P.O.D.: The Band That Shook A Punk Kid

I owe a debt to “Payable On Death.” They helped lift me out of the miry (and stanky) clay of  mid to late ’90s alternative rock and rapcore.

In my early to mid-teens I was a sucker for bands like Soundgarden, Deftones, Beastie Boys, and, I’m afraid to admit: Limp Bizkit. I was a “good” church kid that didn’t miss a Sunday or Wednesday service thanks to my mom, but I wouldn’t categorize myself as much more than a spectator among Christian festivities back then. And though I assimilated much about cultural Christianity into my life during that time, I had a serious aversion to the Christian music industry.

With all due respect to Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and dc Talk,* I couldn’t shake the notion that the only thing that Christian music had to offer was, well, cheese.

Then along came P.O.D. Their “Southtown” release helped ignite the beginning of the short lived “rapcore” rage. At the end of my 9th grade year I happened to stumble upon a $1.99 demo that featured their song “Lie Down” (still have it memorized).

I was shocked and hooked at once.

A bold and refreshing new world of Christian music opened up to me. It didn’t include keyboard solos and “Jesus is my boyfriend” sentiments. It had nasty guitar riffs, timely screaming, Rastafarian undertones, and contrarian lyrics like:

They feed us lies, dress up my King in false disguise

Behind those eyes, soul of Savior I recognize

No compromise, while the whole world becomes corrupt

Tonight we break the surface for lives, we comin’ up

There’s probably a lot more that can be said about P.O.D.’s choices for collaborations and album cover art, but not here.

I owe them more than that.

They helped me find my two choices were not limited to Nine Inch Nails or Steven Curtis Chapman in the musical style spectrum. There possibly was a righteous middle ground. If it’s tricky to rock and rhyme (as Run DMC stated so well), it is even trickier to rock and rhyme in a Christ-honoring fashion. Props to the bands who even attempt it.

My passion for P.O.D. has waned significantly in my adulthood (I have a more mellow pallate now) but my appreciation for them has not. The band God used to help spark my formative spiritual years still finds itself caught in a cultural rock and religious hard spot. P.O.D. is still somewhat too hardcore for the Christian music scene and too Christian for the hardcore music scene.

But I remember a time when listening to their heavy handed riffs and Christological lyrics was like a desert traveler drinking from a fire hydrant.

In a CCM land of cookie cutter music styles, cliché chorus lines, spray tans, and self conscious image projections, a gritty movement arose. That movement included a dreadlocked, tatted up, metal cover band with a passion for the youth of a nation.

One misguided youth caught their vision and hasn’t quite been the same.

I couldn’t tell you one song on the latest P.O.D. albums. But for old times sake, and as a tribute to the first “Christian” band I ever liked, I’ll conclude with this:

Tribal Warriors unite!

Bryan Daniels

*I appreciate ALL kinds of music now; I’m not hating on my boy Michael W. Smith, peeps!

Any bands or artists that had a great impact on you as a youth?

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

50 thoughts on “P.O.D.: The Band That Shook A Punk Kid”

  1. Awesome! I was locked into Bob Bennett’s Mountain Cathedrals, Michael Card’s Dragonslayer, peppered with some Petra, and the ever popular Christian comedian Mike Warke…

    Right up until I discovered Pink Floyd and the Eagles…

    Those were the days…

  2. I definitely shared music taste with you “back in the day” and like POD. However it wasn’t until I read a book about Lance Armstrong that I realized POD’s “Alive” was actually a Christian song…I’ve come a long way since then and just took my 2 older kids to see Casting Crowns last week which was great.

  3. Since I’m still, technically, in my youth, I really like Skillet, Casting Crowns, Newsboys, Tenth Avenue North, and a lot of the other stuff out there….for the last 5 years, I’ve been content with just getting the latest Wow CD and listening to the not-slow (aka boring) stuff. I like a beat. I don’t think I was ever really totally content with listening to other stuff before I found up-beat and catchy Christian groups that sang more than hymns or camp songs. I love some of the lyrics that are out there– God definitely shines through some of those songs!

    Awesome post!

  4. All the music I grew on I still love. And I’m a Limp Bizkit fan of the time! I still love Korn,NIN,and all the uncensored stuff I just have an affinity for. Christ is in my heart always. I guess it’s all on how you interpret words. Loved your post! By the way, I’m the biggest fan of the Foo Fighters over all else!

  5. Well as for me I just loved all the old songs like amazing grace, old rugged cross, victory in Jesus “you know” Just as I am and such, and I guess i always will… I do like , Why me lord, I sing it a lot even put it on my new CD along with 3 songs that I wrote myself… I plan on putting my CD on line in the near future… Might want to keep your eye out for it if you can handle.country style music . I guess I still like that ole time religeon so to speak… Blessings … Bro Pat.

      1. Thanks to you my friend; I really enjoyed your post and reading the different comments. thats one thing that I love about the Lord” He gives each of us wonderful blessings to share with each other… May your day be filled with His Blessings… Bro Pat.

