P.O.D. Takes a Leap Forward With 'Circles': Album Premiere

Kevin Baldes
P.O.D.

After 26 years and nine studio albums, San Diego's P.O.D. was open to trying something new for its latest release, Circles, premiering exclusively below ahead of its Nov. 16 release.

The heavy rocking quartet worked on the 11-song set with the Los Angeles production duo the Heavy. It was the most extensive collaboration P.O.D. had ever undertaken, and frontman Sonny Sandoval acknowledges to Billboard that it marked a significant leap for him and his bandmates.

"We were just more open-minded to co-write, which we've never done before," Sandoval says. "We were kind of leery of that process, but we were open -- we had nothing to lose, so we did it. They know how we felt about it, too, so they definitely weren't pushy." But it didn't take long for P.O.D. to warm to the process, either.

"We sat down with them and started writing songs and brought riffs and ideas to the table," Sandoval recalled. "(The Heavy) is fresh and opinionated; They're young and still excited about this industry and the recording process. So we sat with them and we all threw out vocal ideas or melody ideas and even some lyric ideas -- which usually is my job and the band's hands off, but we all came up with stuff. They had a lot of ideas and we had a good time with them."

Sandoval says there was "no master plan" about Circles; There's plenty of P.O.D.'s familiar wallop in tracks such as "Rockin' With the Best" and "Always Southern California." But he credits The Heavy with bringing different flavors and textures into the mix, such as the loops and distorted sounds on "Panic Attack," while "Domino" was almost entirely at the Heavy's behest. "There's no way in heck I would ever write a song called 'Domino,' but it came out great," Sandoval says with a laugh. "After 26 years we're jaded, but these young guys really brought that excitement back to us, 'cause they were so excited to work with us. They just gave us a little energy boost, which is something we needed."

Circles' title, meanwhile, has a multitude of meanings to Sandoval, and not all of them are what fans necessarily want to hear. "Part of the thought was, 'Man, is this new beginning for P.O.D., or is the beautiful end?'" the frontman says. "We're 25 years in this game. We’ve been there, done that, seen it all. Nowadays you've got to tour 13 months out of the year just to make a living. Our families are getting older. We're getting older. Everyone goes through their own personal stuff. So we're just trying to make the right decisions.

"But I'm stoked that it's been this long and we're still out here and still love each other and still like being together."

That's a good thing, because P.O.D. hits the road again this week for tour dates to promote Circles. The group will wrap up in North America during mid-December, then has a European tour kicking off Feb. 15 in Germany. Sandoval says there will be another North American trek after that and summer festivals overseas.