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First bassist Laz Pina shared his thoughts on the new disc and tour and now I get a crack at another friend of mine, Ill Nino lead vocalist Cristian Machado.  What does this new father think of the upcoming release, REDMF, and life??  Read on…


Toddstar: On the line, we have Cristian Machado from Ill Nino.  How are things going?

Cristian: Things are going good man. I’m enjoying some nice weather out here in California. I can’t really complain too much. I’ve been lacking sleep with the little newborn, but it’s a blessing. I’m just happy to be alive man, happy to be alive and enjoying the weather man.

Toddstar: Cool. Well, I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule for us today.

Cristian: Oh, no it’s a pleasure. It’s a pleasure talking to you Todd.

Toddstar: Listen man, you guys have a new album dropping, La Familia til Death. What can you tell us about this disk man? There’s no noise out there that we can listen to, so what can you tell us about it?

Cristian: It’s a compilation of a bunch of really, really good songs man. Ahrue is really doing a mean job of putting some really, really killer songs together. Laz also put a couple of songs together. I really got to give it to the guys in the band for just putting some really good material together. I think it’s definitely going to surprise some people. We’re not the kind of band to really do things twice or to try to repeat ourselves too much. It was a good challenge that we put forth to ourselves. We wanted to have an album that was a little bit more modern, and not so much stuck in our old ways, but as musicians we wanted to expand and grow a little bit. The last thing any musician wants to do is to feel like they’re stagnant. At least in our band, that’s what we were trying to go for, just something a little bit more progressive, a little bit more modern. I’m not scared to try new things. When I started receiving songs from Ahrue and a couple of songs from Laz, which just really surprised and really psyched … It made me very excited to begin writing the lyrics and melodies and different vocal patterns and things like that. As far as my contribution to the record, I think it’s definitely the best lyrics I’ve ever written. I think that the topics will resonate with many different types of people from many walks of life. It was something that I didn’t … The songs were really, really good that were being sent to me, so I didn’t have to force myself to really write anything. I went through a period where Monica, my fiancée, she had given me some room. She took the baby to her parent’s house in Phoenix, and I was by myself for a week and a half, two weeks, in which I beat myself up a little bit. I listened to the songs a lot, but I didn’t force anything on myself. It’s not like I said well, I have to write it right now. I just let things simmer in my head. To be honest with you, almost everything on this album really just came out of nature. I wanted to just … The right word would be compliment the songs rather than try to stand out over them, or to try to do things that are left-field of what the songs were. To me, it was a very natural process. I was completely inspired by the material that Ahrue was writing, and some of the stuff Laz wrote was really … It was just a very simple creative atmosphere for me. I didn’t want to push things too much. I didn’t want to force any particular ideas. I think I’m starting to hear some of the final songs now as I’m finishing up the album. It’s evident that the vocals just are very natural, and they complement the songs very well. I think it’s going to be a great record. Ill Nino fans are going to love it. I think that there’s a certain modern element to it, in which we may pick up some new fans. We may not. Whichever the case, we’re always grateful to have our career and to be able to still put out albums. Hopefully, the climate will change and people will begin to buy albums again. That said, we’re just grateful to put out music and to still connect with people.


Toddstar: As you well know, I’m one of those guys that love to see and read liner notes, so I’m definitely looking forward to putting that piece of plastic in my hand when it comes out in July.

Cristian: Eventually, hopefully, the industry will figure out a way to make it a little bit more valuable than just a piece of plastic. Obviously, the format needs to evolve at some point. I’m hoping that eventually, it goes back to the audio/visual type thing with the invention of new home theatre systems and surround-sound and things like that. I’m hoping the format goes back to more of a visual thing, where perhaps people take a DVD home, and there are lyrics that come up on the screen with visuals, and people can have a first listening experience in the same way that they did back in the ‘60s and ‘70s when they had LPs. People would actually buy the record. They would go home, and it would be about their stereo system, and everybody wanted their system to sound good. It became a very proud thing. Eventually, I’m thinking there’s going to be some kind of evolution in the format. Obviously, it’s the listeners that have to welcome that, the same as the industry should provide a new format, but the listeners would have to welcome it. I’m hoping it’s something a little bit more audio/visual.

