When you think of Katy Perry, chances are the words “Christian” and “nu metal” aren’t the first things that spring to mind. And that’d be fair enough – as well as being the second most followed woman on Twitter, she’s also responsible for some of the most enduring pop bangers produced this century. But years before making her name as one of the world’s biggest pop stars, Perry was a fledgling name in the Christian rock scene.
Releasing one self-titled album under her birth name, Katy Hudson, Perry’s 2001 debut was filled with tracks which lamented loneliness, self-doubt and other themes dripping with teen angst and how they related to her faith. The record was an unequivocal flop, selling just under 200 copies, but it did afford Perry the sort of credentials one might need to be considered for a guest spot with the world’s premier Christian nu metal band.
Cut to 2006, when, upon searching for a female vocalist to work with them on their new album Testify, San Diego metallers P.O.D. were introduced to Perry by their producer. She recorded vocals for the band on the album’s lead single, Goodbye For Now, as well as appearing in its music video and live TV performances to promote it. One notable spot was on chart show CD:USA, where Perry joins the band in a particularly mid-2000s outfit (cut-off tights and ballet pumps, anyone?) and a shaggy Myspace hairdo to match.
“[Katy]’s lovely,” P.O.D. singer Sonny Sandoval told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2018. “She did a video with us, she recorded on our record – we were recording a record with Glen Ballard at the time, and she was kind of his protege. We were saying “Man, this song would really sound nice with some beautiful female vocals over the top”, and he said “I have the girl”.
Perry would blow up in her own right just two years later, having changed her name and, seemingly, shed any remnants of Christianity in her music – ironically, her debut single I Kissed A Girl nearly got junked by her label for fears of how it would be received in the Bible belt. “I don’t know Katy Perry the diva,” says Sandoval. “I know Katy Perry the tomboy who came in acting like one of us, picking her nose and being goofy, having dinner with us and we’d sit around like a family. That’s the kid I know.
“And she went on to become Katy Perry, which is crazy. But when you’re around 26 years you see it all.”