‘Your in luck’ the tour manager informs me. He has just knocked on the door of the tour bus, entered and few minutes have gone by, he’s then popped his head out and informed me-the interview today will be with which ever member of Lacuna coil is free; it just so happens to be Cristina Scabbia. Getting on the bus Cristina is holding a cup with three large seeds in, and proceeds to explain what’s going on:
Cristina Scabbia: These are like Chinese seeds, they expand and there really good for lungs and sore throat, I’m just trying them the second time now.
Coop: Working though?
CS: I don’t know, but it looks cool!
C: Did you get them from Italy?
CS: I got them from San Francisco; they were in the backstage area, where we played the show. There was this big jar with some seeds and I was like “What is it?” Then I started to read the writing on the jar, there was an inscription like these seeds are really good if you put them in hot water for like forty minutes, when you suffer from loss of voice. I tried them yesterday and I sung o.k. so I don’t know if it’s because of them (laughs.)
C: Probably it’s over time.
CS: Maybe it’s a mental thing.
C: You don’t do many work outs with your voice do you?
CS: Y’know I should, I should. Actually now I do a little bit more than I used to do-which is like a few minutes. I know singers that are like warming up for like hours. I mean I was talking to the singer of Alter bridge, and he told me he does like an hour and a half of warm-ups, and it’s like we don’t do anything like that, were lazy (laughs.)- I take the time to sing a couple of songs to warm it up, but I warm-up here in the show.
C: I’ve seen bands with whole operatic c.d’s to sing along to
CS: Yeah (Mimicking operatic scales.) La la la la la la la.
C: And then Lemmy has a JD & coke and, then goes on.
CS: Exactly, Jack & coke, cigarette then go on. The only way I take care of my voice is not to smoke, not to drink too much-but I don’t do a lot of warm-ups.
C: London last night?
CS: London yesterday, the night before we played at Wacken (Festival).
C: What was that like, the two gigs together?
CS: Just tiring, because we flew in like three days ago, from America-so we did the old trip-we took the bus-we went to the hotel, the day after we had to go to Wacken to do promotion, to do the show, and it was really windy and cold; after the show we ran away to drive to London, wake up in the morning to come here-its kind of tiring.
C: Did you get the time to do anything touristy?
CS: Like today it was perfect, because I mean the venue it’s pretty close to the shopping area, at least you can get off the bus, have a walk-not necessarily shopping, and just get out of the bus, breath-see some people.
C: Do you find you get recognised?
CS: I tell you what, I feel like Clarke Kent and Superman, because if I don’t put make-up on, I mean when I go out I’m literally as you see me right now-so I’m really tomboy, most of the time I wear a hoody, with a hat on, nobody expects me because they see me in the pictures. I have make-up on stage I have a different presence, I can transform myself. It’s still me, but I love that. Now, after the show taking pictures with the fans I never have make-up on. That’s the real me.
C: Is it important to have that?
CS: It is important, because it’s still me; it’s not that I’m playing a character.
C:It’s important though to have a little bit of ‘Front’ playing live?
CS: It is important not really because of the perception people can get of me, that I have to be the rock star onstage, it’s a question of having a theatrical aspect of the whole show, it’s like a movie-you have to have proper costumes, proper hair, proper lights, because that’s the whole show y’know-it’s entertainment, so I can’t really go up there, with like jeans, because yeah it’s fine, during the day, but now I’m performing I’m entertaining somebody else and the visual part is really important.
C: You get someone like Metallica who are known for being just T-Shirt and jeans guys.
CS: it’s there style.
C: I think the most successful acts are the one that have their own style.
C: You played the festival, the forum and now here, what changes with the set, your mindset?
CS: it changes that when you play in front of a crowd that’s not yours it’s a challenge. We always have fun, no matter what-even if it’s a festival where nobody knows us, or if it’s our own show, we always have that spirit because we love to play, it’s our job, it’s our passion, so nothing changes there-it’s not that were putting in less or more, but during the festivals it’s more challenging because it’s like ‘O.K let’s try to win over every person that doesn’t know about the band’ so it’s really rewarding when you get off the stage and you hear people asking for one more song.
C: Is that how you measure it, if you get an encore?
CS: Not from the encore, but you can see the mood of the crowd, from up stage even in the beginning when they are quiet, then they start to sing, then they start to jump with you, you kind of understand, you have the perception of whether they are having fun or not; that happened at Wacken, where at the end of the show, everybody was clapping their hands, yesterday was the same.
