Marcos Curiel – guitar
Traa Daniels – bass
Wuv Bernardo – drums
Produced by longtime collaborator Howard Benson (Kelly Clarkson, My Chemical Romance, Daughtry), and featuring special guests appearances from Maria Brink (In This Moment) and Lou Koller (Sick of it All), The Awakening releases August 21, and marks a new chapter for the southtown storytellers. Bassist Traa Daniels explains “The Awakening is definitely an evolution from where we’ve come from; it’s this amazing piece of art that we’ve been able to put together as four guys who are like brothers; this is really special.” Drummer Wuv Bernardo concurs: “I feel this is like a pivotal moment for P.O.D. It’s more than just `Man, we just went in the studio and did a record; the urgency of our band as far as how serious we are putting this kind of material in there, and the way that we did it blows my mind. I am proud of these guys; of us.”
The band’s humble beginnings date back to 1991, when Marcos Curiel and Wuv Bernardo got together to play San Diego keg parties, performing Metallica and Slayer covers. Dubbed P.O.D. (Payable on Death) in 1992, with the addition of Traa Daniels and Sonny Sandoval, the quartet quickly culled a loyal local fan base with the synergy of their aggressive rapcore sound and message of positivity. The band recorded several independent releases and performed for a growing legion of fans throughout Southern California, leading to their major label signing with Atlantic Records.
P.O.D.’s 1999 album, The Fundamental Elements of Southtown, spawned the hits "Southtown" and "Rock the Party (Off the Hook)," their first video to reach No. 1 on MTV's TRL – the record went on to become certified platinum. The band’s next release, Satellite, released 9/11, and featured the poignant single "Alive," which went on to become one of the top played MTV videos of the year and earned P.O.D. their first Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. The breakthrough record Satellite went on to become RIAA-certified triple platinum.
In 2003, P.O.D. began to shift sonically from their signature rapcore sound to a more melodic metal sound with the release of their self-titled album and a few years later they followed with Testify in 2006 – including the single "Goodbye for Now," featuring guest vocals from Katy Perry and quickly topping the MTV playlist, becoming the band's unprecedented 4th number one video on Total Request Live. Continuing on their success they returned to the Billboard Top 10 with When Angels and Serpents Dance, bringing the music community together with special guests including Mike Muir from Suicidal Tendencies, Helmet guitarist Page Hamilton, and a Gospel Choir. Followed by Murdered Love with appearances by Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta, Cypress Hill's Sen Dog, and Psycho Realm's Sick Jacken.
In a cooperative effort with their fans, P.O.D. recorded and released the 2014 acoustic SoCal Sessions, featuring reworked versions of P.O.D. fan-favorite tracks, with a hugely successful PledgeMusic crowd funding campaign. The album also marks the return of producer Howard Benson, who had helmed the sessions for the band’s highest charting releases.
With their new release, The Awakening, P.O.D. reaches a new order of magnitude in the band’s creativity. Founding guitarist, Marcus Curiel notes, “Howard would tell us, ‘I work with a lot of bands that are influenced by you and they’re all asking ‘what’s P.O.D. doing?’ We had taken a couple-year hiatus, so we came back and really thought about becoming the band that we want to be again. We all got that fire again.”
Bassist Traa Daniels adds, “I think, creatively, when you’ve been a band as long as we have, you’re always trying to out-do yourself. Or you should be. You’ve gotta challenge yourself and think outside the box. We did that. This record is refreshing and definitely a step up that I think both our older fans, and people who are just hearing us for the first time, will both dig.”
On The Awakening, P.O.D. follows their tradition of bringing on simpatico musical collaborators with Brink and Koller—a fan/friend and an influence, respectively, contribute key parts. “Lou told us he’d be ‘honored,’” says Sonny, still seeming shocked. “We were like, ‘this is SO cool, brother!’”
Lyrically, The Awakening reveals a fully realized storyline in the grand tradition of classic concept albums, the likes of Pink Floyd’s The Wall or Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime, vocalist/lyricist Sonny Sandoval explains, “We are a band of faith; and once I started running with the lyrics a storyline came about. Every song, like the first single, “This Goes Out to You,” ultimately explores a character dealing with life, making mistakes, fighting; trying. It’s a record that delivers on multiple levels and musicality invites exploration and introspection. Sonny adds, “The Awakening is meant to be listened to in its entirety, but we live in an iTunes, singles-type world, and it works on that level, too.”
A video for the album’s lead single, “This Goes Out To You,” shot by Gavin Filipiak, furthers the cinematic approach of the record and the world it creates and inhabits. P.O.D. have debuted many of the new songs on tour, ahead of The Awakening’s release, and the band members have different favorites, including the volatile “Revolucion;” while Marcos cites the “rollercoaster of hard rock to beautiful clean pieces of music” in “Am I Awake” as a favorite. Sonically, each song benefitted from the band’s years of studio and stage experience.
Sonny explains: “Howard said `Let’s do it for the fans who have been there for 23 years, who are growing with you and love your band and get you and your bigger-picture ideas, but let’s also make it accessible for other listeners and fans.” Howard played a major role in making us excited to be a band again. We are doing our thing a little more out of the box than what people would expect from an ordinary P.O.D. album.”
Of their adventurous new release, Drummer, Wuv Bernardo concludes, “We used to study albums when we were young--we cared what guitars were used and who was credited; If people do get the whole picture, it becomes even more special to them, like it was for us. We had to ask ourselves `do we want to do a record this ambitious, and do we think we can?’ Yes we do, yes we can, and we aren’t looking back.’”
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