Ill Nino Bassist Laz Pina Interviewed
Band Photo: Ill Nino (?)
Metal music mixed in with a little bit of Spanglish, it's a band we call Ill Nino. Their Latino metal style has gotten them noticed around the world along with their amazing live performances. I had the chance to talk with Laz Pina, bassist of Ill Nino; as he told me about his background, about the band, and their new and upcoming album Enigma due out in January of 2008.
Becca Parry: Hey Laz thanks for taking the time out to talk with me!
Laz Pina: Not a problem Becca. I’m outside in my jeep smoking a cig in this cold rainy weather.
(both of us laugh)
Becca: Indeed with this cold weather it sucks!
Laz: Yes, it’s too cold. Why is it every time we come play in Ohio the weather sucks? (laughs)
Becca: Well you guys never come around the good months but I agree that Ohio weather does suck! (both laughs). So tell me a little bit of background about you guys.
Laz: Well we are a Jersey based band originally and we all came together to put this Latin metal project together. Kind of just to experiment with music. You know, throw in a different style of Latin rhythm with metal style riffs and the balance and groove just works perfect with metal. It’s metal you can bop to or move to. Don’t know why but it makes you want to move (laughs).
Becca: Yeah it’s beautifully done. I always listen to the Freddy vs. Jason soundtrack and you have the song on there called "How can I live".
Laz: That’s right.
Becca: You guys incorporate Latin and English together in one form. It’s done very nicely.
Laz: We are a bilingual band and we speak what we call Spanglish since we are all from Latino decent. We incorporate Spanish words to the songs but it’s really how we communicate and it just worked out. When we first started tracking ideas for vocals I don’t think we had bilingual lyrics in mind but both Spanish and English just started to be put in. We felt it really expressed the message a little clearer and what we were trying to say. You have to interpret the lyrics if you don’t know Spanish and that’s what we did with our last record. It’s something we’ve been having a good time with and kind of like doing an album to album progression. We’ve been a band that started out with the foundation with our first record which was a very aggressive record with the elements of Latin rhythm but as we moved along towards our next record we wanted to continue growing and experiment and do something different every time out doing it the way we do. With our special blend of the Latin music with metal or aggressive metal, we’ve all been growing together and the progression of album to album has just been really nice. We’ve all been happy with it and how everything has been coming along throughout the years. We got the new record coming out now which we just finished a couple of months ago.
Becca: It’s coming out in January of 2008?
Laz: January 8 of 08’ is the target date for release. We were in California for about four months working on this record. This is the first time we left the New Jersey/New York area to do a record and it was a great idea. We all lived together throughout the whole making of this record. We did everything together. We ate together, went to bed around the same times, we were up jamming after studio hours still working on music and not because we just wanted a great record but we were also enjoying it. We all love what we do and I think the music when its all said and done doesn’t lie. You can’t fake it. It’s really pure and sincere expressions.
Becca: Right, you can’t fake what’s in your blood. It’s a passion you enjoy doing and it’s always something your going to enjoy.
Laz: Oh yea, we’ve all been doing music early in our lives. We chose music probably through metal bands which what inspired us to play but as you grow along you discover other roots that were there all along from the music that was playing in the background of our homes, your homes. A lot of the cultural sound of Ill Nino is brought from stuff we were listening to at home with our parents or older brothers and sisters that were listening to music. Music was always being played in our neighborhood. It’s like a soundtrack to our background as we were growing up.
Becca: Everyone definitely has old roots to grow from. Like I grew up around Johnny Cash and classical music with my parents but my brothers were the start of metal and old school punk for me, from Black Sabbath to The Rammones.
Laz: Oh yeah that’s awesome stuff! That’s how it started for me. I also grew up playing music with my brothers. I mean we grew up in New York City. Metal was something that I discovered earlier on from an older brother because it wasn’t on the radio or in our neighborhood but some how or another it reached us and touched us. Growing up in NYC I got into bands like Agonostic Front and Quicksand. I’ve always been into different kinds of music but that’s just metal. I’m also a punk rocker at heart as well. I love The Rammones and early punk rock like The Sex Pistols. The list goes on. I’m a lover and fan of music.
Becca: What made you want to pick up a guitar and go, I want to do this?
Laz: You know, my very first concert was Motley Crue with Ozzy Osbourne and that was it. That was when I decided I was going to play music.
Becca: That’s awesome! I’m a major supporter of music and locals. I think listening to Pantera and Ozzy Osbourne was the hook that caught me.
Laz: There’s something about metal that’s a bait (laughs).
