Ill Nino’s Laz Pina + Ahrue Luster Talk ‘Till Death, La Familia,’ Mayhem Festival + Longevity
Ill Nino are back with their brand new ‘Till Death, La Familia’ album just in time to coincide with this summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Loudwire had a chance to speak with bassist Laz Pina and guitarist Ahrue Luster on the opening day of this year’s Mayhem Fest, and the rockers told us all about their new album, the ups and downs of their longevity and the respect shown by the new generation of bands and what it means to represent their label on Mayhem this summer. Check out the chat with Ill Nino’s Laz Pina and Ahrue Luster below.
‘Till Death, La Familia’ is the new album Great title. How did the name come to be?
Laz Pina: It is a tribute to the fans, to what we refer to now as our familia — our familia on the road and our familia at home, who also have to endure us leaving home. The only way to survive is to share our time with our families on the road. So, it’s a partial tribute to our fans and so we took that and did a little play on it and gave it more content for entertainment purposes. We did a whole ‘Scarface’-y, ‘Godfather,’ familia style. We are metalheads and we do like aggression, brutality and also that family bond.
The album has a great flow to it in terms of the lyrical content and sound. What was the approach to creating the disc?
Ahrue Luster: We brought it back to a lot of the things that were in our sound before that we haven’t been doing lately, like a lot of the single-note riffing, a lot of the electronics. Those sort of elements. It’s been kind of cool because a lot of the newer bands are taking that approach nowadays and giving us respect for doing it 10 years ago. It was something that we never — like when the metalcore thing was going on and we never got a lot of respect from the bands, but now the newer bands that are coming out are really giving us respect for what we did.
LP: Well, you know how that goes. Trends come and go, understandably so. So you gotta keep to yourself with what your influences are and I guess if you went through a point where it wasn’t cool to say that you were into us, so we kind of drifted and went into our own path and our own road and sustained ourselves on our own. It is rewarding that a moon or a cycle came back around, where it’s actually cool to say that they grew up with us. It’s rewarding, I’m glad that we stuck around long enough to actually experience that.
Sometimes that’s all it really takes, you just hang in there. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and when you hang in there. You’ve proved them right. So you know what, not only did I grow up on them but I shouldn’t be ashamed because they still are here today and they surpassed what a lot of bands don’t do. We’re very proud to still be around and get that respect, it’s very gratifying.
AL: At the same time of course we want to make our fans happy and give them the best music we can and for ourselves, but also — a lot of the newer bands, they’re showing faith in us and that they loved us, we want to deliver a great record.
LP: We want to look good you know? We want to say ‘I told you so!’ [Laughs] With this record we started feeling that a lot recently from a lot of the newer school bands out in Australia. We did Soundwave Festival out there and so we knew that we had to not just give our fans something to be proud of, to say ‘Hey, I’ll put Ill Nino still up against any band coming out’ but also to our peers to say, ‘Hey, I told you these guys were good’. So, that inspired us.
Victory Records has its own stage out here at Mayhem and Ill Nino’s right in the middle of the whole thing. Can you tell us about not only getting a chance to play this festival and what it means to you, but also representing your label?
AL: Absolutely. [Victory founder] Tony [Brummel] really believed in us when a lot of other companies didn’t and he saw something and felt like we still had it. He felt like there was going to be a great album coming at some point or another. He waited around you know? We’re grateful to that and that was also inspiring, to have someone at our label believe in us. The owner of the label to have that belief and trust in us and not once has he ever said, ‘Do that over’ or ‘I don’t like this.’ He accepted whatever we gave him and he embraced it, he allowed us to be us and continue to believe in us.
We want to make him look good, to represent Victory Records, which is famously known for hardcore. Our performance — we always had one foot in the underground, one foot in radio land because you needed to survive, because we’re also that kind of a band but you know, our performance has always been New York hardcore style you know? It’s our roots, it’s who we are. I think that Tony also recognized those roots which he found attractive, so to represent them at a festival like Mayhem, it’s like being a kid all over again to be quite honest with it.
Ozzfest, years ago — that was amazing. These festivals are usually the bands that are in the now or the ones that are worthy of bringing back to be a part of it. It’s a great big reward and we really don’t want to let anyone down. We don’t want to let ourselves down and we don’t want to let the familia down, the Mayhem familia down, the Victory familia down — we want to really do it for everyone.
You’re playing a shorter set than what you would normally play at your own show but will the new songs start making their way into the setlist?
LP: We will be playing the classics, we’re going to have to try and condense it, make it very, very dense into a little ball and just let it explode, you know? We’re going to try to hit everything, a little bit of something new, a little bit of our classics and a little travel of all the years we’ve been surviving doing this thing. It’s going to be alright, man!
What’s the most mayhem you’ve ever seen at a show? What are your craziest show moments that you’ve seen?
LP: I mean, today is the first day of the tour so I’m sure there’s going to be a gang of memories that we’re going to collect. We’ve done festivals all over the world, the European Festivals we consistently always kept doing throughout our career. I mean, you never know who’s going to get onstage. You never know when someone is going to surprise or do something outrageous. Because these types of festivals — everyone is trying to out-do each other. So you get the best of everyone when you get us all together.
It’s really hard to say, we’re going to have to wait and see what happens this year and I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of full moments and know that we’re going to eventually have a couple of guests come up and do some songs with us. Nothing set in stone yet, it’s just been words — some of the new school wanted to come up and join us on some of our old school songs. So, we’re working on it and we’re going to start building on it. Everything deserves it’s own memory and it’s own chapter in history.
Our thanks to Ill Nino’s Laz Pina and Ahrue Luster for the interview. The band’s ‘Til Death, La Familia’ album is available at both iTunes and Amazon. Look for the group playing the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival all summer long at these locations.
Watch Ill Nino’s ‘Live Like There’s No Tomorrow’ Video