Emptyspiral / Aug 2009

Emptyspiral Fan Question Interview
Matt’s interview on 1st August 2009

It’s been a busy couple of days. After seeing Lacuna Coil present a very polished performance; complete with lights, and a video curtain, on the large stage in the Forum in London, I’ve driven 200 miles to Liverpool to see them play in the tiny Barfly club. I’m tired, but I really have no excuses. The band have been busier, much busier. Four days ago they were playing in San Francisco, two days ago they were on the stage at Wacken in Germany. Somehow, they managed to get to Liverpool for a show today, and tomorrow they are playing in Glasgow. Right now things are running late, there are other people waiting for interviews and I’m watching the clock as 9pm is quickly approaching. Am I even going to get an interview in? I’ve a bunch of questions that fellow fans have submitted through Emptyspiral and I’m going to have to be selective.
Earlier on in the day I’d spoken to Marco and Maus, and I’m expecting a group of tired people. Do they really need to be disturbed by me? Shouldn’t I leave them to get ready? I mean, seeing them perform is the reason we’re here right? Before I have too long to deliberate this, I’m invited into the tour bus for the interview. Everytime I go in there I’m reminded that this is a shared living space for up to twelve people. It’s tiny, and what space there is, is taken up with commodities needed to support the people and their tour.

Cristina, Andrea, and Pizza (Cristiano) are sitting and welcome me warmly, as always. If they are tired, they don’t show it, and I’m eased by this. Of course, they still need to get ready, and Cristina is already getting out her make up. In the background, I see the rest of the band from time to time, smiling and waving as they pick up things to get ready. There’s little glamour in any of this, just commitment and a lot of hard work.

Time to start my questioning..
“What kind of gigs do you prefer to play? The larger ones like Download or the smaller ones like clubs and bars?”

Cristina, who is initially a little pre-occupied with applying make up in preparation for the show due to start in less than twenty minutes, ironically answers, “The days off” and there is laughter from all around. It’s a joke, but a good way to start things rolling.
After recovering Pizza answers, “It’s two completely different things. When you play Download you are in front of a huge crowd; some will know the band, some are there just to enjoy the whole atmosphere. When you play smaller shows, it’s more intimate – you can see everybody’s faces. They are a completely different vibe.” There is the nod of agreement from both Andi and Cristina, they enjoy it all it seems.

“Whats your favourite and most hated venue in England?”
Cristina, looks up. “Favourite, even if not a venue, is probably Download.”
Pizza, “Tonight could be interesting it’s a small place.”
Nodding, Cristina continues, “Yesterday at the Forum in London was pretty amazing. We had all the set up – all the lights and everything. Sometimes you cannot really bring all your studd on the road with you but yesterday was a really good set up.”
Andrea “It was a good venue definitely.”
Noting that the Barfly is tiny and no place for Video curtains, I ask ironically, “So we’re not going to get a Rammstein flames tonight then..?” This gets a laugh from everyone.
Cristina, smiling, “We thought about putting Ciccio on fire during the show but it would be a problem for the rhythmic section.”
Pizza “…and then he can only play one song…” This gets a chuckle from everyone and I think for me a minute we’re all picturing CriZ, with his beard on fire drumming like his life depended on it!
Cristina “We could put him out at the end of the show!”
I make the sign of striking a match and throwing it “Woooof!” There’s more laughter and Pizza manages to say, “Our one and only special effect!”

The band are in good spirits, and I don’t feel quite so band about disturbing what little rest they’ve had.

“How about releasing an EP with the bonus tracks Virtual Environment, Without a Reason, Oblivion, The Last Goodbye?”
Andrea, thinks and responds, “Hmmmm nope. Maybe the label has, but it’s not something we would do.”

“How did you decide on the order of songs on Shallow Life”
Pizza answers this with, “We sat down and tried different track lists and it took a while before we came to this final track list. We had to listen to the songs a lot and change the order.”
Andrea “I think the most important is the beginning and the end of the album, and try to vary the mood. So it’s not boring if you listen to it all the way through.” As I would later discover there has been a lot of thought in the creation of Shallow Life and it’s clear that the band are proud of it.

