LACUNA COIL has been very busy for the past few years, they celebrated their 20th anniversary last year with a book “Nothing Stands In Our Way”, and in the midst of their tour, started working on new material, which the band is now ready to present. Their new album “Black Anima” is ready for release on 11 October 2019 through Century Media Records.
We had the opportunity to discuss the concept of “Black Anima”, the creative process behind the new record, and much more with front man Andrea Ferro. Read the entire interview here.
Hi Andrea! First of all, thanks for this interview. You’re releasing “Black Anima” soon. How are you feeling about the upcoming release?
Andrea: We’re good, we just came back from a little promo trip which we did last week in Spain, France, Germany and United Kingdom. Now we have a couple of days in Milan to do more promo, and then we’re going to the states by the end of next week to start the tour for the new album cycle.
Sounds like you have kept yourself busy. Let’s talk a bit more about that new album. I would first like to talk a little bit about the theme of the album. What can you tell me about the lyrical themes behind “Black Anima”?
Andrea: Me and Cristina discussed a little bit before starting the process of the new record what the main theme for the album would be and why we wanted to use that specific title for the record. We found out that a big factor in our lives between the previous record and this one, was that we both lost some very dear people in our family. The way we dealt with those tragic moments was very unexpected and different than what we thought it would be in the beginning. The fact that we had this kind of reaction made us think of how much we still feel connected to these people and how we feel their presence and how they are still part of our life, even though they’re not here anymore. So, this was one thing that we brought to the table. These were the strongest feelings we recalled from the previous year. Normally when we start to elaborate on a concept, we start from the strongest thing that happened in our life in that period between records, because we like to start from a realistic point of view of our feelings. And then, I was also reading a book called “The Physics of Angels”, which is basically a book that analyzes figures of angels, spirits and ghosts throughout our history. It’s written by two people… One is a scientist who is using logic and approaches the topic in a scientific way, the other one a theologist and priest, so he was analyzing things more from a religious point of view regarding the concept. So, this book, the ideas we already discussed, and then a lot of other elements that we used as inspiration lead us to this topic of “Black Anima”. It’s about this dark soul that we still feel around us and the acceptance of the negativity, the negative part of life, that it’s a part of life, that it’s something we need to accept, to use and to overcome in order to become more aware of why we’re here.
It’s actually interesting that you mention angels now. I looked at the album art which reminded me of Roman mythology, and I didn’t really realizing it was an angel, but now it makes sense that it is. Anyhow, can you talk a little bit about how the album cover is related to the theme?
Andrea: Basically, Marco our bass player started to sketch his idea for the symbol that is on the cover. The symbol is taken from one of the original symbols of the city of Milan, our city, which is the symbol of a medieval family that ruled the land. It’s a serpent devouring a baby, [ed. The biscione, also known as “the vipera“, is a heraldic charge showing on argent an azure serpent in the act of consuming a human]. We designed it in the way that it’s a dragon with a fighting angel in its mouth. The dragon is wrapped around our logo. Around the symbol, there are three snakes altogether. The three snakes symbolize me, Marco and Cristina which are the founding members of LACUNA COIL, who have been there from the very beginning. So, it is something that goes back a bit to our heritage, but also includes the concept of the record. The way we came up with the stage clothes and the rest of the artwork is all connected to this, the way we look in the pictures, we want to resemble some kind of soul hunters, which has inspired our clothing, and the way we look in the photos. Everything basically has been brought to the same direction, musically, lyrically and also visually.
If I remember correctly, you also designed your own tarot deck for this album, which is included in the deluxe edition. In a way, you’re approaching this topic in a very mystical way, and creating a storyline about life after death. Is that a topic that is touched in the album?
Andrea: Not every song talks about death, but there is a common theme, a common color that goes through the entire record. That’s for sure one very important way of analyzing the lyrics. The cards have been always something what we wanted to have. We asked this American artist Micah Ulrich, to design a specific deck of custom cards. Every card of the deck is one of the songs, and represents a basic idea behind the songs. So now we have our own customized deck which will be included in the special edition of our album. In a way we also envision it to communicate with the spirits captured in the record, that’s why it’s designed like a book. The special edition will actually be in the shape of a book.
