Interview with Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil

Bello specchio , dimmi la verità ...

“So what’s it like being a woman in a heavy metal band; it’s a pretty rare thing, no?” I’ve got Lacuna Coil’s vocalist Cristina Scabbia on the phone and...of course I bloody didn’t ask that. Women in rock. Not even an issue. Move along.

Instead I ask about the new album Delirium and the upcoming tour because I’m all about the music not the sexual politics. So are you loving the interview cycle so far? She’s particularly effervescent so I must be one of the first interviewers of the day. “I like it! Come the evening, I’m a little bit fried but I love to talk about the new record and what we did so I’m more than happy.” Talk me through the recording process, please. Again, she exudes a brimming positivity as she says “The process was pretty much the same; we always write in the same place – Marco’s (Coti-Zelati) basement. He has a studio in the south so nothing really changed in the song-writing process but obviously the ideas were different and the inspiration was different, and there was a bit of time between Delirium and Broken Crown Halo (2014) so the life experiences were different. But the song-writing was done in the same way starting from the music and then contributing the vocal lines and lyrics.” We touch on Marco’s production of Delirium. Again, Cristina is enthusiastic. “I’m really proud of Marco because it was the first time that we self-produced the record. We did it in Milano with people that we knew and I think that Marco did a great job. We chose all the sounds and the parts to keep and I think that he conveyed perfectly the spirit of Delirium. It’s our heaviest record and it’s our most intense record – even in terms of the visual side of the record; the photo-shoot and the booklet – it may be the first concept album that we’ve ever done because everything is there and we know perfectly what we want to deliver.”

It really is darker and heavier than Lacuna Coil’s previous work; why is it so? “I cannot really tell you why; it was probably a combination of life experiences and the basic ideas behind this fictional sanatorium with these different rooms with real patients and memories from old patients that could come back to surface so obviously the overall concept wasn’t really a happy one to begin with – and also we definitely wanted to have something heavier because we prefer the heavier songs to perform live because this is our taste at this moment – and probably because we wanted to do something different.”

How has your attitude to your own voice changed since 1999’s In A Reverie? “I just feel more confident with my voice. I just know how to use it better. I never took lessons - I’m a self-taught vocalist - so I know where I can get and I know what I can do. I also like to experiment with different melodies. I try not to do the same thing, and with Delirium I go even higher with the tone of my vocals. I do some Indian inspired vocals and a lot of the parts that seem to be synths or keyboards are in reality my vocals, transformed electronically.” She mentions how some of her vocal parts may not be apparent on the first listen of the album, and how they come to the fore with repeated listens. It’s little twists like this that keep the listener engaged but what about yourself? Delirium is the band’s eighth album; does the process ever become mechanical? Cristina is adamant that it doesn’t. “Not at all. The day that happens I think will be the time for us to stop – we feel the same excitement as if this were our first record because we’ve never repeated ourselves. We also put out albums that were a little bit controversial – we even made some fans not very happy because we changed direction and we changed some things but I think this is what an artist should do; you always have to be free to do what you really like and you have to take some risks. You don’t have to repeat yourself over and over just because you’ve found your comfortable spot and you know your fans are going to like this or that – you have to express what you really feel for good or bad.”

After the promo tour in Europe, it’s off to the US in May, and then back to Europe. Are there any other tour plans? “It’s gonna be a small tour [to start with] – like a month or so – including gigs with Halestorm, and some shows for the presentation of Delirium. We’re gonna be playing for the first time in the Philippines, at the end of this month, and I believe we’ll be playing in China for the first time (she sounds surprised herself as she relates this) which is gonna be extremely interesting and I’m really excited about that. Then we’ll come back to Europe for the summer festivals. We have some gigs that are already announced in Italy, Austria and France, and there are a lot more gigs to be announced so it’s gonna be a full year – and we’re actually talking about coming to Australia. We’re gonna try and be there for the end of the year so fingers crossed!”

I mention the fact that Cristina used to have an advice column – was that a bit weird? “That was a long time ago. I was basically answering questions from the readers; they were different questions; relationship questions or how to put a band together or just life advice in general. Every letter that I’d get would be different.” I share with her that I’m in love with my mother. “Pardon?! Your mother?!” and bursts out laughing when i tell her that I’m changing my name to Oedipus . While she’s still laughing I touch on the darker subject of guitarist Marco Biazzi’s recent departure; will it have a negative impact on the band? Cristina says no and is both up-beat and philosophical about the situation. “It was a personal choice and I can understand that after years of doing the same thing and being around the same people that you might feel a desire to do something different. It didn’t happen to me and it didn’t happen to other members of the band but Marco felt that he wanted to do something different and I accept this and respect his choice. It’s his life and he was free to make his choices. Of course, with every choice you make you have to be ready to get the consequences so I hope he’s gonna be happy.”

So you don’t have any desire to quit the band and do an album of soapy soft rock ballads? “No – I’m happy where I am – I’m doing my dream job because I love to sing and I love the people I’m working with so there’s not one single reason for me to think about doing something different.”
Phew. That’s a relief. And we didn’t even talk about make-up and/or dresses (two of my favourite subjects, by the way).

Delirium; out now.