The Havana-born drummer (50) was a co-founding member of metal band Slayer and will be passing on his skills with a special masterclass in Belfast next month.
Q: Your family left Cuba for the US when you were two. Was your Cuban background a big part of your childhood?
A: Yes, actually. It was a very hard-working family, and the one thing that we didn't lose was the heritage. There was Cuban food, the coffee - espresso two or three times a day! - the music, sometimes on weekends my parents would take me and my older sister to these Cuban hang-outs and just hang out. They would cook food, there would be bands playing or just percussionists jamming. People would gather around and dance and sing.
Q: How much has it influenced your drumming?
A: I think all my drumming, even though it's hidden behind genres, has a tinge of Latin influence. I don't think I hear rhythms how most drummers do. I could hear a drum pattern and flip it to create a whole other way of performing it.
Q: Cuba is the home of salsa, but do you dance?
A: Oh, hell yeah! You could get me on the dancefloor right now if it was the right moment. It's part of the culture, it's something that you love and enjoy - sometimes around the house. Sometimes I'm in a good mood and I'll just start going off, pulling some James Brown moves!
Q: Slayer have always been known for violent lyrics and imagery. Did you have much interest in that side of things personally?
A: When you're a kid and you're rebellious, you want to shock people, and that's basically what we did. I don't feel that way now. I feel there are other ways to gain attention through music - by musicianship. At the time we had all these religious fanatics that were pointing at rock bands, saying that if you run the record backwards it says whatever about Satan. Come on, really - who has the time to play a record backwards?
Q: Did that side of things get old after a while?
A: Absolutely, yeah. It is the imagery of the band and that's what you continue - you find your niche and you go with it. Some people like to create music in that vein all the time, but I like to branch out and do other things as well.
Q: Speaking of which, you've recorded drums for a Disney cartoon as well. Tell us more about that.
A: It's pretty cool, it's called Dudes Of Legend County. That was a great experience because you're putting music to a visual and that's a lot of fun. I think there are 24 different pieces of music that had to be crammed into an 11-minute cartoon.
Q: A lot of people will be surprised that the Slayer drummer is working on a kids' cartoon for Disney!
A: Yeah, it just shows the human element in the music that came out of a band like Slayer. We've all watched cartoons - I'm a big fan of (US composer) Carl Stalling and what he did with Warner Brothers.