P.O.D.’s Sonny Sandoval Helps Seether’s Shaun Morgan Find God at ShipRocked
The floating rock music festival that is ShipRocked fosters new friendships, and that was the case when Shaun Morgan of Seether and Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. met and bonded instantly while sharing the stage for a Q&A panel aboard the boat.
We sat down with the new pals, and the conversation got pretty deep, pretty quickly.
What do you guys like about playing Shiprocked?
Shaun Morgan: What I like about ShipRocked is that the people are cool. People are very respectful, people will high five you and then walk by. They won’t be all creepy and weird or stalker-y and follow you around. Everyone’s just really cool. It’s a culture now. They’ll sell out next year’s cruise tomorrow. [Laughs]
Sonny Sandoval: People don’t even know the bands [that have been booked when tickets go on sale] and they don’t care, they know it’s going to be somebody good.
During the panel Q&A you guys talked a little bit about the industry. P.O.D. recently signed to Mascot Label Group for their upcoming album. Can you both elaborate on your experiences with labels.
Sonny Sandoval: Yeah sometimes it’s a gamble. When you’ve been doing it for so long sometimes you can produce on your own and you don’t feel like you have to go to the machine. “You know what? I got a studio, I can do this” and not give everyone else the budget." You learn as you go.
I remember hearing back in the day, so-and-so got a deal and bands are spending the money. Some of them live in the old days, where money is coming in and budgets are endless but bands have to pay that back. Some bands just don’t realize that.
Shaun Morgan: Those videos you guys were doing were like 100 or 200 grand, right? Now you can do it with a $10,000 budget.
Sonny Sandoval: Dude, you want to know how much the “Alive” video was at the time? $600,000. He’s now a director in movies but we didn’t know that. If I was writing the check, I would have been like, “Wait a minute, let’s do a $6,000 video.” Now I got to pay for my own flights and I’m sitting coach.
Shaun Morgan: [Laughs] When was the last time you flew business? For me, never unless I buy it on my own dime ...
Sonny Sandoval: I refuse to. I’m old school. Now when I look at the books - it was like this [album] went platinum and you’ll sit first class and we were getting first class tickets everywhere... Dude, we’re still paying that back. We hired someone to go in and crunch the numbers because we’re like, “We got to be making some money” and she comes back and says you owe Atlantic a million and a half. Ten million records [sold] and we owe you?
Shaun Morgan: Here’s the thing with that. We don’t get paid like athletes or movie stars, we get dicked over and everyone takes a cut. You touched a nerve with me earlier. We’ve been doing this for twenty or twenty-five years, and we all thought we would have something to bank on. It’s not just about people stealing our shit or choosing not to buy an album. My thing is: just pay us for our work. We don’t just wake up and there’s a song [written and recorded] the next day.
Sonny Sandoval: We released our last record and we got screwed over. Come to find out the dude signed us for the tax write off. Our last record didn’t see the light of day.
Shaun Morgan: They’ll sign you and try and change you and they put in money. They give you 13 cents on the dollar while they take 87 cents on the dollar. They use your 13 cents to pay for videos and marketing and if that fucking fails then their 87 cents is a tax write off. It’s completely screwed up.
I don’t believe the world now is better for musicians at all. There’s so much out there. We’ve all earned this now for years and years – I’ve watched bands start and fail, it’s not an easy world right now.
Sonny Sandoval: To go back to when you were talking about writing music – when we got screwed on our record and we got new management they were like, “Just go and write a new record” and we’re like, “We just did!” If we really sat down we could come up with an album but we were still hurting off of this one because we put our heart and soul into it and you almost don’t feel like writing.
Shaun Morgan: You guys took a break from the public eye for a while, right?
Sonny Sandoval: We took a break because I just got sick of the industry and I was losing myself.
Shaun Morgan: When you talked earlier [at the Q&A] about this, it was all about love and that was beautiful man. Look I don’t believe in God, my brother died and my dad died and for me, I’m mad. If he’s there, I’ll tell him come down so I can fucking knock you out and we can hash it out. I’m envious of that, you have a place... not even that, you have a lifestyle, that’s why I’m so glad I met you.
Sonny Sandoval: We’re going to be friends; we already are, brother.
Shaun Morgan: I sat there [during the Q&A] and I was like, "Fuck, that dude’s got me." What you said was awesome.
Sonny Sandoval: We’re getting off track, but the thing is: I don’t represent Christianity. When I took the time off, I walked away, I was just sick of everything. But then I went back to the basics of family and “Why did I start believing in the first place?” I wasn’t raised like that, but God sat with me, and we did hash it out.
Shaun Morgan: Well tell him to come find me.
Sonny Sandoval: [Laughs] I will!
Shaun Morgan: You’re a super cool guy, I’m so glad to be sitting across from you.
Besides a newfound friendship, what does 2018 have in store for both of you?
Shaun Morgan: Well Sonny’s going to send God to me! And then, just a bunch of touring. The album came out last year so you know the cycle, it’s nonstop.
Sonny Sandoval: We’ll finish touring, then we go into the studio in March and April and then more touring. For me, I’m riding it out. We’ve jumped through the label game and I’m just waiting to see how this does. I always cross my fingers and see what happens.
How’s writing for the new record coming?
Sonny Sandoval: It’s good. We don’t have one producer. We brought in friend producers that don’t have the name and just sit down –
Shaun Morgan: And they’re cheaper. [Laughs]
Sonny Sandoval: He’s keeping it real, and they’re cheaper. And we don’t want to go through the cookie cutter system again because a producer is the “hot” guy. Now we’ve sat with some younger cats and it’s cool. They’re a little bit more poppy and EDM stuff – they’re not writing our music, but they're adding their fun stuff to it, and we listen to it. It’s more experimental with sounds. Right now we don’t have anything to lose, nothing to prove, I just want to have fun with it.