“Honest question, and you don’t have to answer! Which of you has a bigger collection of adult material?”
Pizza jumps in quickly, “Cristina!” We all laugh, Cristina the loudest at the idea. When things calm as little, it takes very little effort for Andrea to say, “That would be Maus probably.”
Cristina “Yeah, Maus or Ciccio.”
Pizza “Maus or Ciccio”
Well it’s either well established or the beginning of a conspiracy against the bands drummer and guitarist, so I challenge the answer, “Ok! When I ask them I’m expecting them to say ‘Andi…Pizza.”
Pizza, laughing, “No no no! Maus will say Maus for sure!”
“So he’s proud of it?”
Andrea – “He’s got the catalogue..”
“Does he lend them out? He could make a couple of Euros a day…” There’s laughter and some agreement at this idea.

Keeping the questions light, I ask,
“What’s the weirdest gift a fan has given you?”.
I’m soon to regret my choice of question though, when Cristina looks across at me and smiles, “Well….I got a bottle stopper in the shape of a man with a huge dick! I don’t know if you know the guy? It’s a guy called Matt from a site called Emptyspiral..?”
Groan! Everyone is laughing, including me. Long story, but yes, I bought such a thing for Cristina, after a conversation we had earlier in the year. I also have one at home.
Cristina “…I don’t know if you know that guy…?” She’s smiling evilly at me now.
“Er..In my defence YOU wanted that!” Chuckles, “Yeah and I love it!”
I’m turning red, “You said that’s really cool! In fact you referred to it as ‘the shit’! It will be a talking point at a dinner party..”
Pizza “…that romantic date..”
Cristina laughs, “Yeah I will have a bottle of champagne with a bottle stop with a dick on it! Awesome!”

This interview is not going as I planned, but then they never really do. I try to remain focused, amongst the laughter, “O..k.. Let’s move on!”

My next question, requires a notable disclaimer, as it’s one they can always predict from me, “This is not my question! So..why do you keep so many secrets your fans, like 1.19, the numbers on Karmacode, etc?”
Andrea answers, “Because it’s more interesting. If you reveal everything then there’s no mystery any more. I think people like to have something to think about. I sometimes think bands do too much. People listen to the music to perhaps escape from everyday reality, so don’t want to discover everything. Sometimes it’s better to keep the mystery.” It’s an honest answer and, joking aside, I agree with him. Still, it’s not going to stop me asking!

Now’s not the time though, so I move to more predictable ground.

“What’s your favourite song from Shallow Life?”
Pizza thinks for a moment, “I…really don’t have an favourite song…”
“Now, that’s diplomatic answer, what’s honest answer?!”
Smiling, Pizza responds, “Honestly? I really like all the songs on there.” Speaking with some enthusiasm he continues, “For the first time this is an album where I really listen to all the songs and I like all of them.. If I really had to choose one…’I Won’t Tell You'”
“It’s also fun to play live..” says Andrea.
“So is it one of your favourites too, Andi?”
Andrea, “For sure, that is one of my favourites”
Cristina adds, “I would add also ‘The Pain’. That would be a perfect song for a movie, because it’s obscure and intense. But I like them all. Spellbound, Underdog, Wide Awake..”
Pizza, agreeing and smiling, “Wide Awake”
The more I listen to them, and from previously conversations, it’s clear that the bands aren’t saying they like Shallow Life because they are ‘expected to’. No, they are proud of it, and it’s something personal to them. This becomes even more evident with the next question.

