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"I knew it was coming a couple months ago," says Accident Experiment guitarist Marcos Curiel of Atlantic Records' decision to drop P.O.D. from its roster. With drummer Wuv (Noah Bernardo Jr.), Curiel cofounded the South Bay band. Curiel was with P.O.D. for 11 years before being asked to leave by the band's manager in 2003. Curiel says he recently settled a lawsuit with P.O.D. over unpaid songwriting and record royalties.

"I'm happy.... It was only about getting my fair share of everything that was rightfully mine. It sucked that it took three and a half years...."

P.O.D. released two albums with Curiel, who had a big part in writing the music and creating the chord progressions.

"Fundamental Elements of Southtown sold over a million," says Curiel about their first Atlantic CD. "I think Satellite sold five million worldwide." Disc sales plummeted after Curiel left; the band's last two Atlantic CDs sold 500,000 and 200,000 copies, respectively.

"P.O.D. tried to blame Atlantic for everything," says Curiel. "But they weren't blaming Atlantic when I was in the band and they were selling millions of records. They blamed the marketing. But I remember watching MTV when both albums [without me] came out. They had a lot of MTV video airplay and commercials. They reached number one on TRL. But it all boils down to the songs. It sounded to me as if they were trying to re-create Satellite over and over again."

Curiel says the biggest rifts between him and P.O.D. were about his desire to take on other music projects and "...who they thought I should be spiritually.... When I was in the band, they put across this self-righteous vibe.... That whole Christian-rock scene is more about the image and the lifestyle than it is about the music. That's why there are so many mediocre so-called Christian bands, but there are few that kick ass."

And there was the issue of "band pastor"...

"They wanted to hire the drummer's dad to be the band's pastor. They wanted to pay him a salary and have him go out on the road. I said that was not cool. It never happened, but they held a grudge."

Curiel says the other members have avoided him since the split.

"I sat down with Wuv for the first time three months ago.... I ran into [vocalist] Sonny [Sandoval] at the Fashion Valley mall. I went up to him and said, 'Hey, what's up?' He wouldn't have come up to me.... I reached out to them when [former Pantera guitarist] Dimebag Darrell was shot onstage. It was right around Christmas [2004]. I thought this could happen to any of us, that any of us could die at any time. I wanted them to know...that we could resolve this stuff and that I don't hate them. I wanted to wish them a Merry Christmas. They were shocked that I called.... We were four ghetto kids who had a dream to rock and go around the world. We did that. At one point those were my buddies and my best friends. I miss their friendship."

Accident Experiment's first full-length CD, United We Fear, was released in May (and Curiel says there's major-label interest). The band sets out on a two-month national tour October 11. They play Dream Street on September 16.

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