The year is 2001. The nu-metal revolution is in full swing and it is impossible to turn your head without seeing Korn, Marilyn Manson, Mudvayne or Slipknot on the cover of a magazine or on Rage or Video Hits. On September 11 of 2001, the world changed. As the world’s eyes shifted to watch a tragedy unfold, people’s hearts began to search for hope. It is no coincidence that on a day of such tragedy, P.O.D.’s seminal album Satellite was released. As they prepare for their first visit to Australia since 2013, we spoke with guitarist Marcos Curiel to unpack what Satellite means today and what Australian audiences can expect.
From the opening drum beats and opening riffs, P.O.D’s Satellite was like no other album at the time. The screams behind tracks such as Set It Off and Portrait are offset by the powerful melodies of Alive and the song Satellite. I asked Marcos what he believes made the album so powerful and why it is still regarded so highly today:
“If you think about when it come out, and what was going on in the world – it’s still going on today. In fact, it’s worse. Even when we wrote Youth of the Nation, the whole gun violence and gun control thing was out of hand… I mean, we wrote Satellite in a studio that was two blocks away from a school shooting…”
It’s clear that the band was touched and moved by the events so close to home for them – the school shooting near their studio ultimately lead to the song Youth Of The Nation. Marcos explained the profound impact that had on him personally and on the band as a whole. Even 17 years later, songs like Youth Of The Nation still hit hard on an emotional level ‘…we felt that as artists, it was a great opportunity to tap into something close to home. I’m dumbfounded at times that it is so relevant today. You try to write music to inspire people… it works on me too.’
Looking at the history of P.O.D. the band has been marked by significant changes and periods of time. From their early punk days in 1994 with Brown, to the progression to nu-metal and now hard rock, the band have continued to change and evolve their sound. They haven’t felt the pressure to try and re-create any part of their musical journey, though. Instead Marcos explained that they ‘always try to write the anthemic, big tunes’, and this has culminated in several classic hits along the way. Songs such as Southtown, Rock The Party and Freestyle off 1999’s Fundamental Elements of Southtown (FEOS) to the classics from Satellite and even more recent hits like I Am and This Goes Out to You have resonated with listeners in a huge way. Yet, the most marked shift was from the punk-influenced FEOS to the nu-metal of Satellite. Marcos believes that this was part business, part musicality:
“A lot of that jump was budget and time. The push on FEOS was decent, but not like Satellite was. As a band, we had to knock on peoples doors with FEOS, but with Satellite… it kind of was… in sports terms, we got to the playoffs with FEOS… and Satellite took us to the Superbowl.”
The success of Satellite saw the band thrust onto the mainstage and they began sharing tours with the likes of Korn, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and even the juggernaut of Rammstein. Naturally, this caused some controversy with the band’s traditionally Christian fanbase. While in the past, the band had enjoyed the support of the Christian music niche, they had no intention of staying there.
“We just wanted to go out and play music for everyone… we wanted to be accessible to everyone.”
The inspiration for this degree of accessibility came from an unlikely source. “Our big influence was U2. They had Christian roots, but they were able to be universal and diversified… it inspired us to do what we do.”
Those who remembered P.O.D.’s last visit to Australia would recall the intense arena-style shows of Easterfest and Sydney. This time around, they are taking a different approach – tapping into that accessibility factor that Marcos mentioned before.
“… this will be our first time doing an album from beginning to end. There are songs on the record we haven’t touched in years – so we’ll be taking some breaks and interacting with the audience a little bit more.”
With the Murdered Love tour, we saw a huge banner with a moving robot on it which added to the spectacle of the event. I asked Marcos if we could expect something similar this time around. Without giving specifics, he said the audience could expect some ‘surprises’ along the way.
For those curious, there is new music on the horizon – Soundboy Killa was released late in 2017 and harks back to the band’s punk roots. But unlike previous albums, the new album will be produced by multiple production teams which will give the album a whole different vibe. Marcos also has a side project called The Accident Experiment and while the album is complete, we may not hear it for some time as P.O.D. continues to move onward and upward.
P.O.D. Satellite tour: