They’ve been a band — and a vital one at that — for more than 30 years. But ask rock icons P.O.D. what still inspires them after all this time, and they’ll tell you they still operate as if they’re perpetual underdogs. Yes, with every new album they release, with every show they play, these musical lifers still feel they have something to prove. “We’re still here and we’re still creating some of the best music we’ve ever made,” says guitarist Marcos Curiel. “When it comes to heart, grit and soul, P.O.D. is your band.” Adds vocalist Sonny Sandoval: “We’re always still proving who we are — always having that punk-rock mentality.”
It’s this mindset, this unrelenting grit that has long defined the platinum-selling P.O.D. and continues to do so as they march proudly into the next era of their long-winding journey of a career. Now, nearly five years removed from their previous studio album, Circles, which to date has been streamed more than 50 million times and spawned the Top 25 hit “Listening for the Silence,” the band returns in a major way with Veritas, the eleventh P.O.D. LP and arguably their hardest-hitting record yet.
Lovers of all forms of music, P.O.D. have forever incorporated everything from rock to reggae, hip-hop to punk in their art. “We flirt with so many different styles,” offers Curiel. This go-round, however, P.O.D. decided to get back to the basics. “We made a conscious decision to keep it in the rock zone this time,” says Sandoval adding that there’s “a certain bounce and a certain two-step” to the 11 tracks that comprise the album. “These songs are a throwback to me and remind me of the raw unbridled energy of classic South San Diego P.O.D.,” offers bassist Traa Daniels.
“We’re always going to be that raw energetic band no matter how old we are,” adds Curiel. “We decided, ‘Let’s just do us and just write something that’s heavy and something that rocks.’ It’s another painting at another point in our lives that we want to showcase and hang up on the wall for people to experience. We’re always going to be P.O.D.. We’re never trying to be anybody else. We felt like we had a lot of angst and a lot of energy that we needed to put forth and let people know: “We’re a band to still be reckoned with!”"
Written over the course of several years, with the band typically writing a tune or two at a time in L.A. with The Heavy, Veritas is a cannon-shot of adrenaline to the ear drums. And for a band that has never shied away from wearing their heart on their sleeve, it’s also one of the most emotionally inspired albums of the band’s career. “I don’t think we’d be able to live with ourselves if we were just copying everybody else and following the memo of Rock n’ Roll 101,” says Sandoval. “We operate with no regrets. That’s because we’ve always been into the rebels and the punkers and the hardcore guys that said. “"We’re going to do it our way and we have something to say.”
The word Veritas — which translates to ’Truth’ in Latin — defined the emotional core of the album, and the album art further encapsulates that message: to Curiel, the Veritas album cover, which pictures a child with its eyes blacked out, signifies “a culmination of innnocence & dark hidden truths. The innocence of a child, yet empty,” he says. “On the constant search for a spark to fire up the soul.”
The message behind Veritas also directly inspired many of the themes embedded within the album’s songs. Whether it’s “AFRAID TO DIE,” which embodies that fighting spirit in the face of adversity and, to that end, fittingly features the Ukrainian-born singer, Jinjer’s Tatiana Shmailyuk, or “LIES WE TELL OURSELVES,” which details the struggle to fight not only the outside voices but your inner demons as well, P.O.D. were nothing if not explicitly open and emotionally available on their new LP.
Of course, in fitting fashion, they were in-your-face as well. Album opener “DROP” is a sonic boom of a cut, and features a thrilling vocal turn from Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe. “Dude, it’s the sickest thing ever,” Curiel says of “Drop,” which was inspired by the guitarist’s longtime love of electronic music. “When that drop hits, everyone knows it,” he adds. “We needed to create a song in that way…P.O.D. style.”
And in true P.O.D. fashion, “DEAD RIGHT” and “I WON’T BOW DOWN” are twin hard-rock gut punches to the core. Ask Sandoval about these songs and he says he can already see the crowd “pogo’ing” in unison to the beat. “These songs are like a haymaker straight to the face,” he says with a laugh.
P.O.D.’s audience has always been at the core of everything the band does, and to that end, their live shows remain essential to who they are. They’ve played major festivals including the Sick New World, INKcarceration and Hell and Heaven Fest, and have shared stages with the likes of KORN, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Evanescence and Seether.
“We have to be in the best form — spiritually, mentally and physically — to do what we do,” says Curiel. “I’m doing the background screaming and Sonny is jumping around like he’s a teenager.” Sandoval laughs when comparing his younger performing self to today’s version. To him, even if there should theoretically be a difference between the two, there’s not. “We don’t know any different because we come from that underground hardcore and punk world where the crowd is everything,” the singer says. “I’m still so used to kids jumping off the stage and grabbing my mic. As much as my wife tells me, “Don’t hurt yourself up there,” I can’t guarantee that because it’s adrenaline and emotion-driven.”
Now, as they look to the future with Veritas as their anchor, P.O.D. are nothing if not amped about where things go from here. Well, that, and extremely grateful. “30 years ago there wasn’t this end goal,” says Sandoval. “It was always about the next record, the next show, the next tour. We’ve always enjoyed where we’re at. We’re still hustling and we’re still working hard.”
Adds Curiel: “It’s always been about the music. Until there’s a sign that says this is done, we’re going to keep going as long as we can. When you thought we were done and gone, we’re always going to shock you with something else!”
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