Lacuna Coil know their worth

As this interview will show you, the gorgeous Cristina Scabbia doesn’t doubt her band’s worth for one second. So much so that she opposes Lacuna Coil to other bands in the same genre – without naming them –, in terms of originality as well as their approach to success. Some might even say she goes a bit far when she proudly describes Dark Adrenaline, the band’s upcoming and, all things considered, very good album, which will be released on January 26th , 2012, as an extremely rebellious record that “is not going to make everything easy for us to be played on the radio”. A proclamation of marginality, of an underground side, even, that will probably set some teeth on edge. Especially since we learn, a few minutes later, that the band’s first two albums never make it into the setlists in order to focus on their more successful records…

But this interview is also very exhaustive, Cristina being in the habit of answering questions in the most detailed way, whether it regards the band’s work on covers, their approach to live performances and the way they look on a DVD, or their way of working with their new producer. A very honest singer, who admits that the “recap” aspect of this new album was never premeditated.

« (About Don Gilmore) He’s not the producer that changes the soul of the band or puts too much input in it. »

Radio Metal : This is your second album with Don Gilmore as the producer, while the others were produced by Waldemar Sorychta. What motivated you to switch producers? Do you think Don Gilmore understands better today what your music is about? Is the chemistry between you and Don better?

Cristina Scabbia (vocals) : I think every band usually changes producer with every album. It’s always cool to have somebody that can come up with a point of view that’s different from the band’s. After so many albums with Waldemar, we just thought that we’d learned so much, and that we’d got to the point where we needed to achieve and to learn something different from a different person, a different teacher, a different producer. Don is a very good professional and an amazing person, but he doesn’t change our style. The songs were ready, he didn’t write anything. But he’s really at giving advice that you are free to follow or not. For example, regarding the structure of the songs, some part may have been too long or kind of useless for the song itself, so maybe we could make the part shorter. Or maybe we could rework some parts that weren’t that strong in every song. So he’s really good at that, but he’s not the producer that changes the soul of the band or puts too much input in it.

This new album seems to be surprisingly dark, when we look at the lyrics. You’ve got songs like “Trip The Darkness”, “Kill The Light”, “End Of Time”, “I Don’t Believe In Tomorrow”. Where does this desperation come from?

It’s not desperation. The songwriting started in a darker mood, because after Shallow Life, some of us went through a not-so-good period. If you stop at some of the titles, they might seem negative and desperate. But for example, in “Kill The Light”, the chorus says: “You’ll never kill the light inside me”, which is not a negative message at all. In “I Don’t Believe In Tomorrow”, we’re talking about the fact that you have to face problems as soon as they come up, and you have to stand up for your ideas, for what you think, at the moment the drama is happening. You mustn’t wait for the day after. It’s not a destructive song that talks about the end of the world, or the fact that there won’t be a tomorrow.

« We don’t want to get stuck in the past. […] Dark Adrenaline is just reflecting who we are, who we were at the beginning of the year, when we started the songwriting. »

Then this album isn’t a reaction to the previous album that was talking about being superficial and was, musically, more enthusiastic.

No. I think that, every time you start to write new songs, you are inspired by you are and the experiences that you collect. You never really look back, you don’t think: “OK, we’ll follow this direction because we did this on the previous album”. We don’t want to get stuck in the past. For us, when an album is done, it’s time to move on and do something completely different. So basically, Dark Adrenaline is just reflecting who we are, who we were at the beginning of the year, when we started the songwriting.

And yet, even the title of the album sounds pretty dark…

Because it summarizes the vibes that are coming out from the songs. Some songs are more obscure, but there’s also a sense of energy and power. That’s where the “adrenaline” word comes out. Adrenaline is something that keeps you awake, that makes you react right away, that keeps you alive.

The artwork features vials that contain this dark adrenaline. Metaphorically, what do these bottle represent?

We imagined this dark liquid that can be injected inside of you to let you trip. Obviously, we’re not talking about drugs. It’s not like we’re supporting heroin or anything like that! It’s just a visual thing that we liked to imagine. In one of the special editions for Dark Adrenaline, there will be a DVD with six mini videos that we filmed, where we’re playing actors. It’s not a making-of, but these six videos you will see in the next future will explain more about this Dark Adrenaline theme.