“Any interesting stories around the inspirations for those songs?
It’s clear from their reactions that there are reasons, or possibly stories behind the lyrics but I’m sensing that they don’t want to discuss specifics.
Andrea, after some thought, offers, “They are about real life, so there’s nothing made up. All the lyrics are things we have passed through or situations we’ve experienced. Every song is has a particular situation that inspired it.”
I choose to pry no more. Whether it’s part of the mystery Andrea mentioned earlier, or something more personal, I conclude it’s not my business. The band have said that the lyrics are not complex on Shallow Life, but it’s clear that there are complex experiences behind each of them. I move on.

“Do any of your family members (parents, brothers/sisters, etc) travel to see you play on tour?”
Andrea tells, “Mostly boyfriends and girlfriends, but my father came to a show that wasn’t in Milan, but not too far” and Pizza adds, “I have some family abroad, and they come when we’re there.”
Cristina explains, “My parents just come in Milano, but my father shares my musical tastes.” and also adds that, “He’s in love with rock in general, and loves bands you wouldn’t expect like Queen and Metallica.”

I’d received a number of questions from South America.
“A lot of people from South America have asked when you’re going to grace their shores…?”
Andrea “I know. We don’t have any dates, any concrete plans, but I think we’ll try to do it on this album cycle. First we need to concentrate on the territories where we are selling records, but once things calm down we would like to tour everywhere else.” The schedule is hectic and runs for months, but it’s obvious that given the opportunity, Lacuna Coil would play everywhere.
Cristina, “It’s not that we don’t want to go, it’s more a question of promoters, talking with management..”

At this point Marco wanders in to pick up his Indian takeaway purchased earlier..

Marco, in a silly voice, looks at me and cries, “I wanna take a picture with you! I want to do an interview with you!”. There are sniggers all around and I respond, “Go and eat your food and leave us alone!”. I might even have stuck out my tongue. He laughs and wanders out.

Continuing the answer, Andrea adds. “We will do it when we have time, after the first round of touring perhaps.”

“So, what’s the most enjoyable aspect of touring? And NOT the days off by the way!”. There’s more laughter, especially from Cristina who responds, “The fact that you can travel. I mean if you have a regular job, maybe you can’t afford to go to places. We get to do it for free!” She smiles, and it’s obvious that she loves the adventure that touring brings.
Andrea adds, “You get to see people at the shows that you might only see once a year, but you get to see them. That’s also cool.” The band have made many friends on the road, and it’s warming to know that they look forward to seeing them at shows.

“..and whats the least?”
Pizza doesn’t need to think hard before answering, “Being away from home, all this time. It’s not the greatest…”
Andrea adds, “And also doing the same stuff every day.”
“Arriving there, sleeping, washing…”
Pizza, “It’s very routine like, but that’s with everything.”
Cristina quips, “Just like a regular job!” The irony isn’t lost. It’s clear that there is no cliched ‘rock’n’roll’ lifestyle being lived here.

Attention is momentarily diverted as Marco, who has returned for food, looks out of the tour bus “What the ***** is that!? A huge cock!” He’s not referring to a certain bottle stopper, but apparently someone walking the streets of Liverpool dressed as a giant penis. I don’t get to see as the angle is wrong, but it certainly brings a life from those that can. I guess one things for sure, you DO get to see many different things whilst touring!

After the laughter dies down I try to maintain order.

“In Italy Military service is compulsory..?”
Andrea, “Not any more.”

“How did you find your experiences in the army?”
Pizza tells me, “I did a sort of civil service job.”

“So more of a government service…”
Pizza explains, “Yeah. You could choose, of going to the army for one year, which I thought was a total waste of time, so I did something else.”
I look across at Andrea, who explains, “I was about to go but then in my year there were too many people, so I didn’t have to go…”
I can’t resist – “That’s like getting a sick note for school!”
Thoughnprobably not quite accurate, it’s enough to get another round of laughter from everyone.
Cristina, remembering looks across at Andrea, “..and you cut your hair ready to go!” More laughter.
Andrea “Yeah, I was supposed to cut my hair and go in the normal infantry..”
Cristina “that sucks..”
“Is it just guys that had to go?”
Pizza and Andrea “Yeah, just guys”
“So Cristina got away with it then?!”
Cristina, smiling, “Ah, yeah!”

