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LACUNA COIL GOES DARK: CRISTINA SCABBIA TALKS NEW ALBUM, THE LIFE OF SHALLOW LIFE, AND PETER STEELE

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LACUNA COIL GOES DARK: CRISTINA SCABBIA TALKS NEW ALBUM, THE LIFE OF SHALLOW LIFE, AND PETER STEELE

Here’s a totally accurate chronology of my Lacuna Coil fandom: I heard a killer LC jam on the radio and was awed by singer Cristina Scabbia. Then I saw a band photo and got awestruck this time by Scabbia the woman. Then once fourth album Karmacode came out in 2007, my awe umbrella’ed out to include the songwriters of Lacuna Coil and, upon 2009’s Shallow Life, also their producer Don Gilmore.

But here’s where I’ll get all Oprah: Though a huge fan of Scabbia’s voice and a forged-by-nature respondent to her wealth of physical charms, I find the most awesome Scabbia is not the singer or the super-fox; she’s most awesome at being a bud, an honest dude, and a great chat. When we connected last week to talk about Dark Adrenaline, the once-delayed sixth Lacuna Coil album (out tomorrow), she effortlessly plowed through abstract questions and hasty analogies, and totally got the vibe of my persistent nagging about sales, producers, and artistic integrity. It was awesome!

Anso DF: The last couple Lacuna Coil records were awesome. Now, the next record is about to come out! Exciting! Congratulations.

Cristina Scabbia: Thank you. Thank you very much. We’re really excited, too! We’ve been excited for quite a while now [laughs] because the album’s been ready for a while now.

That’s right. It was first scheduled to come out a few months ago.

Yeah, it was supposed to be released in October, but then the label decided to postpone it a bit because they wanted to have more time to work on a, y’know, on a marketing plan. You know how all this stuff works [with] the label. So yeah, we are waiting. But it’ll be out in a few days. We can not wait.

Of course you’re impatient to get the album out after all your hard work on it. But was it encouraging to you that the label wanted to take their time and really give it a good launch?

LACUNA COIL GOES DARK: CRISTINA SCABBIA TALKS NEW ALBUM, THE LIFE OF SHALLOW LIFE, AND PETER STEELEWell, actually, not really. Once we finished the record, we just basically gave it to the label and we said, ‘Hey, the record is ready.’ We were expecting that it’d be released in October, but then… It’s something that you cannot control if it’s not your own label. You kinda have to wait up until they decide it’s the right time to put it out; unfortunately, you don’t have control over that. This is something that they know better than you do. We are a band [that] writes rock music to express ourselves — this is our art — but I don’t really know how a label works. I’m sure that they know how it works in that way.

Cool.

It’s actually not too big of a deal. It wasn’t [that long of] a wait. Of course, it was a few months after the original release time; that’s not too bad.

How do you keep yourself busy in that extra time?

Busy? I’m always busy, dammit [laughs]. We are always busy. You basically do promotion no matter what, even before the album gets released. You do a lot of interviews [and] some photo sessions that will be used later — in different locations, and that means you have to travel quite a bit. One thing we were able to get a break for the Christmas period; the best way you can let your mind and body rest for a while, at least before it starts kicking in again.

It’s great that Lacuna Coil has used the same producer for two consecutive albums. For two reasons: first, because Don Gilmore is great; second, because the producer-band relationship can grow and have better results.

Yeah! For sure. We use the same producer for a lot of albums. Before Don Gilmore, we worked with Waldemar Sorychta for three or four works in a row. And nobody was really surprised about it; it was like he was our seventh member back then. I think that every band comes to a point that there’s space to learn more, something different from a different teacher. That’s why we decided to try to work with Don Gilmore the first time [on 2009’s Shallow Life]. We just found out that he was a great guy who was able to [get us to] work hard when we were getting a little bit lazy. At the same time, [he was able to bring] the tension down in those stressful moments in the studio.

LACUNA COIL GOES DARK: CRISTINA SCABBIA TALKS NEW ALBUM, THE LIFE OF SHALLOW LIFE, AND PETER STEELEWe learned some cool things from him that we’ll treasure for the life of our band. And we decided to work with him again, and that shows that it doesn’t really matter if you’re working with the same producer, the result could be totally different — because Shallow Life is a totally different record from Dark Adrenaline. So whenever I hear judgements about the producer, these are kinda not correct. The producer doesn’t really change the vibe of the album; the producer basically tries to get the best out of the music that you personally wrote.