Becca: Yes there is something about it. It’s because it’s the "devils music"; that’s what it is. (both of us laugh)
Laz: I’m also a supporter of local music and I love independent bands. Just because your band is not signed doesn’t mean your band isn’t great or doesn’t have anything to offer. I appreciate music all the way around. Recently I’ve been working with other bands and producing them. I got my own studio here in Jersey and it’s kind of in the ghetto neighborhood and you hear a lot of hip hop but when I hear live music there’s something about it that fills the air for me that sounds so soothing; to actually hear a soul expressing themselves with the instruments. Nothing to me beats live music. I got that feeling just yesterday as I was listening to two bands rehearsing and it was just really nice to hear people put in the time to perfect their craft. I hope people don’t ever get discouraged expressing themselves no matter what. The true gift is choosing music and keeping music in your life. It’s not about getting signed or going on tour even though those are all great things. It should not be about that, it should be from the heart. To me you’re a success if you allow it in your life and keep it in your life.
Becca: When you first got signed you were signed to Roadrunner, from what I’ve read and heard, someone had given them a demo. Who gave them the demo, and later on what was the reaction from you guys when they contacted you and wanted to sign you?
Laz: Actually the way it went down was we recorded the demo and we sent it over to a local college radio station called WSOU, which was a strong radio station for underground music. It started out in the underground section where it battled other songs, and it started winning these competitions and started generating air play which that trickled into another song from the EP demo. The next thing we know, within four or five months they were spitting four or five songs from the demo. The band started catching recognition with all the airplay from this college station. So we played our first show, which to our amazement we played in front of over 700 people. We kind of got the sense we were a part of something special and like half the band was in other bands and this was just like a project; at least a side project for me. Something I thought I was doing for fun. By the time our third show came about an A & R from Roadrunner Records Mike Getter came to the show, which was a SOU radio station event. Everybody that played was a signed band and there were a few locals. We were one of them. So he came down to our show and it generated interest to get us signed and within the next few months we were signed. Everybody was quitting their jobs and leaving their bands to work on this fulltime and the next thing we know we’re in the studio recording the first record. All this happened within less than a year. We then ended up touring and we toured for 2 years straight on the first record.
Becca: That’s amazing. You guys did the Ozzfest Jagermeister tour.
Laz: Yeah we did the Jagermeister Ozzfest tour in 2002. We did 3 European tours on the first record. First time was with Machinehead. Second time we went back later in the year was P.O.D and before the second record we did a full headlining European run and we’ve been going back ever since. We’ve been very fortunate to develop loyal fans around the world that are always there to support us each and single time.
Becca: How does the fan base over in Europe vs. fan base over here different?
Laz: Well here’s the difference between the American and European fans. The European fans once they love you they will always love you. They are not, with the exception of England, as trendy as the American fans. American fans you’ll be their favorite band today and tomorrow and another band will come out and that will be their favorite band. They kind of just push you over to the side and you don’t matter anymore. As far as Europe goes they embrace you and hold onto you. As new music comes they accept it but they never let go of the band they fell in love with which is the difference. I’m not saying all of the Americans but you can tell the majority at the shows. It seems from album to album we get new fans and younger fans and we get some of the older fans but not as much like we do in Europe. They hold onto your music forever where Americans it’s whatever style it is at the moment.
Becca: While you were on Ozzfest, what kind of experiences did you have?
Laz: We’re kind of famous for our live show which is very, very energetic and it was such an honor to be on Ozzfest. We played with some amazing bands that year. Ozzy was my very first concert so that meant a lot to have the opportunity to tour with Ozzy. We did Ozzfest in Europe too and it was just a great time. Ozzfest is the rock n roll summer camp. It’s just a bunch of rockers hanging out barbequing and having a couple drinks and having a good time. A lot of late night jams in the parking lots with the bands which is pretty cool. Just imagine having all these rockers and people you have things in common with and just spending a summer together. It was just absolutely a lot of fun. You know when your performing with top notch bands we all pushed each other. If one band was playing harder before us we’d have to play even harder when we go back up there. So it’s one of those things where the bands motivate each other. I think that’s why the fans enjoy Ozzfest so much is because they are getting top notch performances from all the bands.
Becca: Who was your favorite while you were on the tour?
Laz: I’ve played with a lot of bands out there but on the Ozzfest, when Glassjaw came on the tour, they were a lot of fun. Meshuggah was absolutely incredible every time out. Hatebreed who also has a dynamite performance and they are great guys.
Becca: Your first show playing in front thousands of people, what were you thinking at that point and time on stage?
Laz: It’s actually very emotional time. It’s a lot of energy you get from the crowd and you try to give that energy back. It’s just six of us on stage vs. 50 thousand plus and you try to exchange that energy back. It’s like stepping into the twilight zone (laughs). It affects your playing and performances and there’s no substance that you can take to ever get that feeling. Words are really tough to describe it. It’s truly very rewarding when you put all your hard work in your music and to get that feedback is unbelievable.
Becca: The new album you guys have is not with Roadrunner and you guys ended your contract with them. You’re now with Cement Shoes?
