By Francisco H. Ciriza
With three successful full-length albums under its collective belt, Ill Niño, has begun a second round of tour dates in support of the most recent, “One Nation Underground” (Roadrunner 2005). Last week, the band began a 28-date tour across the U.S. that will bring the band to San Diego’s all-ages venue Soma on May 24th.
Ill Niño’s plays an ultra hard-edged metal brand of hard rock with heavy-handed beats and steamrolling guitars. The combination is more than enough to demonstrate the band’s aggressive nature, but also contradicts the intelligence and business acumen held within the New Jersey-based sextet. After a near-sold out New York City kick-off show last week, Ill Niño is ready to take on the world.
Dave Chavarri, the band’s drummer, also serves as one of the group’s managers. His comments often reflect his dual perspective. He spoke with La Prensa San Diego last week from the road about the new tour giving some insight into Ill Niño’s short and long term goals. A few minutes into the conversation, it’s apparent the band’s priorities are not ones often associated with rock music.
“We’re psyched to come back to San Diego. We love it there. We’re working really hard to nurture these markets. We try not to play the same cities over and over. There’s no sense in playing the same city every three months. The only time to do that is when you’re just starting out.”
The Peruvian born Chavarri is eloquent and confident in his speech. His statement is a prime example of how the group’s drive and business sense often provide a fair amount of credibility and surprisingly positive attitude considering the sounds that come from Ill Niño’s instruments. The band crafts its songs out of crushing riffs, surging beats and urgent vocals, and there is certainly a very dark side to the band’s lyrics, but ultimately there most often can be found some semblance of a positive message within.
The group also makes a concerted effort to infuse its songs with elements of their Latino musical heritage-Chavarri, from Peru and the rest of the band has Brazilian roots- which most likely explain why band lives according to some relatively old-fashioned Latino values. Matched with tribal percussion, flamenco guitars and Spanish lyrics are the group’s strong commitment to family and to each other.
The band is currently touring without guitarist Jardel Paisante. The official Ill Niño website insists he is only on hiatus and not out of the band. Apparently rumors are circulating contemplating Paisante’s status. Chavarri’s words about the band’s plans for the near future seem to answer quite clearly, where Ill Niño’s loyalties remain.
“We’re a family and family comes first. We can always come back for a tour or to finish a record, but you can’t always come back to family.”
Chavarri and Ill Niño are also heady and confident enough to not only speak out on the recently hot immigration issue, but even released an official statement to the nation’s music press.
“Hispanics just want to be appreciated for the work they do in America, and not viewed as second class citizens,” said lead singer Christian Machado is quoted as saying. “To criminalize people who have been working in the U.S. for such a long time is completely un-American.”
“We’re not a political band, but we do have issues,” said Chavarri. “It seems to me there are other problems that the government should be worried about. We’ve got bigger worries, than building a wall. Didn’t the Germans and Chinese try that?”
Ill Niño headlines the ‘One Nation Undivided 2006’ tour featuring also Godforbid, Silent Civilian, Bleed the Sky and Eyes of Fire next Wednesday, May 24, 7 p.m. at Soma, 3350 Sports Arena Blvd. Suite 1 in San Diego. For more information, call 619-226-7662.