P.O.D. Split With Guitarist Marcos Curiel

Singer Sonny Sandoval says Curiel left; source close to guitarist says he was kicked out.

P.O.D.’s lineup has gone boom.

Founding member Marcos Curiel and the spiritual metal band have parted ways, at least partially due to the guitarist’s side project.

In an e-mail sent to fans Wednesday (February 19), singer Sonny Sandoval said Curiel left “to pursue his own vision apart from P.O.D.,” however the guitarist insisted in a phone call from his San Diego home that he was kicked out.

“Because of your loyalty and respect, it saddens me to say that Marcos is no longer with P.O.D.,” Sandoval wrote. “Never have we imagined P.O.D. without him, but we now know this vision is bigger than the four of us.”

Curiel called the e-mail one-sided and contended he was fired from the band last week because he has other projects and because of differences in religious philosophies.

“I was hoping I could do what Maynard [Keenan] does,” said Curiel, who was a primary songwriter for P.O.D. “He’s in Tool and A Perfect Circle. That’s obviously not the case here. It got pretty sticky at the end about ’You need to prioritize where you’re at with your music and where you’re at with your walk with God.’ I’m like, ’You guys are tripping, dude. I just want to be an artist, and if I can’t have that freedom, I just want to fly.’ If someone asks me to play with them, if someone asks me to write a song, I just want to be able to do that.”

Curiel said P.O.D.’s problems with him are evident in the fact that he has been replaced by Jason Truby, former guitarist for Christian metal band Living Sacrifice.

“That was always an issue with them,” Curiel said. “It should have never been about that. It should have been about the music.”

Sandoval also hinted at spiritual differences in his e-mail. “I feel that there are still so many good things in store for those of us who have put our lives on the line for what we believe in,” he wrote.

Curiel did not comment on his religious beliefs, but he said he was tired of playing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. “I hate the facade of putting on a mask in front of fans and then behind the scenes acting like someone else,” he said. “I just want to be myself all the time.”

The guitarist said P.O.D. is not as righteous as their reputation. “The thing that’s really bugging me out is the e-mail is portrayed all holy and sh–,” he said of the letter, which ended with: “Please continue to keep P.O.D. and Marcos in your prayers. All our love is yours. Be blessed.”

“I hate that. That’s one of the main differences we had is philosophy. They’re putting that out because they know their market and they know what kids are going to say about all that.”

Curiel, who has produced and remixed songs for the Nappy Roots and others, said he believes his former band would not have been so adamant against his side project if its other members were from Christian bands. The group, called the Accident Experiment, features two members of fellow San Diego band Sprung Monkey and a singer from Seattle.

“The kids are already talking all this sh– [on P.O.D.’s Web site], ’I’m not going to support that band. Sprung Monkey is a party band,’ ” Curiel said. “I’m sitting there going, ’Dude, what do you think P.O.D. does behind the scenes? Do you think they’re angels?’ I want to keep it positive, dude, but they keep making me come off as the bad guy.”

Curiel, who was always an outspoken member of P.O.D. (see “P.O.D. Say You Can Go Beep Beep If You Don’t Like Their Style” ), is particularly upset because management, not his bandmembers, called to kick him out. He said the group met a few weeks ago and everyone acted enthusiastic about his projects.

“As soon as I left, they started talking sh– behind my back,” he said. “It’s very, very shady. I have friends defending me on the Web site, and every time they put something up in defense of me, it gets deleted. I’m like, ’What? This is not fair, dude.’ … Then I found out they had another guitar player already. I was like, ’Whoa.’ They’ve been plotting this for a long time.”

In Sandoval’s e-mail, the singer chose not to dwell on the past, but to look to the future. “[Truby] brings an excitement and a fire to the table that will take P.O.D. to the next level,” he wrote. “Through great challenges come great rewards, and we’re more confident now than ever of where we are going.”

Sandoval said P.O.D. are recording the lead single for “The Matrix Reloaded” soundtrack and writing their third major-label album.

Curiel’s Accident Experiment, which he said sounds vastly different from his previous band, have nearly completed an album and will make their live debut at the Soma club in San Diego on March 15.

“Why would I go out and start P.O.D. part two?” he said. “This is more big-balls rock with a hint of prog. The bands that influence us are Rush, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath — older kind of rock, but with new power, new technology, new sound. It’s kind of got an Audioslave vibe. It’s killer.”

P.O.D. are nominated for two Grammys: Best Hard Rock Performance for “Youth of the Nation” and Best Metal Performance for “Portrait.” Curiel will not be attending. “Too much drama,” he said.

Atlantic Records said P.O.D. had no further comment.

[This story was updated on 02.19.03 at 7:45 p.m. ET.]