I’m lookng at the time and I don’t have much left. I suspect that, if there was no show, we would be talking for hours, and that wouldn’t be the first time.

“Do you plan on releasing a DVD with all the music videos?
Pizza, “Not at the moment.”
Cristina, “Just the music videos? I don’t think that would be interesting. Maybe if we decide to release a DVD with the history of the band it would be an cool bonus.”. Sounds like a good idea to me, and I hope its something they consider later.

Looking down at my list, I see that my next question from Simone is in Italian, so I pass it across to Cristina for her to read:
“Vi scrivo dalla provincia di Ferrara e amo la vostra musica da tempo.
Volevo sapere quando tornerete nel nostro bel paese per potervi sentire/vedere dal vivo!
Siete grandi e mai smetterò di ringraziarvi per la vostra musica.
He’s asking when we are returning to Italy to play shows because he can’t wait to listen to our music and see us”

A timely arrival from Marco, who jumps in with, “Never!”
We all laugh, but it’s to Andrea to clarify, “I think it will be January or February when we do the European tour”

“During my interview at the 2006 Ozzfest Andrea said that you need to record vocals for ‘probably the heaviest song they ever recorded.’ Any update on the vocals or possibly releasing the song an extra track on a single?”

Andrea, “Ah yeah! We actually haven’t completed that song, we still doing some of the music.” There’s a kind of embarrassed laugh, and I’m wondering just how many other Lacuna Coil gems are never going to see the light of day. It’s a sobering thought.

“Does that song now reflect where you are with your music?”
Andrea gives it a little thought before answering, “I think it was more the Karmacode vibe.”

“Survive, the first song on Shallow Life, when I heard it for the first time it felt like a transition from the Karmacode sound to the Shallow Life sound. Was this intentional?”
Andrea, “No we just through it was a perfect intro because of the kids voices.”
“Whose idea was the voices?”, “Marco.”
Pizza explains, “We came up with the idea for the song itself, and he sent us demos and he already had the choirs.”

At this point Maus walks and so I don’t miss the chance to ask him..

“I understand you have the largest porn collection?”

Maus “What? Oh yeah!”

Case closed.

“Question for Cristina. How did you get involved with Dave Mustaine and A Tout Le Monde?”
Cristina, “I just got a mail from his management and they told me that they would be interested in having me as the voice for the duel. It was actually recorded in the UK and that’s how it happened. They just asked me to do it. What’s funny is that I was not a Megadeth fan – of course I knew the band and respected them. When I started to listen to them A Tout Le Monde was one of my favourite songs so it was a cool thing to know the song. It was an honour and a pleasure. We played with them on the Gigantour in Australia. We had a great time, we performed the duet live.”

At this point, still with a number of questions that could be asked I was aware that time was ticking and it was close to show time.

“Excellent! Final question… How did you guys meet?!”
Pizza “We met, maybe like 15 years ago in Italy where we all used to hang out, and others knew each other even longer.”
Andrea “Me and Marco..”
Pizza “I joined the band at the end of ’97 together with Ciccio, and Maus joined in ’99. I didn’t really know Maus before he joined, but we hanged out before.”

I wanted all the details, but time had run out. Though Cristina had completed her make-up during the interview, no one was dressed for the show. It was time to leave the tour bus and try and find a way close to the stage in the Barfly. The bands good well-being, shown in the interview, was soon translated into an energetic performance on stage no less than 20 minutes later. Some times it’s hard to describe what it’s like seeing them transformed from the interview chair to the stage, and inevitably back again for meet-ups afterward. Many of you fortunate enough to chat with Lacuna Coil in the past, understand what I mean. For everyone else, I hope you get a chance to soon.

Interviewing Lacuna Coil is always fun, and always a pleasure. I look forward to next time – where hopefully I will get closer to the elusive answer of what 1.19 actually means!