Toddstar: Yeah, I agree with that. You did all this lyric writing. As you mentioned a couple times, it’s the first you’ve written lyrics for since becoming a parent. We talked way back in January. Again, congrats on Baby Elliana.

Cristian: Oh, thank you.

Toddstar: Do you feel that being a dad twisted your view on the world and the way you wrote lyrics or the way you approached it this time?

Cristian: You know, I think more than anything, it allowed for inspiration and creativity to become more available and easily available to me. At least in my mind, writing music is a very psychological thing. It had been a long time … I can honestly say, I don’t remember a point in my life where I could actually be extremely happy, in other words, exhilaration. It had been a long time, I would say, since I’ve been a kid. I haven’t felt the rush that you get when you see your baby laughing or the first couple of smiles you get. Even though it was extremely rough … and I’m not going to be one of those parents that says it’s all gold and glitter everywhere. The first couple of months is really, really tough, and especially on my fiancé it was really tough, and I try to help as much as possible. Once you get beyond those couple of months, and you really see the development in a child, I guess there are a lot of chemicals in the brain that come along with that. It really allowed me to just be a creative person all over again without the need of doing drugs or without anything else actually. It’s something that I was lacking in my life. I think that having a baby made me realize that it’s all in the mind, and you can’t let the mind overcome the soul. Sometimes, I would’ve been a person in the past that thought about things too deeply and really got locked up in the maze that could be thoughts. Once you start over-thinking everything, you really just lock yourself into this maze that you may find the way out, you may not. You may contemplate everything forever. Having my daughter really, I guess produce some chemicals in my brain that allowed me to feel good again, to be happy, to appreciate life, and just being alive, and to learn how to really not expect things for myself, not expect this or that, to just have a focus and to let things come naturally. I think that that’s probably the biggest lesson that I learned is to let things come naturally.


Toddstar: Cool.  You got this little girl, and you took off for a couple weeks. You went and did Soundwave. Now, the huge news out there is you guys are going on a Rockstar Mayhem fest this year.

Cristian: Right.  Finally, the summer tour.

Toddstar: Yeah, you finally got a summer tour of the US. Your own stage is the Victory Records stage. How big is this for Ill Nino at this point?

Cristian: For us, it’s a great tour. I think that we’re very blessed to still have a career and to still be able to do a tour like the Mayhem, where by far, we’re not the youngest people that are going to be on the Mayhem. You can call us veterans, but the reality is that we’re still a band that is extremely energetic and extremely proud of our fan base. We want to give the people that have stuck by us the reason, the definition of why they stuck by us. I think that doing a tour like this will just allow our fan base to feel good about having been fans of our band for so many years. Really, they’re the ones that we still do music for. Perhaps, in having some songs on the new record that are really cool and catchy, which the new album is extremely catchy and very groove-oriented, we may gain some new fans. To tell you the truth, the title of the album is ‘Til Death La Familia. It’s ironic that we named it that because having a baby also helped me realize that when you’re a family you take that to death, and you will go to the end of the world to make sure that your family is okay. It’s similar with our fans. They’ve done so much for us. I think the title of the record suites so much, and it’s very ironic to everything that’s been happening in my life lately and in the career of the band. I’m pretty excited about it. I think this tour is going to be a great comeback for us. As LL Cool J said, “Don’t call it a comeback. We’ve been here for years”. It’s true. We’ve been here for a long time, but now we get to just go out with some of the bands that believe it or not have been fans of Ill Nino for a long time. Some of the cool new bands that are out there, we’re really good friends with them. They’ve always expressed their love for the band. We’re just flattered and honored to be able to share the stage with them, especially with bands that are extremely popular with the youth nowadays. If we could pick up some of those young fans and help them connect with us and connect with our music, I think that it’s going to be a great, great benefit for us, and hopefully for the music industry.

