No Safe Harbor!: A 70000 Tons of Metal interview with Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia!
The Italian band, Lacuna Coil, has been continually pouring out their unique brand of Gothic styled metal for the better part of two decades. With a new album and tour in the works, the band shows no signs of slowing down. I was fortunate enough to catch up with one of the band’s vocalists, Cristina, on the recent 70000 Tons of Metal cruise. Despite both of us suffering from some sleep deprivation, we had a chance to talk about the cruise, the upcoming album, Facebook hacks, personnel changes, my chances of being the band’s next guitarist, and what it’s like to be the “Hottest Chick in Hard Rock”!
Here is how it went:
Afternoiz: This is Joe Prostredny with Afternoiz and I’m here on the massive 70000 Tons of Metal cruise with Cristina of Lacuna Coil! How are you doing today?
Cristina: I’m doing fantastic! We don’t have a show today but we’re doing press, we’re meeting fans.
Afternoiz: Great show last night though!
Cristina: It was fun! I loved it!
Afternoiz: It was fun for us too! Well, thank you very much for talking with us this afternoon!
Cristina: My pleasure!
Afternoiz: So here we are, on the high seas. Are you having fun?
Cristina: I’m having a great time! So far, so good! I’m fighting the jet lag in a nice way. It’s just good to be here. Great atmosphere and the weather is nice and everybody’s having a good time.
Afternoiz: It’s not your first time. What brings you back, what did you like about it?
Cristina: No, it’s actually the second 70000 Tons, and third cruise in general. Well, we’ve been invited thank goodness. I’m happy, because I totally love to play cruises. If we talk about the stage conditions, it’s not a place where you would usually play metal concerts so the audio is gonna be a little weird, you’re gonna have some little technical issues. But overall, everyone on board wants to have a good time so it totally reflects on every show because you can feel the energy and it’s a big party for everyone.
Afternoiz: Is it overwhelming at all, being out with your fans and having no separation?
Cristina: When we did the very first cruise, we were kind of worried because we said: “we love our fans but we don’t want to be stalked every step” but it’s actually amazing because they come to you, they talk to you, they take pictures, but then they just go around the boat because they want to check out concerts. They are on a vacation as well so it’s just the feeling of a big vacation for everyone, like artists, performers, and fans on board.
Afternoiz: So they’re pretty respectful of your privacy?
Cristina: Absolutely! Totally respectful.
Afternoiz: Any bands you’re looking forward to seeing play here?
Cristina: Well, I wanted to see Moonspell but they are playing right now so we missed them, but they are gonna play again so hopefully I will see the show. I missed Katatonia yesterday… pretty much for the same reason, but they’re gonna play again so I want to see them. I’m gonna check out Epica tonight and I want to see Paradise Lost for sure.
Afternoiz: Sounds like we’ll be at some of the same shows!…. but I’ll leave you alone (laughs)…
Afternoiz: It’s been almost 2 years since I saw you live when you were just starting the “Broken Crown Halo” tour, a phenomenal album by the way!
Cristina: Thank you
Afternoiz: Now that I’m catching you at the end of the touring cycle, how do you feel that the album was received by the fans?
Cristina: I think everyone loved it because it was a mix in between the new sound and the old school sound. I think people liked the fact that it was a darker album, it had a concept behind it. They liked the shows and everything went really, really well. We were really happy overall and now we’re super excited with the new record that will come out in a couple of months!
Afternoiz: That’s my next question… big news coming up that you’ve recently announced you’re working on your next album, to be entitled “Delirium”. What can you tell us, if anything, about it?
Cristina: I cannot really tell you a lot. I can tell you it has been centered on insanity from different perspectives. So not only on the health side of insanity, but also the everyday insanity that we’re facing from things we do, things we face every day. And it’s gonna be real interesting because it’s gonna be sort of a concept album. We imagined this sort of sanitarium/asylum where patients are telling us different stories that are connected altogether. It’s gonna be cool.
Afternoiz: It seems like there’s a lot you could do with that.
