One reason P.O.D. titled their upcoming album Payable on Death is because they wanted to set the record straight for anyone who still didn't know what the band's name stands for.
But more importantly, the title is symbolic of the group's rebirth following the departure of original guitarist Marcos Curiel in February.
Before Curiel left, P.O.D. were getting overwhelmed by the rock machine (see "P.O.D. Call Marcos' Departure 'Heartbreaking,' Jell With Their New Guy"). They had toured exhaustively, promoted themselves to death and mapped out each step to build their following.
When the time came to start working on Payable on Death, vocalist Sonny Sandoval, new guitarist Jason Truby, bassist Traa and drummer Wuv wanted a fresh start. So instead of setting up in a professional studio with a fixed timetable, they rented a practice space in San Diego and started jamming with no expectations and no deadlines.
"We took it back to the roots," Sandoval said. "We broke down the walls in this abandoned warehouse and set up shop. The doors were always open to our friends and family and people around San Diego to come through. And it was just more of a home vibe."
The change in atmosphere was healthy and provided P.O.D. new perspective. It also reminded them of the good times they used to have before they blew up.
"We went from being a garage band, to a touring garage band, to selling millions of units and traveling the whole world," Traa explained. "In the process of all that stuff, life became like a whirlwind sometimes. This album was just what we needed to get back to where we were. It was innocent and it was natural and fun."
In the spirit of new beginnings, Sandoval wanted to cover new ground with the album's first single, "Will You" (see "P.O.D. Sound So Alive With New Guitarist, New Single"). Instead of singing about spiritual strength and perseverance, Sandoval decided to try to pen a traditional love song.
"We always said we wanted to do something like that, but it just kinda turned darker than your average 'I love you' type of song," he said. "It's about sticking with the one you love and putting up with that person and being there through thick and thin."
Like the rest of Payable on Death, "Will You" is filled with incisive guitars, a lunging cadence and melodic vocals that veer further than ever from the band's rap-rock roots. Of course, P.O.D. aren't the first to stray from the now-dated style that was once the MO of everyone from Korn and Limp Bizkit to Crazy Town and Papa Roach. But P.O.D.'s experiments with reggae, rock and pop vocals seem like more than a desperate effort to leave a sunken ship.
"When I joined this band I never thought of myself as a singer," Sandoval explained. I just did whatever I could, which was rap. And then over time, I've grown and we've developed and tried different things. It all happened gradually and naturally."
As with everything involving P.O.D., those changes required great faith in themselves and an even stronger belief that God would guide their way. They may not consider themselves to be a Christian rock band, but religious conviction continues to be a prime motivator in their quest for enlightenment.
"I think spirituality helps us get through everything," Traa explained. "It's no mystery, and no secret what P.O.D. is about."
"But we're not preachers or pastors," Sandoval added. "We don't tell you what to think or believe in. That's not our job. We're rock musicians. Our job is to rock."