C: So what’s that like, going out and then turning that crowd around?
CS: Actually especially in Wacken, it was so weird because we’re not a hardcore band, and people were calling for a wall of death…
C: ..that’s not going to work for you… (Laughs.)
CS: …and we were like ‘Fuck, that’s awesome’ because we love energy on stage. I didn’t really understand what they were saying, they told me after the show. I was like “Are they calling for another band?” they were like “Wall of death, wall of death!”
CS: That was amazing.
C: So on the other side of that what happens when you don’t, when it’s a really tough crowd-how do you know?
CS: It’s pretty obvious, but it’s not that obvious at the same time, every time the reception on stage is completely different from the perception the crowd has. Sometimes you feel your having a lame show, and then people come to you and say “That was so much energy on stage” and were like “Wow, we could barely stand-we were so tired”. So what I learned is that no matter what I’ve just got to have fun, just to not care and these are our songs and where having fun doing them. We’ve changed so much through these years, I mean if I look back at the concerts we were playing years ago probably were more of a angry vibe, but then it was like y’know that’s not us, we love to have fun, we're positive people-lets create a new energy-and this is happening, I mean yesterday I’ve seen it being changed we’ve played so many times in London, the energy changed, there was a lot of new people a lot of young people that are coming closer to our music, and it’s surprising.
C: Why suprising?
CS: Suprising because we’ve been around like 12 years, so you would expect people like following us from the beginning. There’s so many young people who got hooked up from the single they heard on radio, from the new album they were singing along with the new songs and it’s amazing, it’s different generations, different styles, you see the metal head, you see the Goth you see the regular guy, coming to the show and its phenomenal, its what we wanted, we wanted to put together everybody.
C: Do you think that gives you more room musically, that you can move out of one block?
CS: We never felt part of one style only, maybe that was in the beginning, because when we started we were inspired by bands like Paradise lost, Type O-negative, we still are but when you start your career you tended to be inspired by just a few bands, to not copy but y’know, reproduce the same kind of similarities and then as you grow up as a band you just make it valid for us. We kind of feel like bands like Faith no more, I mean FNM can do like every song a melodic song, and people are still going to be like ‘That’s different’ they can be free to do whatever they want. That’s what we want to do.
C: Do you think you’re close to that?
CS: Now it’s different, I mean now the periods different, the sales are different, perceptions of the band are there were not so many bands, now everybody can put a record on MySpace, and they feel like rock stars, even if they don’t have a deal, so everything changed right now; but as a sort of mentality I think we’re definitely there because we feel very, very rock at heart so this is gonna be the style we're gonna work at, that’s what we love so we’re not going to put out a techno album, just to give you an example; but we still feel free, if we want to put one song that has like whatever, it’s a pop song but we love it and it’s rocking out why not?
C: A lot of bands never get that.
CS: They're probably afraid, we even put it into a song, called ‘I’m not afraid’, “Take my time to live my life the way I want to” –it’s our job, it’ our music, so we have to be free to do whatever we want. It’s our art. You don’t tell a painter y’know ‘You shouldn’t do that, you should put the red there’ it’s like ‘Fuck off, it’s my art’.
C: You guys have a crazy touring schedule, is that how you feel, just get out there and win them over?
CS: It’s the best way to spread the word, because you can have a good album out, but then you have to prove that onstage you can reproduce the sound, that you can give them the whole package; especially nowadays it’s definitely the best way to get out there.
C: The best bands are the best live bands.
CS: Since the beginning it’s been our intent to get popularity but build a regular career, like starting from nothing, not just to be the band that gets really successful at the beginning and then disappears- we just wanted to have something stable and to do whatever the big bands did and they are there because they are recognised because they worked hard during their career, and they did whatever they needed to do to get there, experience, practising, playing everywhere.
C: Getting the road time in, getting in front of as many people as possible.
CS: It’s something you learn, if I look back, especially in the live shows, we're shy, we're hiding, now we don’t care anymore and when I look back it’s just like ‘Wow, we’ve come so far’
C: You can see it yourself.
CS: I can totally see it,
C: You’ve played with tons of bands, who do enjoy playing with?
CS: It’s hard to say, we’ve made so many friends, if I could name some of the real, real friends, I could definitely say Type O-negative, they’ve kind of become another family.
C: Do you learn stuff musically from being at the side of the stage? touring with them?
