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Lacuna Coil    
lacuna coil

When the word "metal" springs up in the minds of the faithful, it's unlikely the words "Lacuna Coil" will immediately follow. However, the Italian sextet has left an indelible impression on the underground ever since their debut EP hit the public in 1998. Lacuna Coil blends elements of metal, rock, pop, and progressive in an original stew that may not make you want to mosh, but makes you sit up and listen just the same. The Metal Update tracked down frontwoman Cristina Scabbia to pick her brain about the world of Lacuna Coil and the latest album, 'Unleashed Memories'.

METAL UPDATE: If I referred to your band, Lacuna Coil, as a "heavy metal band," would you accept that term? Would that be an appropriate label?

CRISTINA SCABBIA: Not really. I mean, we are inside metal for sure, but, for example, we are not just "gothic," we are not just "rock," or just "metal." We are a mixture between the three styles, I think, because every member of the band comes out with suggestions and arrangements. Everybody has different tastes - from fusion to classic music to extreme music - so everything comes out with something new inside the Lacuna Coil music. I'm not really able to describe our music.

MU: In your experience, does most of your fan base come out of the metal crowd, or do you get more goth people involved? Where do you think the bulk of your audience comes from?

CS: From everywhere. That's why maybe we're not able to classify our music, because there are a lot of "normal" - we can say - people that give us a lot of compliments, and the same for gothic audiences, and the same for metal audiences. Today, I got an email from a guy who plays in a punk rock band that loves our music. It's really weird because a lot of different people come to Lacuna Coil the same way, and this is really good. This is a good sign. This means that music has no barrier in Lacuna Coil.

MU: You guys get compared to The Gathering quite a bit. Is that flattering, or do you think it's kind of inappropriate?

lacuna coil

CS: It just happened after the first EP. From "In A Reverie" on, nobody compared us to The Gathering because people - by "people," I mean journalists, because sometimes for a journalist it's easier to compare a band to another band just because they don't have the time to listen carefully to the album. If you just listen to the album, you can see that we have two vocalists, and, talking about female vocals, I sing completely in a different way from Anneke. Anneke is more technical than me and I specially take care about the feeling I give with the voice. I don't really care about too much technique, because I don't want to be cold when I sing and, also, because we build the music and then we put on the vocals. The Gathering writes the music, but everything is focused on Anneke's voice. In Lacuna Coil, the two voices are like two instruments.

MU: A lot of European hard rock and metal bands are using female vocals. Even if not on a full-time basis, they're throwing in some of that in their songs. Do you admire that type of thing? Do you think that's good, or is it becoming sort of trendy now?

CS: I think it's good if you have something cool to offer. If you have a female just to say, "Okay, I have a female in the band," it's not that good. I mean, there are maybe some bands that have a very sexy female, but they're not able to sing. This is a little bit frustrating because this means - I don't know how to explain. . . It's not that good for all the females, because here it seems that a female is just an object. It is just a thing that can sell more if she's naked or stuff like that. I agree to use females if they're able to do their work.

MU: There are a few metal bands - like Arch Enemy just announced they hired Angela Gossow to do vocals, and then you have the vocalist from Opera IX and Dawn Crosby of Fear of God - that have women out front doing very aggressive vocals. Do you think female vocalists can compete in that area and do as well as men?

CS: I don't think so. I mean, I think that both males and females can offer something different that the other one cannot copy. For example, a female can give more atmosphere, more romanticism and can be some sweetness. The men cannot copy this. But, in the same way, we cannot do the same growl that the males do. I mean, I would never like to be compared to a man. I like to be female, and I would never like to hear, for example, "Oh, she's great, she sings like a man." It's terrible. It's terrible. I'm proud to be a female, and I will never like to copy a man, and to act like a man, to sing like a man, to be aggressive as a man.

MU: According to Terrorizer magazine, they had their reader's poll, and you were voted "most shaggable female." Is this flattering at all? Do you think "Oh, man, those guys are perverts?" How do you feel about that? Do you like that kind of attention, or do you kind of blow it off?

CS: No, I laugh a lot. I appreciate it because even the word "shaggable," - it's terrible - means something like "the most beautiful," or "the girl I would like to have for me," or stuff like that. So, I can only appreciate it and say thanks to the people who voted for me.

MU: I guess some people obviously view you as sort of a sex symbol. Are you comfortable with that?

CS: Yeah, as I told you, I like to be a female. I like my femininity, and I like to play with it. I mean, nobody will know my personal, private life - how I really am. All the people that are really close to me know really how Cristina Scabbia is. So, I really don't care if the people dream about me in a picture. I'm just glad of it, because it's something nice. It's something that can make you feel good.

MU: Out of all your songs you guys have done, do you have any favorites?

CS: No, I like every one.

MU: Are you one of the original members? Did you start the band first with some other people?

CS: Yes, yes. I was one of the original members, together with Marco, the bass player, and Andrea, the male singer.

MU: According to what I've read, you lost your first two guitar players and your drummer during the 1997 Moonspell tour, is that correct?

CS: Yeah.

MU: Was that right in the middle of the tour?