Toddstar: Sure. You’re going to hit the road. The album comes out not too long after that. When you’re out on the road, now that you’ve got a child, and you obviously can’t pack her around on the bus, but what kinds of things when you’re looking around your place do you think I can’t leave home without that?

Cristian: Well, I could definitely say it’s going to be extremely hard for me to be away from her for that long. Even having gone away to Soundwave for a couple of weeks, that was tough. To be honest with you, when my fianceé left with my daughter to try to give me a little bit of space to begin writing, after a week, I was telling her no, you’ve got to come back. This doesn’t feel right. I don’t feel right not being around my daughter. With that said, I’m probably going to take a lot of pictures of her. I can’t see myself leaving home without maybe a picture of her and videos of her, I think would be the only things might keep me sane out there. Other than that, I’m a pretty simple person. I’m usually the kind of guy that if I have a tour to do, I’ll pack six hours before I leave because I’m not a materialistic person. As long as I have my phone, and I have contact with my family I think that’s really all I need. There’s a TV on the tour bus. I’ll be happy with that. I think the things that are going to be the toughest is to be away from my daughter and to try to take as much small things that remind me of her with me. I’ll probably take my laptop to do some editing. I do produce bands and stuff like that, so I’ll probably do some work from the road during downtime. On a tour like that, there is a lot of downtime so I’ll probably want to utilize it, instead of sitting around and thinking about being away from home or sitting around and being pulled into bad habits and things like that. The only thing I can think of man is a lot of stuff for my daughter. I want to take some videos and pictures. My laptop, it’s just so that I could have my sessions around so that I could do some editing with the bands that I’m working with.


Toddstar: Cool. What was the hardest part about tracking this disk? The last disk, you worked out of your home studio, Sound Wars out in Jersey. What is it like doing your recording in California this time around?

Cristian: It’s amazingly simple. I’m working with Eddie, and I’m not having to record myself. Eddie Wohl is somebody that we worked with in the past. He’s a very close friend of the band. He’s almost a part of our family to be honest with you. He’s known the band, and he’s been involved since record one. For me, it’s been incredibly simple to be honest. I’m not going to lie. It’s probably the fastest record I’ve tracked. I’ve been to Eddie’s studio. Yesterday was the seventh day, and I’m pretty much almost done with the record. I got maybe a song and a half that I got to sing, and then harmonies and loose ends here and there. At the end of the day, I’m proud to be able to say I think vocally, as far as time behind the microphone, I would’ve been able to do the record in less than a week. It’s just that I’m allowing myself some days off in-between, so that I don’t force my voice too much, so that when I’m recording my voice is clear and not roughed up too much the session before. Working with Eddie has been extremely simple. I knew I could trust his ear, and he’s a very well-trained musician, great piano player. He understands melody, and he comprehends theory, but doesn’t completely throw the theory book at ideas. He simply just listens to ideas for what they are. I’ve always been a fan of working with people. I’ve never technically liked to work by myself. On the last couple of albums, I was doing it all on my own, and tracking a lot of the album by myself, copying it by myself. In other words, going back to listen to the takes, to put the takes together for the master take and things like that. While I enjoyed it, this has allowed me to just focus on my voice and on the lyrics. I think that working with Eddie definitely allowed me to write some of the best lyrics I’ve ever written because my focus wasn’t so much on everything. On the last album, I actually recorded everything. I recorded the drums, I edited them. I recorded the percussion, I edited them. We re-amped the guitars at Sound Wars. Then I had to record myself and edit my vocals. It’s not that I disliked it. I love producing bands and engineering, and I love working with other artists, but I don’t like working with myself, I guess is what I’m trying to say. When I’m working with other artists, there’s always that chemistry back and forth between the minds of the different musicians in the band and me. The fact that we live all over the country, it makes it complicated because it had put me in a situation where I had been doing a lot of things by myself. I enjoyed it at the time, but now I can look back, and I can actually say you know what, I don’t want to go back to doing things like that. I’d rather be able to focus, and listen from an outside point of view rather than being in the middle of the circle trying to get everything to work. I’m enjoying the process a lot more to be honest with you, and I think it’s working with Eddie Wall that has allowed me to enjoy the process a lot more.

