Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Album story: Revolution Revolución (2001)

Signing to Roadrunner:
"Ill Nino, the latest Roadrunner signing, are in the studio now! As we speak they are hard at work at Showplace Studios in their hometown of New Jersey. From what I hear, it is located out back of some Jersey strip club, which should provide for some great inspiration..." the first ever Ill Niño newspost on the Roadrunner site begins with. The band was just signed by Mike Gitter (Roadrunner director of A&R) after their live performance at WSOU's "Ski Show".

Recording the album:
The new Roadrunner-signing started recording their first full-length on 11/06/2000 with producer Ron St. Germain (Tool, Soundgarden, Creed). "We chose him." Dave Chavarri says, "because we thought he could add more life and energy to our debut CD." But after three weeks Chavarri took over the production duty. "He was making the band too soft," according to Chavarri, who had experience with producing demos (including Ill Niño's). St. Germain was eventually not mentioned on the back cover of the album. Still, Chavarri "was never worried that the sound would be too polished or not heavy enough," because "Ill Nino has a sound all it's own, the band is very heavy and very aggressive."

Mixing the album:
For their debut, Ill Niño tried different things to make sure it would be right. "It's our first record and we want to be sure that it comes out exactly the way we want," Chavarri said, "It's the band's most important record and we want it to be right for our fans as well as ourselves." After being not satisfied with St. Germain's early mixes, the band found production company Scrap 60 (Eddie Wall, Steve Regina & Rob Caggiano) to mix "Revolution Revolución". "They do really good work over there," vocalist Cristian Machado said, "so we're totally confident that they're going to blow away anything else that would have happened."

The tracklist:
On November 22nd 2000, the band had tracked (layed down bass, drums and rhythm guitar for) 13 songs, with 4 already having vocals ("Unreal", "Rip Out Your Eyes", "No More", and "God Save Us"). In the final days of recording the 14th song was written, "the acoustic song", later called "With You". On March 21st the band set the tracks for the album, leaving "No More" out. On the 15th of June 2001 the track list was finalized, with 14 tracks again, having "No More" as #4. On the official release the song was cut once again, to be never released in any way.

Releasing the album:
After the band finished laying down the final recording touches, the album was scheduled for a June 5th release. But it would last till September 18th till the album was oficially released. The album release date was pushed back and forward many times. It is interesting to see how this happened by looking at the following quotes:

01.26.01 - "Street date is tentatively scheduled for 06/05." (Roadrunner news)

03.21.01 - "...their upcoming June release Revolution...Revolucion" (Roadrunner news)

03.21.01 - "The album is expected to see release on June 19th." (Shoutweb news)

04.03.01 - "Ill Nino "Revolution...Revolucion" Goes July" (Shoutweb news)

04.18.01 - "Our album is coming out June 19th" (ThePRP.com interview)

04.26.01 - "Final mix should be completed by May 10th." (Roadrunner news)

04.30.01 - "Their Roadrunner debut is due out July 17th." (Roadrunner news)

05.02.01 - "...currently slated for a July 10th release" (Roadrunner news)

05.02.01 - "Ill Nino Bring The 'Revolution' On July 10th" (Shoutweb news)

05.29.01 - "...the upcoming REVOLUTION...REVOLUCION, due out August 7th" (Roadrunner news)

05.31.01 - "Final mastering of their debut Revolution...Revolucion cd took place yesterday." (Roadrunner news)

06.04.01 - "...it is now going to come out 1 week earlier, on July 31, 2001" (Roadrunner news)

06.04.01 - "Ill Nino Bring The 'Revolution' On July 31st" (Shoutweb news)

07.03.01 - "A September 25th release date is likely." (Shoutweb news)

07.10.01 - "Ill Nino's debut release, Revolution...Revolucion to be in stores this summer." (Roadrunner news)

07.10.01 - "The release dates for all Roadrunner albums are currently unscheduled." (Shoutweb news)

08.06.01 - "ILL NINO REVOLUTION...REVOLUCION - street 9/18" (Roadrunner news)

09.18.01 - "...their debut Revolution...Revolucion IS IN STORES NOW." (Roadrunner news)