CS: You always learn something from the bands you tour with, maybe they have special movement on stage, or the way they are playing, there’s always something cool to learn, there’s always something to learn from people then you personalise it and make it yours.
C: And that’s kinda similar to what you do with the music?
CS: Absolutely, it’s really important for us to have an open mind, and not to think you’re the best in the world, it’s a question of evoloution and improving yourself-just like growing up as a person. You learn in life and you learn as an artist.
C: How do you make it interesting for yourself live?
CS: To be honest with you, we're like ‘Oh my god, we have to play ‘Heavens a lie’ again’ (laughs.), because we’ve been playing it forever, but the when you play it and you here people sing it-then everything changes.
C: Country to country are the fans different?
CS: The only difference I see is that in America they're more open minded. They don’t care about the music you are playing whether your Lacuna coil or Meshuggah they don’t say “This is not metal enough, this isnt rock enough” they don’t care as long as it’s rocking out. Here in Europe it’s more into categories, you would never see hip hop guys at a Dimmu borgir show for example, it’s more separated, ‘I belong to this category ,I feel special because I belong in this category’ but at the same time there’s other guys coming to the show-that’s the big difference.
C: What about Australia?
CS: It was our second time-I love Australia-such a beautiful place, I can’t wait to go back. I definitely want to go back to Japan as well. We played a festival and the Gigantour with Megadeth. We performed a duet onstage.
C: ‘A tout le monde’.
CS: Which was surprising for a lot of people, because some people hated it…
CS: That’s part of the traditional metal head. That it couldn’t be touched, and in the end it’s like it’s their (Megadeths) decision, it’s their band, it’s a song you either love it, because it’s something new or you hate it because it can’t be touched-because it’s a classic-but in the end the band who made it had to take the decision. They loved it, at the end of every time we did the song, they loved it-they went ballistic.
C: So it was every night?
CS: Every night they invited me onstage to sing it.
C: That’s something.
CS: It was something special that might not happen again.
C: Did you pay it cool or where you like “I’m onstage with Megadeth!”
CS: No, I didn’t want to be in the spotlight, it’s still their song, I tried to provide the best vocals I could, but y’know we did our show before them, and that was the time I had to be in the spotlight, but this time it’s their song , their show, so I’ll sing, I’ll be cool. Be there then get out “Thank you guys for having me”.
C: You’ve collaborated with quite a few people, is that something you enjoy?
CS: I love it, if I like the song, if I like the artist, because I get tons of requests, to a lot of them I have to say ‘No’ because I want to be fully concentrated on Lacuna Coil.
C: So just a track here, a track there?
CS: Yeah. Not like a whole project, because that would take too much time off the band, and I don’t want that.
We’re talking about doing something with Randy from Lamb of God, and this is something I’m definitely looking forward to, I don’t know where we're gonna find the time to do that, but we will be more than happy, because Randy is another one of the good friends we met on the road. I love Lamb of God, it could be interesting.
C: They’ve been really successful.
CS: They deserve that. Cool guys, sweethearts and they rock out so hard.
C: The public perception was that ‘Comalies’ was your breakthrough album. Did it feel like a breakthrough?
CS: I think that the change for us, started with ‘Unleashed memories’ which is the album before ‘Comalies’ but everybody says ‘Comalies’ was the breakthrough because it’s the album that got us to America, and of course when you get popular in America it can spread to the world, that’s how we got recognition here, which is funny, because even in Italy we're coming from Italy and they’ve heard about us after America because ‘Wow they made it!’. I feel the big change started between ‘Unleashed Memories’ and ‘Comalies’ when we started to get to our own style.
We actually saw the big change from the radio stations, because the American radio stations fell in love with ‘Heavens a lie’ so they started to play it everywhere and that’s were we saw the attention of the band was really high because we were getting more requests for shows, more requests for endorsements, interviews at radio stations, acoustic sets, that’s where you see your popularities increasing. Of course more people coming the show, because of the radio attention.
C: You spent like a year doing ‘Shallow life’?
CS: We took like a sabbatical year were we said “OK let’s stop, let’s get back to our roots, let’s stay home, lets free our minds and start writing new songs” and we just sat down as a band and said “OK where do we want to go?”. We talk a lot, were like a family, we can fight but in the end we think of the most important thing, we're like a couple, like a relationship ,you have to talk, if there’s a problem you have to pull it out, to understand what went wrong, what went right.
C: Did you feel then that something was wrong?
