproar Festival on Friday, August 24 to get his perspective on the new album, the band’s struggles, and what it’s like to be back on the scene.

Pop-Break: This is your first time on Uproar, right?

Sonny Sandoval: Yeah

PB: What’s it like? How’s it been?

SS: It’s cool. We know most of, ya know we’ve been touring for years with most of the bands on the main stage, not Shinedown, they’re kind of more of a newer band but they’re good guys. Yeah, it’s been cool to meet all the bands on the side stage and hang out with them and build relationships with them and soak up some of their excitement to play music, all these young buds. [laughter]

PB: Yeah, for all the young guys, do you have any advice for them since you guys have been around a lot longer than them?

Photo Credit: Leann Mueller

SS: Ya know, you’ve just got to have fun. We took almost four or five years off. I think we’re in it for the right reasons. It’s not like there’s all this money to be made. It’s like none of us ever wanted to be or tried to be rockstars. It’s like, you’ve got to do it because you love making music. If you don’t love making music then you must go home now.

PB: Now you guys did take some time off; you’ve been around for a really long time, how has your sound evolved over the years?

SS: I mean we’re still the same band, but we’re 20 years older ya know what I mean? But we still feel like those young kids in a garage playing on cheap equipment and just playing because you love to do it. Um…I think, in taking that break, you get management, you get labels, you get the industry out of your ear and you just make it because you love it. But you know, we come from southern California; we’re two exits away from the border. We come from a huge, just a mash up of cultures and different types of people and music and so it’s definitely a southern California sound. I mean, obviously the guys continue to get better in their craft and what they do and it’s awesome to watch them progress. They’re all self-taught guys that just, for the love of music, get better and better.

PB: I know you mentioned the labels getting out of your hair…

SS: Yeah.

PB: The deal with Marcos [Curiel] in, out, and back in again. How has that kind of affected the band, or has it?

SS: It has, but that’s just part of the journey. That was like the peak of our career and you’re learning. I mean, you have to imagine we’re four guys from the neighborhood so we never expected to leave San Diego. We all grew up in like meek beginnings, and it’s like, ya know, all this is a new experience. You step out, you do something you love and all of a sudden you find yourself one day in a jet across Europe and the red carpet treatment. It’s a lot to intake and that’s why you have the same old rock ‘n’ roll story. Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll. These guys lose their minds. They lose it all and they’re done with it.

Sonny Sandoval, live at Uproar in Holmdel, NJ. Photo: Lisa Pikaard

And so that’s part of the journey that you go through but through that, there was egos, there was miscommunications. And I think when Markos left the band, then when he came back it was more like we were at a point where we were all just over the business, like you’re my friend first. And if we don’t stop and recognize that we’re friends, we’re boys, it’s like we’d just become another statistic that this business just eats up and spits out. It really came down to us just being friends again and then, ya know, when the time was right, we started to jam again and it’s just part of the journey.

PB: So is that how you guys stay together so long, ya know, just taking a step back?

SS: Yeah, the past four years, that’s what it was. For me personally,I speak for myself, it’s like, I’m a daddy first, and a husband, and, I won’t trade anything for that. This music business, this music is my lifestyle, but it doesn’t define who I am. It’s not the legacy I want to leave behind. I want to raise good kids and I want to be the one rock guy in rock ‘n’ roll who, ya know!

PB: Absolutely!

SS: So I had to take away from that, and because I do love being in this band so much. I had to, in my heart of hearts, put it down not knowing that I’d ever pick it up again. But in that time I got a lot of opportunities to help the community and a lot of charity stuff and just get my spiritual right and now here we are!

PB: And now you guys have a new CD out, Murdered Love, do you have anything you want to say about it?

SS: I love it! It rocks. It’s us four. It’s not the same four writers in Hollywood writing everybody’s record. It’s not robotic. It has soul in it. It doesn’t sound like every other album out there and every other band and, you know when you do your homework and you research 20 years of guys that do know what they’re talking about, been through it, live it, ya know, nothing’s changed and it comes across in the music. We sit in a room for the love of each other and the love of music and it’s what we’ve come up with.

