Interview with Marcos Curiel, P.O.D. guitarist, published in Guitar Digest in 2008
Mitchell Blatt: Listening to some of the songs released early on your new album, it sounds like they are heavier than past albums like Satellite and The Fundamental Elements of South Town. Is that something you noticed while recording?
Marcos Curiel: When I write something, I’m not trying to put a tag on it, it’s really just what comes out. I don’t go into it with the frame of mind like having a plan. It just kind of happens.
MB: How has your music changed over the past four years?
MC: I wasn’t in the band for the past two records, but I was a founding member and a visionary, and I heard them going in a direction that I never thought P.O.D. would go in. I wasn’t there anymore, but I had a big say so in the direction of the band when I was with them. The band has been with me since my youth. I really feel like I know which way the band should go.
MB: It says on MTV that you left in part because of “spiritual differences.” Is that true?
MC: We’re all different people in the band, and I don’t expect them to believe like I do, and I don’t think they expect me to believe like they do, but overall, we believe in the same thing. I guess some people are just more liberal than others. To a lot of people’s eyes, I am a liberal person. I can’t help it, that’s just who I am, how I see things. Spirituality is different for everybody.
MB: Did that contribute at all to you leaving the band?
MC: There’s a story out there that says that I left and a story out there that says that I was fired. That’s in the past, and we want to move on to positive things like writing new music.
MB: How does it feel to be back together after four years?
MC: It feels great. It’s like an old shoe. At first, I was a little nervous, the first time I jammed out. But as soon as we got into the rhythm, it was like I never left.
MB: You said that you are kind of more liberal than most people, so would you say you are more liberal in your beliefs than your fellow band members?
MC: We’re different people. Let’s just put it like that.
MB: You’re not going any further with that, I guess.
MC: To go back to that comment, some people—I’m not saying the band—view me as more of a liberal person in politics, in spirituality, everything. Even if it’s just people outside the band.
MB: In general, it seems like a lot of Christians are viewing you as a band as being too liberal. I mean, they’ve been attacking you for touring with all these secular bands like Korn…
MC: If anything, we’re just trying to spread positivity, which is rooted in our faith in God, but you can’t please everybody. The band that really sets the tone for us—and they’re a completely different type of rock—would be U2. U2 is one of the bands that is rooted in faith, but they have been able to break free and reach as many people as possible. That’s what we try to do. We try to reach the masses and inspire people.
MB: Do you ever have any quips with touring with some of these bands, for example, Marilyn Manson?
MC: No. I mean, there needs to be a balance in life. The thing is, I just saw Marilyn Manson, and a lot of people think, ‘What?!’… The funny thing is, I went in thinking there was gonna be some haters here. The majority of the Manson fans knew about our new record, and I was getting asked for photos and autographs and everything. I encountered more haters when I went to the ‘Sounds of the Underground’ tour from all these little hardcore kids who thought I was too mainstream. I was like, ‘Whatever, dude. You just hate me cause I’m on the radio.’
What’s cool is that everyone is an artist regardless of what they put forth as an artist. There’s a mutual respect regardless of our belief systems.
MB: Still, I mean Manson has a record of trashing God, and he often burns a Bible when he plays “Anti-Christ Superstar.” Did he do that when you went?
MC: The thing is, my buddy, who plays keys for Manson—this is how diverse he is—he also plays in Gnarls Barkley. It’s cool that he’s multi-talented and diverse, because there’s a lot of kids who want to concentrate on one thing like, I remember myself when I was younger. I used to sit back and say, it’s all about Metallica and Testament and Slayer. Nothing Else Matters, you know. As you mature, you open yourself up to a lot of new styles and appreciate music and songwriting in general.
MB: The new album was originally slated for release last August. Why has it been delayed so long?
MC: We’ve had to step back. This is the longest time it’s ever taken for me personally or for P.O.D. to write a record. The music had been done for a while. Vocally has been what’s taken the longest. So we were supposed to release it in August last year, then it got pushed back to September, then October, then November, then January, then March, and now April.
MB: Alright, it’s definitely getting released in April then? Not like Guns N Roses, waiting 13 years to release an album?
MC: No, it’s just getting back to the mold of having the original band back together. You know, Sonny [Sandoval, lead singer] has three kids. He has a t-shirt company. He’s got a lot of things going on. Getting back together and rocking was a great thing, but it took time. The music came out quick, but the vocals took a little longer.
