We’ve been waiting no less than 5 years for LACUNA COIL to come back to Finland, and the European Sanatorium Tour finally brought them to Tampere after passing over Helsinki earlier on during the Nordic leg. We made the trip up to Tampere for the show, and managed to get a few minutes with Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro to talk about the album and more!
Welcome back to Finland. Was there any reason that LACUNA COIL decided to come to Tampere instead of Helsinki this time around?
Cristina: I honestly cannot tell you.
Andrea: I think the reason was that we were going to Russia, so it was more comfortable for some reason to book a show here than in Helsinki. I don’t know why, exactly. It’s just a logistical thing. Of course, we haven’t come here in a long time, so that could be the reason.
Most bands come to Finland when they come through Norway and Sweden as well, but you guys happened to miss it that time. Was there any reason?
Andrea: It was just the way the routing of the tour was possible. Sometimes you don’t have a venue available the day you’re in [town], so you have to go back and do other markets because it’s too expensive to just stay around an extra day. So it’s just bad luck on the routing of the tour, I think. We wish we could come more often, because we always have a good reception here in Finland. It’s always a good show.
Let’s talk about the album then, briefly. “Delirium“ is a concept album about an asylum inhabited by the living and dead (spirits) – how much research did you do into mental illness, or did you draw more from personal experience?
Cristina: What you said is the main idea behind it, let’s say, to match with the visual concept as well, but the main thematics are mental insanities, mental illnesses, intended in a medical way but also in a more extended way, in the little crazy things that we do every day. It was something that we felt really close to, because it was not a way for us to just be cool or let’s say, “Let’s talk about a weird topic”; we are really close to these issues for personal reasons or illnesses within the families. We’ve been very close to centers that are taking care of these types of illnesses. We also visited a lot of abandoned asylums around the area we live in. We’ve always been fascinated about the mystery behind it, because there’s so many things we still don’t know about these medical issues. We’re still attracted because there’s this barrier that we will never pass.
Andrea: There was a connection with the music, the way Marco – the bass player and main songwriter for the music – was coming up with a lot of songs without thinking too much, without putting too many barriers into where it was going with the music. If there was an extreme song, he was pushing the extreme double-bass or whatever for the rhythmical parts for the song, or it was going in a completely different direction, so the songwriting itself was also not crazy, but very free, without too many preconceptions, without worrying too much about being what we’ve always been as a band, without worry that this is too heavy, this is too crazy. So it fit perfectly with the mood of the project.
You’ve said that you’ve visited some of these old, abandoned asylums, and I’ve heard they can be really dangerous to enter – did you have any problems with them falling apart on your visits?
Cristina: It was dangerous, at least in one of them, because in theory we were not supposed to get in. It’s a closed area, around a huge hospital, out of Milano. So you can still enter even if you’re not supposed to get in, but the times we went in we did it in a very respectful way. It was more pure curiosity, call it morbid a little bit, but it is still fascinating.
Creative research as well, perhaps?
Cristina: Yeah. And that actually happened way before we even thought about the concept for this record, so it’s not something we did after we thought about this record. We thought about the world of “Delirium” when we started to write the song, “Delirium,” and from there we started to think about… we were living the last couple of years and we said, “Hmm, we have a lot of things to say about this.”
You’ve said in other interviews that the new, heavier aspects of the album came quite organically, as opposed to being a conscious decision to go in a heavier direction. Were there any moments during the album making that really surprised you, where you were like, “Whoa, this is not where I expected this to go!”?
Cristina: Not something that surprised us, because I think that our music always incorporated different elements from more aggressive, heavier elements, to more melodic ones. Our music has always been a mix. Maybe for us it was… maybe it was more surprising for other people, let’s say, to hear what we had to offer with this record, as I think a lot of people were really surprised about the first song that we put out, “House of Shame.” I know for sure that we raised a lot of eyebrows, in a positive way, because they weren’t expecting something like this from us. So it’s not something that surprised us.
Well, it definitely happened to me. I put the album on and with the first growl I was blown away.
Cristina: [laughter] That’s the whole point, doing something slightly different every time, incorporating something new. Life goes on and of course you’re always influenced by different stuff and it’s impossible to not put it in your music.
On that same note, your [Andrea] growls on this album are incredible, and I don’t remember hearing them quite this much or this strongly before – did you train your voice for it, or was it more of a power that you summoned?
Andrea: I didn’t train, because we used to have it in the past as well, but we never used it so much in the songs in the end, in the way the songs were coming up during the end of the songwriting. It was not so necessary to have all those growl parts. This time we just decided to use it more, so obviously, the more you do it, the better it becomes. If you don’t do it for a while then you’re not as good as when you do it all the time, so I ended up practicing it for the demos of the songs for the songwriting sessions. After all the experience of learning better how to sing, how to do it in different ways, helps also the growl because you can hold the notes longer or the breath or whatever you need in order to sound good. So it was just something we always had but never needed to use so much. And we like the result of using it, actually. Everybody likes it, so it seems a good decision.
