Ill Niño : Lazaro Pina
New Jersey bruisers confess

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cc: The first album's title, Revolution . . . Revolucion, implies change, looking outwards. This one's called Confession and that implies something more inward looking. Do you think that reflects its content?

LP: Absolutely, it's a lot more focused, a more detailed record - the first album was expressing a feeling, just trying to tell a story, and in the last three years I think the music has broadened a bit. I think this record is a perfect example of growth and confession because . . . of the details of the story, you know. Cris [singer Cristian Machado] went a little bit deeper and gets to experience these feelings he never really shares with anyone, but was able to share through the music. And I think it requires a lot of courage to do that; to really expose your life that way as opposed to going to a church or a priest and confessing. It was kind of like a confession to the fans. You know, here it is - now I can tell you why I felt that way on the first record.

cc: Confession seems a lot more focused and mature as a piece of work, but it hasn't lost its anger or its edge. Are you all happier with this album than the first one?

LP: When the first album came out I remember thinking of all the things I wanted to change - but I look back now and I think it's perfect the way it was. It was the way we were at that moment, and in order for us to have the record we have now it was necessary for us to have done the first one. I'm very proud of both records and I can't really say one is better than the other. And that's all it is: you want to keep on growing as a band.

cc: The cover art shows hands holding a rosary - would you say there's a religious side to what you do?

LP: Well, not so much religious but spiritual; it is a very spiritual band and music is something that we hold in our lives. It was more for symbolic reasons that we put the hands on the cover - just a strong statement, even though there's a strong superstitious element to it, with the fingers crossed . . . you know? It's got a lot of meaning; you need to get into the record to really feel it.

cc: What's the role of a producer for you guys? How well did you work with Bob Marlette? Did you get involved in the production process yourselves?

LP: Oh, absolutely. It was great with Bob, he really helped the band to stay focused and really wanted us to express ourselves individually. He thought it was very important that we all had a piece of it and it was amazing to watch him work and to watch him bring the best out of us - it was just a blessing to have him in the studio with us. And he did leave it very open to us to put our feeling, our expression across.

cc: Is he a very hands-on producer?

LP: He's very hands-on, he's also someone we respected a lot. He's also a musician, he's a songwriter. So we related to him.

cc: You obviously feel very strongly about the crafting about your CDs in the studio.

LP: Absolutely - it was such a pleasant experience, it was so emotional, it was just so magical. It had a great vibe. You really feel like you got your message across when you were laying down tracks.

cc: How do you feel about the use of your music on soundtracks? Do you write specifically for movies or do they just take existing songs?

LP: So far they've taken existing songs, but I love to be able to watch a movie and hear our song come up, you know? That's something you dream about - you never think about it actually happening to you! I love it, I think it's great. It's always been my dream, to score a movie - that would be great to do in the future.

cc: How are you finding the UK tour? Is playing live and touring incessantly something you enjoy doing as a band or would you rather be in the studio?

LP: I enjoy both. Being able to share your music live goes hand in hand with being in the studio. We're a live band, we love to play live and obviously we have more experience as a live band than a studio band - we all grew up playing the club circuit in the area where we're from so no, live is very important to us, we love to go out there and rock out and do it in person.

cc: And you have a good time on the road?

LP: We have a great time, we're out with some friends right now - Chimaira - who we've toured with in the past, and it's been a great tour.

cc: What's happening after the UK dates; are you back to the States?

Ill Niño - Click to enlargeLP: Yeah and then I think we get two days off and then we're starting more shows out there. It never ends - but we're very fortunate to have this in our lives and I just want to enjoy every minute of it.

cc: Where do you see yourselves going as a band - anything else in the pipeline that you'd like to try? Any new directions?

LP: I honestly don't like to look too far into the future because you never know, the future's never certain and things change. But really I'd like to continue growing with the band, let the band take its course and go on to the next level. It'd just be nice to continue doing music together and continue doing what we love to do.

In a business where formulaic product too often makes an easy killing, it's great to see so much optimism emanating from a band who are putting together something genuinely new. Ill Niño make honest, passionate music - wild, dark and instinctive; although they incorporate many diverse elements, they're a rare example of a fusion that creates something greater than the sum of its parts. They're musical explorers - and I, for one, can't wait to see which way they'll go next.

:: Clare O'Brien

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