Laz: Yes we currently are with cement shoes right now. We’ve had some great years with Roadrunner and we are very grateful they helped jumpstart our careers not just in America but the whole world. You kind of feel bad you part ways but at the same time change isn’t bad. Change is good and I think it gave us a little bit more musical freedom. We have 100 percent control over our music and we are delivering music exactly the way we wanted. Especially more so on this record then any of our other records in the past. There really is a lot more to a record then what people imagine. You have to sound a certain way or release a certain single. Record companies are paying you to do this and you don’t give in completely but you got to meet each other half way. Which is doable but on this record we didn’t have to meet anyone halfway. We wanted this record to sound exactly the way it came out. We worked really hard on it and I think that the shows and songs will show it and the fans will appreciate the honesty and purity and sincerity of this band.
Becca: Knowing what you know today, would you do anything different or would you still do things the same?
Laz: I’m a little better off and I wish I knew a lot sooner. You keep trying till you find what works for you. It’s a constant road and if you hand it to someone and you show them how it’s supposed to be done then I don’t know if you would appreciate it. It’s a learning experience. I think I’d change a few things to be quite honest (laughs). I have more knowledge now. You know me and my brothers would go out almost every night playing in clubs and just learning as we got more into music.
Becca: Speaking of personal life, what is your guys’ life like outside of music? What do you guys do, what your family lives are like, married things like that?
Laz: Well one of the guys is married. I’m single right now but I have a girlfriend. It’s very difficult to have a relationship and family when you’re on the road all the time. I’m very close to my family so when I’m home I try to spend as much time with them and my close friends. I'm a pretty basic and average I guess. It’s like being a little kid again when you’re like on summer break. That’s what my life feels like (laughs). I spend a lot of time in the studio playing other music and recording other bands. I really do enjoy helping new bands. I love to take a new band and bring them into the studio and kind of educate them on how it’s supposed to be done so when the time comes to do a record they’re already prepared and know how to prepare for it. I never had anybody give me that kind of love. Most musicians are very selfish and don’t want to share what they get out of it but I don’t want to be like that. If they ask me for an opinion or any help, I will help as much as I can and I enjoy giving that back.
Becca: I think that’s a wonderful thing your doing with the bands.
Laz: Educating them is always good. As long as they are trying to learn and don’t have a lot of pride. I try to soften blows and encourage them and motivate them and it’s the least I can do.
Becca: What can we expect from the new album?
Laz: This album is our best record and best work. We’ve all been on the quest to be better and branch out and grow. We don’t want Ill Nino to sound mono. On this record it is the most absolute detailed writing and the most pure writing. When someone came up with an idea we didn’t want to change it too much. We wanted the original spirit of what we were trying to express in a song. We discovered other musical talents in ourselves and its more emotional. It’s really is a got damn serious record. It’s our best playing, songwriting, performances. It’s Ill Nino rough and uncut if you want to say. This is how Ill Nino is meant to be heard. This is what we tried to achieve all along and we finally got there with the album Enigma.
Becca: Are you guys going on tour soon?
Laz: Yes we will be on tour in January. We feel very energetic!
Becca: Who are you going on tour with?
Laz: There’s a list of bands but I’m not quite sure. There’s been talks with a few bands but nothing is finalized yet.
Becca: Ok. Who are maybe some of the few bands or is that kept secret?
Laz: There’s a couple but I don’t want any speculation or to set peoples hopes high. As soon as I know I’ll drop you a line and you can tag it to the interview.
Becca: Awesome. I’ll definitely put little tags on the interview. I think this basically covers a lot of things I’ve wanted to ask and that the fans wanted to hear. Is there anything I haven’t touched base with you on that you would like to add?
Laz: For all the fans that’s been waiting for this record my apologies. It was supposed to be out a few months ago but we wanted a great record for you guys to hear. We promise the record will not let you down and will meet all your expectations. Thank you for being patient and being loyal to us throughout the years.
Becca: Rock on. This is my last question for you and it's just simple. Best advice you can give to the local bands out there?
Laz: Really work hard on your craft. Practice hard and rehearse. When more popular and signed band comes around pay attention to them and how they do it. Pay attention to the details because there are bands that pride themselves as a tight band. Pay attention to the older bands and give a little respect to those that have been in the game. They know how to do it and when you’re just coming up, you think you know how to do it. You’re competing and when you want to be out there with the big boys your going to get ready to compete with the big boys and the big bands. You got to be as good as your favorite band. Just practice hard and perfect your craft. Always take a night off and perform and do your thing.
Becca: That’s great advice. Laz, I'd like to thank you again for taking the time out for this interview.
Laz: Thank you for taking the time out to talk to me in this cold weather. Perfect for an interview!
Becca: Yes this absolute crappy but perfect interview weather. Thanks again so much and I will definitely keep in touch with you.
Laz: Absolutely! Definitely keep in touch with me.
Becca: I will do so. Thank you again.
Laz: Thank You. Buh Byes
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