P.O.D.'s Sonny Sandoval Talks ShipRocked, on Korn and Godsmack: "We're All Friends"

Who says rap and rock don't work well together? Well, when it's Lil Wayne bridging the two genres, things get questionable, but P.O.D., or Payable on Death, as the band is also known, has the whole formula worked out very nicely. 

Just a few months back, the band put out its eighth studio release, Murdered Love, after a short hiatus from the industry. The album has been well-received by mainstream audiences and even hit number one on Christian rock charts. Sonny Sandoval, lead singer of the nü-metal act, who's easy with a laugh,  spoke with us about the band's new fan-designed logo, keeping it real as a Christian in rock, and the upcoming cruise leaving from Fort Lauderdale, ShipRocked. 

New Times: Your album Murdered Love came out recently. How's the response been so far to the album? 
Sonny Sandoval: So far, so good. I think we were number two in the rock charts that week. The response so far has been amazing. I'm on the road now supporting it. 

What have people told you about the album. Has anyone come up and told you what they like the best? What they've most responded to? 
In taking two years off, to clear our heads, just get away from the industry and whatever trends of music are out there right now. I think one of the biggest responses has been, just friends and family who are listening to the record over and over, that we've really gone back to our roots. Soundwise and lyrically. I know it sounds so cliché to say this -- I've never said it about an album -- but it probably is my favorite record. 'Cause I know we played every song on the record live. It's fun. It has a nice flow to it. 

You guys are going on ShipRocked. Are there any other bands you're looking forward to performing with? 
We do a lot of the rock shows. One of the bands, Godsmack, we were on the Uproar tour with all summer long. We just played with Korn. We see those guys all the time. We're all friends, so this is kind of more like a vacation for all of us if anything. You come out for a few days; we get you your flights and your cabins. This is a rock show. It's like, let's do it. It's going to be fun. All together, the bands are great. 

It's just funny to think of all these like rock guys, all hard out there on the high seas drinking mai tais, getting tan. Is that what it's like? 
[laughs] It's funny, because for me, I knew that this ShipRocked existed. I was like, "What kind of people actually go?" and it's almost sold out. They added Korn to the bill. You'd be amazed, just being on the road, after shows, people'll be like, "Yo, I'm going on that ShipRocked." It's like this is their vacation. They save up their money. I'm thinking it's like, who really, that's expensive, who's really going to go on this thing? But for rock fans, in their mind, it's like, yo, I'm going to go on a cruise; I'm going to get to hang around and talk to all of these bands. Because it really is, you're kind of locked in on this ship, so that's what you're kind of doing. You're mingling and having fun with all the passengers. 

You guys make music with a Christian slant. You had a spiritual awakening when you were younger, is that true? 
Yeah, I wasn't raised in the church. I come from a traditional Catholic family. When I came to faith, it was after my mom passed away. It was something that it was time to grow up, stop being a knucklehead. It was something I took serious, and then music just fell into my lap when I was asked to be in this band. 

It was never like we set out, like we're going to be a Christian band. I didn't even know that existed. I didn't know that there were two different worlds. For me, I lived in one world, and I choose to have this faith, so I'm going to live it, because even the hardcore scene, the punk scene, even the hip-hop scene, it's like you are who you are. It was like when we write music, we talk about who we are, where we're from. Our experiences, what we know. I think we were so upfront, almost militant about our faith, people really, not to say took to it, but we were heard. 

You have the Christian community that never understood us but then later on wanna kinda claim you as their own. So we've always kind of been stuck in that middle. But we've never wanted to be titled Christian music or band, because for everybody else in the world who are not Christian, we're not trying to segregate ourselves and say, "Hey, you know, our music is not for you." Because I don't think that's the case. I think our music is for everyone. If anything, I think, if anything, Christians have had the hardest time with us in the past because we were never Christian enough. 

You have then fans from all different faiths. Rock fans. You are a Christian, then, not a Catholic.
I was baptized Catholic. Again, my grandmother and mother were from Italy; we went to church on Easter and Christmas. It was more of a religious thing, whereas when I became a Christian, it was more personal. I believed in something that I walk every day. I live by grace. It's just something that I believe in. I started walking in the moment with the Lord. I'm not a preacher. I'm not going out trying to convert the world, but I do feel that it's touched me so much that it's this truth that I want everyone to experience, but at the same time, I realized, you can't receive it when it's forced. It's something you live, not something you can just talk about. So, every day, I just try to be the best daddy that I can, the best husband, the best friend, best brother. Every day at a time. 

Speaking of families. Are you bringing your family on the ShipRocked cruise too? 
My wife is coming with me, but not my kids [laughs]. They're not sheltered, but they're too young. 

You recently had your fans remake your logo. How'd you choose a winner? 
We've had the same logo forever. It's just nowadays with social media, it's just, you know, content, content, content. It's like, let's do something cool. We're close to our fanbase, it's a new season, a new record -- let's put a new logo out there. So we had so many entries. We did go through all of them. There were some that were amazing; there were some that were just cute, funny, and cool; then there were those who stood out. We went with the one we kind of liked the best. Now it's just going to run with us on this album cycle. 

Is this one of the first times you've done something interactive on the internet with your fans? 
No, we've done stuff before. Nowadays, it's so much closer, with Twitter and all that stuff. We started this thing grassroots. It's only because of our fanbase that we've had the success that we do. Because before the internet, it was all phone calls, and people would call the radio, call MTV. We're aware of the power of that. We've done stuff with videogames. We've always done stuff with our fans that's something extra than just the music. 

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ShipRocked 2012 runs from November 27 to December 1, leaving from Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale. Purchase tickets here.  

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