CS: Yeah, we broke with them after something like three gigs of this tour, and we just continued alone. It was just me, Marco and the singer, Andrea, with the help of the bass player of Tiamat, who played the guitar for us, and the drum tech of Moonspell. It's been really, really weird, but it helped us a lot, because we realized that we wanted to do this. If you survive through a tour like this, you can survive everything.

MU: When you guys started out, did you get a good reaction? Were you able to find a loyal audience fairly quickly, or did it take some time?

CS: I don't know if we have been just lucky or whatever. We always had very good reactions and reviews. Of course, you cannot be appreciated by everyone. Anyway, we always had a lot of respect from the people that come to us in a very nice way. They're very kind with us - maybe just because we are very spontaneous and normal people. We are not poseurs. We don't act like rock stars or stuff like that. This can be appreciated from the people even if they don't listen to our music.

MU: When I think of Italy, I think of Rhapsody, I think of Labyrinth, I think of power metal. Is that representative of most of the metal bands coming out of Italy? Does it pretty much revolve around power metal bands?

CS: At the moment, yeah. Most of the people listen to this kind of music. In fact, we are very proud. We are well known, anyway, even if we don't play power metal. We are very happy about it.

MU: In Italy, what kinds of places are available for bands like you and some of the other metal bands?

CS: Not that many. There are a lot of places, but they are too big for small bands. Even if we are well known, there is not big support from the media, and from the radio stations. We just have to organize by ourselves in some small places, but the small places are really small, and the big places are really, really big - just for people like Iron Maiden, or stuff like that. It's really difficult to organize stuff here in Italy. On the other side, it's much better because as soon as you play in a small venue, you can build a beautiful relation with the audience because you are closer to them.

MU: It would appear that your style has not changed a whole lot. When you look at your own music, what kind of differences or changes do you see?

CS: Basically, I think that we grew personally because now we realize that music is also work and not just a thing to do for fun. So, we just learn to be more mature, more professional while we are composing and performing live. Basically, I think that the style is always the same because we don't want to go far from our style. We are not interested to change direction because we still like the music we do. And, also, we don't care about the people who think that you just have to put a strange electronic effect so that you grow as a musician. We don't agree. The maturity of a musician comes out in the songwriting of the song, and not just on a new effect you use. You don't improve just if you change style.

MU: I know you've toured in Mexico before, have you done any other countries outside of Europe?

CS: No, never, never. We always play everywhere in Europe.

MU: Would you guys like to play the US? Is that a possibility?

CS: Of course. Of course. We've never been there. We just have been in New York - just at the airport for two hours - so it's not enough. No, we really would like to be there as soon as possible, but it's not easy to organize. It's real expensive to be there and as soon as you have to do this tour - drive by yourself in a van all around USA - it's really tough. As soon as you reach the venue you are tired, and you cannot give a proper gig. This is not good for the people who come to the gig. We want to be sure to give a very good gig as soon as we will be there.

MU: The 'Halflife' EP was not originally released in the US, but is being released now along with the new full-length. Why was that not released initially in the US?

CS: I really don't know because I heard it today for the first time. Yeah, it's true, a guy told me, "Yeah, this album contains fifteen songs." I say, "Fifteen? No, ten songs." "No, no, fifteen." "It's not possible, give me the title. " Then I realized that they mixed 'Halflife' EP and 'Unleashed Memories'. I don't why - maybe because the 'Halflife' is not being released there, so they just put together the two records.

MU: Was there any particular reason for the Dubstar cover?

CS: First of all, no. We just wanted to include a cover for the first time. At the beginning, 'Halflife' wasn't supposed to be out as an EP, but just as a single CD with the Italian song. So, I just proposed this song to the other guys because this is a song that I really like. We just decided to do it in our style, and the result I think is great.

MU: The version of "Senzafine" on the new record is different from the one on 'Halflife'. I've only heard a few advance tracks off 'Unleashed Memories' so what is the newer version like?

CS: It's the same. It's exactly the same even if we re-recorded it. We just put the different verses because it was the original one that we changed during 'Halflife'. So, we just replaced the old one.

MU: Did you just re-record the music, or did you write different lyrics?

CS: No, no. The lyrics are exactly the same except this little part in the verses, but the meaning is almost the same.

MU: 'Unleashed Memories' is an interesting title. Could you explain why you guys picked that title?

CS: We just chose it, I mean, I found it. One day, I just woke up and I talked about this title, and I think it's good, because in this moment we are really "unleashed." We don't have any kind of pressure from label, families, and people that are surrounding us. We are very free, musically talking. And the "memories," of course, are all the songs that we collected in this album because we are inspired from things that really happened in our life or in the lives of the people that are around us.

MU: How about the cover, the cover has got an odd emblem. Where did that come from?

lacuna coil

CS: We worked with a mirror that our manager bought in Mexico like two years ago. We wanted to have a very strong symbol. The sun is something that everybody can recognize and means something positive, but it doesn't really mean something special. It's a strong symbol that it can immediately remind, but doesn't communicate something from the music inside the album. This is really good. I also think that it's really catchy as a cover.

MU: Before you did Lacuna Coil, did you sing in any other bands or have any other previous music experience?