Wow, that’s all very interesting.
Andrea: I have to say it’s not easy to explain (laughs).
Now that we have talked a lot about the concept behind “Black Anima”, let’s talk a little bit about writing the songs. In these past two years, you have been incredibly busy. The Delirium tour, the anniversary tour, a book release. How did you find the time to create new music in between?
Andrea: We released the book last year, and did the 20 year anniversary DVD from the show in London, but originally all that material has been in the works for two years already, because obviously it is something you need time for to put together, the show, the circus, the setlist, all the interviews for the book, searching all the pictures etc. So, it started way earlier than it was released. So yes, we’ve been very busy, but a lot of stuff was already done beforehand, so we had some time to focus on the new record in between some of the tours, and some of the shows we have been playing. The inspiration came pretty fast, at the end of the day we wrote everything between a timespan of six to seven months from starting the writing process to finishing the record. The inspiration was quite fluent. We just followed the ideas that were flowing, maybe it’s because we had so many ideas already about the concept, the photos, the book, and all these things helped us with our flow of writing the music. We’ve been working all together while we were writing the songs, we already had images, and songs, we already had ideas for clothing, everything came basically together at the same time. Which was probably the very first time this happened in our career, so it was not so difficult thanks to this flow of inspiration.
You released one single “Layers Of Time” a little while ago. I always check the comment sections to find out what people’s thoughts are about singles, and a recurring comment was about how heavy the song sounds. You have mentioned the heavy sound of “Black Anima” before during interviews. I was wondering if it’s because you were touring a lot that you tried to capture a certain live sound with “Black Anima” or is this something that happened naturally?
Andrea: It’s a combination I think. Obviously it is more fun for us to play the heavier songs live, especially if you play at festival, or you know, we always play with lots of different kinds of bands. It’s fun for us to do it that way, but also the natural flow of the music of what we listen to, what we like to record, and how we like to push our own different sides further… It’s all part of the process. It’s a combination of yes wanting to be something, but also the way of how music was coming together. Since we’ve done “Delirium”, we already started to push certain elements further. “Delirium” became one of the most successful records we have done after classic records like “Karmacode” or “Comalies”. We still sold a lot of albums, but “Delirium” is the one that sold more after those. In the end, people were not really scared of the heavier side of LACUNA COIL, so we felt like we could push the sound even more towards that direction.
Obviously you haven’t played the new songs yet. But do you think it’ll be a lot of fun for you to play those songs live, especially the heaviest ones?
So far we have only played “Layers Of Time” at a few festivals in Europe during summer, and it went very well. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun to do all the songs, but obviously we are going to introduce them step-by-step. We are not gonna play the full album, we are maybe gonna do a couple in the beginning, and then maybe three or four more, see which ones people really like, and see which ones we like playing the most. It’s gonna be something that will happen step by step, we cannot only play new songs, we cannot only play old songs, it will be a combination of both.
Talking about playing old songs. You have quite a lot of material already, is it difficult for you guys to compile the setlist?
Sometimes it’s hard, also because we need to kind of rearrange some of the old songs, because when we wrote them we were a six-piece, with two guitar players, now we’re with five-piece, for many years. The new material is already written with this direction in mind, but some of the old stuff needs to be rearranged, a little bit more keyboards or something like that, so it takes time to bring them back to the stage. We will do it, but it takes some time to really go fully back and do just those songs. We have done some of them for the show we already did, the anniversary show, and some we need to rework a little bit more. In general we try to have a little bit of every release, at least from “Comalies” on, and sometimes if we can, we go back even to the very first albums. But as you said, we have enough material, even if that means that we’re just starting from “Comalies” on (laughs).
