Cristina Scabbia and her band Lacuna Coil have had a fantastic 2012 beginning with the release of their latest album “Dark Adrenaline” on Century Media and the Gigantour with Motorhead and Megadeth through a spring and summer of headline touring and festivals. They plan on resuming their “Dark Legacy” tour and closing out the year with a strong run of shows in October and November before kicking off 2013 on the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise. The cruise sounds absolutely massive, setting sail from Miami in January and promising the largest floating heavy metal festival ever (boasting 40 bands including Doro, In Flames and Dragonforce). We talked to Cristina about her band’s own legacy, her art and image and even got a few “straight from the source” Italian cooking tips. Read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: Your year started off great Cristina. I saw you on Gigantour and you were amazing both with your band and with MEGADETH. Was that excellent exposure for Lacuna Coil?
Cristina Scabbia: Yeah, not only to be out with those legendary bands like Megadeth and Motorhead but in front of their amazing fans. We went out with Megadeth in the past and we got along great with both bands. It was a great way to start the year out and I loved it. I know there was a lot of variety between us and Volbeat and those guys which is definitely cool. I tend to get bored when I go to concerts and it’s all the same type of bands playing together. It was like a mish-mash of old school and new school fans and hopefully people can do more tours like that, because it’s fun.
LRI: You also spent some time touring in South America and every band, including the Megadeth guys, talks about how insane and awesome those South American crowds are. Did you find that to be the case?
Cristina: They are, they are CRAZY. That’s why it’s so much fun for all the bands to go over there. They throw gifts onstage, they are really noisy, they sing along even if they might not know the language or the meaning. They mosh, they are the perfect crowd, it’s fantastic. The only problem is the travel and all of the flying. I think we took like 12 flights in 10 or so days which can be really tiring.
LRI: The headline shows you have been performing are really a big thank you to all of the fans who have followed you these past six albums. There’s an acoustic set in the middle of the show and songs from all eras of Lacuna, was that important to you at this point?
Cristina: Yes, we want to be able to work in more of our older material plus with these longer sets we’re also able to play more of the newer stuff. We’re still supporting our latest album Dark Adrenaline so we can safely fit more of that into the show as well as play some of the old songs that maybe the longtime fans haven’t heard in a while or the newer fans haven’t seen live at all. They can hear something as old as “Circle” as well as something newer like “Trip the Darkness” and then have something as acoustic and intimate as the acoustic sets which are really as good of a chance as anything to seriously connect with all of the fans. It’s a cool thing to be six albums into our catalog. We’re not the kind of band that is only passionate about a few songs on a few albums, we’re equally into every song from each album.
LRI: Well, let’s go all the way back through your catalog then….What springs to mind when you think back to 1999 and your debut, “In a Reverie”?
Cristina: I think we really didn’t have a clue. We didn’t know anything about the music business or how to support an album. I think that our songwriting is a little crazy because when you don’t really have your own style yet you just tend to mix together ten thousand riffs and ten thousand vocal and melody ideas. Some of it is really weird because if you listen to it, Andrea (Ferro, co-vocalist) and I are singing completely different vocal lines right on top of each other. That’s kind of weird because when you listen to a song, you clearly wanna identify with the singer and clearly wanna hear the lyrics and melodies and understand what it is you are listening to. When I look back on our debut it is great for me in a sense because it represents the beginning of our career and where it all started but I also listen to it and realize all the things we learned and transferred to our music all these experiences and ways of doing things that we just didn’t have back then. I remember the cover shoot being a really unpleasant pain in the ass (laughs). It’s probably one of my least favorite because of that. Andrea and I knew that we had the shoot coming for it but we had no idea how horrible it would be to be covered in that gold body paint all day. Oh my god!
LRI: Your second album, “Unleashed Memories” has a more simple cover art but still visually interesting and you really started coming into your own as a lyricist. Do you have any particular memories of writing those songs during those sessions?
Cristina: (laughs) Okay, now you’re asking a bit much of my memory. Again, I recall really believing in the material as I still do, but as for specifics other than the where and when we recorded it no, I don’t. We recorded it back in 2000, in Germany and I know that it included the material from the Halflife EP on the American version as well as a different version of “Senzafine”. I think the cover was something we all agreed on from the art department at the record label.
LRI: The “Comalies” album followed in 2002 and was something of a major breakthrough, at least here in the states which was only compounded by OZZFEST and the “Heaven’s A Lie” video and single. Again, you stray from the norm artistically and musically. I do believe you were the only band on Ozzfest with a pretty flower on your album art….