In the past, you’ve had fairly uniform stage appearances – in 2012 you had the black collared shirts, for example, though I’ve never seen you with such a strong visual element to your shows. Have you done full costumes before, or is this the first time you’ve worked with such a strong image?
Cristina: We’ve always thought about the visual part of the show, and I’m not talking about special effects on stage; I’m more talking about us as a unit and not just me, let’s say, as the female front of a band, and a band disappearing behind it. We always wanted to deliver a sort of an army look, where each one of us would be an individual, but altogether we will be LACUNA COIL.
When it came to “Delirium,” we thought about the uniforms because they were fitting the idea behind the record, so the straight jackets, of course personalized with a lot of elements that belong to LACUNA COIL, our logo… we created the logo that’s supposed to be the logo of this fictional sanatorium…
Andrea: Probably also the “Delirium” team also helped pushing a little bit more of certain things, like the make-up or the crazy looks. That probably helped also probably bring it in even more.
Cristina: It’s something that we want to keep, because a live performance is different than just putting the CD on at home and listening to the music. I think it’s more fun for us, in the first place, and I think it’s more fun for the crowd who comes to have a good time with us, so it’s a way to offer something more. Something more theatrical.
Do you have any plans to do a live DVD related to this album at all, with the visual elements?
Cristina: Yes and no [laughs].
Andrea: We have a project for a live DVD but I don’t know if it’s going to be strictly tied-in with the album, because we’re also having, next year, our 20th anniversary of the band. So maybe it will probably be something more overall about the 20 years’ history of the band, so it will be also “Delirium” but not only. There’s an idea we’re working on. There’s actually several ideas, several projects, we’re working on to celebrate next year, the 20 years. One of them could also be the DVD.
That ties in nicely to another one of my questions. Anniversary shows are getting really popular these days. Perhaps it’s because the albums are finally reaching these milestones…
Cristina: This is kind of crazy. We thought about that, because our anniversary will come next year. Of course there are other bands that have had our type of career and now it’s way more difficult for new bands to have a 20-year, 25-30-year story. It’s kind of crazy that it’s all coming up around the same time.
Andrea: If you think about it, most of these bands are all around the same time when we started. Bands like MOONSPELL or… they’re more or less, maybe a little older than us, but not so much; we’re more or less in the same time-frame.
Do you think the band might do any anniversary tours for your albums in the next few years – for example, “Comalies” in 2022?
Andrea: We’ll see. Now we’re more working on a special thing, more about the history, not just one specific album. But maybe. Never say never. We did once, a few years ago, we played a festival in Belgium called Metal Female Voices. They want us to be the headliners for the second year in a row. We said yes, but we’re on the same album cycle, so we can’t come back and play exactly more or less the same songs we’ve already played, so we decided to do the “Karmacode” altogether with the original stage clothes, the backdrop, the same setup for the lights. But that was just because it was cool to do it because we did the normal set the year before.
I think that’s been happening a lot, that when tour cycles cross over, bands do special album sets instead.
Andrea: It can make sense. We don’t like to do it too many times. I think it has to be something special. If you do it all the time, it’s not so special anymore.
You guys just released a music video, very recently. Did you have to interrupt the tour to film the video, or have you had these videos pre-filmed?
Cristina: Not at all. The video was filmed months ago. We decided to postpone the release of the video because of different reasons. We had another single coming out around Christmas, then we started another tour, and then we released “Blood, Tears, Dust” so that took at least a month to be properly viewed. Also because the premier in Italy was done from a very big, artistic TV channel, so they wanted to do a special TV thing about the history of the band, with an interview, so that took time to put together for them.
Andrea: Like a documentary.
Cristina: We thought it would’ve been cool to release it together with this, but we didn’t have to interrupt because it was already filmed.
Your albums used to, back in the day, have 3-4 year gaps between their release. In the last decade you’ve been releasing them in regular 2-year intervals. Do you think you’ve gotten better at songwriting, or is there urgency to produce new material and tour?
Cristina: I think the only one that took 4 years was from “Comalies” to “Karmacode,” and that was because we started to become more popular in the States, so we took a longer time to go around the world and especially in the States, to do all our tours, so that’s why it took longer. Honestly, I think we’re pretty good at songwriting. If we would only focus on the songwriting, we could probably write easily a record every year. Easily. But the point is, once you release a record, there is at least 1-2 years of a cycle of touring, and we are not one of those bands that are writing on the road. We just want to be home, focusing on the record, and if it’s home or somewhere else to record it, but we need to focus on the songwriting.
