Saturday, May 28

The upward spiral
Those nice people from the Lacuna Coil fansite Empty Spiral have transcribed my interview with lead singer Cristina. Quite excitingly, it was my first interview conducted via an international telephone call, as the band were back home in Italy...

Phill Huxley: OK, so you’re playing the Download festival this summer…

Cristina Scabbia: Yes…

PH: …and you’re also in the process of recording your new album…

CS: Yes, actually we already recorded some tracks, but I can say we are still in the pre-production because we just want to be totally sure that the album is gonna be, you know, very good album, so we are trying to put down some tracks, we recorded all the instruments and we recorded lets say a sort of arrangement for 6-7 songs, but we still have to finish it and to make it perfect, you know, as we like.

PH: So are any of the new songs are finished and ready to be played at the Download, then?

CS: Well, actually we’ll be playing… for sure we’re gonna play one new song, because we just want to test it, you know, live, and it’s really powerful, we already played it in front of friends just to test it, like in the practice room, and everybody got really excited, it seems to be like, the perfect song for a live show, so for sure we’re gonna perform a song. I don’t know if we’ll be able to perform a couple of songs, but one for sure, the people will hear a new song.

PH: How do you go about writng new material and writing new songs, what’s the writing process that you go through?

CS: Well it really depends from the songs, because it happen that we had some songs that started from the vocal line, or like, you know… like jamming, voices, plus guitars, and base, in a really natural way, but most of the time it happens that we write the music first. Every one of us has a computer at home with a special programme, so basically we put down all the ideas we have and then we meet up in the practice room, and we let each other listen to the ideas, and we try to pick up the best and to build up the song, and then everything goes slowly, and… you know, we’re really picky [laughs]

PH: So does it take a long time just to write one song, then?

CS: Well, let’s say that we’re not the band that writes 10,000 songs and then chooses 15 for the album. We’re most of all concentrated on these songs and we work on them to make them perfect, more then write like, simple songs, and then pick up few of them for the album.

PH: You’re quite a unique band, because you’ve got two lead vocalists, with yourself and with Andrea, so how do you decide which parts each of you sing?

CS: Well, it’s a natural thing, because we think that with two voices we can basically cover every single note of the spectrum of notes. He can growl and he can sing in a clear way, and I can cover higher notes, because my voice is higher then Andrea’s. So we just see which is best for the song. We’re not working like, OK, let’s split 50% each because we have two vocalists. We’re like two instruments to add to the song, so it doesn’t really matter who’s singing it.

PH: So will you be playing any headline shows if you’re here when you come over for Download’s?

CS: I don’t think so, because the point is that, especially Summer time, it’s a period of festivals, so right after the Download, we’ll stay one more day in London, because there are the Hammer awards, we’ve been invited over there, but then we’ll be coming back and forth, because we have different festivals in all Europe, from Belgium to France, to Germany… so I don’t think we’ll be able to perform some gigs over there. We’ll be back right after the album is released

PH: So you’ll be playing some more gigs in the UK then?

CS: I would love to. I would love to, you know. The plan is, one day to make like, a whole tour over there, because you know, it’s fun. I really love to play in the UK, it’s fun to play.

PH: So you played on the Ozzfest tour in America last year, which was lots of dates throughout the states. Do you think you’ve built up a big fan base there now, do you think you can, kind of, crack America with your new album?

CS: Well, definitely we… we’ve definitely build up a very good fan base, because in Europe… the thing is completely different from Europe, in the way that the most you play over there, the more your fan base increases. Because the live show is… it’s a big thing over there. Over there it’s different, because you go to play a live show, people look at you, and if they like you, they’re gonna spread the word, they’re gonna talk with friends, and these friends will be there for the next gig, and so they will start to follow the band. They’re really warm, they really… they really like to follow the band, like street teams, they are really into, so we definitely have a very good base with the next album.

PH: So when you first started the band, was your aim just to be popular in Italy, or did you plan to be successful all around world?

