It's a chilly winter's night out side, so I joined Laz in a cosy dressing room somewhere in the Mean Fiddler to shoot the breeze about the band and life in general.

R13: Hi, how are you doing?
LP: I'm doing alright, Laz from Ill Niņo, bass player.
R13: How's the tour going?
LP: Actually the tour wraps up tonight in London - it's been a long one, it's been a very fun tour. We've been headlining on our own and we've been having local support with the exception of the UK where we've had Breed 77, who are friends of ours. So it's nice to be out with them for the UK shows, I wish they did the whole tour. But, we actually got to meet a lot of great, new, up and coming bands and that's always cool 'cause I like to see what's coming up in different parts of Europe.
Let me go down the run down, as long as I can remember - we did two shows in Holland, eight in Germany, two in Austria, three in Sweden, two in Denmark, two in France, three in Spain, three in Italy, one in Portugal, one in Switzerland, two in France and currently five in the UK.
R13: Excellent, you've had a busy time then.
LP: It's been a busy time. We've been here since, I think we left home January 8th or 9th and it's coming to the end of the line as this is the last day of the European tour and it's just been wonderful. Tomorrow we leave for Australia for four shows.
R13: I bet you can't wait to hit the sun.
LP: I can't wait to see the sun. I love the hot climate even though I was born in New York City, and raised there; I think my Caribbean blood still cries for the heat.
R13: Don't blame you, it's been pretty miserable although it's been snowing.
LP: It's definitely been snowing. We've caught a lot of snow storms on this tour which is probably why we couldn't get an opening band or support band for this tour due to nobody likes to come out during this time of the weather. When it comes to playing music, we'll heat up that room so it don't matter - we'll do it in January, February, I don't care.

R13: Superb. Do you enjoy playing to British crowds?
LP: The British crowd, it's cool. I feel like we've been accepted throughout the world. When you come to the UK you almost feel that you've got to play extra hard, that you've gotta prove that you've still got it and you've still got that killer instinct on stage. That's what brings excitement to touring, when you look forward that marking. Look, I got facial hair [indicates the well-grown beard he's currently sporting], I'm in my revolutionary look.
I'm looking forward to being in London, and closing in London is just the way to do it. You can do it at the top, y'know, when you're fresh and ready to kill but I think the great challenge is when you save it to the end of the tour. You've got more of a challenge 'cause you're a little more beat up, but you're riding a pure adrenalin and energy wave.

R13: Are you enjoying playing with Breed 77?
LP: Absolutely, those guys are killer players and they bring their culture from Spain to the music and mix it with this traditional, early metal, hard rock style. They do it phenomenal. Those guys are amazing.

R13: Speaking of Spanish influences, do you feel it's important to show your Latin roots in your music?
LP: To us, it's very important - the Latin roots is our personality. I think if you want to express your complete background, your personal life, it was necessary for us to include our cultural background and throw in those rhythms. I know it's non-traditional but when you put a band together you want to do something special, and you want to do something unique and original. It was just the right thing to do to incorporate our culture and pay tribute to my influences through metal.
R13: Did you find in the beginning that the kids didn't perhaps accept it as much?
LP: Well, y'know, people are still very used to traditional forms of metal. So, those enthusiasts that are purists and they love the pure structures of metal and the guidelines - I'm a purist too, I enjoy traditional metal too and it's the reason I play music today - but I want to offer something new to the music. I don't want to just do the normal.
If people were to open up their minds a little bit more, they'd realise that there's originality here and you've gotta give respect to that. Y'know, it's courageous, it's brave in a world where traditions are so important, when you decide to expand on it and add your own voice and create your own tradition of expressing cultural personalities, it's the way music should be - to challenge.
R13: So taking something like Santana and putting it in a metal song?
LP: Santana was groundbreaking, I mean I'm pretty sure he struggled in the beginning, also, and a lot of people weren't open to it. But it worked, and it does work. We may be in different parts of the world, but we still have that one thing in common. To me, Santana was one of the most groundbreaking musicians. In fact, there was someone even earlier than Santana called Richie Valance who did 'La Bamba' and he incorporated the Mexican culture into rock n roll and that was pretty amazing too.
R13: There are a lot of disparate influences in your songs like 'De la Vida', do you find it quite hard to combine them all or does it come more naturally?
LP: It comes very naturally. It's challenging because when I think of like the Latin influences, I think we like the darker side of the Latin music, the sadness. Y'know, New York City's pretty interesting because in the Seventies a lot of Latin musicians moved to New York looking for a better life. They discovered jazz and started meshing these rhythms with jazz, creating this whole new sound called Latin jazz. It was the sound of the streets, the sounds of the neighbourhoods and the sounds of the culture and of life in an urban city like New York City.
So that's the style that I'm into - I love all kinds of music but I want to make sure we portray that side of it because it's closer to us than just getting up and dancing to a happy song.

