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P.O.D.'s original lineup out with new CD

By JIM TRAGESER - Staff Writer

At the height of the popularity and success of P.O.D., the South Bay nu-metal band that had grown from its underground beginnings in the early 1990s to A-list touring rock band, founding guitarist Marcos Curiel found himself out of the band he had helped form. In February 2003, it was announced by the band's label, Atlantic Records, that he'd left the band ---- but Curiel said he'd been booted.

Back in the band's fold after P.O.D. left Atlantic for Sony in 2006, Curiel said of his departure from the band five years ago, "It was kind of a bitter end."

Interviewed by phone while he was driving around San Diego a few weeks ago, Curiel said the four years away from the band was tough. Not only was P.O.D. his job, but the other members of the band ---- Wuv Bernardo (drums), Sonny Sandoval (vocals) and Traa Daniels (bass) ---- had been his buddies since junior high.

"It was weird" being out of the band, Curiel said, "but it was more weird when I had people tell me they saw the band without me, and the new guitarist didn't play it the same as me. It was weird when I saw them on TV playing one of my songs."

On the other hand, when the band welcomed him back in late 2006, Curiel said it quickly felt like old times.

"It was like an old sock or an old shoe. At first, it was a lot of emotions in the sense of, what's this going to be like? Then I got in there with the guys; it felt natural and the way it's supposed to be. It felt like I hadn't been gone that long."

While many bands that came along in the '90s eschewed the lead guitarist who could solo, Curiel said he refused to give up his soloing. Growing up on Santana, Metallica and Iron Maiden, he said he loves a solo even if it's not typical of bands from his era.

"Once Nirvana came and changed all that, everyone was embarrassed to do a solo because it wasn't cool. But you have to stand out on your own ---- and I still like soloing.

"The soloing I like isn't the typical soloing. I'm going to lean more toward Santana, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, more soul. That's how I take my approach --- you can listen to some old B.B. King and you can hear two or three notes and that says more than a thousand notes.

"I think that people who play from the heart and soul, that's the sort of stuff that's remembered ---- all the noodling and shredding, that's cool, but I don't think people remember that."

The band is celebrating the release of "When Angels and Serpents Dance," its first CD with the reunited original lineup and its first on Sony BMG since leaving Atlantic.

When asked what the band's aim was with the new record, Curiel said it was "inspiration."

"It's basically we want to inspire people with positive vibes and positive music, but also express what we go through as individuals with these songs."

He said that in preparing the new record in the months since he rejoined the band, the group's original method of writing new songs was the same as ever.

"I do a lot of the writing ---- I'll come up with a lot of the riffs and the chord progressions, and I'll introduce it to the band at rehearsal and we'll start jamming it. If it sticks, Sonny will start throwing some lyrics at us. With us, the lyrics come last.

"John Fogerty was in the studio next to us, and told the producer it was backwards" having the melody first and lyrics after, Curiel said, laughing.

Curiel said that while the band's overall sound has remained consistent since it started out, the topics the songs address have changed as the members have grown up.

"When we first started, we were a garage band and a bunch of punk kids brought up in south San Diego. We just wanted to play at parties and have fun.

"Now that we've matured and gotten older, and learned a lot from the success we've had, basically we write about what we're going through on a daily basis. And what we write about today is completely different from what we're going to write about a year from now.

"The heart and the drive are the same, but the music is completely different ---- more mature, in a good way."