"I wouldn’t want to be a kid today". 23 years since P.O.D. released anti-gun violence anthem Youth Of The Nation, the song is depressingly more relevant than ever

P.O.D. San Diego 2024
(Image credit: Jeremy Saffer)

When nu metal forerunners P.O.D. released Youth Of The Nation in 2001, it was in response to a tragedy. The 2001 Santana High School shooting happened just a couple of blocks away from the band's studio in their native San Diego and was the latest in a depressingly long list of similar events that had unfolded in the two years following the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre. 

Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse in the 23 years since. A 2022 Washington Post report stated that there have been 413 school shootings since 1999, while a 2024 CNN report added that as of June 24 2024 there have been "at least" 34 school shootings this year alone. 

Speaking to Classic Rock, P.O.D. frontman Sonny Sandoval was asked if he was depressed that the single, taken from 2001's Platinum-selling Satellite, had only grown more relevant over time.   

“It’s sad. Totally heartbreaking," he admits. "I say this all the time, but I wouldn’t want to be a kid today. I’m glad my kids are older, but I’m still very compassionate for those kids who are growing up now and that’s why I run the Youth Of The Nation foundation." 

A charity set up by Sandoval, the Youth Of The Nation foundation was set up to provide (as per the organisation's website), "a safe haven, especially for those in underprivileged neighborhoods and inner city communities where at-risk youth are given the opportunity to find their self-worth and value" through art and mentorship programmes. 

Sandoval admitted that the challenges facing children now are very different to when he was growing up.

"I believe in young people and I care for them," he explains. "But if you look at how we’re communicating – social media or whatever – it’s too much. When we were kids, you went outside and threw a ball around, played hide and seek. Now it’s too hard to be just innocent, because they’re constantly being bombarded. So I’m sad the song is still so relevant in 2024, but if it’s gonna be in people’s faces and ears, say ‘hey, we need to pay attention to our kids, to their mental health and to gun violence’, I hope we’re always poking the bear.”

For more info on The Youth Of The Nation Foundation, visit their official website. Classic Rock's full interview with Sonny Sandoval is online now.  

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.