CS: Any band? No bands. I just used to sing for other things, but just for money - just to give my voice for different projects, but totally different music. I did something in commercial stuff, like dance music or stuff like that, but just doing some choruses and stuff like that. I was paid for that, and that's all.

MU: Since joining the band, have you been offered or have you appeared in any side projects or made any guest appearances on albums?

CS: No, no, no. Some people asked me to do that - also big bands - but right now I'm concentrated on Lacuna Coil and I can't.

MU: Would you like to in the future?

CS: Yes, I really would like. . . I like to cooperate with other people, but as I'm so busy with Lacuna Coil it's not possible. I mean, I don't have free time just for me.

MU: If you did a guest appearance, would you like to do some vocals in a harder band? Do you have a certain type of music you'd like to get more involved with?

CS: At the moment, I cannot remember anything. I mean, there are so many bands that I would like to work with that it's really impossible to say one.

MU: Do you and Andrea write lyrics together?

CS: It depends. It depends. Usually, we work separately because to work together for the lyrics iss really difficult. Sometimes you would like to express something that is really difficult to share with other people. So, sometimes it happens that I write the lyrics by myself and Andrea writes the lyrics by himself. Sometimes it happens that we meet each other and we work together on the lyrics. But, I think that it's more difficult to do.

MU: When you guys come together, do you usually write two different lyrics on two different topics?

CS: Yes, yes. Exactly. We discuss about the idea, "I would like to talk about this." "Okay, I agree." So, we choose together all the words.

MU: As far as the music's concerned, does everybody in the band contribute?

CS: Yes. Basically, Marco, the bass player, is the main composer, but as soon as we are in the practice room, everyone comes out with arrangements. This is what we have done, but for the next album, we will work together in another way.

MU: Do you guys usually start with the instrumental portions?

CS: Yeah, we always start from a melody - from a guitar riff - and then we build the song. When the music is finished, we work on the vocal line and the lyrics at the very end.

MU: Do you guys ever come and say, "Hey, I got this melody here," and then make guitar parts? Does that ever happen, or is it always the other way around?

CS: Yeah, basically, we work in this way. We start from the guitar part and then we see what's happened. It happens that sometimes we found some parts in the practice room, sometimes we found the parts at home. It really depends.

MU: As far as lyrics are concerned, most of them seem very personal. Do you and Andrea draw from personal experience for lyrics? Do they revolve around personal relationships?

CS: Basically, we have different experiences. Even if we see each other almost every day because we are friends outside of the scene, we always have personal experiences that we try to share when we are writing something. As soon as we discuss it, the other person can understand what the other person means, so we work on it.

MU: Waldemar Sorychta has produced all your records. Are you guys good friends with him?

CS: Yes, it's great. He's a great person. He's a great musician. We are just glad to work with him because he knows exactly what we want. We can work in a better way because we can discuss every idea with him and we are sure about his work.

MU: What kind of music do you listen to?

CS: Everything, everything. As long as it's good music, I listen to everything from classic to extreme to gothic to rock. Everything. I don't care about the style, the kind of music, but I just care about the feeling that a song can give me.

MU: You guys have been on tour and done festivals with bands like Grip Inc. and some heavier bands. Are European audiences pretty open-minded for that? Could a concert with Cannibal Corpse and Theatre of Tragedy, for example, be successful?

CS: It depends. Not all the people are like this. It always depends on the people you meet because you cannot talk about, for example, "Yes, in Bonn all the people are like this" or "In London, all the people are like that," because it's not true. In just one audience you can find that half of the people are really open and the other half are not. It really depends on the people. Actually, talking about our experiences, we never met a bad audience. I mean, they were very respectful with us, even if maybe they didn't like the music. We never found people that told us, "Yeah, I hate you. You are shit." or something like that.

MU: As far as your band's musical direction goes, are you guys happy with your style the way it is now? Have you guys ever talked about being maybe more aggressive, or heavier or, on the other side, going into more mainstream rock or pop?

CS: Everything is very spontaneous, so we never discussed it before. I mea n, as soon as we compose a song, if all the members like it, we just keep it. We never discuss before which style to follow. As long as we like metal music, we will continue in this direction. But we never discuss before, "Yeah, the next song will be more aggressive." Everything comes out in a natural way.

MU: So, in relation to that, you guys have some heavy stuff going on, but it's "moodier" type music. It's not so extreme that more extreme metal fans are going to get into it, but, at the same time, you guys are "edgy" enough that you're left out of mainstream rock and pop. Do you guys ever feel like you've limited yourselves commercially by doing that, or do you worry about that at all?

CS: Our purpose is to do very well in the metal scene. We are not interested to enter the mainstream charts and stuff like that. I mean, we really feel comfortable the way we are. Our only purpose is to live with music, so we don't really care to reach the number one of the Hit Parade. It's not what we need. We really believe in our music, and we just don't want to sell it because we have to sell it. We just want the people who buy the album to like the songs - to feel the same feelings we feel while we are playing the songs.


Review of Lacuna Coil 'Unleashed Memories'





Interview: Anthony Syme [ ]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
Webmaster: WAR [ ]
Photography: Volker Beushausen

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