Talking about your older stuff… 20 years ago you released “In A Reverie”. How would you say your music has changed since then?
We’ve obviously changed, but there is one song on this record that is called “Veneficium”. I think that song resembles the atmosphere of “In A Reverie” a lot. I think this album “Black Anima” has quite a variety of songs, and that one specifically, feels as if it’s “In A Reverie 2019”, it’s really different and it sounds different, it has different arrangements, but the overall atmosphere we wanted to bring, is the atmosphere of the early days of gothic metal. We like to evolve for sure and head different directions, but also go back to our roots, it’s important to still know who you are and where you come from, although you can also move forward with some other songs that are more experimental for example.
Yeah totally! So, we haven’t talked yet about the recording process. how was the creative process that went behind “Black Anima”? When did you go to the studio and how did you go about that?
We went in the studio in the beginning of June if I remember correctly. We still had a little bit of shows to play that we already booked before we decided on the studio time. So, we had to record a little bit, then go out and do some festivals, then go dive back into the studio. Then, we had a comic convention where we were guests that was already booked, it’s been up and down every seven to eight days we were going back somewhere and then to the studio. So, it took a little bit of time to finish, because obviously we were delayed a little bit. It was also good to get out sometimes and interrupt the process, to get clear mind for a couple of days, then go back to the material and rethink what you wanted to change or if you were still liking what you did. It was very up and down in the studio, but in the end we made it and we are happy with the result. We used the same studio as we used for “Delirium”, the same engineer, and Marco our bass player produced it like just like he produced “Delirium”. The process wasn’t really all that different besides the fact that we were going away from the studio and then returned. We did it all in our hometown Milan and we thought it was the right time to do it because we can combine doing the live shows and doing the studio work. We felt it was a good moment for creating the record .
Do feel like having to go back and forth to the studio had an influence on the record? Was it refreshing that you didn’t have to stay too much in the same place, with the same material?
Yeah, I think in the aspect of the fact that we could clear our mind for a few days it did influence the album, although on the other hand it was putting a bit of stress on us, because time was running out and we had to maintain a certain deadlines to deliver the record, otherwise it would have come out way after. There was a deadline, it was a bit stressful, but on the other hand it was a bit liberating to move out of the studio for a few days and go back to do something else, it opens your mind and your way of listening to what you’re working on, it was good in the end, but not easy to do, a bit stressful I would say (laughs).
So, I guess it’s kind of nice for you to have the whole process over, and now focus on touring again.
Yeah, because we really liked the creative part, when you write the record, when you work on the songs and finish them. The studio for us is more of a working part, it’s not so much fun. You have to have things done in a certain amount of time, and you can’t postpone deadlines because of the tour that is coming, and you have to plan it way in advance, so the studio is a bit more of a stressful time compared to the writing or touring. The touring is just okay you got your songs, you got your album to promote and you just go out and play, and that’s a bit more fun than going into the studio. It’s something we need to do, but not so fun (laughs)
With your previous tour, your show changed a lot. What can you tell us about the shows you’re having for this album cycle?
We obviously already decided on the normal changes, different clothes etc. Some of the songs need a different backdrop, different choreography. We are gonna try to bring something else to the stage as well, something that we learned from our experiences from the previous shows, but obviously we can’t upgrade the production so much for every show, especially during the first part of the tour because we’re touring with ELUVEITIE, so we will have a certain amount of time and space and we will have to work with what we get. We won’t have headline shows in the beginning, but it’s gonna be different and we’re just starting. We leave on Thursday for the United States, so we are gonna rehearse and we’re gonna use the new material and see how it works, so it’s gonna improve the setup with what we can actually do in Europe in November, December.
Alright that seems definitely something to look forward to. Unfortunately, out time is up, do you have any last thoughts you want to share with our readers?
Yeah, we’re coming to Finland with ELUVEITIE and INFECTED RAIN, so hopefully we’ll see you people at the shows, come check us out. Try to listen to “Black Anima”, it’s a really good record, so you should check it out!