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P.O.D. comes to OKC

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Grammy-nominated metal band P.O.D. — that’s “Payable on Death” — has a much higher dreadlock-to-standard-haircut ratio than most Christian-rock bands, but that’s part of the charm.

What started as a Slayer cover band became a much more spiritual thing when front man Sonny Sandoval’s mom passed, leading him to find Jesus and a renewed sense of purpose. The band — hailing from Southtown San Diego and graduating from the “School of Hard Knocks” — boasts an inspirational sound that isn’t bound to a faith, but certainly centered around one.

The metal band ironically got its first taste of mainstream success with songs featured prominently in Adam Sandler’s 2000 comedy, “Little Nicky,” and then hit even bigger the following year with the multiplatinum smash, “Satellite,” and singles “Youth of the Nation” and “Alive.” P.O.D. has released three full-length albums since, and after taking a brief hiatus, returned to touring this year with a new album planned for 2012, featuring the recently released single, “On Fire.”

P.O.D. plays Friday’s KATTfest with fellow heavy hitters Buckcherry, Hinder and Papa Roach. Sandoval spoke to Oklahoma Gazette about choir boys, Satan and the band’s softer side.

OKG: What about this upcoming tour are you most excited for?

Sandoval: I’m just excited to get back on the road. We haven’t done a U.S. run in years. We took a little hiatus to get focused and get priorities straight, and now we’ve got a new hunger. We just want to hit it.

OKG: You aren’t strictly a Christian-rock band, but all of you are really grounded in your faith. How do other bands react to having a moral band like you along?

Sandoval: We’ve all come up together, and we’ve never put that stereotype on us, because people judge you for your beliefs right off the bat rather than the music. I wasn’t raised in a church, homie. We aren’t some choir boys; we are straight from the hood. If anything, we are cool with everybody. I’ve got love for people, but I don’t have patience for people who want to act like idiots.

OKG: Along that line, you’ve never exclusively appealed to a Christian crowd, despite that message being present in the music. What do you feel it is that broadens your horizons beyond that niche?

Sandoval: The music is good. Once we came out, it’s always been an open book. We weren’t hiding behind our pillows or something. Once Christian people — who sometimes tend to do that, being so meek and mild and hiding from their own shadow — when they heard us come out, it was like, “These guys are Christians and are hardcore?” That’s what was appealing to them. We weren’t ashamed of who we were, and we weren’t hiding in a cookie-cutter, sex-drugs-and-rock-’n’-roll metal band, talking about a bunch of ‘Satan rules’ nonsense. It’s talking about peace, love and hope.

OKG: Some bands might have their roots in Christian music, but then move out of that once they get a bigger. Did you ever have forces pushing you away from the message?

Sandoval: We are still battling that every day. It’s why I had to take a break. We live in the real world, man. We started this young band with something to say, and then we started to realize there’s something beyond the street that you come from. There’s real evil, wicked forces out there. Everything you believe in is always put to the test, and it’s an everyday grind.

OKG: This new album you’ve got coming out next year is one you’ve been working on for a couple of years. Is there any reason it’s taken a little longer to get done?

Sandoval: We came out of hiatus ready to hit it, but it’s been a slow process. It’s been a gradual thing; we had all the politics of figuring out how to do it and where to release it. Dealing with labels and stuff kind of put out the fire for a little bit. We wanted to take care of that before we got into the creative process, so we weren’t always in such a bad mood. Now, we are ready to roll.

OKG: How’s this album shaping up, and how does it compare and contrast to some of your past efforts?

Sandoval: I think albums will always have the influences that we started with, but for me, I’m hoping … it has those heavy elements, but it also has some funkier moments and explores our hip-hop side. Then we have some songs that are really hooky, even poppy … it’s not always our tougher side. —Joshua Boydston

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