Andrea: I think you also need some time to experience, to have something to say on the next record. You need to live a little bit and experience and collect experiences and then bring it out on the next record, reflect on what you’re doing a little bit, having material for the lyrics, for the concept, so it needs a little bit of time for me.
Cristina: We don’t want to rush it. If we don’t have something to say, we don’t want to rush it just because.
Andrea: Ideally for me, I think even 3 years would be even better than 2 years, because I think you have more time to develop everything. In general, I think 2 years is a good standard for nowadays music.
I was thinking that 2 years is actually quite fast – do you take much time to yourselves once your tours are over to go on vacation or spend time with your families and friends?
Andrea: We try to, but it’s not so easy. The way we work, we have to tour in many places, so it takes time. Even if you don’t do a tour every month, still you have to cover a lot of territories, and now it’s 1 year since the album has been released and we still have to do a lot of touring for next year as well. So it’s a lot of work.
Cristina: But even when we write, we take some time off, obviously, for our families. It’s not that we work 24/7. We work during the day and in the evening you’re spending time with your dear ones or the weekends, we take the weekends off, because you need to lighten up your head every once in a while in order to work better.
Do you get to get out and see the sites much when you’re traveling and touring? Or is it just arrive -> sound check -> perform?
Cristina: Sometimes we do. Sometimes it gets unfortunate. We were in Israel a few days ago – the day before yesterday – we had a day off and we planned to visit some places like Jerusalem, but we couldn’t make it because Trump was in town that one day, so they closed the site and we couldn’t see anything. But sometimes we do. We take the time to visit around, even if, unfortunately, most of the time it’s just venues [to] hotels. We know exactly what’s going on around the venue, but not more.
Andrea: It depends, but we’re lucky now we’ve been doing it for many years, so we’ve been to places more than once, so if we don’t see you this time, we’ll see it next time. There’s always the chance to see something.
I’ve noticed that, on Instagram, there seems to be a really nice fellowship between female vocalists. You all seem really close, commenting and supporting one another, which is really cool. Do you all know each other quite well? For example, Alissa White-Gluz of ARCH ENEMY, Simone Simons of EPICA, Anneke van Giersbergen, etc.
Cristina: The one that I know the most is Simone, because I’m very much in touch with her. I’ve known her for forever. We toured with ARCH ENEMY. We did a very small tour in Germany recent and we’ve met Alissa before. With Anneke we toured at the beginning of our tour when she was still with THE GATHERING and we met regularly.
Andrea: Tarja as well.
Cristina: We have a lot of friends… Tarja as well. Sharon [den Adel] from WITHIN TEMPTATION. I think it’s normal for me to build up a good relationship with other female… but the same thing with guys. We have so many friends now in the music business, and I have to say that we always get along with everyone. Of course it seems that there is more camaraderie with the females because we’re still the different element in metal, regardless, but I think it’s cool to support the others. Each one of us has something different to offer, a completely different style. I’m talking about girls, and guys as well. It makes no sense to feel competitive with the others. We are positive people, we like to have friends.
Anneke van Giersbergen did THE SIRENS project with Liv Kristine and Kari Rueslåtten a couple years ago – do you think any of you guys might consider doing something like that at some point, or would you be interested?
Cristina: Why not? I would definitely be interested. I love to sing and it’s cool to do it with people that you like and you admire, definitely. Of course, my main focus is LACUNA COIL. I didn’t even think about a solo record because I feel completely good in LACUNA COIL. I can express myself, I can do what I want with no barriers. There is nothing that I really miss that I could express in a different way, because I put everything I have in the band. But I would love to work with friends. I always do. I love cooperations.
You worked with Arjen Lucassen on “The Theory of Everything”…
Cristina: He asked me to participate on “The Theory of Everything,” he was just like, “I would love you to be a part of it.” And he writes everything, so you basically just perform what he writes, which was great because it’s a challenge. Of course if I write my stuff, I know that I can do it, I know that I can sing it, but to sing something that a guy wrote, it’s even more difficult, because voices are different. Sometimes it’s not easy to perform. It’s not a guitar that you’re tuning in a different way. A voice is something absolutely personal, so to sing someone’s lyrics and melodies is really, really challenging. Some of them were really high, but I’m happy that I was able to wrap everything up in a day and a half.
My last question then – the “Italian question” – is if you were to describe Lacuna Coil as a pizza, what kind of pizza would it be and what would be on it?
Cristina: Whoa [laughter].
Andrea: I feel it would be something stronger with some strong contrasts. Something like Gorgonzola cheese and, I don’t know, salami or something. Or tuna fish and onion.
Cristina: See, I would go for the opposite. I would say a margarita pizza with buffalo mozzarella, because it seems simple, but it’s really, really hard to find the right balance to serve the perfect one.
Very cool! Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us and best of luck with the rest of the tour!
Cristina: Thank you!
Interview by Bear Wiseman