Toddstar: Cool. I know you’re busy so I’ve got one more for you. With everything going on in your life… you’ve got an infant, you’ve got Monica, you got a new disk, and you got a huge summer tour in your home country coming up. At this point for you Cristian, what’s the meaning of life?


Cristian: Man. It’s funny that you mention that because I think the meaning of life, if I’m even going to contemplate, try to understand life … Because I don’t think that any of us can truly, truly contemplate what our thoughts want the meaning of life to be, or what our social conditioning want the meaning of life to be. In most cases, as human beings we’re usually prisoners to our thoughts and our emotions, but the true essence of being or the true essence of being a living soul, I guess you could call it or whatever anybody else would refer it to, a conscience or perhaps just the true essence of being I or myself, it’s just enjoying the moment, not living in the past, not reaching too far to the future, and enjoying the moment. Sometimes, allowing yourself to feel like you are nothing, but I shouldn’t say nothing, like I am no-thing, and that would involve thoughts and emotions. I guess the ‘I’ behind the ‘I’ that you would normally think is you. It gets a little bit complicated, ‘I’ guess to understand what it is that I’m trying to say. The true essence of being, which is what you’re asking me, what would be the meaning of life, I think it’s really just do right by people, and enjoy life in the now. Too many times, we’re prisoners to thoughts and emotions that don’t allow us to realize what’s in front of our eyes. There are many people that can go for a walk on the beach, and they can’t even get the beauty out of it because they’re contemplating what it is. I’m going to go for a walk on the beach to try to figure out all my problems, but it doesn’t work like that. I think we live in society, and money is important to a certain extent. Especially, having a family, you have to be conscious of what it is that the needs are. I think the meaning of life is just enjoying the now. You don’t know if there’s going to be a tomorrow. Everything that happened in the past really is irrelevant to what’s going on right now. There are things you could learn from the past, but there’s nothing that you can do to change it. I think that when you can live happy, in the moment, and admire things like family and being a creative mind, thinking of things creatively, writing, admiring scenery, really simple things, I know it may sound minimalistic and idiotic, but I think the simpler that life is the happier we would be as human beings. I know that society teaches us that the more money you have, probably the happier you’ll be. Sure, I would like a million dollars, but it doesn’t mean that if I don’t have a million dollars I can’t enjoy my life fully in the now. I guess, to me, the meaning of life is just to simply be happy, to not be a prisoner to my thoughts or my emotions. Being a musician it’s very similar. When you asked me how did the writing of the record come to be, my initial instinct was it just came really natural. Even in that process, I didn’t want to be a prisoner to my thoughts of over-thinking it, or my emotions, what did I used to like, what would I like in the future, what do they like, who likes what. I just wanted to just be, to let things come naturally, to live naturally. Does that make sense?

Toddstar: It does.

Cristian: That’s the meaning of life, live naturally in the now.

Toddstar: Cool man. Well listen, I couldn’t have said it better. After all the discussions we’ve had through the years man, I wouldn’t expect anything less deep from you. I appreciate you taking the time out. I’m going to let you get back to being a rock star. I’m going to get back to crunching numbers. We’ll definitely be in touch way before you guys hit Detroit, but I can’t wait until you guys get here in July.

Cristian: Yeah, dude I’m super-psyched at hanging with you. We’re going to see you at one of the shows I’m hoping right?

Toddstar: Oh, yeah the 17th.

Cristian: Right on Todd. Say hello to the family. Trudge forward. I’m always here if you ever want to reach out bro.

Toddstar: You got it brother. Give those two ladies a hug for me.

Cristian: Right on, I will brother. Take care.

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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