Cristina: There is a lot you can do with that, the deeper you go, it’s like: “whoa, we didn’t think about that, oh wow”. Everything is gonna be tied up from… It’s gonna be heavier, it’s gonna be a lot more growling than in the past, even more than the first record. Yeah, it’s gonna be heavier.
Afternoiz: Is there an expected release date yet?
Cristina: End of May. I don’t have the date yet, but we’re gonna announce it in a few days.
Afternoiz: Any touring plans? I know some festivals have been announced.
Cristina: We have a couple of shows confirmed, one in China and one in the Philippines… in Manila.
Afternoiz: Have you been to China before?
Cristina: No, first time. First time in China and first time in the Philippines so we are extremely happy. And we’ve had a lot of offers but until everything has been confirmed we’re not gonna announce anything. But we will once we have everything confirmed, we’ll put it out.
Afternoiz: Be careful! The air pollution can be really bad in China!
Cristina: (laughs) Well, we’re from Milan, so I think we’ll be okay! (laughs)
Afternoiz: Oh, I don’t know… I went to China a couple of years ago and the pollution was sooo bad!
Cristina: Really? Because Milan is the pollution capital of Italy!
Afternoiz: There were days you couldn’t see twenty meters… at least in Beijing…
Cristina: So [we wear] masks?…. It’s going to be hard to sing with masks… (laughs and sings)
Afternoiz: Well… indoors will be okay… but some days outdoors can be bad…
Cristina: Well, I’m curious… it’s going to be interesting, because we’ve never been there!
Afternoiz: Well, there are a lot of fun and interesting things there too! You’ll enjoy it I’m sure! Now, as a band Lacuna Coil has been around quite a while, 17-18 years. You’re still popular with fans, you’re still gaining new fans, and you’re still putting great new music! That’s actually quite a feat. Because a lot of bands, by the time they reach their second decade, are quitting or they’ve become more of a nostalgia act. They get paid to play their old stuff, but they’re not putting out new music anymore. What do you attribute your longevity to?
Cristina: We were actually talking about that last night at dinner. I think that part of it is the fact that we don’t feel like an old band. We’re very curious about other genres, other influences. We’re always curious about movies and soundtracks so we’re always researching something different to put in our music. We love to study new looks and new ways to transform ourselves. So this is a big part [of the reason] that, in a way we kind of sound fresh with every album because we’re trying something new every time… which might be a risk… but the other part is that we don’t want to be stuck in one thing only. It would be way easier to say; “Ok, fans are liking this record so let’s make ten records that are sounding exactly the same”. But it’s not us. I mean, we change, we listen to different stuff and it’s like, “this might be interesting, why don’t we put this in the music and let’s see what comes out”. So I cannot really tell you a specific thing but I might say that our curiosity in music is what’s keeping it fresh.
Afternoiz: Is it kind of like evolve or die?
Cristina: Yeah! But we don’t even think about the evolution, it comes out spontaneous. We feel like a young band. We don’t feel we’ve “arrived”… we don’t feel like “oh, we are on top so it’s done”. We always think there is a lot of work to be done. That there is always something new to find or experiment, so that keeps the passion alive and probably people see it.
Afternoiz: Your name, “Lacuna Coil”, it’s kind of a little ironic isn’t it? Because the word “lacuna”, if I understand it properly, means something like a memory gap or you can’t remember something. And I don’t think you are going to be a band that people are going to forget any time soon.
Cristina: (Laughs) No!…. but there is a reason for it. Our old name was “Ethereal” and right when we were signing the first deal with Century Media, which is our label, we were looking for a name that could be different from the others and original. There were some other bands [that had] “ethereal” in their name and it was probably too specific. With a name like “Ethereal”, you kind of have to do the same thing all over. You would think about the name Ethereal and you would think about ethereal music. So we wanted something very special, very different, but also very neutral. So we started to open every book we could, searching for names that could sound good. So why don’t we put an Italian word, or a Latin word, “Lacuna” with “Coil” so it’s gonna have an abstract meaning anyway… but it’s not gonna have a specific description of the music we play, and it came out.
