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Published on January 1st, 2015 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson


The Hype Magazine interviews Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. [Payable on Death]: Heart & Soul Music

Tell me how the four of you initially came together in order to form the group?

In 1992, Wuv, Marcos and another friend, Gabe, were in a thrash metal group.  They wanted to do something a little different; mixing all the types of music they were into other than just metal. After my mother had passed, they asked me if I wanted to join and try and do something positive and different, being that I was more into reggae and Hip Hop. We started jamming, having fun and later the next year Gabe quit and Traa jumped in.

Where do you all hail from? And growing up, who all did/do you all consider to be your strongest musical influences?

All of us are originally from San Diego, except Traa. He was born in Cleveland, but has spent most of his life here in SD. We were all into different musics. Marcos is the typical metal guy. Wuv listened to a lot of rock and jazz. Traa grew up more into R&B and jazz. I grew up in a rock and roll family, but gravitated more towards street, conscious music I discovered in Hip Hop, reggae and punk music. Collectively, we all found similar interest from U2, The Police, Bad Brains, Santana, Metallica, AC/DC, Bob Marley, Suicidal Tendencies, 24-7 Spyz, Earth, Wind & Fire, Run-D.M.C., Boogie Down Productions, Steel Pulse, Primus, etcetera…

At what point in time did you all opt to pursue music on a professional basis?

We all worked jobs and played on the weekends. In 1994, we did our first 2 week tour across the states reaching all the way to Illinois. By 1996, we started to get show offers all around the states throughout the year, so we made the decision to go full time and give this music thing a try.

Where does your moniker originally derive from?

Payable On Death is a banking term. It’s like a will. The arrangement made between the two parties when that person passes is considered payable on death. We related that to our faith in Christ. It sounded hard and cool at the same time.  Eventually, we started using the acronym P.O.D..

How would you all describe and/or define the style of music that you all create and perform?

Ultimate; I think we’re just another branch of Rock & Roll. We come more from the hardcore/punk scene, but at the end of the day loud guitar, bass and drums to me is Rock & Roll. We just enjoy blending all the different kinds of music that we listen to. The foundation is rock with overtones of Hip Hop, reggae, jazz, etcetera.

Individually, what does each of you bring to the “proverbial table,” both personality and professional-wise, when it comes to the overall “vibe” and/or sound of P.O.D.?

Our music is obviously guitar driven, so it usually starts from a guitar riff that Marcos comes up with. He brings it to the table and we all jam and form a song structure. I’ll then take that and write the lyrics and melody. We all have equal input on everything.

What led to P.O.D.’s signing with T-Boy/UMe?

We’ve been trying to make the right connections each album. The good thing for us is that we’re not locked down by any labels anymore, and can choose who we want to work with. The downside of that is we’re always hustling. We chose to partner up with our label and work, not give the label all of our rights while they put you in the machine and make a lot of money off of us. At the end of the day, we want to make great music and not be a part of the music industry decline.

Right now, it’s all about your brand new 9th full length studio collection, SoCal Sessions — What prompted your decision to record an acoustic album?

It’s always been something we did. This band is musical and it doesn’t always have to be loud and heavy. P.O.D. has always been diverse musically, culturally and spiritually. It was just something we wanted to do for fun. We really enjoyed transforming some of the songs we play live into acoustic jams.

How does SoCal Sessions differ and/or compare to previous P.O.D. releases?

I think it’s just mellow, laid back acoustic jams.

What do you all feel has been the ultimate key to P.O.D.’s longevity? And, how do you plan on continuing to sustain in this grueling business of music?

We’re still here because we’re still enjoying making music and there are still people out there that appreciate what we do. We are grateful. We made the decision to just do what we enjoy and not allow the B.S. of the music industry to step all over our passion again. Today’s music has no heart and no soul. It’s a walking, money making zombie. Nobody cares about music anymore, except bands like us still doing it for the LOVE; not the paycheck.

How have you all either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?

We’ve learned a lifetime of lessons. We’ve learned what to do, what not to do, what we’ve should’ve done and everything in between. At the end of the day, you either still do it because you love it or you call it quits. We want to keep making music and records and tour until we unitedly agree that it’s time to stop.

What do you all feel you offer the music industry that we don’t already have in other performers?

I believe we have pioneered a sound. We have taken all of our musical influences and blended them into a sound that was original and not a duplicate of another band. Before there was Rage Against the Machine and 311, there was an underground sound coming out of Southern Cali. P.O.D. has crossed all boundaries when it comes to your typical Rock & Roll DNA. Four non white guys open about their Christianity and not conforming to the cookie cutter mentality of this industry? That’s a recipe for failure right there. Proving again that it all started with 4 guys having fun and believing we could inspire 1 person with our music.

Have you all encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career?

With all of the things I said in the last question, we have outcasted ourselves in the rock industry. I believe my guys are the most underrated musicians in the rock world. Sure, we’ve had mainstream success but that was during an era when the world was semi seeking for truth. The 9-11 season of change was when Americans were looking for answers and music was a huge influence. They were listening to the music and not looking to just being entertained by Hollywood.

…Now we’re back to the quick fix of musical entertainment and nobody is passionate about the bands they listen to.

What do you all want people to get from your music?

Me, personally, I want people to be inspired by the music and lyrics. I want them to be changed from the inside out. In my faith, I’m concerned with one’s soul. I want people to find peace with God and to be happy. I want them to help someone. I want them to love someone and make a difference in 1 person’s life. I want them to listen to a P.O.D. song and feel like it was written just for them and that they’re not alone. Music is powerful and it can do all of those things, as well as the exact opposite.

If you all could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

That’s always a hard question considering that this band are huge fans of music, songwriting and humanity. There are so many artists in the past that have inspired us. Off the top of my head, in no top order, I would have to say Bob Marley. We’ve all been influenced by his lyrics, humanitarianism and political stances.

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

Red Rocks [Amphitheatre] in Colorado was a venue we always wanted to play.  We had the opportunity to play there back in 2004. I remember seeing it on the U2 video “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” and thought it was the coolest place. We’ve been blessed to play the smallest to the biggest venues all around the world.

Is there one P.O.D. track that you think defines you and why? And, do any of you all have any other additional/outside aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?

I couldn’t say one. P.O.D. has been a huge part of my life. The majority of my life has been with these guys making music. Every song and album is a new journey for me. Currently, I have a non profit organization called ‘The Whosoevers,’ that do a lot of good in communities everywhere. I feel complete in helping young people find purpose in this life and hope to keep doing this for a long time even after P.O.D..

To date, what has been your biggest career moment(s), at least thus far?

I think the biggest was to perform with Carlos Santana on the Latin Grammys, and the least was performing on the Howard Stern Show when I was sick with no voice and was still pressured to do it anyway.

Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you all see yourselves?

We never look that far ahead. We never expected to make it this far. For me, my only plan is to still be married to my high school sweetheart and daddy to my 3 amazing kids; loving God and helping people no matter where I am.

As for the immediate future, what’s next for P.O.D.?

We are currently writing a new record and will be in the studio January.

Do you have any “closing thought(s)” for our readers?

Thank you so much for listening!!


– @POD

About the Author

Publisher and CEO of The Hype Magazine. Follow me on Twitter @HypeJustJay

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