SANTA MONICA, California — When Marcos Curiel formed the Accident Experiment, it was meant to be a P.O.D. side project. Two years and one ugly breakup later, the band could more accurately be described as the antithesis of P.O.D.
"I had some great times in [P.O.D.], but the thing that really irked me was that every day we would talk about, 'Yeah, we're real. We're positive,' " said the guitarist, who is in a legal dispute with his former bandmates over songwriting royalties. "But if every song is positive, that's not real. 'Cause no one in life walks around with a smile on their face nonstop. There's ups and downs, and I just wanted to be, 'Let's write about the moment.' "
That roller coaster of emotions is evident on the Accident Experiment's debut EP, Arena, which the band has just made available as a free download on theaccidentexperiment.net (see "Ex-P.O.D. Guitarist Discovers By 'Accident' That There Is Life After 'Death' "), as well as on the band's full-length, United We Fear, due early next year. Along with being multidimensional, both albums offer a different take on spirituality than P.O.D.
"Marcos and I both came out of the same sort of hyper-religious environment," singer Pete Stewart, formerly of Grammatrain, explained. "And one of the reasons why we clicked is we were thinking the same way at the time, going through a lot of the same stuff. I was losing a lot of the faith I had as a kid that I was ingrained with, and that's where a lot of those lyrics come from."
The Accident Experiment, which is rounded out by bassist Tony Delocht and drummer Ernie Longoria (both from Sprung Monkey), also differ from P.O.D. musically. "I'm pretty stoked that Pete's got a voice," Curiel said. "I'm not used to that, 'cause in P.O.D. it was a different school, which was a lot of screaming and rapping."
Curiel's new band sounds a little like Tool, but even more experimental. On any given night the same song can range from four to 15 minutes in length.
"When I started calling everybody [to form the band], I was like, 'Play how you've always wanted to play,' " Curiel said. "I think a lot of times today with music, it's too formatted."
The Accident Experiment consider themselves an album band, which is not an easy sell at a time when singles are so important in the industry. Still, Curiel said several labels, both big and small, are interested in releasing United We Fear. "We're on the road, and I kept seeing 'United We Stand' [signs], which is cool — I'm American, I'm gung ho," Curiel said. "But I was like, 'It'd be kind of cool to put a "Fear" on the end of that.' 'Cause we're driven by fear. Fear God or you're gonna burn in hell. Fear terrorism or we're gonna be attacked."
"And a lot of the songs deal with different aspects of fear and how it ends up controlling you and stopping you from really living," Stewart added. "There's a song called 'Holy Magic Man' that is sung from the point of view of a televangelist-type preacher or revival guy who works you into an emotional state of believing a certain thing, whether it's real or not. It's the fear of not conforming."
Radio stations in Southern California and Florida are already playing one of United We Fear's tracks, "Sick Love Letter," which will likely be the official first single. "It's about being obsessed with someone or something, kind of like a stalker," Curiel said.
As for his relationship with P.O.D., Curiel hasn't spoken with any of the band members since the split (see "P.O.D. Split With Guitarist Marcos Curiel") and is determined to "fight them to the end" over royalties.
"[They're saying,] 'These songs don't belong to you anymore, they belong to P.O.D.,' " Curiel said. "I'm like, 'No, dude, I wrote those songs.' And you can tell by their sound — it's not the same anymore."
The Accident Experiment plan to tour extensively behind United We Fear, beginning with a West Coast tour this fall. The band recently wrapped some supporting dates for the Foo Fighters and are talking with a major rock band about an opening slot in 2005.
"Dave Grohl came into our trailer, and he was pretty stoked on our stuff," Curiel said. "He was totally complimenting our drummer, and we were like, 'Cool, man.' It was just good vibes."