Lacuna Coil never repeat themselves with any album, but this time, Dark Adrenaline seems to be a great mixture of all the different parts of the evolution of the band – from the gothic vibe of the early days to the new metal sound of an album like Karmacode. With this album, did you feel the need to take stock, to recap what you have been doing so far?

No, it was something we realized after we let people listen to the album. It’s not something we planned. But whether we like it or not, what we are today is a summary of what we lived in the past. The old school vibe, the stuff that we did in the past, it’s still a part of us, even if we’re not looking back. It came up in the songwriting, but we weren’t planning that. We weren’t planning to recreate something we did in the past, or to create a mix of the old and the new. But it’s nice to notice, because it’s still us.

« I see a lot of other bands in our own genre – but I’m not going to name names – that are pretty much following what we did a few years ago. They’re going into more melodic, mainstream sonorities, and we’re doing the opposite. »

About this new album, you declared in an interview: “We’re kind of getting heavier while everybody else is getting mellower”. Do you really mean that? Do you really see other bands getting softer?

Yes, I think so. I see a lot of other bands in our own genre – but I’m not going to name names – that are pretty much following what we did a few years ago. They’re going into more melodic, mainstream sonorities, and we’re doing the opposite. We’re doing something completely different from everybody else. It would have been easier for us, now that we enter the charts at a very high position, to do something even softer, or rock, or radio-oriented. Instead we went into something that is heavier. This album is the heaviest we’ve ever done. This is not going to make everything easy for us to be played on the radio and to get more support.

As an established band, maybe that’s something you can do more easily…

I don’t know. That may be true, but there are so many bands now that if a radio station wants to play a specific style, they have a big variety of bands to choose from. They don’t have to play you.

Are there a lot of radio stations in Italy that play this kind of music?

No, not really. In the past there were a few more stations, but nothing huge. Now there’s Virgin Radio, it’s probably the biggest rock/metal radio. More rock than metal, but still, they’re offering some alternative music, something different from the commercial radios.

Can you see yourselves getting even heavier in the future?

I don’t know. We found out that we enjoy playing the heavier stuff we wrote during the live shows, because there’s more energy. It’s easier to let the energy come out when we play something more energetic. I can definitely see ourselves going in this direction, but we still don’t know. We won’t know until it’s time to write the new album and we’re inspired by stuff that will happen from now on. We’ll see.

« We tried to put a couple of songs from these albums in the previous tours we did, but the majority of the crowd looked at us with a very confused face, because they didn’t recognize the songs. So we asked ourselves what the point was. »

The album was initially supposed to be released in 2011, but the release date was then pushed back to 2012. And yet, most journalists were lucky enough to listen to the album some time ago already. Was there a reason behind this delay or is it just a marketing thing from the label?

It was a marketing thing, it was not up to us. The label just decided to move the release date in January, so they could have more time to work on a better marketing and promotional plan. It also meant more budget. It’s always good for a band, especially nowadays, because the funds are really limited. It’s good to have a bigger budget to work, to go on tour and to promote the album.

You are in the habit of covering songs on your albums. Where does this idea come from?

It came up years ago. When we did “Enjoy The Silence”, it was already on the list of names we wanted to cover. We’re always looking for bands that are not only delivering good songs, but also respected in the scene. We’ll never go for the most obvious choice of bands that are popular but not really respected from the rock’n’roll scene. We thought that R.E.M. are a band that’s part of history, but “Losing My Religion” also fit the mood of the album. Marco, our bass player, came up with this music that is really Lacuna Coil. We enjoyed playing with the voices and changing the vocal lines, up until the chorus comes up, and you understand it’s that song.