What happened? First of all, there were problems with St. Germain. Now Chavarri produced the album. Scrap 60 took over the mixing job. Songs were being reworked too. The mixing job was finished in early June, just before the
first street date. Secondly, vocals were rerecorded in Spanish for "What Comes Around", "Unreal", "I Am Loco" and another song. Since these songs were not planned to be on the album, this wasn't a big problem. The biggest influence on the delay is probably was Ill Niño's label, RoadrunnerRecords, which signed a distribution deal with Island/Def Jam. This made the fate of all Summer's Roadrunner-releases (except Slipknot's "Iowa") unknown; the release dates were all postponed.

Music styles:
The record has a lot of different styles of music to offer. "It's just one indication to the world that we are open to different styles of music," Machado said. "We go everywhere from Latin to hip-hop to industrial to heavy guitars." Chavarri: "Marc Rizzo is completely all about flamenco guitar, and Chris, who can be melodic and very brutal at times, and the Latin percussion with Roger (Vasquez) and myself, and Laz... I mean, it's everything; everything is in there." There is "I Am Loco", a "sort of hip-hop influence with sort of like a techno feel" according to guitarist Marc Rizzo. There is "With You", which started as a jam. "We were fuckin' around and we all vibed on it," Chavarri says. Rizzo: "That song is just really magical to me. It has a lot of meaning to me." There are samples and scratches, like in the intro of "Rumba", who were produced by DJ Scratch and the band themselves. And there are more commercial, radio-friendly parts like in "What Comes Around". Percussionist Roger Vasquez, who used everything from bongos to congas, timbales to tambores and tribal toms on the album, didn't have a problem with it; "we got to do it the way that we wanted to do it. (...) "It was like we want to take this song to radio, and the way it is it’s just got to tone it down a little bit, and it’s something that we went in ourselves and actually got to work with it and actually got to do it on our own, and we’re perfectly happy with it." Sill, Vasquez claims that this album is "brutal, and that’s it man."

Meaning of the lyrics:
The title may suggest that politics play an important role in this album's lyrics. Machado, responsible for the lyrics, claims this is not true. "Revolution Revolución" is about a personal revolution, not political or social. "Basically," Machado said, "there is a lot of fucked up shit going on in this world. I'm not going to get into all the negative karma and negative attitudes that are going on but let's just say that this is Ill Nino's revolution. Everything is in this record. All the lyrics and all the music is our revolution against the world. It's basically all the shit we've gone through in our lives. Our experiences, which we just vent through the music. We feel like this is our one chance to go against everything that somehow at some time in our lives has caused us some bad blood." Chavarri: "It's your revolution; revolt against what you aren't happy about." Cristian is "telling people: "Fuck you!" If somebody is putting you down or changing your mind, he tells you to do your thing and fuck them."

Cover art:
The original idea of the cover art for the album was about being restricted, the band wanted a powerful cover. Dave: "It's heavy and powerful so we wanted something powerful as a cover. We talked about it endlessly. We wanted something also Spanish, Latin. We were looking at mummies. We went to the library like a bunch of good little kids. We looked through all kinds of magazines." The band found a photograph of "one little girl that was mummified at eight years old. She was mummified with her hands around her legs." Because it would have been very expensive to get the rights of this photograph (20 cents per record), the band found Patrick McBride to do their own art. The actual cover was made out of clay and photographed. Dave: "We came up with the idea and then we hit Roadrunner with the idea. The art department has some cool people. We had Patrick McBride who did our pictures. He did the photos and he did this thing for the cover. He had a team of two other people. He just kept doing it and doing it until we were happy with it. We're totally happy with it and we think it's a great first record cover."

The singles:
The singles were believed to be "Unreal", "What Comes Around" and "Nothing's Clear". Chavarri: "We're going to see how it feels when the record's completed. We're going to sit and see what we like, what the label wants, what the management wants." Surprisingly, the band filmed their first video for "God Save Us", not a typical radiofriendly song. It didn't do really well. The second single was Ill Niño's break-through, "What Comes Around". The single version wasn't exactly the same as the album version; only 1 scream ended up on the single, all the other were cut. The same thing happened to the third single, "Unreal", although most screams were replaced by "normal" singing in there.

