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September 11, 2001 was supposed to be the biggest day of P.O.D.’s career. After grinding it out on the road for nearly a decade—playing tiny clubs, churches, storefront youth groups, and (trust me on this one) Wal-Mart parking lots—it was finally time for the breakout album that would change everything.
Even before its release, Satellite had already yielded the mega hit “Alive” and was expected to be a Christian crossover success like nothing the music industry had ever seen. P.O.D., would go on to sell over three million copies of Satellite in the U.S., alone and become an international touring phenomenon.
But not before the hard rock band would be forced to stop in its tracks along with the rest of the country.
“At that point, we had worked so hard and we were excited about the record,” Sandoval recalls. “We did a Midnight signing in our hometown of San Diego. We were going to play a big show up in L.A., that day. So we had all these plans but I woke up that morning to a phone call from my mother-in-law (saying), “Turn on the TV.” I turned it on and at that point, nothing else mattered.”
Sandoval, like millions of Americans, vicariously experienced the horror that is now etched in the English lexicon as “9/11.” The sight of two planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan followed by the reports of a plane crashing into the Pentagon and another plane crashing in a Pennsylvania field (averted away from Washington D.C., by its brave passengers) took precedent for the next several days and weeks.
The same certainly held true for Sandoval who says it was a time of intense spiritual reflection.
“It wasn’t about music,” he says. “We couldn’t care less about P.O.D. It was about what was happening to our world. We kind of kept that same mentality going through it. I just wanted to be home with my family. I wanted to get on my hands and knees and make sure I was right with God. ‘What’s going on Lord?’”
As life slowly got back to some semblance of normal, P.O.D., found itself in a unique position. The media had caught on to the irony of the band’s now infamous release date but was also interested in how many people were being inspired by the positive rock anthem “Alive.”
“It was one of those few songs that, before 9/11, was positive,” Sandoval says. “It was uplifting. It offered hope. At the time, all of the sudden people didn’t care about the sex, drugs and rock and roll industry or Hollywood. Everybody was looking to the meaning of life and searching for God in those desperate times.”
And according to Sandoval, it was the aftermath of an American tragedy that allowed them to stand out even more so in an environment that had previously been littered with anti-faith messages.
“A lot of bands kind of jumped on that (positive) bandwagon,” Sandoval says. “The Slipknots of the world weren’t selling records because their music was negative. We were just honored to have a voice at that time.”
While P.O.D., has yet to duplicate Satellite’s commercial success, there’s no question the band has remained a positive force within the rock scene. It’s that opportunity to tell a unique audience about their faith in Christ that keeps Sandoval and his band mates moving forward some 20 years after they first came together as a hardcore garage band.
“That’s what inspires us,” he says. “It’s the power of God that keeps us rolling on. When you know it to be real and true, that’s when you have to share it with whoever will listen.”
Read the full transcript of our interview with Sandoval by clicking on these links:
And you can keep up with the latest P.O.D., news and download a free copy of the new single “On Fire” by visiting the band’s official website HERE.