Cristina: We always stray away from the typical “metal” cliche. Always. Of course, we passionately love metal music but we are always thinking ahead and we don’t want to be pre-judged or stuck in one genre or one format. We have so many different influences in our music and in our art and we don’t want to be limited in either capacity. I remember that people had quite the reaction to “Heaven’s a Lie” and a lot of people thought it was a song about religion. I remember people coming up to me on tour while we were out with P.O.V. who are something of a Christian band and people would say, “Well, I really love your show and your music but you have a song called ‘Heaven’s a Lie’ so I cannot buy your record”. I was like “Well, this song doesn’t really talk about god or religion at all” but I can’t help the fact that sometimes people judge things at face value without really bothering to read the lyrics or trying to understand what they really mean. If you read a lot into our song titles over the years you might be really far away from what the lyrical content really is. I can’t tell you how many interviews Andrea and I did where we spoke of how that particular track isn’t a religious song but it doesn’t matter how many times we say it, it still comes up from people who don’t really follow the band.
LRI: “Karmacode” followed in 2006 and while it’s probably my least favorite of the bunch I can see that the band was still trying to do something new once again. I like the song “Without Fear” a lot. What exactly went into the changes that happened around that time and again what do you think of that artwork wise?
Cristina: “Without Fear”. That’s pretty cool that you like that, that’s an Italian song and you’re an American guy so that’s an interesting song to mention. II think that album was produced right around the time that downloading began to really be a factor and we were all looking for new ways to do things. The art is actually really, really cool. That one I really like, the faces, the whole hidden nature of it.
LRI: I know the last album “Shallow Life” (2009) was met with a bit of resistance from some of the critics but it’s my favorite of all of the albums easily. I really liked the fact that it was more of a “normal” rock album and all of the songs on the album are incredibly catchy and hooky and not without a sense of humor. Was that a case of you guys growing too fast for some people’s taste?
Cristina: I think if you’re a band or an artist you have an obligation to take risks and be challenged or you’re never going to go anywhere. I mean we could have easily stuck with the formula that was established with “Comalies” and done part 2, 3 and 4 but we didn’t. We couldn’t. We are artists and musicians and this is our world and our world is not static. We are constantly evolving and inspired by different things and that is great. I also think that “Shallow Life” was misunderstood because of the look that we portrayed or presented in the videos and photos that accompanied that album. I think that the images we were trying to get across to show that we were AGAINST the “shallow life” or the shallow way of being were just missed completely by a lot of people. I think people misunderstood the fact that we were trying to make light of that and actually took us seriously as “The hip hop guy” or me as “the pop diva”.
LRI: The video for “I Like It” is friggin hilarious.
Cristina: See, that’s what we were going for and I’m glad you got it but a lot of people didn’t. We caught so much shit. People could not accept us not dressing or looking as we previously had or the music changing and we caught all this shit from people saying we’d gone pop or were “refusing our roots” or just that we were against metal. It wasn’t about that at all. It was the same thing I spoke about earlier, it was about doing something, not even different, but something that was individual and not something already done.
LRI: Which brings us to the latest album, “Dark Adrenaline” which seems to be the perfect storm. It’s taking the leaps and bounds you made in songwriting and mixing it with that image and sound your fans seem to identify with so much. Is it hard to brew up that concoction or is that something you can’t even think about?
Cristina: We can’t. We really have to arrive at these things on our own. I mean, I love our fans but I we don’t consciously create with them in mind, that would not be art. We have to be into what we are doing as a band and we’re not interested in selling out or writing for the fans or for the radio. I think people who like Lacuna Coil know that we first have to create our art and music for ourselves and then share it with them and the response we’ve gotten for “Dark Adrenaline” has been amazing. We especially can’t worry about what critics think of an album even though they have responded really well to this album. Going back to “Shallow Life”, I agree with you, I think it’s a really strong album and I think it’s a successful album. It was our highest charting album prior to “Dark Adrenaline” also.
LRI: I have caught shit from people for not doing album reviews. I will review live shows occasionally but to me reviews are just stupid. It’s only one person’s voice or opinion. I prefer interviews because at least you are hearing the artist’s side of the story.
Cristina: Absolutely. I don’t read reviews because that’s all it is and often times the writer will only listen to the album once. I don’t know about you but it often takes two or three listens for me to really enjoy an album. The most important thing is that we are continuing to move forward, musically and artistically in this band, that’s truly the focus. You have to do whatever fulfills you as an artist because if you don’t change they will come down on you for that and if you do change they will really come down on you even harder.
LRI: I read once that Madonna of all people was a strong influence on you, not necessarily musically as much as her image. I can sort of understand now that I’ve looked at enough photos of you that you’re really just viewing the medium as another form of expression or art. Do you think sometimes people get the wrong idea about image or is it a male or female thing?