  6. Okay, I was an Amy Grant fan. 😉

    I am thankful for your post because I am struggling now with my teenage boys and their music choices. It’s such a tricky area for me. They want a secular sound and I want a Christian message. They like Lecrae (Christian rap) and Skillet (supposedly Christian rock, but I wonder sometimes with some of the lyrics). But, they still want what their friends have on their iPods (and it’s not uplifting).

    However, your story gave me hope! God is still on the throne — even in the world of teenagers and their music! 😉

    1. Go to one of the Skillet concerts and listen to John (lead singer) pray and speak about Jesus. Your mind would be eased! “The Last Night” (your kids will know this one) was written by John about a girl who was a cutter and came to one of Skillets shows to say googbye, as in suicide. She is still with us thanks to John. They really are a great band. By the way, I’m 45. Just sayin…:)

      1. Whew! Thank you for that information. Seriously. I’m trying to do the right thing and have to often remind myself my children belong to the Lord and I’m the steward attempting to raise them…but, even still, God is their Father. 🙂

    2. I’ll forgive you on the Amy Grant thing : )

      You’re boys will be alright, they got a good godly mom sowing into them. Sound means little to me, it really comes down to the lyrics. It’s good to keep tabs on the messages that is being embedded into their souls.
      God is on the throne! Peace and grace!

  7. Can’t say as I ever got into POD. 🙂 I like a lot of different stuff! My favorite would be Third Day, love those guys! Chris Tomlin, Stryper, News Boys, MercyMe, Casting Crowns…..:)

  8. We did some years following CCM artists in our family, and we enjoyed much of it. More and more, however, I wish Christians would simply create excellent music that would hold its own in “secular” markets. I don’t think the division between “Christian” and “secular” music has served us particularly well. I think C.S. Lewis said something like, “We don’t need more Christian artists; we need more artists that are Christians.” (My apologies to Lewis if I misquoted him.) Good post – thanks!

  9. Bryan – I didn’t get saved until I was 18 in 1990, and B.C. I was into all those big hair glam rock bands – Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, etc. – so the first Christian group I got into was Petra (their first praise album and Beyond Belief were my first two by them). I’m so thankful that there is a wider variety of Christian music today than just Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith (both of whom I have listened to and enjoyed). My teenage kids for example love Toby Mac, Superchic(k), TFK, Kutless, etc. Music is so powerful, and it’s a great way of learning Biblical truths (sometimes without even knowing that’s what it is). Some of my favourites today include Steven Curtis Chapman, and a lot of worship stuff like Jesus Culture, Hillsongs United and Chris Tomlin. Thanks for the great post!

  10. Kind of sounds like my love affair with Stryper back in the late 80’s early 90’s. “To Hell With The Devil” was a cornerstone of Christian metal!

  11. lol, I’ve always been a fan of cheese. Even now, I still listen to Jackie Vasquez and Disney music. Was never one for rap or heavy metal. But… your post made me appreciate POD more than I would have ever given them credit for.

  12. I heard them just a year ago. Hey, haven’t you listened to Stryper band? They’re back at least. I’m into Salvador, Sanctus Real, Relient K, Last Tuesday, Underoath and Jeremy Camp. Hard hitting lyrics inspired by the gospel rocks more than the world’s! 🙂

    1. I heard a little of Stryper, they were talented but seemed too ’80s hair to me. I still do listen to some Relient K though, and I used to have Salvador’s “Cry Holy” on repeat back in the day!

  13. I still love POD and other Christian rock bands even in my mid-30s! (www.theblast.fm is always playing at home or on my phone). As a kid I remember that I couldn’t believe they were christian since the hardest Christian music I had heard up till then was Petra. Today I’m thankful for my friend who reintroduced me to Christian rock with bands like Skillet.

  14. This is so good to read! Ok, I could be your mom. I’m from the era of Mustard Seed Faith, Keith Green, Daniel Amos, Andrea Crouch, etc. Ah, the good ole days!

    My kids’ teen years were through the 90’s. We took them and other teens to Creation Fest in the Gorge, WA state. I really, really, really had a hard time with the music BUT your posting lets me know that that music DID have a life convicting message – thank you, God!!

    My kids are adults now and I think they are normal by Christian standards; they remain Christ followers.

    God can use anything to bring His own unto Himself, and thankfully, I don’t have a say in the methods He uses!

    Easter blessings! “Up from the grave He arose! with a mighty triumph over foes…”

  15. Loved P.O.D. and Rage, and NIN, and White Zombie. P.O.D. was a diamond in rough that’s for sure. And the Beastie Boys, don’t even get me started. I actually had a dream the other night that I was on a NYC street watching some street performers do Paul Revere, they were all decked out in blue Addidas suits and I kept taking their mics away because I was clearly much better than them…Anyway, yeah, I feel ya.

    Remember DC Talk’s “I don’t want it?” BAhhahahhahaha

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