CS: Well, actually it’s something that, personally, it happened to me, in the way that I wasn’t planning to become a singer in a band, I mean, I always loved to sing, but I wasn’t kind of person that was thinking “I want to become a rock star one day, and I want to be in a band, and I want to be successful”. I’m really convinced that you cannot really choose, you know, your life, your job, your life will choose you, and that’s exactly what happened to me, because I was just, like, having a normal job, and some guys asked me to be part of a band. I really enjoyed it, but it’s something that happened to me, not something that I planned before, definitely. I don’t have this kind of mentality, you know. I’m taking everything good happening everything every day to me, and I try to make it even… better.

PH: That’s cool. You’ve done a few songs in Italian, your native language. But you’ve only done, maybe… I think you’ve done two or three, or something? Is that right?

CS: No, we did one song in Italian, and another one from the last album, which is half in Italian and half in English.

PH: Right… so how come you don’t do more songs in Italian, do you think that songs have to be in English to succeed around the world?

CS: Well, simply because I really prefer the sound of English language, at least in our kind of music. And the point is that, when you write lyrics in Italian, you have to choose, because if you want to have a very good sound, a very melodic sound, you have to use very cheesy words, like love, sun, and blah, blah, blah. If you want to use different lyrics, more intense, the sound of these words is not that good. So it is more difficult, it would take a lot of time and in my opinion it wouldn’t sound as good as it sounds in English.

PH: So it’s a practical decision, you think it sounds better…

CS: Yes, it’s not like a marketing decision, like saying, OK, we’re gonna work it outside of Italy, so we have to speak English so everyone will understand what we say.

PH: I just wanted to ask you, when you started singing, did you have any training or anything, or did you just…

CS: Not at all, I would say that it feels like forever, because even when I was really, really young, my mom used to collect some tapes of me like, singing you know… [laughs] kids songs, and it’s funny, to you hear that I was really passionate into it, I was really trying to interpret everything, and it was fun. But let’s say that professionally I started… let’s say back in ’91, even if I was singing for a different thing, different stuff, because I was just like, a session woman, I was just giving my voice for different records. Then I just decided to join Lacuna Coil. In the beginning it’s been a big sacrifice, because you know, singing as a session woman in dance and R&B records brings you a lot of money, so I just decided to quit everything, and luckily, I did it right.

PH: Do you have to look after your voice, so you can kind of protect it, to get to all those high notes and everything?

CS: No, actually I don’t care about it at all, I mean I don’t smoke, luckily, so I have, you know… that’s a good point, but besides that, I really like to talk with people, which is really killing the voice, because I really, really like to talk. You know, I’m Italian, I like to communicate with the people, and this is not very good, especially on tour, you know, when you have to sing every day. I just try to sleep a lot, as much as I can, and this is really good for the voice, and then I have… I have some products, you know, to drink, that have… the voice in a good shape, but I don’t take too much care.

PH: So you did a cover of Stars, by Dubstar, on one of your earlier albums. Are you a fan of that type of 90’s British indie music…

CS: Well, I love the music from the 80’s, you know like the disco music from the 80’s. I’m really open-minded in music… and it just happened that I saw a video of this band, and actually I listened to the rest of the album, which is completely different from that song, but I was in love with that song, so I just proposed to the guys, you know, why don’t we try to make a cover of it, I think it would fit. I think it’s a very gothic and melancholic song, I don’t know why, but on me, it has this kind of effect.

PH: On the bill at Download, there’s a lot of kind of heavier bands on the same day as you, like System of a Down, and Slipknot, and Motorhead, and bands like that. I was wondering if you’re into the heavier bands like that.

C: I don’t know if you've ever seen one of our shows, but people usually are impressed, because they expect us to be, like, standing still on stage without even moving, like a lot of soft bands, especially as we are classified as goth band, they bring you for not just gothic band, and everybody is really impressed, because we move a lot, and there’s a lot of energy on stage, so even if our music is not exactly like Motorhead music, and we don’t scream all the time, it’s really, really powerful concert, anyway, so I don’t think that there will be no problems at all.