P.O.D.

“Music comes down to passion,” says P.O.D. frontman Sonny Sandoval. “There are not a lot of bands out there today who have that. But I think that feeling is coming back around again.” P.O.D. (Payable on Death) certainly has the right to talk about passion in music. Passion has been front and center since the band formed in 1992 in San Diego, CA, and all the way up to the release of their eighth and latest record, Murdered Love. Over the last two decades, the group has sold over 10 million albums (including 2001’s triple platinum record Satellite), garnered four No. 1 music videos, three Grammy nominations and over a dozen rock radio hits, including “Southtown,” “Alive,” “Youth of the Nation” and “Goodbye For Now.” Music trends have come and gone, but P.O.D.’s fanbase has seemingly only grown stronger. The most startling aspect of Murdered Love lies in its diversity and the band’s songwriting having penned every track on the album. The opener “Eyez” might be the band’s heaviest song yet, with a cameo by Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta. It contrasts sharply with “West Coast Rock Steady,” a playful hip-hop ode to their San Diego roots featuring Sen Dog of Cypress Hill. Meanwhile, “Panic & Run” is full-tilt punk, “Bad Boy” brings a funky swagger and first single “Lost in Forever” ties it all together with an equal mix of aggressiveness and melody. “The band is a fusion of all our musical passions,” says Curiel. “We can jump from punk to reggae to rap to metal. And funk -- people forget we had a little funk on our first few indie releases. So on a few songs here, we took it back. The whole process was really organic.” Lyrically, the record finds P.O.D. at its most thoughtful and introspective as the band contemplates their lives and the world around them. On “Lost in Forever” Sandoval shows a mixture of hope and unease to questioning the cruelty of man, as the band also does in the brutal title track “Murdered Love.” “It’s about people who have died when all they brought was love” explains Curiel. The sparse, catchy “Beautiful,” contemplates the afterlife while the teeth-rattling album closer “I Am,” finds Sandoval opening with the vivid line: “I am the murderer, the pervert, sick to the core” and never lets up. It’s the band at its darkest and most confrontational. “I had been doing a lot of outreach to kids, talking at a lot of schools,” says the singer. “I see what they go through – suicide, rape, addiction –and that song is just about being vulnerable and honest. They’re wondering if they’re screw-ups, if they’re deserving of love and compassion. “The band recorded Murdered Love with Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson (Kelly Clarkson, My Chemical Romance, Daughtry), a long-time friend of the group and the man behind three of its biggest records. “He’s family,” says Sandoval, then laughs. “He has the power to choose who he wants to work with, and I think he wanted to go back and make a real rock record.” In the end, Murdered Love showcases a band at its most energetic and vital, nearly two decades after its debut. Sandoval agrees. “This is the best record we’ve ever done,” says the singer. “And that can only come from what we’ve put into this. We’re the same four down-to-earth guys we were when we were putting out indie records. There’s an honesty and an underdog vibe to everything we do that you can definitely hear in our music.”

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Flyleaf

The Belton, Texas-based heavy rock quintet Flyleaf formed in 2000 when front-woman Lacey Mosley played a string of the dark, hard-edged songs she consistently wrote as a brooding teen for drummer James Culpepper. After a brief period of playing together, they recruited guitarists Sameer Bhattacharya and Jared Hartmann, members of a local outfit that had recently called it quits. In 2002, bassist Pat Seals joined, and the band, initially known as Passerby, was born.

The road to Flyleaf's 2005 self-titled debut on Octone Records was dotted with more green lights than red: the band played wherever it was invited around its home state at first, gradually building the kind of fan base that allowed it to open for acts such as Bowling for Soup, Fishbone, and Riddlin' Kids. By 2003, with word of Mosley's arsenic-laced lyrics and blowtorch-style delivery spreading through Texas and beyond, Flyleaf earned a spot at the annual South by Southwest Music Conference. A contract from Octone was rushed to the signing stages by 2004.

An EP, issued in early 2005 and also called Flyleaf, benefited from the production team of Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Blind Melon) andBrad Cook (Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age). Key tracks such as the roiling "Cassie" and the emo-tinged "Breathe Today," both of which appear on the full-length, furthered Flyleaf's reputation, as did raging live shows alongside Saliva, Breaking Benjamin, 3 Doors Down, and Staind. For the fall 2005 release, producer Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Papa Roach, the All-American Rejects) joined Flyleaf in Los Angeles. A batch of 20 songs was winnowed to 12, with Mosley's searing vocals and Bhattacharya's andHartmann's storming guitars offsetting each other to affect a sound by turns morose, compassionate, hopeful, and bitter.

Following the release of Flyleaf, the band toured heavily on the festival circuit. They hit the main stage on the 2006 and 2007 Family Values Tour, as well as the Soundwave festival and Disturbed's Music as a Weapon III tour. They also made a jump to the world of video games when their single "I'm So Sick" was put in the first installment of the Rock Band series and their new single, "Tina," debuted in Guitar Hero 3. After taking some time out of their hectic touring schedule to record, Flyleaf released their sophomore album,Memento Mori, in 2009. In 2010 Flyleaf delivered the EP Remember to Live, featuring stripped-down, reworked versions of some of the band's early songs. In 2012 the band released its third studio album, the Howard Benson-produced New Horizons.

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