P.O.D. singer Sonny Sandoval recently spoke to Beliefnet about the band's new album, "When Angels & Serpents Dance," their recent switch to a small Christian record label, and how he started a nationwide trend by naming his daughter Nevaeh, which is heaven spelled backward.
Your mom, who was a Christian, passed away when you were a teenager. Did she ever try to get you to embrace your faith when you were growing up? I read you were in a gang…
We weren't raised in a Christian family. I actually come from a young, wild family…a broken family. And so, long story short, my uncle had gotten saved and my family pretty much watched him--the last guy on earth [they thought would become a Christian] talk about Jesus. His life reflected [his faith] and God restored his family. Then, one by one, people in my family started to go to church and then find their faith in Jesus. The same thing with my mom. It was later on [in life that she became a Christian]. I always respected it because I watched it change a family that was destroyed.
I was raised Catholic and this whole Christianity thing…it was real. I believed it, because I saw lives changed. But it wasn't really until she passed away that I was really faced with the decision to get my stuff together or lose it all.
Do you identify yourself as Catholic now, or as a [Protestant] Christian?
I'm a born-again Christian—if everybody can agree what that means. I believe in Jesus. I believe that He died for my sins. So, Christian it is.
Studies have shown that people embrace their faith more as they get older. Do you feel, as you've gotten older and as your music career has progressed, that you're more in touch with your Christian faith?
I would say just within the last year I've actually been challenged to draw closer. When I say challenged [I mean] almost even forced, just to get closer to God than I thought I was, because it's a crazy world. I watch people that know about Him and believe in Him fall away like it's nothing. It really disturbs me.
I'm trying to make sure that for myself and for my family, I'm staying as close to the heart of God that I possibly can. It's a crazy time. It's a crazy world.
Do you think that's reflected a bit on your songs and songwriting, particularly with your new album?
Hindsight… I definitely see it. I see the struggle. When [I was] going through it all, everything kind of hit personally, family-wise. [There were] a lot of things…internal in the band. I was trying to get through it. I was just trying to do my job in L.A., go back home to my family on the weekend. Now when I listen to the record and go through it again, I realize how close God was in all of the things that were going on. I see the struggle, the pain. I see the hope that's in the record. It's all there and I'm excited about it.
Is there a specific song from the new album that you feel most passionate about?
That's a tough one, because they're all kind of like children. You spend so much time on each one, and each is its own chapter. And then, there's other reasons—some of the collaborations, the excitement of those.
I believe "Tell My Why" is a powerful song. Obviously, it's not the heaviest song that we've ever done, but it's powerful. "It Can't Rain Every Day" is awesome and powerful.
You guys changed labels recently, right? You're now with Columbia/INO?
Yeah. We spent two summers ago getting off Atlantic. We still opted one record with them, but because of the way labels are going downhill these days and firing everybody, we basically just asked to leave the record. We knew that they hadn't worked the last two records. Why would they give us all this money up front to record a record if it was going to be same way? We wanted to move, and we started talking to a bunch of different labels. INO were the most honest and real people, and it was a fair deal that every band should have.
We were in talks with all kinds of other labels, and it was the same deal. It was just--same snakes, different cage. And then we met Jeff [the owner of INO]. He wasn't trying to rip anybody off. He's a fan of the band. He wanted to get our music out.