Afternoiz: For most of your career, Lacuna Coil has had a very stable lineup, also very unusual for a band that’s been around as long as you.
Cristina: Well actually half of the band… basically was gone at the very first tour that we did even before the release of the first record (laughs).
Afternoiz: Yeah, but since then it’s been very stable. But in 2014, you’re long term drummer and guitarist, both of the Christianos, left. Ryan officially stepped in as the new drummer, but you didn’t add another guitarist, going forward with one instead of two. Then, just a couple weeks ago, your remaining guitarist, Maus, announced he was departing as well, and you’ve said it was a very amicable parting. Is this just part of the natural order of things for a band that has been around so long, or are there other factors contributing?
Cristina: I think it’s a natural order of life. Chris, aka, “Pizza”, just left because he wanted to go to live in the states to be with his wife and he felt it was the right moment to completely change his life because it would have been hard for him to go back and forth and probably didn’t have the same passion anymore for being a musician on the road. And Chris, our drummer, wanted to raise his baby and wanted to go live somewhere else and do something different. So it was the right moment, so they told us together and it made sense because it was at the beginning of the cycle so they gave us the time to find new people and Ryan was the natural choice, not only because we knew that he was a great drummer but we also knew he was a great guy to hang out with.
Afternoiz: Wasn’t he your drum tech for a while?
Cristina: Yes, he was the drum tech so he was with us on tour and we knew how he was on the human side (laughs). So he was the natural choice. And Maus just decided… Maus was more out of the blue because two days before the recording he just decided to resign, which was a little bit out of the blue because the week before we went to the rehearsal room and he loved the songs and everything was perfect. So, I don’t know. It was his choice, he’s happy, we’re happy. Changes might happen during an almost 20 year long career so you just have to be ready. What’s funny is that the song writers have always been Marco, Andrea, and I, and when half of the band left in ’97, it was still Marco, Andrea, and I. So it’s kind of funny because it’s like we’re going back to ‘98 (laughs). But we’re not afraid and the new album is gonna be great, we’re happy.
Afternoiz: Do you have a permanent replacement guitarist lined up?
Cristina: No, not at the moment. We’re thinking about some people and we’ve got a lot of messages of guitar players asking like, hey are you….?
Afternoiz: I could learn really quick!… I don’t play… but I could learn real quick!!
Cristina: (laughing) Everybody’s asking, but for us the family thing has been always really important so we want to work with someone that we know that we want to be with on a tour bus and touring. We want to have a good guitar player which is also a good person that we know. So that’s the hardest part. Now we’re thinking about some guitar players and friends but they will have to earn the spot.
Afternoiz: Ever thought of going back to two guitars, or are you gonna stick with one, or is that still up in the air?
Cristina: At the moment I think we are fine with one. Maybe one day we might go back to two guitar players or maybe add a keyboard player. I don’t know, we don’t really have plans about it. We haven’t really thought about it.
Afternoiz: Just this past December, you and the band were victims of a really awful Facebook hack. The band’s site and even your personal site were taken over by hackers. How does something like this happen
Cristina: It was brilliant. It was not as bad as it looked in a way, they didn’t really hack the page but they got a hold of the password. So with the password, they got in the site and they basically connected themselves with a different mail address to a Facebook app called “Facebook Mentions”. They were posting from there, connecting to other pages like spams that would get money on clicks on stupid news to create curiosity. So it wasn’t a real hack, so I wouldn’t make them more important than they are because they got hold of the password. The problem is that, during Christmas festivities, everybody on Facebook was away so it took forever for them to answer. And luckily one day they made the mistake to post from this app and I just spotted it and we’ve been able to figure it out and talk with the Facebook people that talk with the “Facebook Mentions” people… because surprisingly they are not on the same team. And so they’ve been able to do it but it’s been a pain in the ass because we couldn’t figure out why they would do it. It’s like, they aren’t posting offensive stuff.
Afternoiz: Well, they changed the name.
