Wuv - drums
Traa - bass
Sonny - vocals
Marcos - guitar
The story of P.O.D. turned its first page when Marcos and Wuv were introduced by a friend who, taking matters in hand, suggested, "Hey, you guys should jam."
"The next thing you know, Marcos and I were practicing in my parents' living room," says Wuv, who'd learned to play drums along with Cheap Trick, AC/DC, and the first Cars album.
"From there, we started playing a lot of house parties in the neighborhood." Sonny, who would dutifully attend these early gigs to help keep his cousin Wuv out of trouble, took it all in and was moved by the excitement the band could generate. At the same time, Sonny was struggling to cope with the loss of his mother to cancer. The only thing that seemed to see him through was the support of family.
"I wanted to get Sonny involved with the band to get his mind off what was going on," says Wuv. "Where we're from, it's so easy to get caught up in everything our friends are doing – getting high and just hanging with the fellas. I just said, ‘Hey dude, why don't you come join the band.' He was doing some hip-hop stuff with our friends and he was tight. So we started off trying to incorporate his skills into what Marcus and I were doing."
By 1992, Payable On Death had finally taken shape and the band went to work in earnest while booking themselves into any hall that would have them. The band's first show found them opening a local show with Face To Face, followed by a New Year's Eve gig opening for Green Day.
"I still remember when Wuv said to me, ‘Yeah, my cousin's in a rap group,'" recalls Marcos, reflecting on the band's earliest moments. "I was like, ‘Dude, Sonny never talks to anybody in the first place – how does he get in front of an audience?' It's was true. Our first show with Sonny was kind of like a scene from The Doors. Sonny had his back turned to the crowd the whole time. It was hilarious."
As the band's presence on stage grew more dynamic and Sonny found his confidence, the P.O.D audience expanded from a Southtown crew to a wider regional following. Soon the group was opening local shows for the likes of Cypress Hill, HR, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Pennywise, and the Vandals.
Within the space of a year, the group was up and ready to get into the studio. Taking cues from their numerous D.I.Y. heroes, the band struck their claim for independence and began formulating plans to launch their own label. Rescue Records to the rescue. The self-financed start-up served as the label home to the group's first three independent releases, beginning in 1993.
That same year, the band's line-up was solidified with the arrival of bassist Tra_. His formal entrance into the P.O.D. arena came on the eve of a show at the Whisky in Los Angeles. The band was in desperate search for the right four-stringer to see them through.
"My dad suggested we give Tra_ a call," remembers Wuv. "He was playing, at the time, in my uncle's funk band. We weren't trying to steal him but when Tra_ played with us, it was just dope."
"It was more of a spiritual thing than anything," says Tra_, a Cleveland native who grew up on the sounds of James Brown, George Benson, and Larry Graham. "It was right. Playing with these guys allowed me to expand into playing a whole new kind of music."
Earlier this year the quartet renewed their relationship with Tooth & Nail with the release of their "THE WARRIORS" EP. Originally designed as pre-production demos for "FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENTS OF SOUTHTOWN," the seven-track disc includes early versions of "Southtown" and "Follow Me" – heard here as an instrumental called "Sabbath."
Today, the road-hungry P.O.D. average more than 150 shows a year – playing primarily for all-ages audiences. With gigs often promoted by young fans, grass roots bookings have led to P.O.D. tour stops at alternate venues in small towns and suburbs across the States. Over the course of eight years and numerous national tours, they've headlined skate parks, county parks, coffeehouses, colleges, and local youth centers, setting up their gear on driveways, flatbeds, beaches, and in gymnasiums.
"We could play in an abandoned building and somehow the kids would find out about it and be there," says Sonny with a laugh.
Such is the band's connection to their fans that often times, the performance accounts for only part of any show's events. After a set, it is not uncommon to find all four members of P.O.D. drawn into long conversations with kids that just want to talk, whether it's about music, school, parents, anything. As far as the guys are concerned, such interaction is as inherent to the band's purpose as the music itself.
"I'll spend hours talking after a show," says Sonny. "That's what this band is about -- we're just honored to have that kind of opportunity to connect with young people, y'know."
"The style of music we play – it's an important part of life for a lot of kids," says Wuv. "The way they feel this music, that's the way they're living life – hardcore. It's there in the way they dress, the way they do everything. It's not about some fad they run in and out of."
That dedication to the band has led to the creation of the P.O.D. Warriors crew, a loosely affiliated team made up of dozens of fans from across the country who take an active roll in putting out the word on the band and in locally promoting their concerts. The Warriors are connected via the band's website and an active subscribers e-mail list.