Christian hard-rockers P.O.D. aren't naming their forthcoming record Street People. They're not calling it Peace, Love, Casualties, either. The San Diego-based four-piece has a bunch of title possibilities, including several others that have been scrapped, but at this point, the band's fifth studio effort — and first since 2003's Payable on Death — remains nameless. It's also about a month away from completion.
Vocalist Sonny Sandoval says P.O.D. will look to their fans to assist in the album's naming.
"Once we get down to our options, I think we're going to maybe put [potential album titles] out there on our Web site, just to see what people are feeling," he said.
In fact, P.O.D. have been exploiting their online home for the last few months. They've been giving fans an inside look into the creation of the album, which has been in the works for more than a year. The site features in-studio video of Sandoval rapping and footage of the boys tweaking guitar riffs and lyrics.
"We wanted to stay as close as we could to our fans and figured that this would be a drawn-out process once we started recording," he explained. "People have been telling us they're digging the heavy stuff, they've been feeling the old-school P.O.D. vibe. It's been really cool to get that insight from the kids."
Like several other hard-rock acts who've enjoyed mainstream success in recent years, P.O.D. dove into this album with one mission in mind: to produce some of the band's heaviest material to date, proving that massive album sales don't mean a band has to soften its sound, Sandoval said.
"Once we got into the writing process, it was like, 'Man, let's just go old-school and make some heavy stuff.' But ... sometimes you just get caught in the groove of things, and sometimes things taper off. Sometimes you get a beautiful melody or a beautiful guitar riff, and sometimes you just kind of stay in that realm.
"But there's a lot of heavy stuff on this record," he asserted. "We've done some seven-string stuff, which we've never done before. Then we kind of get back to the rap vocals that we started out with. There's more singing, too. Initially we were trying to be as heavy as we could, but maybe it's just that in the process, you tend to balance it all out."
P.O.D. have written and recorded close to 20 songs with Rick Rubin's right-hand engineer/producer Greg Fidelman. Sandoval said the record will include "Teachers," "Every Time I Die" and "If It Wasn't for You," the latter something of an ode to the P.O.D. faithful.
"We wouldn't be around this long, we wouldn't be doing the things that we love to do, and we wouldn't have this life if it wasn't for the kids who've been coming to our shows for like the last 13 years," he said.
On Monday (May 2), P.O.D. will drop anchor in a Los Angeles recording studio where they'll spend the month fine-tuning the effort with Glen Ballard (Aerosmith, Alanis Morissette) for a hopeful October or November release.
"The music sounds incredible, but I think once we got to the vocals, we were duplicating some of the stuff we'd already done," he said. "We know this ... is the record of our career right now. ... We just want to make sure we get it right.
"We'll finish up the vocals with [Ballard]. We're excited because it's our first time, really, working with a songwriting producer. But we've been working on it for so long that it was just like, 'Hey, man, if you can kind of dissect everything we've done and let us know which direction we should go in, we want to know.'
Sandoval said while the band's in L.A. they'll try to get Korn's Jonathan Davis down to the studio to lay down vocals for one of the album cuts.
"I asked him if he wanted to jump in and do a track with us, and he's actually confirmed," Sonny said. "But he just had a baby, so he's been kind of lying low."
P.O.D. have also been playing phone tag with Cypress Hill's B Real to see if he'd contribute his high-pitched rhymes. But the big prize for Sandoval would be to get a certain blonde to loan her sweet pipes to a track: Gwen Stefani.
"We have a reggae cut that we're doing, and it came out really nice, but it needs a female vocal on it," he explained. "We'd like to get Gwen Stefani because she's OG, period. An old rocker. But she's so extremely busy with her new stuff, it's been tough."
Sandoval hopes Ballard, who worked with No Doubt for 2000's Return of Saturn, will make the collabo happen. "We told Glen we'd like to get Gwen on this track and he said, 'We'll get it done.' "