I would be intimidated by Don Gilmore. He has —

[laughs]

Right? He has a history of success. Was it hard for you to disagree with him? Did you discourage yourself from speaking up cuz he’s a pro?

[Chiding] No. No, no, no, no. [laughs] Not at all. He’s a really amazing guy. You don’t have to confuse the fact that somebody’s really professional who can do the job right … Someone who’s really fit for the job and really capable doesn’t necessarily have to be an asshole. This is something we found out before we started to work with him. He came to Milano before we recorded Shallow Life and we had a chance to talk. We played some of the songs for him and we went out for dinner. That’s where you get the chance to know a person a little bit better. And we clicked from the start; he was really sarcastic and full of life. He was amazing. We immediately felt that we were going to have a good time with him. So we’ve never been intimidated by him.

Can we go back in time to 2009 to when Shallow Life came out? That album hit me like a truck.

[laughs] Wow!

No really. There was a big impact on first listen. It’s so immediate and tuneful that my expectations for its success shot up then and there. Were you like me, all thinking that you had a hit?

I think that the impact of the final listening for us is different. Obviously, we’d been working on it and we know the whole process. So for whoever hasn’t heard it before, that listen is very different. What I think about Shallow Life is that, yeah, it was different album compared to the other albums we did. But I think that a band should be honest and should try to do different things whether they can be perfect or less perfect. You cannot please everyone; you always have to do what you as a band — and I mean every single member, cuz we all shared an opinion back then… We always want to do whatever we want to do. We cannot base what we write on the opinion of people that will have to like it. I think it would be too easy for a band that gets to a certain point of success to repeat the same thing over and over just because [they] can be sure that the fans are going to be liking it and buying the album. That’s not honest to me. I don’t believe that an artists stays in the same place, y’know, for more than two albums. Because you change as a person. You do different stuff. Your life evolves. And your music is the reflection of your life.

Yeah!

So Shallow Life was definitely a different album. And Dark Adrenaline is again a different album compared to the other ones we did. You might like it, you might love it. But the good thing is it’s 100% us.

Do you mean you perceive that Shallow Life was not received well?

It’s an album that you either loved or hate, I think. I don’t think there were things in between. Obviously, the most classical and traditional metal fan … They probably hated it because the rock side was really prominent. And there was a [layer] of irony that not a lot of people understood on the album itself. I think that we made a mistake with some of the pictures that haven’t been really understood. I don’t know if you remember the shots of me dressed up like a princess and Andrea [Ferrero, Lacuna Coil co-vocalist] dressed up as a pimp (here and here and here).

LACUNA COIL GOES DARK: CRISTINA SCABBIA TALKS NEW ALBUM, THE LIFE OF SHALLOW LIFE, AND PETER STEELETotally.

A lot of people thought that was our change of dress, our change of image.

Oh. Duh.

They didn’t understand the fun part of it? The irony of it, the refusal of the shallow life aspect that was represented in those pictures. So, I think it’s an album that’s probably been a little misunderstood. But it doesn’t really matter. We liked it.

No, it’s great. I’m sure of it.

And a lot of other people liked it too, so we’re happy about that too.

Well, some of the music on Shallow Life was the best of that year.

Oh yeah! Some of the songs were on the radio forever. “Spellbound” got more spins on radio stations that every other song we did, from “Heaven’s A Lie” to “Our Truth.”

Hey, speaking of spins, I’m shocked that “Wide Awake” never became a priority for radio play. That song could’ve reached a new audience. Were you surprised that it remained an album track?

No, not really. It’s not that we were expecting it to be bigger than it was. I think it’s a good ballad, but for some ballads … There’s not a recipe for success. It’s not that if the song sounds good, or is good, it’s going to be successful no matter what. There are so many other things [that go into the] decision of whether the song is going to be a single or not. So I was not surprised at all. I was like, ‘Oh whatever. Whoever’s going to like it is going to like it.’

You expressed earlier that each album is different because its creators change over time. How has Lacuna Coil grown in the past couple years?