PB: Awesome. Now you guys shot a music video for “Higher” off the new album.

SS: Yeah.

PB: And you guys shot that back at home?

SS: Shot it in San Diego.

PB: What was that like? Going back?

SS: It was cool. Normally we’d have to go to L.A. and it’s everything that’s Hollywood. I hate it. [laughter] It’s like if we’re going to do a lifestyle piece, lets stay in San Diego. The treatment was awesome. It was like, yeah cool we’ll find a location in LA, we’ll get the actors, we’ll find ourselves a gangster, a skater, a Cholo, a surfer, all this stuff and it’s like dude, those are our people. You come to San Diego and we don’t have to pay people. That’s who we know. The skater, he’s my nephew. He’s my cousin’s son. Everybody in there is pretty much family or a friend and it’s a lifestyle piece and it’s a feel good video and it’s everything but Hollywood.

PB: Very cool. Now I know you keep talking about San Diego and I know that the band has some affinity for the Chargers.

SS: Yeah [laughter]

PB: That being said, since you’re here, what do you think would have happened if you guys kept Eli and we didn’t get him?

SS: Oh man! Ya know what, I hated on that guy for such a long time but, ya know what, he might not have ever become who he is now if he had stayed with the Chargers. It’s funny because I hated that dude and I just couldn’t stand him. It was like his rookie year and we went to some ESPN thing in Manhattan and I knew some of the Giants already. So I was hanging out and he was sitting there and he was literally the dorkiest, like the guys, the offensive linemen are slapping him on the back of his head. There was no respect. Just a rookie, treating him like a rookie. He was sitting there and then the first thing my buddy goes is, “Hey, you know they’re from San Diego right?” He just puts his head down and at this point I hated this guy until I saw him and the first thing that came out of my mouth was “Dude, you’re so young!” or I said, “Dude, you’re such a baby!” He’s a big dude but he was so baby-faced and I realized, dude, this guy is just a product of his family, the industry. But now, you know what, he’s taken his respect and he’s earned it and dude, good for him. But I remember sitting there and I was with my family and he was just there literally looking down, didn’t fit in.

PB: Moping?

SS: Yeah moping, didn’t fit in yet, he wasn’t really part of the team and now look at him man! He’s a superstar.

PB: That is funny! I didn’t like him when he first became a Giant myself, and I love the Giants but he’s grown up a little bit.

SS: Yeah, he definitely has.

PB: Alright, anything else you want to say to anybody out there?

SS: Um no! Just, um [laughter]

PB: Just listen to the album!

Photo Credit: Leann Muller

SS: Yeah that! But ha, actually, help out with One Love For Chi. If you look up oneloveforchi.com, it’s Chi Cheng from the Deftones. He got in an accident a few years ago. He went into a coma and he’s in a vegetative state. They moved him from Sacramento to Jersey to get to the International Brain Research Foundation and we’re still trying to raise money. We’re close with his family, trying to get the awareness out there. Everybody thinks that, because he was in a popular band that he’s taken care of, but that’s not the case. The guy is continuing to fight for his life so anybody out there, just check out the website.

PB: You guys have always had messages in your music and you guys have that seriousness and that’s great to see. s there any song on the new album that you are really connected to?

SS: You said “Higher,” and that’s a feel good song, but there is actually another single I think that hopefully they’ll make too. It’s called “Beautiful.” It’s more of a mellow track and it’s just, the verse is kind of dark. It just kind of picks up on some different scenarios of people going through cutting or addiction or abusive relationships but the chorus is very uplifting. It’s just like, I believe; it’s the whisper of God into the ears of mankind. It’s that you’re beautiful to me. Even in this ugly crazy world, I see you as beautiful and I love you right where you’re at.

PB: That’s awesome. Thanks!