"We feel that we've given birth to a 300 pound gorilla!" So quips Ill Nino lead vocalist Christian Machado on their new album Dead New World. "I'm just glad to have the guitar players not living in my house any more!" he laughs.
Ill Nino are the sort of band that often get unfairly lumped into the dreaded 'Nu-Metal' category by those that are narrow-minded and unimaginative, whereas the band themselves actually class themselves more in the very unusual 'Latin-Metal' genre. The reason? It probably has a lot to do with the Latin-infused rhythms that they inject into their high octane heavy rock sound.
For the uninitiated, Ill Nino have actually been around for almost a decade and a half, have released five well received albums and are a band that simply give their fans what they want. Even Christian himself seems a little surprised as to the longevity the band have experienced and are starting to ponder. "So long in the music industry, it doesn't kill you - it makes you stronger I guess," he agrees, "the older you get, life and family starts to have a bigger role.
"But making this record was a lot of fun," Christian adds. "It really didn't feel like it was something we had to kill ourselves over. I mean," he clarifies, :it was definitely stressful as far as trying to find that creative middle ground between all of us. That's always a stressful thing," he chuckles. "But we feel blessed to be able to put out our records and have our fans. We look forward to making new records all the time. It's something that, as a musician, creatively, feels great and we'll always have a positive outlook on that."
Dead New World features a very interesting and different take on the Smashing Pumpkin's classic Bullet With Butterfly Wings. It's interesting in that it features the abovementioned Latin rhythms and percussive muscle, and is considerably heavier than the Billy Corgan original. However it wasn't selected for any real musical or creative connection the band have with the song, it was simply the only cover song they could get a consensus on. "There was a whole bunch of other cover songs that we couldn't agree on," Christian recalls with a laugh.
"It was just a big battle between us, it was like 'well I like this one' and 'I like that one' and 'he likes this one', and eventually it wound up that we all agreed on that cover. And so the Smashing Pumpkins wound up on the record. It was pretty much the only song you could get all of us to agree on. We're a democracy and that's the vote we came up with: Smashing Pumpkins! It was the easiest song I never wrote!" he guffaws.
"It's definitely part of who we are and where we come from," Christian also points out, "and the people that we are naturally" he states, regarding the Latin elements they have injected into the song, and across Dead New World. "For me it's always been very important for us to personalise our music, and not just be another… sound out there, in a sea of sounds, that all sound similar, you know?
"To me it's always been important to have an identity, and to not have an identity crisis, which a lot of bands have," he muses. "They don't seem to know who they are. They just copy everything that's out there. And for us, we are very influenced by bands that we love of course, but we also like to just be ourselves."
Ill Nino return to Australia very shortly for the epic Soundwave Festival tour alongside Iron Maiden, Slayer, Dimmu Borgir and an absolutely ridiculously huge host of others, as well as a couple of 'Sidewaves' side shows with fellow Soundwave acts Devildriver, All That Remains and Nonpoint in Sydney and Melbourne. The festival bill is incredible, and Christian has experienced some difficulty in getting his head around the enormity of it all. "This roster, I'm just baffled by how you guys were able to put together a show like this," he gushes.
"The airports are gonna be crammed with the entire rock 'n' roll community! A couple of days before the shows, Australian airports are gonna be full of rock 'n' rollers. It's going to be a sight to see!
"I'm most definitely looking forward to the shows man," he continues, "it's completely insane, I don't even know what to think. There's so many great bands on the bill. It makes me super ecstatic about the performances and how our performance is gonna be. And seeing our fans in Australia that we haven't seen in such a long time. We feel blessed that we have a chance to come back in this way."
While this won't be their first trip Down Under, it has been a number of years since they graced our shores. But Christian has high hopes, tempered with a degree of trepidation, that Australian fans won't have forgotten who they are. "I'm expecting no amnesia!" he chuckles, "nobody is allowed to forget who we are! We'll make everybody remember right away who we are.
"And everyone having a fun time is really what I'm expecting the most. I try to promote insanity, but as much fun as you can have in this insanity that we call 'moshing to metal'! So we'll see."
What should Aussie audiences expect of Ill Nino in return? "Insane energy man," he answers. "I'm going to be like a little kid in a playground at this festival, because there's so many great bands.
"Man, Australia is going to get one insane show, it'll definitely be one to remember."
ILL NINO play the sold out SOUNDWAVE festival at the Melbourne Showgrounds on Friday March 4, alongside Iron Maiden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Slayer, Rob Zombie, Slash, Primus and heaps, heaps more. They also play a Sidewave with Devildriver, All That Remains and Nonpoint at Billboard The Venue on Thursday March 3 - tickets and info from billboardthevenue.com.au, ticketek.com.au and 132 849. Dead New World is out now through Riot!