Cristina: Yeah. They changed the name. I think that what they did was, of course, take advantage of the number of the followers to try to get more clicks on their stuff. But as soon as I was replying they probably took it as a sort of a challenge. But they don’t want to mess up with an Italian woman because it was even worse than they were, like you are trying to mess up with me, you are gonna be so fucked! (laughs) So in the end we solved the problem.
Afternoiz: So is the original site back? Because I “unliked” it, when that was going on. I can go back and it’s safe? So it’s safe for everybody? I know a lot of people bailed on it because they didn’t want to support what was going on.
Cristina: Yes, it’s back and mine is back. Yeah, it’s safe.
Afternoiz: Also in recent news, you are on Revolver magazine’s “Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock” calendar… again!… and on the magazine cover as well! Congratulations!
Cristina: Thank you!
Afternoiz: You’ve also been on their “Hottest Chicks” tours in the past. The whole “Hottest Chicks” thing…. It’s been around for a while and after all these years there is still a lot of controversy surrounding it.
Cristina: …as usual!
Afternoiz: Some people like it. They say it’s publicity for the bands, and “Any publicity can be good publicity”.
Cristina: It’s kind of funny because I am completely covered (laughs).
Afternoiz: (laughs)… Yes, I know, I saw it! It’s a modest dress…. Beautiful but modest! But, others don’t like it because they feel it objectifies women and doesn’t really put the focus where it ought to be, on the music. What are your feelings on it?
Cristina: But why? There are so many things that might be objectifying women, and men… in everything. I can give a super stupid example: “The Walking Dead”. The actor that plays Darryl, Norman Reedus… Everybody’s like: “oh my god he’s so hot”. It’s the same thing on a guy perspective but nobody says: “oh, they are totally objectifying guys”, because of course it’s the hot part of the series and girls are just looking at him. They’re always making a big fuss about women and I don’t really understand it. There is a reason why we’re female and we’re probably better to look at than guys on the cover of a magazine in a way. So I think some people are always making a bigger issue out of it. I [don’t care] at all if someone says that I’m a “hot chick”. It’s not my problem, it’s not gonna change my life. I’m still gonna go on with my career. If I care, then it will become my problem, but I don’t want this to be my problem. I have more important things and pleasant things to talk about and think about… that I don’t want to focus on the bullshit.
Afternoiz: But that’s why people say it should focus on the music and the talent.
Cristina: Absolutely! And plus, I understand that, if, as a woman in the music business… as a singer or a musician, if you show yourself in a certain way, it’s only your responsibility… what people are going to think about you and what people’s perception is gonna happen about you. But you are gonna be the sole responsible for that. You can’t really care about everyone, you can’t make everyone happy. So it’s actually good that controversy is happening because at least people talk and everyone talks about something whether it’s soccer or the cover of a magazine or whatever. But at the end of the day it doesn’t really change anybody’s life. (laughs) I’m just happy that we got the cover and I’m glad that we did a killer photo shoot. I’m happy because it was inspired by a movie from one of my favorite horror directors which is Dario Argento, and I had a great experience shooting the pictures in New York with the Revolver team. It’s great! The only thing I’m surprised about is… “Wow, I’m 43 and I’m gracing the cover of the Hottest Chick’s in Metal”!
Afternoiz: Well… there you go! (laughs)
Afternoiz: Congratulations, then!! Well Cristina, sadly our time together is coming to an end.
Cristina: Oh… (frowns) Well, we’ll see each other again on the cruise. It’s like one big family!
Afternoiz: Oh, yes!! Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans before we leave you?
Cristina: I hope they will love Delirium as much as we do because we are so excited and it was such a great vibe during the recording and everything makes sense from the looks and the booklet and the lyrics and the music. I can’t wait to start with that cycle. I mean I loved the “Broken Crown Halo” (tour) but I can’t wait. I can’t wait for everyone to hear Delirium!
Afternoiz: Well, I can’t wait to hear it!!
Afternoiz: Thank you!
Cristina: You’re welcome!