Kode breakers: Lacuna Coil

Feature Interview with Lacuna Coil 06/05/06

On a quiet Monday afternoon in Camden town gothic pub The Devonshire Arms a handful of press are being treated to an excusive play back of the much anticipated new release from Italy’s premier rock export Lacuna Coil. Glasswerk have a chat with the band and give you a track by track preview of the Milan rockers new record as well as the low down on Cristina and Maus involvement in Mario Riso’s Rezophonic project.

Huddled together around three tables sit Vocalist Andrea Ferro, Drummer Criz and guitarist Maus.
The trio are amiable and good humoured [the drummer being particularly outgoing] and eager to get to talk about their “Karmacode” record nearly as much as they are on quaffing the free drinks that the venue has laid on for this afternoon’s proceedings.

Considering how well “Comalies” did commercially they feel any pressure following up such a successful record?

Chris: “Not really, we just wrote the album with the best songs we had “Comalies” was a great album for us very successful in the U.S. especially and we know “Comalies” we just thought about the music and how to right great songs.”

Criz: “The point is that everything has been written step by step from the first CD to the last one so we just did our job.”

Andrea: “We could have approached the album three different ways: One way to approach the new album was to repeat “Comalies” the other was to go super commercial and only record clean guitar and clean vocals and the other way was to start from “Comalies” and take all the different influences we have gained so far, without caring if the songs will be too heavy or too soft and just write the best songs possible and that is the street we have taken.”

Certainly “Karmacode” is a clear progression from “Comalies” in that the Arabic melodies and ethereal vocals are still there but there is a heavier sound to the guitars and Andrea’s vocals are standing out more clearly.
Lyrically the album has been described by Andrea as being about “Spiritual DNA” what made them choose such a reflective lyrical slant on the new record?

Andrea: “Basically when I was searching for a title for the album I came across a book by an Italian mathematical scientist who was trying to explain the existence and the figure of a god, not the Christian or Catholic god but strictly mathematically.
This very weird, technical approach to such a sacred subject such as God caught my attention in a way that you really feel there is a big need of spirituality today in people which is not strictly connected to organised religion anymore because they lost a lot of credibility to people because of all their mistakes and excuses for wars and people are all out for money and to sell religion in some way especially in America you see only a search for money not spirituality.
When we talk with our fans we see that music has a very special meaning even sometimes higher than what it is for us, it’s not only about the band playing but it is about something personal about their feelings.
There is a big need for inner spirituality and to have a more humane connection with other people, so there is a balance between technology; internet, laptops, mobiles and a more humane approach of dealing with people on a one to one basis so the concept of “Karmacode” is between these two strong elements which are no connected to any particular religion but is very present in our everyday life.

It’s not a concept album but that approach to the lyrics is present and a lot of the titles have religious imagery like “Devoted” and “Fragments Of Faith” also the artwork is connected with this.”

The eastern melodies seem a big part of the sound ever since their “Half life” e.p. do LC feel the need to keep this a part of their sound in particular?

Criz: We used the Arabic sound because we like it we don’t decide here we put some Arabic vocal parts and here we do something else it just comes out that way.
Either he [Andrea] starts to sing or Cristina does and that comes out.

Andrea: “It fits with the concept of the record mixing an old sound with the new.”

Criz: “The Arabic vocals are the Karma and the rhythm is the code.”

Andrea: “Journalists have been asking a lot of questions about this during this promo tour me and Cristina did for three weeks.”
“Coming out with lots of weird interpretations of Karmacode they said that the Karma can be our European part, our history, heritage and background and the code is the American part like the very fast lifestyle very technological.”
“This is even though we didn’t think of that its kind of true because we have become a very international band and we have lived these two lives for a long time now.”

One interesting point on the new album is the cover of the Depeche Mode classic “Enjoy The Silence” what made the band decide upon this song in particular?

Criz: “We tried to cover other bands like Soundgarden [“Black Hole Sun”] and Sisters Of Mercy and they didn’t work.”

Chris: “You either come out with a thrash cover that’s too heavy or something to weird so we didn’t want to do that, we like the band and are pleased with the result.” “If you listen to the way we arranged the song it sound like a Lacuna Coil song as well the way we structured it.”

Andrea: Basically Marco took the song apart and restructured it so it starts with the chorus which the original doesn’t and we alternate the vocals.
“We know its not the most original cover maybe but we are pleased with it as Depeche Mode are a great band and especially “Enjoy The Silence” which is probably their best known song.”

.After twenty minutes we are ushered to another table where bassist Marco, guitarist Maus and Vocalist Cristina are sitting.
All present a united front and come across as friendly , polite people and respond very directly to questions that are asked [if though they are a little tired from the previous night a show at the Forum in Kentish Town].

Given that on Karmacode Andrea’s vocals are more prominent that on previous records has there been more competition between the two lead vocalists?

