If you attended any of San Diego’s ASR (Action Sports Retailer) tradeshows in the ‘90s, it’s likely you ran into P.O.D. peddling CDs out of their backpacks. Founding drummer/multi-instrumentalist Noah “Wuv” Bernardo owned a skate shop on Palm Avenue during those days, and he promoted the Christian rock band while conducting store business at the same time.
A lot has changed since then.
The skate shop no longer exists and P.O.D. (Payable on Death) has gone on to become one of San Diego’s all-time most successful exports.
Yet, despite Grammy nominations, worldwide sold-out tours, and tens of millions in record sales, the band’s core quartet remain as grounded as they did during their DIY tradeshow days.
DiscoverSD caught up with Bernardo while he was home for a few days to promote the band’s upcoming new studio album and play a local record release show.
Q: “The Awakening” is coming out. What’s different about this record?
A: For us, getting together and banging out the tunes wasn’t any different at all. But it was our first time doing a conceptual album. Putting the storyline together and building the songs around it was a different process for sure. We definitely wanted to get the story right without it being totally obvious. Changing things up lyrically was different, but it really made it fun. And the music will always have that P.O.D. flavor and feel.
Q: This is your ninth studio album and something like your 15th in general. Still have fun going into the studio?
A: Every time we gear up to go in for a new record, there’s always that excitement. It never feels like old hat to us. Especially when we get to team up with our friend and producer Howard Benson - it’s always a good time and we’re looking forward to getting in there.
Q: Why a concept album this time?
A: We come from an era where being a fan meant buying the complete album. And we know we’ve been around for a long time and experimented with a lot of things. But we thought it was important to bring fans back to listening to a whole record. That’s why we wanted to do a concept album. We wanted people to know there was more to it than just one song. It’s not just this one thing you hear on the radio. It’s a full body of work. And this album is our small way of bringing longtime P.O.D. fans, as well as first timers, that full experience.
Q: It’s crazy to think, but you’re almost at the 25-year mark. Planning anything special?
A: I think we will. And I’m sure the band will agree. We were going to do something for our 20th and never did. It just came and went. So I think it’d be really cool to do something for the fans on our 25th. I really hope we do. We always like to represent San Diego.
P.O.D plays House of Blues on Aug. 22
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to firstname.lastname@example.org.