P.O.D./Edgefest VIII hit Little Rock
When the Edgefest 8/ Rockstar Energy Uproar tour rolls into the Arkansas State Fairgrounds in Little Rock on August 18, one of the bands will be a little more familiar with the city than the rest.
“We got a lot of love for Little Rock,” said P.O.D front man Sonny Sandoval.
Little Rock guitarist Jason Truby was a member from 2003-06 after the band and original guitarist Marcos Curiel went their separate ways.
The band is touring in support of their eighth studio album, ‘Murdered Love’, their first in four years.
We took a bit of a break,” said Sandoval. “Some might consider that rock ‘n roll suicide, but we’re in it for the right reasons.”
When he told the rest of the band about his plan to take some time off, he wasn’t sure how they would react.
“I told the guys, ‘you can blame it on me if you want, but I need to go home,”’ he said “I’m a husband first and a daddy first, I just happen to be a singer in a rock n’ roll band.”
After 16 years, Sandoval felt the time was right to step away from the music for a while.
“It becomes a whirlwind and the music starts to lose passion,” he said. “I love what I do and I’ve been blessed by it, but it’s never defined me as a person.”
One of the things he worked out during the hiatus were questions he had about where his faith was going.
“I think I was just in a routine with my Christianity,” he said. “It’s not like you plan on being this ‘lukewarm’ Christian; I think if you’re not walking in the presence of God and having this experience with him, before you know it you become ‘lukewarm.’
There was a period of time where he considered leaving the music behind for good.
“There was a time,” he said, “where I was like, ‘I’m coming home, I’m with my wife and my kids, I’m going to dive into church, get a job and never go back out into the world again.”‘
But he felt God still had other plans for him as well as for the band.
“I felt like God was saying, ‘dude, you need to come in and take a break, let me bandage you up, but you’re going to get your butt back out there because you’re my ambassador and you’re a light to this world.”
The band played various one-off shows during the break, but it was on the Rock Allegiance tour in August of 2011 where the ideas for a new album started to take shape.
“It just started [with] let’s do this heavy EP,” he said. “And we’ll call it ‘The Day They Murdered Love’ and that just kind of set the tone.”
“We started throwing around ideas,” said Sandoval “We put it on the computer on the road and sent it to Howard (Benson).”
Benson hadn’t produced an album for the band since 2003’s ‘Payable on Death’, but the band kept in touch over the years.
“We did independent records and he was our first real producer,” said Sandoval. “We were his first gold and platinum records. He’s like a fifth member [of the band] when it comes down to it.”
The hiatus taught Sandoval to trust his instincts when it came to the music. For a long time, he felt the band existed in this virtual limbo, between the secular and Christian worlds.
“Our faith was everything to us, but you get out into this world and you learn there are different faces of Christianity,” he said “We were being pulled from different sides and we were never Christian enough for the Christian community.”
The message of faith is definitely present on the new album, but one song in particular has the band in hot water with a portion of their Christian fans.
“I Am”, the closing track on the album, is told from a non-believer’s point of view and features the “F” word in the chorus. The word itself is edited over, but it’s clear what is being said. The lyrics are presented in an almost confessional tone, as Sandoval takes on the role of society in the verses, listing sins from lying to murder and then asks God in the chorus if society can be saved, despite all the terrible things that go on.
At its core, he believes it’s an honest question.
“I’m a sinful dude,” he said. “This is me, this is the real me and if you are who you say you are, do I still fall under the line of salvation, do I still fall under your forgiveness and your grace and I believe the answer is yes.”
Sandoval said his inspiration came from 2 Corinthians 5:17, which reads, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
The ultimate message of faith is something he said he feels the song gets across, despite the controversy.
“The whole intent, for me, I’m a realist and I live in the real world,” he said. “I believe if we have a relationship with Christ, then we go out and we’re supposed to be that light.”
In the end, Sandoval said he believes the message will reach people who might not otherwise listen, even if the ‘F’ word is what it takes. He also sees the unique opportunity he has to witness to other musicians or people in the music business.
“Even in this business, I’ve seen more guys from these bands and we have genuine conversations,” he said. “We sit and break bread and talk about God, because it’s in their heart and they want to know, but they’re only going to ask someone like me.”
Sandoval sees it all as part of a journey and is grateful for the opportunity to spread the word, something the band could never have imagined back in 1992 .
“I’m more concerned about these kids,” he said. “And the wicked, evilness of this world that they go through. I don’t have time to worry about the ‘F’ word.”
The day-long festival will feature 13 bands, including Playing with Karma, Mindset Evolution, Candlelight Red, In This Moment, Redlight King, Deuce, P.O.D., Adelitas Way, Papa Roach, Staind, Godsmack and Shinedown.
Gates will open at 12:30 and parking is $5 per vehicle. The concert begins at 1:05.
Tickets are $45 and are available online at edgefest.edgelittlerock.com. The tickets can also be purchased at several local businesses that are listed on the website.