We are the same people in the way that no matter how you evolve or you change, all your experiences and what you’ve done is still inside of you. So that certainly comes out in all the songs. We’ve changed in the way that we’re more sure of what we can do; we’re more confident in our potential. We know more about recording, songwriting, and all that’s connected to the music business around us. We evolved into a more modern type of the band without betraying our roots. The good thing is that we didn’t change the basic things; we still love our music, we still feel that we owe everything to our fans. The fact is that we can look at ourselves in the mirror knowing that we released something that we really wanted to, and are not a band [attempting] to please the label or just the fans. We wanted to make sure that we could put out something that we are proud of first in order to be able to share it in the proper way with our fans. So we changed, be we didn’t change that much.

I heard Dark Adrenaline for the first time just a couple days ago, but my first impression is there are a lot of twists and turns. And it rampages!

Thank you!

And we spoke about Shallow Life’s most moving song, “Wide Awake.” Now I ask you about “My Spirit” from Dark Adrenaline. It’s written for Peter Steele?

Yes, it’s a song that Marco [Coti Zelati], our bass player, wrote the music the night that he heard about Peter’s death. We were really attached to him and Type O Negative. We toured together; they were probably the band that inspired us to start. They inspired us musically from the very beginning. We had the chance to tour with them and we love them to bits. We’re still in touch with the remaining members of the band.

Peter’s death was something that absolutely shocked us. We all know that he had some troubles in life, so it was nothing 100% unexpected. But you’re never prepared. You’re never ready for bad news like that no matter what. And the month after, Paul Gray left us too in another shocking moment. It was just weird, just surreal to see people that we love going away this way. So we decided to turn the meaning of the song that was initially written musically for Peter as a sort of positive, hopeful message for whoever is left on Earth. These friends are gone, they’re gone forever, and we’re not going to be able to see them. But their legacy will not be forgotten. Their legacy is still around us and we have to carry the memories of the moments we shared together. So we have to keep the memories.

That was terrible.

Oh yes. Oh yes.

You’re a musician and music is your art. But in your place, I might second-guess myself about making such a personal statement a part of something that’s for sale. Does that make sense?

Oh you mean that it might be interpreted as a move? Is that what you think?

Not exactly. I wouldn’t worry about perception.

LACUNA COIL GOES DARK: CRISTINA SCABBIA TALKS NEW ALBUM, THE LIFE OF SHALLOW LIFE, AND PETER STEELEWell, if someone wants to see something shady behind it, that’s not our problem. Everything we write, every song we write is inspired by things that we are living. So it’s not that it’s because one song is inspired by something that had a huge impact on our lives, then it’s something … I know that Peter and Paul were popular. But I’m sure nobody would have any problem if I was saying, ‘Hey this song is written for a friend of mine who I lost.’ And Peter was a friend of mine. So that’s the point.

That makes sense: It’s all personal. Can you help me understand the band’s approach to having two singers? Is it that you and Andrea are taking turns telling a story? Does it ever feel like you’re asking listeners to eat two meals at once, so to speak?

No, no. I think having two singers — one male and one female — gives you the opportunity to do something different. My voice might be more dreamy and angelic and nice, and Andrea’s is more aggressive than mine. Of course, we are a man and a woman singing together. We don’t sit down and think about how to share the parts. It comes out really naturally. To our ears, it’s really easy to pick out what sounds better. There are parts that are better if he sings it, and the other way around, just the opposite. Sometimes I can write parts for him that he will sing, and he writes parts that I will sing on the actual final recording. We don’t think too much about that. We don’t want to force anyone to eat two meals at the same time. [laughs] We just treat our voices like two instruments that we can add to the composition. It doesn’t really matter who sings what.

I have to say that you two are really locked in. Dark Adrenaline has awesome vocals.

Thank you! [laughs] I think we’ve gotten better with every album, but that’s our … That’s how we’re more confident now. We’re able to find immediately what we don’t like, so we can [move] toward other stuff we can focus on. I definitely know that.

-ADF

Lacuna Coil’s awesome Dark Adrenaline is out tomorrow (listen here). See LC live on Gigantour with Megadeth, Motorhead, and Volbeat.

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