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Inferno interview: P.O.D.'s Wuv Bernardo on being classified as a Christian Rock band, their newest album and the split and return of a bandmate
By: Natalie Gottlieb
Posted: 3/31/08


After hits like 'So Alive' and 'Youth of the Nation' P.O.D. (Payable on Death) faded into obscurity.The quartet, which includes lead vocalist Sonny Sandoval, drummer Wuv Bernardo, guitarist Marcos Curiel and bassist Traa Daniels are back looking to top the charts again.

Their newest album, "When Angels & Serpents Dance," releases on Apr. 8 after a long split with one of the group's founding members (Curiel). The band is back and ready to reach its fans that have followed it for so long.

Eager to hit the road and continue to rock their unique Southern California sound, the band quickly embraced its natural ability to come together and create good music, as drummer Wuv Bernardo puts it, "like an old shoe, it just fit. It fits real good!"

Finding some time before a charitable month-long tour that hits a few Hard Rock Café venues to support the nonprofit organization Musicians on Call, Wuv spoke with the Inferno about the newly anticipated album and the good vibrations coming from their recent jam sessions with returned band mate and brother, Marcos Curiel.

Inferno: A lot has happened since 2001. Finally the original band including Marcos is back! What happened after the band's split?

Wuv Bernardo: We were still making music. We had two records going on. We released "Payable on Death," our fifth album, and later "Testify" in 2006. After that, we put out our greatest hits with our 'then' guitarist, Jason Truby.

I: Where is he nowadays?

WB: At home, in Arkansas.

I: How can you begin to explain the path that led to the creation of your new album, "When Angels & Serpents Dance?" Did you just 'know' what to do as soon as Marcos returned?

WB: We started with Curiel back in 1992, and we've been P.O.D. for 12 years. When we separated, we hadn't talked for over four years. Yeah, it was weird at first to get back together. But it was natural. The whole band met one day for lunch. After lunch we went back into the studio and created three new songs. It was like an old shoe, it just fit. It fits real good! He's the original [Curiel]; he formed and created the sound that is P.O.D. That down-South-Tijuana-California sound. Whatever you wanna call it.

I: Where does most of this Reggae influence in your music come from?

WB: Sonny (lead vocalist) is my cousin, and our uncle was a Reggae deejay. We grew up on Reggae since we were five-years-old. Everybody, the whole band is into Reggae. But you're right - it is more of me and Sonny. I was speechless when I first heard the Marley Sisters on the phone. It worked out beautifully.

I: For the fans, are they going to be surprised when they hear this new album? Are there any other surprises?

WB: No operation shock... they won't be like, danngg, what is this? (Laughs) But whatever they were missing, or wanting, they'll get and be satisfied. You'll like it. I'm proud to say we are the only band to work with Suicidal Tendencies [Mike Muir]! He's on the album as well as Helmet - that's really cool. We like those type of vibes with people we respect and listen to.

I: Are there any other outside influences/artists you wish you could've collaborated with on this album? Maybe in the near future?

WB: Lenny Kravitz. We had him on a hook, but it didn't work out time-wise. I know the ladies love some Lenny Kravitz. I know they would've liked that!

I: Should the guys credit you as the mediator, the one soul that brought your guitarist back? Heard it took a few phone calls!

WB: I mean, I was the one he was reaching out to. He wasn't calling them. He was calling me. I kinda broke the ice with the other guys. Told them, yeah, Curiel called. The guys - "What?! What he up to?" And I decided, you know what? Let's all do some lunch. They all wanted to do this. He's a brother, one of the homies.

I: Do you feel the media still views your band as Christian Rock? How do you feel about those critics?

WB: It doesn't really bother us. We're not a Christian Rock band. Our faith spiritually guided our lyric content. Our fans react to us and it shows what we mean to them. We never denied loving God and what he's done for us. It's like when you grew up how we did, and what we saw, you reach out to something. Something bigger to make sense of it all. We don't like to be categorized that way. We don't want Catholics or non-Christians to think they can't listen to us. Music should be universal. It shouldn't be one-dimensional, that's the way we view it.

I: Is everything good with Columbia now? Are you guys fighting or working with your label?

WB: It's great! Never had any problems with Columbia - or Atlantic. It was just the way of the industry. It was time for us to leave. We know the game way too well. We've been independent, sold more than people with major labels. We knew the game. Columbia gave us a chance. The deal was something we couldn't refuse, especially commitment. We like to hear that. They were eager, ready to work. I'm always looking for the underdog. Well, I wouldn't call them 'underdogs.' What I meant is that they work the hardest. They're [Columbia] always hungry.

I: Tell me about your upcoming tour. Are you excited to tour at intimate venues and reach out to your fans?

WB: It's cool. Only fits about 300-500 people. Nothing ridiculous. It's cool. We get to play small venues. No ducking out or leaving out the back door. I know our fans have been with us since the early '90s - all about that kinda stuff. As long as we still get to play loud music, it's all good. We don't like to play at a low volume.

I: Have you ever been to the House of Blues in Chicago?

WB: Yeah, we played there. There's a bomb steak house next door! Right?

I: Who would you like to tour with?

WB: U2! Definitely. Big fan.

I: If P.O.D. wasn't what it was today, where would you be? Did you have any other future dreams or goals?

WB: Pro surfer, absolutely. I own a few skate shops in Cali. I would be surfing everyday of my life. I'd remain low-key no matter what. Or, I'd be laying down concrete with my dad, just hustlin', surfing waves, selling mangoes in Hawaii. Whatever (laughing).

To check out more of their music or to catch what the bands up to these days, check out their official website at payableondeath.com or add them as a friend on myspace.com/payableondeath.