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Pandemic Interview: Cristian Machado

The summer of 2002 was a time that really opened my eyes (and ears) to an incredible range of new music, mostly because of OzzFest. Y’all remember OzzFest, right? Like so many other, OzzFest introduced me to some of the most incredible bands, bands that I would have likely never heard of had it not been for the iconic summer festival. One of those bands was Ill Nino. My introduction to the Latino heavy metal giants was on a hot August day in Columbus, Ohio. Not exactly where I would expect to see some of the heaviest bands play, but it was well worth the ten hour drive from Des Moines, Iowa.
Touring in support of their Roadrunner Records’ debut, 2001’s Revolution Revolución, Ill Nino shared the 2nd stage with the likes of Chevelle, Otep, Down, and Flaw and raised the bar on what it meant to be part of the historic festival. I would get the chance to see the band again a few weeks later as OzzFest passed through the Kansas City area, and Machado’s intensity hadn’t faltered. Even though Ill Nino were still relatively underground, Machado’s stage presence was unrivaled. Both times, OzzFest was the perfect place to watch Machado command a crowd and rile them up into a moshing frenzy. You’ve really not experience a concert until you’ve been in the middle of a circle pit at 10am on a Tuesday.
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I wouldn’t get the chance to see the band again until 2006’s Congress of Corruption tour. The Cement Shoes Records’ sponsored tour found the band headlining with support from Godhead, The Dreaming, and Ra.
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It would be nearly 15 years until I would be given the chance to ask Machado questions I’ve been mulling over for the past two decades and a few that are a bit more relevant given the pandemic, since Machado on stage would never disappoint, and with all the current down time in the world Christian was kind enough to do a small interview with me via email and I hope you enjoy it.

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(Adam)
2020 seems like a terrible time for anything and everything right now, especially releasing music without being able to tour. That being said; when will you be releasing more solo material? There are a lot of us eager to hear new music from you.

(Cristian)
Thank you for your kind words. And you’re right, what terrible time for the music industry. Not being able to have a show nearly puts the music industry completely out of business. That said, I had been planning this acoustic album for a while and so we didn’t want to delay things too much. The full album comes out on September 25th. We’re gonna keep putting out content and singles. We have a music video for “Die Alone” out right now and we’ll be releasing another single called “Better You Know” which will be out in late September, early October. It’s exciting times for me musically speaking but very challenging for any musician, crew member, promoter, venue, bartender, bus companies, vendors, merch printers, everyone. We all do realize we have to patiently wait for venue openings to be safe for everyone. The fan is number 1 and that’s all that matters. It may not occur for a year, but at least we have something to work towards. I had some shows in September that had to be put off till March 2021, hopefully those will stay. For now, gonna keep putting music out. It’s a scary time to be a musician but it’s an exciting time to be a songwriter.
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(Adam)
The Black Lives Matter movement is thankfully back on everyone’s radar and has opened the eyes of a lot of people to the fact that racism in our country is still a plague. Have you personally experienced racism within the music industry?

(Cristian)
There was a couple times where it was questionable whether racism was being pointed at me. But I have witnessed extremely racist comments coming from a band we all knew, and the comments were being made at a band that is / was very big. It was loud, in front of many people at download festival UK actually. and it felt so awkward that people ignored the person said what they said, they were very drunk. Keep in mind that was band on band racism and I witnessed it once, it’s very rare. I have not experienced any racism from the music industry, not any I’ve ever noticed. I feel, on the contrary having come from NYC, I was always welcomed as a Latino into most circles. But of course in other places that could easily not have been so. Sadly racism does exists and we’re starting to see too many people be comfortable being racist in public. Perhaps they’ve always been this way but the current situation added with vídeo phones has brought it clearly to our attention. The divisive politics on both sides has also made people feel more abandoned. Despite all current events, I want to remain collected and not forget what change must occur. It all starts with us as people. 

(Adam)
On a personal level, how are you adjusting to our “new normal” during the Pandemic. Is there any part of your daily routine that helps you maintain a sense of normalcy during these crazy times? Are you getting to spend more time with you daughter and family?

 (Cristian)
I wish I was getting to see my daughter more. My separation and joint custody has been hard to work around during the lockdown. It hasn’t necessarily been easy to deal with but there’s nothing I can do. I‘m trying to stay positive and laugh with friends best I can. My mother has been my beacon through so much and she still is. This covid thing was scary. My mother, stepfather, sister, and nieces, basically my entire family here in the USA, lives in NYC. During the height of the covid infections, I was bugging out and really worried. Me, my daughter, and her mother are here in CA in more rural communities, but my family was in NYC and I felt helpless. Thank god everyone was ok. My niece contracted it and she quarantined very well and didn’t get anyone else sick. My mother’s best friend had to be hospitalized but she was lucky to not need a ventilator. My sister is an admin at Englewood hospital. They were a leader in treatment in the NYC area and I was really worried my sister would get it. But ok, I probably probably blabbed way too much about that. I’m trying to stay positive. Friends and music have kept me smiling thankfully. IMG_0587
(Adam)
Aside from Ill Nino, you’ve recorded with Roadrunner United, Soulfly, Sepultura, and 40 Below Summer. How did each of those bands influence you as a musician?

