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Welcome to the family: Interview with Cristian Machado of Ill Nino

Ill Nino is coming to welcome you to the family.
Ill Nino is coming to welcome you to the family.
Tom Valdez/ Victory Records

Ill Nino has been out on the road with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and besides wooing fans of the old, they guys have been working diligently to win some new hearts on tour, despite the difference in their sound from their contemporaries. Since 1998 Ill Nino has been bringing melody infused Latin metal to the masses, banging heads and breaking boundaries across the entertainment industry. What many best remember these New Jersey head bangers for is their contribution to the 2003 horror showdown film Freddy vs Jason, which featured their single “How Can I Live” off the album Confession. Even after their cinematic success, Ill Nino never rested, going on to release four more studio albums, a 5-track EP, a video album and a “best of” record. Now, the men of Ill Nino are back at with the release of Till Death, La Familia, which is more of a love letter to their fans than an independent statement. The title alone clues you in to the heart of this record and each track tells its own story. Before the album release, we got a chance to chat with front man Cristian Machado to talk about the madness of being chosen for Mayhem, making friends on tour and what feeds their creative process.

How do you guys feel about playing Mayhem this year?
CM: We are more than grateful. It's been a very long time since we had the chance to bring the Latin metal jungle groove to such large American audiences. The Mayhem Festival is certainly the best American touring metal festival and we're just thrilled to be honest with you. Our label Victory Records really did a great job along with our manager Dave to get this accomplished. We are looking forward to putting on an intense show and making some new fans out there.We hope to see out fans having a good time with us. Our slot is 2:45 every day and I think while it will be challenging with the heat it's a great time of the day to listen to some ILL NIÑO.

Is there anyone you were especially looking forward to seeing or getting to know?
CM: Lots of good friends in this tour including our label mates Emmure, our OG label mates Trivium, and also Suicide Silence. Can't say enough great things about those bands. Also, our homies from Korn and just great dudes. Stoked to see Head back in the band. I actually became a huge fan of his band Love & Death. I felt his album was genius and, well, I hope he brings that style back into Korn. Always interested in seeing what Ice-T is up too and being in the same tour is gonna be pretty cool. I can't say I was a fan of Body Count, but to be honest, I’m kinda digging "Talk Sh*t, Get Shot", it's a lyric that would certainly get a message across pretty clearly and I like that.

How do you feel playing with bands known to be, categorically, a little heavier?
CM: I dig it. We've been very lucky throughout our career. This band has the ability to cross genres and play with bands of many different styles and heaviness. It's not the first time we've played festivals or toured with crashing bands and to be honest with you, we not only welcome it, we enjoy it. I am a huge heavy music fan and while I now listen to everything and anything that is "good", there was a time in my life when I played only death metal. When most kids were listening to Nirvana's "Nevermind", I was listening to "Cause of Death", "Leprosy", and "Effigy of the Forgotten". If I have to name what bands those albums came from and you play heavy music, well, you should be ashamed of yourself. Since then you can say that I sold my soul to the Latin metal jungle groove gods but, I am still a proud old-schooler till this day.

What can fans expect from the new album?
CM: I personally feel it's a really great album with a lot of intense songs. I am sure it'll surprise some people, but the element of surprise sometimes is a good thing. We don't claim to reinvent the wheel but we do intend to always release refreshing music on every new album. Love us or hate us we've been around for a long time and part of the appeal to our band is the ability to seek new creative approaches with every album. That's not to say that we don't continue to carry nostalgia for our past musical approaches, we do, but to put it plainly we want to grow as musicians and expand our creative abilities. I can say honestly that this album is one that I could listen to and actually enjoy. I think many of our fans will feel the same.

How do you usually go about putting together an album?
CM: We usually practice very different approaches with each new album. On this particular album we had a very strict deadline so we didn't have much room to constantly rethink. I think this was a great thing and it allowed us to be spontaneous and also allowed the music & lyrics to be intuitive. As musicians, we can easily get caught up in second-guessing Ourselves which usually leads to a lot of procrastination. This time around it was not so. I give a lot of credit to the guys in the band for writing great songs. The tracks they wrote truly captured a special place in my creative mind and I think at one point or another we were all running with the ball. Having Eddie Wohl around for this album was a gift and this album would definitely not have been done on time without his immense help. In the past we've all been very involved with many of the recording details that go into making an album but this time we all remained pretty focused on only the music. I really hope everyone enjoys the album as much as we do.

How hands on are you, as a band, in development and post-production?
CM: Most of the time we are very hands-on and to a certain extent you could say we are a very demanding band to work with. Ahrue and Laz certainly put a lot of time into production for their songs and Dave as well put a lot of time into approving mixes with Eddie Wohl. We do allow each other plenty of creative room and we're not the kind of band that's constantly down each other's throats. Every member of the band plays a very crucial role and we don't intend on changing that. Sometimes we may disagree about certain things but that's what makes a band a band. If we all shared the same brain our music would possibly be dull and unoriginal. There's a lot that we learn from each other during his particular type of process and it is a great advantage that helps us grow individually as musicians.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?
CM: My favorite part of the process is writing music or lyrics. Everything else about it is very tedious and even though this album was very easy for me to personally record I sometimes wish I had a clone that could just record it for me. That's not to say that I don't think recording it is fun sometimes but for me the writing process is just a lot more fun.

What is your favorite song off the new album?
CM: “Blood is Thicker Than Water”.

What do you guys have lined up for the rest of 2014?
CM: Lots of cool stuff. We'll also be doing a South American tour soon after Mayhem. We'll be in Europe, UK, and Russia in November. We just launched our updated website: - link up with us on Facebook and on Instagram (@illninoofficial) - Till Death, La Familia. Pick it up!

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