R13: Definitely. So, what would you say your influences were then?
LP: I have so many different influences, it's so many to name. When I think of bass players, Jaco Pastorius was groundbreaking, he was amazing. He was soul, jazz and a very urban feel to his style. I love Robert Trujillo, out of Metallica, I can say that he's my bass hero in rock music. He's been doing so many different kinds of music throughout his life. He started out with Suicidal Tendencies; he had Infectious Grooves which was like a funk rock thing; he's done numerous projects and different bands - Ozzy Osborne and now Metallica.
When I think of Metallica, I think of an American band but now Metallica to me is complete because America is not just one colour, it's also other cultures there and Robert Trujillo is a dynamite representation of the other America, which is the America to me. I admire Metallica for choosing the man that was truly best for them and I thought it was a brave move on their part. Robert Trujillo is just a dynamite human being, a great personality, and the best hard rock bassist - he can do any style. He's the best in the business, and now he's in Metallica who are the biggest metal band in the world and he so deserves it, for that he is my hero.

R13: Moving on a bit, since you wrote the 'Ill Niņo EP', do you think you've progressed?
LP: Without a doubt, there's been a constant progression. We've grown throughout the years and we're more mature, we understand each other a little bit more. We're a lot closer, we're more united, we have more respect for each other on a personal and musical creativity level. It's a constant growth and if you don't, I think that's the cheap way out. People do grow and if you don't show that growth in your music then you're just cheating a lot of people. This is a band that's always moving forward, and we try to give a new record every time out while maintaining the integrity of Ill Niņo.

R13: How do you spend your time when you're not working?
LP: Oh man, in all honesty this band has not rested. When we do rest it's usually a couple of weeks at a time after being out six months straight or a whole year straight - our first record we toured for two years - so I like to spend time with my family. I'm very close to my mother and father, and my brothers, nephews and nieces. So I kind of like to be in that environment in my time off and just really enjoy them.
When I'm away, I feel like I'm missing out on people's lives changing and kids are growing up and I'm not there to witness it, just the whole process of life. I'm very close to my family and I like to spend time with then - my mother's cooking is fuckin' amazing, so I try to go there as much as possible.
R13: Nothing beats mother's cooking.
LP: No, there's that certain ingredient - it's not a physical ingredient, it's a spiritual ingredient that goes into the cooking. That touch of soul, love.

R13: Definitely, that's very true. What's the best thing about being in Ill Niņo then?
LP: Best thing about being in the band is you get to play music every single night and you don't have to go to a regular job when you're out here. You can sleep late and it's just music. Meeting new people is always the life and it has its benefits. I don't know if I would've gotten to see half the places that I've seen from touring the States, all over the world, getting to know Australia, seeing landmarks. We got to spend time in Rome, we would never have done that - we got to see the Colliseum, the Vatican, hung out in Venice and all these little landmarks throughout the world.
You know, we're very fortunate to be able to actually walk a lot of these streets and meet different cultures. With this music, you really begin to look at the world differently. When I think about war and politics, it's all nonsense, we're all human beings and I have no prejudice whatsoever. I have fans all over the world and I appreciate and respect their country, and their language, and their food. We're all humans and there's no reason we shouldn't all be united as much world.
R13: That makes sense. When you were growing up, did you ever think that you'd be in a band full time?
LP: You know, it was my life long dream to do this. The years were going by and it wasn't arriving. Then I realised something right before this band got signed and that's when the whole project came together, that I still kept music in my life and that's where true success was. I felt successful just because music was still in my life and it was still gonna be in my life regardless of whether I did on a professional basis, or I did it part time at home. It happened to me when I felt very successful about music and ain't nobody gonna take that away from me - no record company, no fans are gonna turn on me. I chose music and it's gonna stay in my life.

R13: So, where to next after this tour?
LP: We're off to Australia for four days. We're meeting up with some old friends, Static-X and we're co-headlining a tour there. Then we get some time home, a month off.
R13: A long time off in Ill Nino terms then?
LP: Yeah, but there's gonna be a lot of rehearsals 'cause we've got the idea of putting an acoustic record together in mind, so we want to practise a lot. So, it'll still be work but we'll have the luxury of having to go home every night.
R13: Is your acoustic record new material or has any of it been worked on before?
LP: We're gonna do three songs from every record and then we plan on writing two or three new songs for it. It'll be full of percussion and we've got some great ideas. We'll do some recordings and if it works we plan on putting it out.

R13: Excellent, and that I believe, is that. Thank you very much.
LP: Thank you. Thank you for taking the time.