(Cristian)
I’m a huge Sepultura fan. I got into them during the beneath the remains era and evolved with them, if you will, into their more groovier stuff. The roadrunner United album was fun. Dino was a blast and the song was shredtastic. The Soulfly album was a dream to work on. Max Cavalera gave me creative freedom and I felt so honored. I was a new artists and for him to trust me creatively was so awesome. Same with Sepultura album. I really dug in and had a blast. Nation is a killer album. Their new stuff is so good also. The last band you mentioned, 40below, I’ve known and have been best friends with Max for many many years. We’re like brothers basically. We came up in the same scene and did a track together early on. Still a 40below classic in my opinion.(Adam)
After your “departure” from Ill Nino, did you have any doubts about whether or not you’d continue to make music? Any plans to continue as a band or to write with Ahrue, Diego, and Oscar?

(Cristian)
I do have plans to continue making music with my bros Diego, Ahrue, and Oscar. Oscar actually played all the percussion on my acoustic album. And Diego, Ahrue, and I are in the process of finishing a full length album for a new project that is heavy and full of ear candy. I did have doubts about what I was gonna after ill niño but I’ve always been a wanderer and loved challenges. I am however very lucky I have a great team and people who believe in me. Reinventing myself is fun to do creatively but it involves a lot of work behind the scenes and I am very grateful.(Adam)
How have you adjusted to not being able to tour or play live shows with regards to promoting your music? Have you become more active on social media? Will you be playing any live stream shows now?

(Cristian)
I’m doing the best I can to adjust to the current situation. I was supposed to go into her here in September in the US but everything has been moved to March 2021. Hopefully we will be able to keep those dates as well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but at this rate anything could happen so I’m not 100% sure, I know that we have confirmation for shows and are looking forward to doing them when it’s safe. I have been active on social media as much as possible to let the fans know if my new music. I realize it’s a really weird time to be asking people to listen to my music considering all that’s going on in the world, but then again I feel that this kind of vibe musically suits current events in was a mysterious but very genuine way. I have also been contemplating if I should do streaming shows, but as a lover of live shows and loud concerts I may try to hold out for the tours.
(Adam)
Do you think the pandemic will change or alter the focus on your lyrics? Are you using this downtime to write or record new music?

(Cristian)
I have been using the downtime to write some cool stuff. I’m also working on some heavy music with Diego and Ahrue that’s pretty bad ass. It is as I said, Friends and music that has kept me sane throughout this very insane and challenging time in the world.

(Adam)
At what point will you not be hesitant to tour? Any specific health or safety thresholds that need to be met first?
(Cristian)
Well, as I explained, we were supposed to go on tour in September, also in October, and also some shows in November but everything has been moved to start March 2021. We are very eager to get out there and do shows, and we have a killer show planned, but we have to be patient. We understand that the fan’s safety is number 1, most importantly, the fan’s enjoyment of going to a show, is the goal. For that occur we have to be patient. IMG_0586
(Adam)
When you do start touring again, can we expect Ill Nino cuts in your setlist, or will you mainly focus on your solo material?
(Cristian)
There will absolutely be a couple of nino cuts, maybe 4 or 5, in my acoustic live show. I will be doing all the originals off my album as well as some really awesome covers from other rock bands, but for certain I will be playing some niño songs. 2 niño songs are on my album actually, “How Can I Live” and “Numb”. I think the fans will really enjoy the versions of those two songs. We plan on adding two more to the set list. The show is really gonna be a life affirming, deepLay conscious vibe. I can’t wait. 

(Adam)
What are your thoughts on the “drive in theater” tours that are currently being scheduled?  Would you consider touring in this way?


(Cristian)
Fuck yeah I would. I think anything that can be done in order to conserve some type of live performance would be important. There are a lot of people that are not just out of work and if we can figure out a way to safely bring awesome sounding shows to theaters safely, yes, please! Metallica just began theirs and I hope it goes well. I don’t know that fans will accept it as the new norm but something is something.
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(Adam)
Will the old school meet and greets become a thing of the past for you? How will your in-person fan interactions evolve in a post-COVID19 world after touring resumes?


(Cristian)
I really don’t know how meet and greets will evolve. I think eventually when we will all feel safe enough. The time will come when they will occur. Fans and artists have a mutual curiosity to meet each other because of our connection to similar music and emotions. I think it is important for that to continue, however, I don’t know when or what type of protocols will have to be followed. Hopefully it won’t be weird and uncomfortable, as meet & greets have always been fun and entertaining and they should stay that way. I imagine outdoors would be ok, with some masks and hand sanitizer. I don’t know but I’ll stay hopeful.

(Adam)
My first time seeing you on stage was Ozzfest 2002. Suddenly it doesn’t feel like it was close to twenty years ago. Are you still using Dave Williams’ microphone?

 (Cristian)
No, I am not using Dave William’s microphone stand anymore. I did use it for many years but I am now playing acoustic guitar. He was a beautiful soul and I will always honor him in my heart. 
(Adam)
Thank you for your time and all the fond memories, Cristian!
(Cristian)
Thank you for having me on and thank you to the fans! Pick up my album at http://hyperurl.co/858c7f(Someone remind me to ask Cristian about the Cement Shoes Records fiasco next time we chat.)

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