The success:
Dave Chavarri (drums) and "his" Ill Niño, with Cristian Machado (vocals), Laz Pina (bass), Marc Rizzo (guitars), Jardel Paisante (guitars), Roger Vasquez (percussion) had put out an amazing debut release, showing the world that "there's more to Latin music than just Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, and Enrique Iglesias." In the following years the album was sold more than 450,000 times, a big amount for a metal band, in a time where people illegally download music more than ever. Because of it's success, the album was re-released in 2002 with 5 bonus tracks including 2 of the 4 Spanish songs and new artwork.

Album reviews:
"Dave Chavarri said that with the album "The idea is to be as heavy as possible and as melodic as possible" and they did it. 'Revolution Revolucion' has an irresistible rhythm that you just can’t escape and burrows into the centre of your being. While the album may be deemed as too violent or aggressive, every song exudes pure emotions that are performed with such passion that absorbs the listener. They will be working on the second album over Christmas, all I hope for is that they don’t get anger management classes as a present."
- Nicola W (MetalUK)

"To pick the best tracks from this album would be like picking the funny bits in ‘The Holy Grail’. There are just too many to mention. Just go out and buy the damn thing. Ill Nino are the future sound of metal, Viva la revolution."
- Terry Bezer (Drowned In Sound)

"We'll have to note the name of ILL NINO, because there has to happen some kind of disaster to prevent this band of getting their share of success. The artwork for "Revolution Revolución" also has been designed very suiting to the content and rounds off an absolutely recommendable debut from the beginning to the end."
- Alex E. (The Metal Observer)

"Mix Latin lads with hardcore and what do you get? Latino hardcore, silly. It's heavy, pounding, throbbing from start to finish, utilizing at times acoustic guitars for some quiet bits. Again, it's most successful when vocalist Cristan Machado isn't raging like a Tuvan throat singer with laryngitis, but what are you going to do? And they've got the angry lyrics. "Nothing's Clear" begins "Fuck this place up," while "What Comes Around" starts off, "I hate you, I hate you – shut up..." which again leads me to wonder, can life be that bad for today's youth? Shoot, you got a CD pressed.... Anyhoo, if you like over-the-top heavy stuff, you know what to do."
- NY Rock

"Q calls it "sports metal," Kerrang! says "nu-metal," and me? I'd simply label it "tedium." Okay, that all-too-easy cheap-shot aside, Ill Nino's Revolution Revolucion debut isn't all that dodgy. In fact, if you're not listening too closely, or more accurately still, not expecting much, the record could yet (briefly) pull you in, as guilty as that sounds; they've got the nearly stadium-ready Deftones-via-Orgy hooks, occasionally clean-tenored "sensitive dude" melodies, ultra-percussive aggression to spare, and goddamn if you can't lift weights to this. And how 'bout it, the sextet sometimes play with an intensity like something's actually on the line (see one-trick pony "Rumba"). But look at it this way: There's miles between The Afghan Whigs-on-steroids narcotics of the 'Tones' White Pony and this, a record that will never have any remotely broad significance, basically because the whole platter is the epitome of "predictable" – as in, "Are you reaaadddyyyyyyy"-like mosh-groove to nowhere. Nonetheless, coming to a gym or tattoo parlor near you."
- Ink19

Revolution Revolución
Released: 09.18.01
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Roadrunne
Produced by: Chavarri
© The All Blacks B.V.

01 God Save Us
02 If You Still Hate Me
03 Unreal
04 Nothing's Clear
05 What Comes Around
06 Liar
07 Rumba
08 Predisposed
09 I Am Loco
10 No Murder
11 Rip Out Your Eyes
12 Revolution Revolución
13 With You

Digipack version
Released: 10.22.02
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Roadrunner
Produced by: Chavarri
© The All Blacks B.V.

14 Fallen
15 God Save Us (live)
16 Eye For An Eye (live)
17 What Comes Around (spanish)
18 Unreal (spanish)

Enhanced Content:
- What Comes Around (video)

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