P.O.D. & Flyleaf
Stars In Stereo
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD, 21202
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 8:30 PM
"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.
Still, after the release of 2008's When Angels & Serpents Dance, the band took a lengthy hiatus. "You can blame me," says Sandoval. "The record business was changing, and we all wanted to get back to our personal lives and families.
When we do P.O.D., we want to enjoy what we're doing, and not to do it to pay the bills or tour just to tour." Fortunately, the time off served the band, and Sandoval, well. "Yeah, I got in a good place again. P.O.D. means so
much to us and our fans – there's a lot of love for what we do. I wanted to keep inspiring and encouraging people."
The band initially reconvened with a few jam sessions and the intent to put out a hardcore, Bad Brains-style EP and tour a little bit. But the initial recordings were strong enough to convince the group to tackle a new album. "By taking a break, we kind of got back on the same page," says guitarist Marcos Curiel. "Now, everyone has the same attitude going forward, the same feeling we had when we did those first two first two big albums The Fundamental Elements of Southtown and Satellite."
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."
To promote the record, the band has already set up a late spring/early summer headlining tour, as well as hitting a number of festivals and larger shows this year. "It seems like there's Warriors in every city," says Curiel, noting the band's affectionate nickname for their diehard fans. "They're loyal. And it's great, because we'll see people who loved us around the Satellite era bringing their kids." Given the closeness between the band and their fanbase, it's no surprise that P.O.D.'s new logo was the result of an online contest with their fans.
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."
Flyleaf comes full circle on New Horizons, their third full-length album for A&M/Octone. The platinum-selling hard rock outfit blazes with a fresh fire and uncontainable energy. Marching to heavenly melodies and incendiary guitars, the group—James Culpepper [drums], Sameer Bhattcharya [guitar, vocals], Jared Hartmann [guitar], Lacey Sturm [vocals] and Pat Seals [bass, vocals]—arrives at another dawn.
There's always hope around the corner. When the night is darkest, the sunrise is brightest. Through the toughest trials and tribulations come the best rewards. For every death, there is a birth. At the end of the day, life remains built on cycles beyond our control.
Flyleaf finished touring late 2010 behind their second offering, Memento Mori, and took a break. Throughout 2011, they were writing for what would become their next record. "It was simply about writing and seeing what happened. There was so much freedom in that" Jared exclaims. Sameer excitedly echoes that sentiment. "There was more of a natural feeling, and there were absolutely no boundaries or rules. We've grown as songwriters. It's nothing we try to force. We let the songs be themselves."
At the start of 2012, the band regrouped in Los Angeles with longtime producer Howard Benson [Bon Jovi, My Chemical Romance] to record New Horizons. Having built an unshakable trust with the musicians, Benson captured them in the moment, preserving the urgency of the initial tracks without tinkering or altering the initial blueprint much.
Within merely six weeks, Flyleaf emerged from the studio with their most explosive, expansive, and enigmatic work yet. The title track stands emblematic of the album's spirit. Taking a cue from Hartmann's eclectic pop influences, a clean guitar melody builds into Sturm's inspiring and invigorating refrain just before crashing back into warm distorted bliss. "It's a very hopeful song about looking forward," continues Sameer. "You put aside unhealthy fear. Instead, you embrace excitement for the future and the unknown. You can only be excited for what's ahead." Jared agrees, "That sense of hopefulness will always be a crucial element of what we do. It's a big part of New Horizons."
Meanwhile, "Great Love" remains one of the group's most uplifting and undeniable pieces. "It's anthemic and definitive of our sound," adds Pat. "The lyrics, to me, admit the need we have for fellowship with what is greater than ourselves."
"Fire Fire" resounds with an infectious unpredictability from the staggering guitars and percussion as well as Sturm's inimitable delivery." A lot of it is metaphorical," reveals Sameer of "Fire Fire". "When you're young, you feel like nothing can touch you or impact you. You think you're invincible. A realization that you're not immortal comes as you get older and progress. There's always a battle between the spirit and the flesh. We're all flawed and corrupted, but there's redemption beyond this world."
Even with the smooth creative process, Flyleaf faced true tragedy together upon finishing recording. Their front of house engineer and close friend Rich Caldwell was killed in a car accident just outside his home in College Station, TX. The group banded together and held a benefit concert to aid Caldwell's wife Katy and two-year-old son Kirby. It was also a chance to celebrate their brother's life. Sameer sighs. "I still can't believe it. Rich got to come out to the studio while we were recording in L.A. He wasn't there very long, but he heard some of the music. I feel really fortunate we spent that time together. He was pretty much the sixth member of the band, and he'd been there since the beginning. Outside of the band, he influenced us more than any other person as far as music goes. He'll always be one of our best friends."
As all of their records do, the album remains cathartic for the band. They convey a deeper message with the songs, emerging from life's battles triumphantly and positively via their music. Sameer elaborates, "There's a lot of struggle on New Horizons. In the midst of all these grandiose ideas, there's an underlying tension, which humanizes the record. It addresses some darker things, and it feels the most human to me. It discusses the conflict we face trying to figure out if we're doing the right thing and walking the right path, even when people tell us we're not."
Ever since they unleashed their first record in 2005, life's been a bit of a rollercoaster. Flyleaf exceeded platinum status on the strength of singles including "I'm So Sick", "Fully Alive", and the platinum-selling staple "All Around Me". It also remained on the Billboard Top 200 for 133 weeks, hitting the top 15 of both the Rock Albums and Alternative Albums charts. Meanwhile, they performed across the globe with everyone from Korn and Deftones to Stone Sour and Evanescence. They've even touched down in Afghanistan to play for American troops. In 2009, Memento Mori, featuring "Again" and "Missing", debuted at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 with sales in excess of 56,000 units that week. Still, they continue to break ground and forge ahead.
New Horizons exists not only for Flyleaf, but for their legion of fans as well. "If a song makes someone feel better, that's incredible," concludes Jared. "We try to share something special with listeners."
Pat exclaims, "When listening to New Horizons, I would hope that fans would be able to lose themselves in the story of each of these songs and form their own connections to them—as we have in the band. There is a great deal of our souls laid bare on this record, and I feel like it really comes through on the tracks."
For Sameer, it's about recognition of truth on a larger scale. "One of the struggles of the human soul is trying to distinguish between truth and lies. We want people to understand that Hope is real. We all have a higher calling, and it's something we should strive towards. That's the real new horizon."
Stars In Stereo
Proving to be unstoppable L.A. based Stars in Stereo have been enjoying a summer of relentless touring as they criss-cross the county winning over legions of new fans. The band shows no sign of slowing down as they gear up for September dates with The Used and an October trek with Blue October in anticipation of their self-titled debut album coming later this year.
The band has been touring nonstop all year with bands like The Used, Foxy Shazam and Hoobastank to get their insatiable music out to the masses. "Raw, sexy, and talented is all you need to know about Stars in Stereo" said Target Audience Magazine and Social Symphonies says "Stars in Stereo started the night out on the right foot. They packed hours worth of energy into their half hour set… definitely a band to watch out for."
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