CS: Not wrong but you just talk and you’re like “How can we make it better?” After a while of doing this job, especially after the touring its really tiring so you sit down and you’re like “Do we really want to do it again?” because we know if we put out an album again it means touring, staying far from your homes, far from your loved ones, it’s definitely a big sacrifice you have to make to get a big reward; and most of all the kind of music we want to do, because we already did what we did, let’s do something new, something fresh, something we love; and then we started to just write like crazy in like four or five months, and we came out with about forty songs, that were completely different from each other, that were punk songs, hardcore songs. Let’s write everything-who cares? Whatever we have in mind, if it’s a pop song let’s do a pop song, if it’s a rap song let’s do a rap song, if it’s a super extreme heavy song let’s do it-just to push everything out.
C: That must have been refreshing. You worked with Don Gilmore. He concentrated on pronunciation?
CS: He definitely worked a lot with us on the whole vocal part, because what we’ve learned from him is that it’s really important to be clear in what you’re saying, especially in the lyrics because that’s the part that connects you to the audience, with the listener; because you can be poetic as much as you want, but the people will be like ‘Oh I like the sound of what they are singing, but what are they saying?’ so we thought about it, and we decided it was very important to get straight to the point, to go directly to the listener and tell them what we wanted to say; and I can see the results, because in the gigs the crowd are already singing the new songs, the album has been out for like three months now, and they know all the lyrics, because they are maybe fuller than they were in the past or they can connect more.
C: Did you find the older stuff changing because of that?
CS: If I listen to the old songs I can hear that my pronunciation was probably a little worse, or some words were pronuciated in a different way.
C: Where’s the line between pronunciation, the words and getting everything across and keeping your own style and how you sing?
CS: It didn’t really dawn, when I say that he worked on the pronunciation, was not on the accent, He (Don) and us still thought it was really cool y’know for a band to keep their roots-because were Italian.
C: This was one of the first recording times that none of you were sick for?
CS: This was the first time we were perfectly healthy because we were recording and the weather was amazing y’know, in the morning I would go into the swimming pool, because were we staying was sort of a resort- in the morning I was there to chill out and then in the afternoon I was there and I was singing maybe one song, if it was not good I had the time to do it the day after. In the past we were like in Germany, super cold –winter-whatever I’m coughing I have fever, I had fever on ‘Karmacode’ one day I remember.
C: Is it important for you to be challenging?
CS: Absolutely, we wanted to keep our style, because that will be our style for ever no matter what it’s still us, but we want to use different words to send the same message.
C: I saw the picture of you and Andrea dressed as a pimp.
CS: A lot of people didn’t understand that, it was like “Why did you guys change your image so much?” it’s not that difficult, it’s ‘Shallow life’ it fits with the record, it’s just like a way of making fun. They didn’t get it in the beginning, I hope that they got it now and they saw us performing in a different outfit.
C: Like the video for ‘I like it’?
CS: We did it on purpose, it was a message it was like ‘Guys, open your eyes there is need for irony’ just like make fun of life, you just have one, you don’t have two, don't crucify yourself and be sad all the time and be negative just because you want to be more metal-there’s no point.
C: This album deals with at times a shallow life being a good thing
CS: Well a shallow life can be bad and can be good because everybody knows that it’s not good to be shallow, when you have important things to do or when you have to take decisions for your life, but at the same time there are a lot of things that can be shallow and they are still fine ; if you go out with your friends to watch a football match, that’s shallow because it’s not important for life, it’s not going to change the world, but it’s fun, you need it to release the pressure.
C: is that coming from the point of view that a lot of people want to become famous?
CS: Oh yeah, that’s the wrong part of it. When you say shallow life especially with pictures that we took, the first thing that comes up to your mind is the Hollywood style, everybody wants to look good and wants to look special and rock star and diva, that’s wrong.
C: What’s the reaction been like to the new material, like ‘Spellbound’?
CS: It’s been amazing, now the radio stations are picking it up, we’ve actually got more spins now with ‘Spellbound’ in three months than any song in years, they totally fell in love with the song.
C: Does it feel like you were right, the plan you had?
CS: Yeah, it’s awesome, it’s a great feeling it’s like wow, a lot of people are speaking out, I mean ‘Spellbound’ has a strong message, the chorus has a strong message which a lot of people can make theirs.
C: Do you write from a world view or about particular events?
CS: Most of the time we're inspired by our stuff, about something we feel.
C: There’s two videos for ‘Spellbound’?
CS: Yeah, two versions. One was just the band performing, and the other edit includes actors, representing parts of the shallow life.
