P.O.D. Testifies

Christian rock act P.O.D. holds firm to faith on new album.

P.O.D. believes you can go home again.

After tussling with Christian retailers over the cover of its last studio album, 2003's "Payable on Death," the hard rock band will once again try to appeal to their mainstream and Christian audiences with its fourth full-length Atlantic effort.

For "Testify," released Jan. 24, P.O.D. teamed with superstar producer Glen Ballard.

According to P.O.D.'s drummer Wuv, the band wanted to work with Ballard on its previous album, but their schedules never aligned. This time, P.O.D. began recording with someone else, but after six months decided to approach Ballard again.

"We gave him a call again to see if he had time to listen to some songs we were recording," Wuv recalls. "Once he heard, he said he was in."

The songs for "Testify" were close to completion, and Wuv says the band was anxious to get Ballard's take on the material. "It was a big deal to hear someone like Glen's opinion coming from all the different backgrounds that he's worked with, from Michael Jackson to No Doubt to Aerosmith."

Wuv credits Ballard with helping the band craft a more "mature" effort. "We've always done reggae music and had the hip-hop elements. We've always kept it kind of heavy rock, but I think something that's going to be obvious just from the band standpoint is that the music sounds more mature for us," Wuv says. He is joined in the band by his cousin Sonny on lead vocals, Traa on bass and Truby on guitars.

Guests on "Testify" include Hasidic artist Matisyahu, who joins the band on "Roots in Stereo" and "Strength of My Life." Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. and Sick Jacken from Los Angeles duo the Psycho Realm contribute to "On the Grind."

Musically, as Wuv notes, the band continues to incorporate reggae, rap and hip-hop into its hard rock sound. Lyrically, it also sticks to writing positive, faith-based lyrics.

"Obviously people know P.O.D. for the spiritual elements that we bring lyrically and the positive feelings we give," Wuv says. "We always keep that in our music. We are always trying to dig deep and find something worth talking about instead of throwing any lyric on the table. That's always kind of a challenge for us -— [to] find out what we want to say without repeating ourselves over and over again."

Even though the band's music has always been positive with a Christian worldview, P.O.D. has sometimes been at odds with Christian retailers, primarily over the issue of album art. The band's breakthrough album, 1999's "The Fundamental Elements of Southtown," featured two CD covers, one for mainstream and a tamer one for Christian retail.

And with "Payable on Death," some retailers objected to the scantily clad female on the cover. However, Atlantic opted not to do two covers again, and some Christian retailers did not carry the record.

"We've learned in the past to not take those things seriously, and if that's what they want to do, that's what they want to do and they have their reasons," Wuv says of Christian retail's refusal to stock the last album.

Wuv says the band has never shied away from relaying its faith. "We aren't afraid to tell anybody we are human and that we are sinners," he says. "Your faith is something that nobody can take away from you. By no means are we perfect or anything like that, but at the same time, we know what we do is inspiration."

P.O.D. will be highly visible on MTV. The band will also appear on "The Late Show With Jay Leno" Jan. 30 with Ballard to perform "Goodbye for Now," and a "Last Call With Carson Daly" appearances is expected. In a rather unusual promotional effort, P.O.D. will also perform at Wrestlemania events in Miami and Chicago.

"There's a famous wrestler named Raymond Mysterio," Wuv says. "He actually graduated with me and Sonny at our high school. We are playing music for him when he comes out, so that will be fun and kind of cool. You know how those wrestling fans are, they come out in droves."