As you said, it’s pretty impressive, because you really make it sound like it’s a Lacuna Coil song. And it was the same thing with “Enjoy The Silence”…

That’s the point of covering a song. I don’t understand bands that do the cover in the same precise way it was done at first. What’s the point? The song as it is exists already, so try to do something at least slightly different! I’m not saying you have to do something crazy with it, but if you do a cover, you have to put your personality in it. We always have to rework or rearrange the song, or it wouldn’t make sense. I mean, you can do something like that on a live show, but for fun. But if you do something like that, it must be improvised. If you’re going to put a song on a record, it needs to be something special.

So that’s why you choose to cover rock bands, and not purely metal bands?

It doesn’t make any sense to do a metal cover of a metal band. When you’re having fun with somebody else’s work, you have to do it with something that doesn’t really belong to you. You really want to create something new and fresh.

When we look at your setlists, we rarely see songs from your two first albums. And there are just a couple of songs from Comalies. Why is that?

Because from Comalies on, that’s when people really got connected to our music. The very first albums are popular only among an extremely limited fanbase. We tried to put a couple of songs from these albums in the previous tours we did, but the majority of the crowd looked at us with a very confused face, because they didn’t recognize the songs. So we asked ourselves what the point was. We get maybe one or two mails a year telling us: “You should play those songs because they belong to your roots, and a lot of people would love to hear them”. But the truth is that everybody wants to hear music from Comalies on. That’s where the most popular songs come from.

Is it not frustrating for you?

No, not at all. It’s actually a good thing, because it shows that we progressed from zero to who we are now. We followed the way any band should evolve; we’ve had a regular career, starting from nothing, improving, getting better and better, betting more popularity. That’s what has kept the band alive for such a long time.

You mentioned videos on the special edition of Dark Adrenaline, but will you shoot regular videos for some songs?

We did. We already did the video for “Trip The Darkness”, which is the first single. It’s gonna be out in mid-December. I don’t know exactly where and when, we’ll announce it as soon as we know it. But it’s there, we already saw it. Visually, it’s pretty cool.

Do you intend to release a live DVD? Your first live CD/DVD was shot during a festival. Don’t you want to record a real live experience in front of your own audience?

That would be cool. For that DVD, Visual Karma, that was mainly focused on Karmacode, we wanted to present two different aspects of a Lacuna Coil live show. That’s why we picked out the show we did in Japan, in Loudpark, which was not exactly quiet, but less crazy than the other shows that we put on the DVD. That shows two aspects of Lacuna Coil that’s kinda cool to present to the audience. We definitely want to work on another DVD, but for a special show of the band. I’ve always found these things a little bit boring unless they’re extremely special. Even then, if it’s extremely special, it’s good for people to be there during the show, but the DVD will never reproduce the same feeling. It would be cool to release a DVD that really shows the backstage of the band, what we do behind the scene, to tell a bit more about us. But it’s not easy, because we have so much stuff collected, so many recordings, that just taking scenes from different periods of our career would be crazy – and it would take time. We don’t have enough time to do that now. But one day we’ll definitely do it!

You just came back from a rather extensive tour in the UK. What can you tell us about this tour?

That was very good. It was not only in the UK, we played seven or eight shows in Italy first. Then we also played in Belgium and in Holland. It was very, very good. We wanted to focus on the UK because we never did an extended tour there. That’s why we played in little venues, where we were very close to the audience. Every show went really well: really good crowd, good reactions, good attendance to the shows. Great reactions towards the new songs, and that’s what we were hoping for. With the new stuff, you never know what kind of reactions you’re gonna have. And everybody acted like they knew the songs so well already, like they belonged to old Lacuna Coil albums. They were really feeling the new songs, and that’s fantastic.

Any chance we’ll see you in France next year?

I hope so, there are definitely chances. It will probably be easier to see us on our European tour, in the fall of 2012. Before that, we have to do some touring in the US, up until March or April, I think. Then we’re gonna come back to Europe for summer festivals; I don’t know which one, they’re gonna be confirmed next month. Possibly in France, but we have nothing confirmed yet. I hope we’ll come back as soon as possible.

Interview conducted face to face on december, 1st, 2011 by Saff’ in Paris
Questions : Saff’ & Metal’O Phil

Transcription : Saff’

Lacuna Coil’s Website : www.lacunacoil.it

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