P.O.D.’s Sonny Sandoval Talks ‘SoCal Sessions’ Disc, Band Stereotypes + More
P.O.D. are enjoying a passion project at the moment, having just put together an acoustic album called 'SoCal Sessions' that features a number of their familiar hits as well as a few covers. 'Loudwire Nights' host Full Metal Jackie recently spoke with P.O.D. frontman Sonny Sandoval about the disc and how it may affect what they do in the future. Check out the interview below.
Why was it important to include both originals and covers on 'SoCal Sessions' rather than all one or the other?
I think it actually just started out as something fun. We were jamming like this 22 years ago just for fun, doing covers of War and Santana and Band of Gypsies just for fun and obviously get on the road and radio stations to do things differently with sessions. So you kind of go through your catalog of songs that you could do acoustically and there is a handful of songs that we were doing that were fun so we wanted to get something out there for fun.
There's a vulnerability to an acoustic format. There's nowhere to hide, musically and artistically. What chances did you take in recording an entire acoustic album?
I mean we tried to switch it up as much as possible. Obviously there are a lot of P.O.D. songs that you can’t do acoustically, but when you listen to our past records, we always mix it in, whether it’s reggae style or jazzy style. So you take the songs that kind of fit the format and you switch it up. We didn’t want it to be exactly the same, you know. We kept it very stripped down. It’s not like P.O.D. orchestra. We started off with just the cajones. We wanted to be campfire but not too campfire, so all of a sudden it was like maybe we do need real drums. So some songs have full drum sets, some doesn’t. And then we switched off some of the songs, adding a reggae kind of vibe to it, or jazzy. So some of the songs don’t sound exactly the same, but it actually came out very nice and really encouraging when you listen to the entire mix. We need to do another acoustic record, but all new songs.
P.O.D. get categorized as rap, reggae, alternative metal and Christian rock. What's the one word people never use to categorize this band that you wish they would?
Well actually I just like being called a rock band. It’s like everybody wants to put their stereotypes on you and I don’t like when they pigeonhole you. I think that we are a band’s band. My guys are some of the best musicians out there and it never seemed that way. At first it was like we were open about our faith so you get categorized right away as a Christian band. And then before anybody was mixing the street elements with the DJs and the rap vocals, kind of that revolutionary spirit of music -- even before Rage Against Machine they thought we were Body Count. They don’t know how to categorize. And then Rage Against the Machine comes out and then they are like you know you sort of sound like that, and then Limp Bizkit comes out and then they are like, you guys kind of sound like Limp Bizkit. Then they start calling it rapcore, then rap rock, then nu metal.
So we don’t want to buy into the names because you can go to Europe and South America and they are still calling it nu metal. I’m really not the biggest metal fan as it is. I’m more of a hard street punk kind of kid, but I also loved hip hop and reggae music, so we have always sort of refused a street style that is something that we are used to. Something that makes us comfortable and sounds good to us. It was never us saying lets sound like this because that’s what’s in. But it’s the same thing with fashion and stuff too. You know you got to look the part. You have to look like all the successful rock bands look. This is what they do. That’s never been us. You know it’s a hard game to play at the end of the day we are just a rock band and have so many different cultures of music that we have grown up on, because we are fans of all different kinds of music.
Sonny, a new studio album is in the works for next year. How much of the experience of recording an acoustic album will carry over and have an effect on the new songs you started to write for the next album?
It was a concern at first. Why put out an acoustic record right before a heavy LP? But, as these things tend to do, they drag out. We were hoping to have this record out earlier this year. It wasn't supposed to be in the stores, it wasn't supposed to be a label thing, per se. It was like, "Dude, let's throw it on the website. Or, let's throw it on iTunes, that's how people buy music anyway." For a few thousand fans who really just want to catch that side of us.
These days, you're always being told now -- records don't sell so they're like just get in the studio and keep banging out stuff and it's like, man we want to do it because we love it. We want to do different things. We want to do a record, maybe EPs. Let's just do one EP of nothing but hardcore stuff. Let's do an EP all reggae music. Let's do an EP, something different or stuff that we're into but it's gotta fit the format of what the label wants to do and how they market it. So, we figured if we just get it out it'll be under our belts. We've been writing for the new record and as usual that'll probably get pushed back to the end of the summer. It'd be awesome to have early summer release but realistically it'll be toward the end of next year.
Vocally, what can you express in an acoustic format that maybe isn't possible otherwise?
For me, it's always a challenge. I was never growing up saying, "Dude I want to sing in a band." It was like, this is something because of the lifestyle just fell into it. It was more of the hardcore scene. I love rap and I love the angst of hardcore music and punk rock. I can do this. The guys asked me to join and we were just doing it for fun, then you do that, then you do a new record then you sign to a major and it's like OK I gotta really explore and experiment a little bit, let's try singing. I tried to create melody. It's always been a very vulnerable thing for me. It's not like I love going into the studio and love being exposed behind the window with -- you have these $50,000 mics that are so crisp and clear through the headphones cranked up in the control room and everybody's listening to every little thing you sing. You're very vulnerable. It's a very scary thing for me, but I'm always trying because I love what we do and when we do the acoustic stuff it's just more relaxed, let's just throw up some mics and whatever comes out, comes out.
We didn't do a million takes, normally when you do a studio record it's like you do a million takes, then you dissect it and find the best one. Doubles of this, triples of that, this was just dude - set up a mic. I think I even sang with Louis, he's our backup. We even sang together as far as harmonies. You punch in a few things here and there but it was very natural and I think that comes across as a very warm sounding album.
Thanks to P.O.D.'s Sonny Sandoval for the interview. You can pick up the 'SoCal Sessions' disc in a variety of bundle packages at this location. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie and Tony LaBrie’ Monday through Friday 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.