Arising from obscurity, Italy’s LACUNA COIL have come a long way to being one of the rising stars in the underground metal scene. Early comparisons to THE GATHERING, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, and PARADISE LOST undoubtedly overshadowed the band’s budding potential. But now they have found their sound and their niche. Their last record, Unleashed Memories, was the band’s breakthrough release. And success has only grown by leaps and bounds with their latest, Comalies. APESHIT sits down with vocalist, Cristina Scabbia on the eve of their current U.S. tour.
APESHIT: Congratulations on the new record. It’s getting a lot of killer press and your popularity is steadily rising. So how do you feel about all the success the new album, Comalies?
CRISTINA: It’s really great. It’s pretty strange to be in this situation because we’re really down to earth. So all this success of course, makes us really proud because we really believe in what we do in our music. It’s our way of talking. We just present our music. And I’m really really happy that a lot of people around the world are appreciating what we’re doing. It’s a big satisfaction. It’s weird because we still feel…normal. (Laughs) We don’t feel special or whatever. It’s a very good sensation.
APESHIT: How do you guys write your songs? Is there a head writer who writes most of the music and then the bands comes together later and works on it?
CHRISTINA: Well, so far the main composer of the music is Marco [Coti Zelati], the bass player. But now things are changing. In Comalies, talking about “Tightrope,” even the other guitar player, Marco “Maus” Biazzi, wrote a lot of riffs. Basically we work separately at home. We have computers with a special program, and we can even record the parts if we want. Then when we meet each other, we present the idea, and if everybody likes something, we keep it. We work on it all together. But basically we start from a riff or melody, and we build everything together. Every song has a different history. In some cases we start it from a vocal line even though it’s really rare because we consider the voices to be instruments. That’s why we put the voices every time in the end.
APESHIT: You guys have two singers…so how do you determine who sings what?
CRISTINA: We just hear the sound of the voices, and if it fits better in that part of the song, we keep it. We’re not interested in ego stuff…“I have to sing more than you, or we have to split the song 50%.” If the female voice or the male voice fits better in that part, we keep it or the opposite.
APESHIT: You guys had Waldemar Sorychta produce the new album, and he’s produced all of the albums. So what does he brings to you guys?
CRISTINA: Well, a lot of experience especially from the beginning. We’ve worked with him since ‘97 so we know him very well, and he knows us very well. We know what we want to do, and we can even discuss and fight with him. The point of a producer is that in some cases, and that’s not Waldemar’s case, they want to change your style. They want to bring too many personal things with them in your music. And that’s something we don’t want to do. Waldemar brings the best in us, and helps us with all the machines. He’s more a friend than a producer. He’s more a person who’s really able to use all the machines in the studio. But we always choose the sound we love. Especially with Comalies, it was sort of cooperation between us and him. We love him very much.
APESHIT: Did he do anything different with the new album?
CRISTINA: Well this style, we can say is always recognizable as LACUNA COIL. The big difference is that we kept everything more simple. But with this, I don’t want to say that the album is more simple, like more “stupid” or “easy.” I just mean that we avoided all the useless parts that you can sometimes put into a song just because you want to show to the people that you are able to do an extra solo. We’re not interested in that. We just wanted to find the hype of a song and work on it. So we don’t say “OK, this song has to be done this way.” We don’t need to put a thousand vocal lines, a thousand riffs, a thousand melodies because it’s intense. It would be stupid to change too much. That wouldn’t be LACUNA COIL. If we wanted to experiment with something we would never name it LACUNA COIL.
APESHIT: Would you guys consider working with another producer in the future?
CRISTINA: I spoke to Devin Townsend a few weeks ago. And it would be great for us to work with him because I consider Devin Townsend to be one of the geniuses in music. He’s really talented. He has, I would say, the best voice I’ve ever heard personally. We have thought about working with him, but I don’t know if it’s possible. And I don’t know what kind of music we would do in the future. We don’t have anything ready for a next album, so we don’t have real ideas for a record producer. It’s always a risk.
APESHIT: Would you guys ever consider producing yourselves?
CRISTINA: If we would be able to use the all the recording stuff, it would be great. I feel that you can always learn from other people, especially people who’ve worked in this thing [recording] from more years than you. I don’t think we need to be too, what is the word, not pretentious. We don’t want to pretend too much that we are now on the top, and we can do whatever we want. I think that we always need the help of somebody else just to, not to learn but even to exchange experiences. You can create something new in this way.
APESHIT: What kind of vocal warm up do you guys do before a live show?
CRISTINA: None. None because my bad point is that I love to talk. I talk too much as you can see, and that’s very bad. Especially before a gig because your vocal chords gets tired. We don’t do anything. Sometimes I try to do “la-la-la-la-la” for a while but it doesn’t work because I don’t know the tricks. We just drink special, it’s not a tea, but it’s a mixture of herbs. It’s special for the voice, but we didn’t bring it with us on tour because we’re not allowed to bring herbs into the US. So this time I brought my humidifier. I put Vick’s, the thing you put in hot water, and I inhale. And it opens (makes inhaling voice).
APESHIT: Do you guys worry about losing your voice on a long tour?
CRISTINA: Well not really. Because day by day if you are really really sick or just sick because you are tired or if you have the flu, it’s hard anyway. But in this case, the singing lessons and the tricks, they don’t really help because it’s the person that’s really tired. And I think that day by day, it’s easier to sing because your voice gets warmer. So you get into the tour, and you don’t care anymore.