Cristina: “Not at all. On the previous albums Andrea did not have enough time to work on the vocal lines with me so it was pretty natural for me to find something which I was more comfortable with.
“In the beginning we had to make money and have other jobs and he was really busy so he didn’t have time to work with me.”
“Now we only have Lacuna Coil as a job we have more time to work together and surprisingly we have a lot of the same ideas.
“We don’t care if he is singing this part and I am singing that part, there is a lot of democracy and we come up with ideas for each other, it’s not like we split fifty/fifty or seventy/thirty.”
“Due to the fact that I have a different tone I have come up with parts that have been super high for Andrea and he has been able to perform them and he has come up with some low parts that I have managed to pull off.”

Talking of living a dual life is very much what LC have had to do since touring the states with the Ozzfest [something that should be on the cards for this year] and they are soon to hit the road supporting rock freak show Rob Zombie.
How do Lacuna feel about touring with such a flamboyant act and could they see themselves taking the stage show production further in the future?

Cristina: “Maybe when we have the budget to do so. At the moment it we can’t do that in the States as much as Europe as it would be to expensive to transport it or rent when we are there but we are working on improving the visual aspect.”
“We still think the focus point should be the band performing onstage, if we want to go to a concert we want to see the band sweating onstage and moving rather than a super cool video or pyrotechnics.
“I want to see energy and give of the same energy when we play.”

Cristina: “I never saw Rob Zombie live but I have seen pictures from the Ozzfest.
“I think some of the songs on “Karmacode” are really groovy like his songs are even though they are totally different.”
“I don’t think people will get bored.”

Maus: “Its must more boring to see bands that all play the same style.”

Indeed but and Lacuna Coil have always been a band that like in incorporate other elements of music into there metal but do they ever come out with ideas that wouldn’t suit the Coil blueprint?

Maus: “Usually we know what fits with Lacuna Coil so that’s not much of a problem, he [Marco] wrote some stuff which sounds so heavy that it would better suit Meshuggah than us ha-ha.”
“There is a certain line we wouldn’t cross but we are trying to set this limit far away and we know what the people want from us.”

Giving the people what they want is clearly something they care about as well as pushing the boundaries musically, as it would have been easy to repeat themselves musically.
Does the Coil get bored of playing tracks like “Heaven’s A Lie”?

Marco: “Yeah a bit ha-ha.”

Cristina: “We have a great respect for the fans and we are where we are because of songs like “Heaven’s A Lie” we don’t hate it its just when you play a song so often you want to do other things as well.”

Maus: “Like Slayer playing “Angel Of Death” and Metallica “Seek And Destroy” imagine how many times they have played those songs!”

Maus: “It’s just like when any band gets successful they have to play that song imagine what its like for ACDC.”

A Track by Track Guide To “Karmacode”

1.Fragile – An accessible opening track with a great breakdown riff that should work well live.

2.To The Edge – “Life is so short” sing Cristina and Andrea, some killer harmonies and a great chorus.

3.Our Truth – Off beat verse riff builds to a soaring melodic chorus, a good choice for a single.

4.Within Me – Soulful acoustic ballad with lush strings on the chorus.

5.Devoted – Another mid paced track with strong harmonies in the chorus and a slow burning verse. Reminds you of new school Paradise Lost.

6.You Create – Arabic melodies over a primal guitar riff climaxing with another catchy chorus.

7.What I see – Korn-like bass riff with more soaring vocals, the vocal interplay between Ferro and Scabbia is more prominent than on “Comalies” [a good thing].

8.Fragments of Faith – A spiritual paean to searching for direction in life, catchy lyrics and great chorus again.

9.Closer – shimmering vocals and a great spiralling riff, nice string arrangement in the instrumental break.

10.In Visible Light – A guitar solo appears on this track which works well to break up the verse, chorus, breakdown formula that gets a little tiring.

11.The Game – The heaviest track on the album a future live favourite.

12.Without Fear – More Middle Eastern melodies and some nice guitar work.

13.Enjoy The Silence – A faithful version of the Depeche Mode classic, the only real difference being more space and a more downbeat verse. A future single possibly.

Rezophonic: Cristina and Maus get charitable!

If the New Lacuna Coil record wasn’t enough Cristina and Maus are also involved with Rezophonic the brainchild of Milan’s Mario Riso.
Rezophonic is a collaborative album project featuring many Italian acts and features Cristina on the single “Can You Hear Me?”
The aim is to aid the poor in Africa teach them new skills raise there standard of living. as Cristina explains :

“He had this wonderful idea to get together many musicians and people to help with this project has he knows everyone from soccer players to musicians and they all wanted to get involved. “It’s not like we are just raising money and giving them something for the show term but we are helping people to help their selves and continue to do so.”
“We gave all our services for free because I know the guy and I know that they are raising money for this reason, they are doing it for real.”

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