MB: Do you have a tour scheduled for this summer?
MC: We’re probably going to do a lot of radio shows to promote the record. We’re also talking about doing South America sometime like July for like a month hopefully. Our big major American tour, we’re going to do that this fall.
MB: Have you heard Weird Al’s song “Angry White Boy Polka” [which features a compilation of songs about suicide, breakups, school shootings, and other issues angry white boys face on a daily basis]?
MB: What did you think having your song [“Youth of the Nation”] featured in it?
MC: I thought it was funny, because that’s when you know we’ve made it. The funny thing is, people take us really seriously. We are a serious band, but we know that, at times, we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously. We have fun. That’s why we went ahead and did a video like “Boom” (where they played an ultra-competitive ping-pong match in comedic style). We wanted to show people that we could have fun. They have a movie out now called “Balls of Fury,” but we did that same topic back in the day.
MB: I wanted to ask you some more questions about “Youth of the Nation” [inspired by shootings at Columbine High School and Santana High School]. Pretty depressing song the way you portrayed the youth of the nation. Do you think the situation has changed since then?
MC: I think people are a lot more aware of the situation about shootings. First you had Columbine, then Santana was the one that was personal to us because it happened in San Diego, and we were rehearsing and writing Satellite a couple of blocks away from the school. One day on the way to the studio, there were all these helicopters and cars speeding by. We really didn’t know what was going on. When we got to the studio, this guy had the news on, and he was like, ‘This kid just went and started blasting fools.’ So we started jamming, and that rhythm just naturally came out then Wuv [Bernardo, drummer] put that drumbeat on it, and the song was born.
But as far as answering your question, I think people are more aware. I’m not sure the situation has gotten a whole lot better, though, because there are still a lot of shootings going on. They aren’t even just going on at schools anymore. They’re happening at the mall now. I think a lot of it is, people need to be aware of their surroundings, and if they see any warning signs, they need to speak up. I think sometimes people just assume that everyone is okay, and that’s not always true.
I have a really different viewpoint on the world, and I think a lot of times the conditions that we live in here in America causes these sudden outbursts.
MB: Being such a spiritual band, have you heard from any kids that you have influenced?
MC: You know, I was talking to a friend who was hanging out with a certain artist who was bummed because this artist can’t check their Myspace because they get a lot of suicide letters. When you think about it, the reason is, the music that comes out of that artist is really depressing. P.O.D. has been blessed to have tons of letters from people who were thinking about committing suicide but our music got them through it. Now they are so thankful, and they are lifelong fans. That’s what it’s all about, man. We’re here to encourage and inspire. That’s what Bob Marley did. That’s what U2 does. That’s what Santana does. We just want to spread positivity. There’s just way too much negativity going on in our everyday lives. When you can hear something that’s going to uplift you like “Alive” or something that’s going to bring out knowledge like “Youth of the Nation,” we’ve done our jobs as an artist. We’re trying to be relevant with the people. I joke around with this all the time, but I really do think that P.O.D. is the band for the people, dude. It’s sounds cheesy, but at the same time, it’s not, man.
MB: Do you think these artists who have depressing and sometimes violent music should be blamed at all for suicides?
MC: Let’s put it this way. When we shot the video for “Youth of the Nation,” we had a girl sitting on the hood of the car going down the highway trying to be free-spirited, you know? Don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, right? But, Viacom and MTV had us edit that out because kids are so easily influenced. It’s like on shows like “Jackass,” where they have to put out those warnings. Kids will actually try to do what they see on TV. So, if kids are going to copy what they see, don’t you think they are going to copy what they hear?
I’m not saying that’s for everybody, but in certain cases, there’s going to be a song that’s going to make some people sulk in negativity.
MB: So, do you think the artists should be held accountable, then?
MC: That’s a tough subject. I don’t think you can pin it on one particular band or one particular thing. It’s an accumulation of a lot of different things. Kids not communicating with their parents, or their parents are just fucked up. Then that kids getting picked on at school. Then when they get home, they pop in this angry, obnoxious, negative music, and that’s going to fuel how they feel. I would think that in some cases, it would cause them to go out and act upon it.
MB: Do you think anyone will get mad at you for saying “fuck” in that last response?
MC: Who knows … There might be some haters. The thing about that whole word is some people are getting so caught up in that one word that they are forgetting about the whole subject matter that we are speaking of.
Feature photo taken by Phil Konstantin, used under the Creative Commons License of Wikimedia: Source