APESHIT: You guys have metal roots but your music can appeal to people who don’t necessarily listen to metal. Have you guys been noticing in your audiences playing live that there’s non-metal people?
CRISTINA: Yeah! Definitely and I’m really really proud of this because even if most of the bands I listen to and love are into metal or rock, whatever. To me it’s really important to create a connection between different audiences but not to be more commercial. We just want to demonstrate that music is a sensation to unite all people, not to split the people into types. When you listen to music, you don’t need to be racist or to put it into categories. You have to listen to it. If you like it, you should listen to it.
APESHIT: You guys have played with a lot of extreme metal bands. Are there times when you feel like you have to win the crowds over because you are not playing black metal or death metal?
CRISTINA: No, we don’t really care because there is no band that everybody in the world loves. So you just have to perform, to offer… “OK, this is my music. If you like it, you can join. If you don’t like it, you can avoid it.” I don’t care because I believe in my music anyway. The other thing that I dislike is when some stupid ignorant people react in a bad way. I’ve been to a lot of gigs where the audience was really rude to the band. And this is something I dislike. These people are doing their job. You don’t have to say shit about them. You can avoid to listen to them. You don’t need to treat them in a bad way.
APESHIT: Would you guys like to tour with non-metal bands in the future?
CRISTINA: It depends on the band. I mean, we don’t care about which bands we are playing with even if we always have a very good time playing with them. We just want to play. We’re not interested about the level of the band.
APESHIT: You guys and RHAPSODY are probably the most popular Italian bands. What’s the scene like in Italy?
CRISTINA: I would say that there is not a big scene because most of the people listen to international music. Most of the time the bands are from America or Germany where the bands are more power metal. It’s still strong, the power metal trend in Italy. But not that much because after a while, if you don’t change your music, people get sick of it. And it’s happened for a lot of bands, especially power metal bands…new power metal bands. There are a lot of new bands coming out and doing the same thing, and people get tired of it. There’s not a big scene because there is no big support from the media. It’s always in the underground.
APESHIT: So does it seem like there might be an explosion of bands like in Sweden?
CRISTINA: No, not really. I mean not popular at all because in Italy when you get a deal with an Italian label, it’s really hard to get out. If a band really wants to work in an international market, you need a label that works outside. You never sign for an Italian record deal. I’m happy we signed with an international label.
APESHIT: A lot of fans were upset when you didn’t come to the US last summer with IN FLAMES. You guys are finally here, and you’re gonna tour with OPETH. What are you guys gonna do after that?
CRISTINA: After that, we’re going to do a ten day headlining tour in America and Canada. And after that we’re going to play gigs in Italy and some summer festivals. And it’s not confirmed, but I guess we’re going to do another American tour, probably this autumn. But that’s not confirmed. And I’m sorry that the people were upset about the show, the tour we missed with IN FLAMES. They will never understand how hard it is to manage, to organize a tour, especially from Europe to America. It’s not easy because there a lot of things that have to be perfect at the same moment.
APESHIT: You guys are gonna play two dates with DANZIG on that festival tour. They’re gonna be big shows. The places that you are playing are where bands like IRON MAIDEN, SLAYER, JUDAS PRIEST, and DIO play. So how do you feel about that?
CRISTINA: Well, we’ve played on very big stages in festivals. I think it’s great. To be honest, when you play live, you don’t see anything. I mean it seems that you’re looking at the people, but you’re so concentrated on what you’re doing. You just look at the faces, but you’re thinking about what you’re doing so you’re not really worried about how many people there are. You’re more worried about the stage. When it’s bigger, it’s better. Especially for us because we are five people in the front with just a drummer in the back. So we need a lot of space just to walk around on stage.
APESHIT: Have you heard of the new band, EVANESCENCE?
CRISTINA: Yeah, I’ve heard about this band because a lot of people are writing me and saying, “they stole your style…you did it first!” I just listened to one song from them…the one from the Daredevil movie. Yeah, they do remind me of our style, but they even remind of even LINKIN PARK. But what can I say? I mean, I will not say anything because in the very beginning of our career, we suffered from comparisons with other bands. So I don’t wanna say anything at all because everybody is free to do whatever they want. I hope we will be able to say that we will sell the same copies as they did. “We did it first! Buy our album!” (Playfully)
APESHIT: So what kind of music are you personally listening to right now?
CRISTINA: Right now in my CD case I have the latest ANTHRAX, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, MESHUGGAH, DESTINY’S CHILD… I have all different kinds of music. Even CRAIG DAVID…something for different moods of the day.
APESHIT: What do the other guys listen to besides rock and metal?
CRISTINA: They listen to basically everything. I mean, Marco and Maus are more into heavy stuff like MESHUGGAH and STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, something more powerful. And [male vocalist] Andrea [Ferro] is really open minded. He listens to everything. The drummer [Cristiano Mozzati] is more into funky stuff but also listens to everything. Almost every member of the band loves old music from the 80’s, disco music from the 80’s like ABBA or whatever. We like to listen to everything.
APESHIT: Well thanks for sitting down and chatting. Do you have last words for your fans?
CRISTINA: I would really like to see a lot of people come out to our shows. And I just want to thank everybody [the label, Century Media, and the fans] because you can be the best band in the world but if you don’t have help from the label, from the press, the people, you’re not going anywhere. We know it, and we thank you so much!