C: Why go with the two?
CS: Because in some cases some TV like the performance better or they don’t like story, they want to see more of the band playing so as soon as we filmed it in one day the director was like “Tell you what I’ll do two edits”.
C: Was that at ‘Gold’ in Milan?
CS: For the first video we definitely wanted like an over the top super fancy. It was between tours right before we left for Australia.
C: How involved in the internet are you?
CS: I’m very involved, because I have my personal MySpace and my personal face book page which I’m taking care of. I think internet is good and bad at the same time, because whatever you say, can be seen by a lot of people, but everything you say can be misunderstood. I remember I did an interview once we were actually talking specifically about people posting back comments just because. You know how it is, kids saying ‘I hate this band’ just sign up to the band to say they hate this band, so I said that some people have no life. All of a sudden, it’s been transformed like I said people that go on the internet have no life, and it’s; like that’s not exactly as I said it. So that’s not good. It’s good if you want to keep in touch with your fans. Some people think that just because they are friend’s on your MySpace then your going to keep in touch with them every day, its like ‘No way’, I’m not even in touch with my parents, with my friends everyday-I can’t. Their like “I’m your friend, but you didn’t reply to my message so bye”.
C: You seem pretty straight talking, that’s always going to get you in trouble on the internet, because people don’t like the honest truth, there’s a whole list of silly questions people have asked you-do people really propose to you?
CS: In the beginning I was like “You don’t even know me”, but on the other side for some people your music is so important, your poster on the wall, it can make their life better for real, we get a lot of messages like “You supported me, through a lot of problems I had in my life”.
C: You guys have been round like 12 years so you can remember the days before the internet, the ‘Flyer’ days.
CS: When we started we had tapes.
C: So you’re on the bus now, how do you get your private time?
CS: On tour you basically have no private time, the only private time you can get is in your bunk, or when you get to your hotel room, to be honest I like to be surrounded by people; to me I just don’t like to be alone I come from a family with like four kids, including me, a very tight family, and I have tons of friends back home-so I love to be surrounded by people, so to me it’s not a big deal y’know if I lose a bit of privacy-I just like to be with people. Probably the guys are more suffering from lack of privacy, I’m not like that.
C: What can we expect from tonight? Is there a game plan?
CS: I think we’re gonna keep the same set, because we’ve already set up everything.
C: You’ve performed acoustically and electrically, sometimes in the same set.
CS: Yeah, but it’s not easy, because you have you have to change the whole set. It’s not like “Let’s just take the cable out of the electric guitar”. It’s a completely different vibe, acoustic is more mellow, more hippy (Laughs.)
C: You played Wacken and previously you recorded a DVD there, did you go back and watch it before you played again?
CS: I usually tend not to look back at shows, because I hate when I do mistakes. I just don’t like to watch myself back. I like to watch myself in pictures because I can say ‘This is good, I don’t like this one, I like this picture better than this one-the light is better’.
C: Are there plans to do a full tour?
CS: I think next year, because after these gigs we're flying back to America, and then were going to have a short break, and then we’ll have another American tour, probably Canada, Japan, Australia, then Christmas break, and they were thinking about January, February.
C: What’s the scene like in Italy?
CS: The scenes really underground.
C: Any bands we should be listening to?
CS: To be honest I really don’t know, we're always away, and honestly a lot of Italian bands are just like, they are either way too metal but like copying other bands, that are existing already, the bands that are doing that I don’t think will ever come out because there is no need to be Slayer, because Slayer are already there. Or another Iron maiden, Iron maiden are still there, you just have to find your own way.
C: That’s a really nice way to end the interview there ‘Finding your own way’…but… do you still have a thing on your rider that says there shouldn’t be any cucumber?
CS: (Laughs.) Yeah on our rider we still have no cucumber. That started because we had a lot of tours in Germany, especially in the beginning of our career, because our company was based in Germany and in every catering, in every sandwich they were just putting cucumber everywhere. So we said ‘No pickles’. I remember I went with Andrea in Hamburg one day, we went to went to a fast food restaurant, just for a sandwich, and we asked for a sandwich and asked for no cucumber please, and the girl that was serving, just like everything stopped they were like ‘What did you say?’ and I was like ‘No pickles’. They stopped everything, she called the manager and we were like ‘what the fuck, what did we say?’
C: I had to ask
CS: I know, I know, it’s kinda curious.
C: That’s superb, thanks again.
CS: Thank you.