Cristina: I really think it’s really about the image of a strong woman who is not trying to act like or be a man . She’s not afraid of embracing being a woman. I think it’s about the level of level of control and strength she projects over her art and her image and I think it would have been an influence on me even if I had a different career and wasn’t involved in music at all. I love the fact that girls look up to me now and see the story of my career, the fact that I was not the tallest, youngest, prettiest girl I knew. Or the girl with the most perfect skin or life. I wasn’t, but I have managed to make a career out of it that not only blows my mind but means something to these girls as well. It is truly the most rewarding thing about what I do to meet these girls or read their words about how I’ve somehow helped them.
LRI: I’m about to mention it myself now so I’m sorry but is it fair to someone like yourself or Lzzy Hale that almost every single interview ends up having some sort of mention of sex appeal?
Cristina: It’s just normal. I think any magazine that talks to any woman is going to end up arriving at that subject just because women are beautiful. I think woman in general are beautiful and works of art unto themselves. I don’t resent it, I laugh about it and crack jokes about it and try to use it to my advantage. There is nothing wrong with trying to view me as a beautiful girl but if you are going to only view me as that you will be missing a big part of the picture and only knowing a part of me because my people know who I truly am.
LRI: Well, I have a tough time viewing you as hot ever since watching the video for “Trip The Darkness”. That basically scared the shit out of me.
Cristina: (laughs) I like that. That is awesome. It was fun, as much as it can be fun making a video but it was honestly very tedious because of the makeup and the hair and contact lenses. Between the makeup and all the effects I ended up with a bad eye infection but it was fun because I loved the concept. I think this whole album kind of lends itself to that horror, cinematic thing, even a song like “End Of Time” is really cinematic in its scope. I’ve always thought our music was custom built for movie soundtracks.
LRI: People have spoken before about you going it alone and becoming a solo artist but Lacuna Coil has always been about the dual vocals of you and Andrea. Do you resist most people’s attempts to try and single you out as the sole ingredient?
Cristina: I think this band has always been about the alchemy that was created by the sum of its parts. If you changed or took away the elements that are performing and composing in the scheme of this alchemy it would be an altogether different band. It would be something else. I have been approached about a solo career but I think the interest in something like that only comes about when you are not allowed to be creative or don’t feel like you can express yourself in your current band. Honestly, that has not been the case and I have always felt comfortable in Lacuna Coil, it is like a family to me. I like the fact that we had been in a rehearsal studio and known each other for so long in real life and I like the fact that we have toured so much together. I am so happy with this band that I would honestly never consider such a thing as a solo career.
LRI: A lot of people in America and the rest of the world have a lot of silly ideas about Italy and the Italian people, like you’re all in the Mafia or you all are stuck up fashionistas. What preconceived notions about your country piss you off the most?
Cristina: Probably the Mafia thing because so many of the other ideas about food or fashion are so true. We really can come off as very refined and serious about clothing and fashion but the Mafia thing is just a total misconception. People think “Oh okay, these people are Italian so they must somehow be affiliated or connected” and it’s not true. It’s really not true and it’s hard to imagine how many people think that way.
LRI: I know you really are into cooking and food. One thing you must clear up before I let you go. What is the number one thing that we Americans fuck up when we cook our interpretation of Italian pasta? Is it that we cook the pasta too long or use too much damn Marinara sauce?
Cristina: (laughs). The Marinara thing is just nasty and it’s especially nasty because you don’t put just a little bit of sugar in the sauce. It’s the sugar that takes the acidity out of the sauce so we use that along with olive oil, fresh garlic or onions and of course with tomato to make the sauce and finish it off with basil or oregano. The water needs to be salted before it’s even cooked and it only needs to be cooked lightly, it does seem like people over here cook it forever.
LRI: Last Question. Is there anything that you or the band have done musically or visually that has been met with skepticism or criticism back home in Italy?
Cristina: No, not at all. It’s starting to hit the mainstream there which is kind of weird because we are a rock and roll band and it is such a pop culture. So that is sort of surprising but we are starting to get some attention because we are the only known Italian band that is touring and working outside of Italy.
Sites That Link to this Post
- LACUNA COIL Singer Has No Interest In Solo Career « Metal Shock Finland (World Assault ) | September 15, 2012
- LACUNA COIL Singer Has No Interest In Solo Career • Metal4ALL.com | September 15, 2012
- Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia Rejects the Lure of a Solo Career | September 16, 2012
- Cristina Talks to Legendary Rock Interviews | Emptyspiral | September 16, 2012