Emptyspiral / Oct 2010

Emptyspiral Fan Question Interview
Matt’s interview on 4th October 2010

Lacuna Coil bought the sun with them for the ‘Survive’ Tour and the sun was shinning in Notingham as I entered the Rescue Rooms, armed with my questions, submitted by fans on Emptyspiral, and determined to get some answers. As I entered the small club, the band were already performing their sound check, and I heard ‘The Secret’ being played live for the first time. Now I was *really* looking forward to tonights show!

With the sound check over I saw my chance and pounced on Andi and Cristina, asking if they had time to answer a few fan questions. Both smiling, they agreed and we walked through the back of the dressing room (tiny!) and out to the even smaller club which was not being used today and had been decked out with checked-cloth covered tables, chairs. The room was mostly full with members of the band and crew eating their dinners, and checking their mobiles. The three of us found a spare table, and I suddenly realised that I didn’t actually have my list of questions! Oh dear! How very embarrassing! Well I didn’t want to miss my opportunity so did my best to remember at least some of them…

Matt: “The In A Reverie, the original cover..”

Andrea and Cristina both giggle.

Matt: “with the…”

Cristina: “You really wanna know what happened with it..?” Laughs

Matt: “Yep! We really wanna know what happened!”

Cristina: “Well basically me and Andrea were around Europe doing promotions and we planned a photo-session for the cover of the album, but we didn’t really know what was going to happen. So we had a meeting with this photographer. So we entered this big hanger and theres all the fake leaves and forest, and he told us the idea of the body painting. We weren’t 100% happy with the idea, because would look kinda weird, but since we were there we said why not, lets see what comes out, experimenting at whats going on. And that was the result!I think there were a lot of cooler pictures that they didn’t pick up for the album.”

Andrea: “Basically it was a bit painful because it was a long time to do the body paint and it was really cold in Germany. They showed us some other photos that were done by the same photographer with some body paint and they looked good. But in general it was something that we tried, to see the result. I think it’s a unique cover; it’s very artistic, but probably it’s not the most beautiful..”

Cristina laughs again.

Andrea: “We look at it with a bit of a laugh, because it’s funny to see ourselves in body paint..”

Matt: “You were wearing underwear and they painted over the top of it..?”

Cristina: “We were wearing underwear and with photoshop they deleted it. The colour was really hard to wash away, and it took long showers to get off. I remember that in the evening we went to a club and I remember seeing still golden colours! I was thinking Hmm! I wonder was people will think about!” She laughs.

Andrea: “It was something we tried, but I don’t think we’re going to try it again!” Laughs..

Matt: “The other guys inside the cover, they were painted later?”

Cristina: “Oh that was a very quick session. We needed a picture that would match the picture on the front. But that was done really quickly we white paint, and grey, a black.”

My next question was one I’d been meaning to ask for sometime; something that perhaps all fans wonder from time to time about a band they love…

Matt: “What’s the best way for a fan to support Lacuna Coil? Is it buying the albums, going to concerts, buying merch? Whats the best why for someone that wants the band to be successful?”
Cristina thought about this before answering, the laughter had died away now; this was a serious question.

Cristina: “I think it’s a combination of things. It’s already great that a lot of fans have been loyal since the very beginning and have believed in the evolution of the band. Obviously buying the albums, and coming to the concerts, and buying the merchandise, it helps because this is our job; it’s our way to keep on doing music.”

It was clear that Andi had also been giving this a lot of thought when he responded.

Andrea: “It’s very important that they spread the word; the fact that they tell their friends that they liked the music, and the reasons why. Try to explain what they found in the band, what is special for them about the band. I feel that fans should be able to analyse the music for what it is. Not expecting the band to repeat the same formula because they liked a particular song, so being open to the evolution of the band. You might not like it, you don’t have to like it, but you shouldn’t judge it just because it’s a different producer or a little different style. If you like the song, you should like it for what it is, instead of trying to discover the same thing you discovered 10 years ago. Of course it’s not the same.”

This was something he had felt the need to defend, and his passion came through with his words.

Cristina jumped in to further emphasise Andi’s point.

Cristina: “Yeah, Lacuna Coil is also our lifestyle, we’re a band that wants to evolve. It doesn’t mean that it don’t like what we’re doing now, and we still love what we did, we just want to create something different every time.”

Both singers were passionate about the band, and it’s evolution, and I felt that some of the criticism they had received over recent years for their changes had affected them. Obvious really..
After a noticeable moments pause, where the three of us say in silence complementing what’s been said, I felt the need to comment on the setlist for the tour, and the fact there were old and new songs..

Matt: “On this most recent tour you’re planning on playing the older stuff as well. From my point of view it feels like a very complete story, as a set. Sure some of the newer fans might not respond as much to a song like Halflife as much as they would Spellbound, but there is still an appreciation there..”

Cristina: “It kinda gives you an overview of the style of Lacuna Coil. But’s it’s always tricky for us to find the right line-up because most of the people know the new material, and we want to make everybody happy, including the old-school fans. But then the new ones are ‘I don’t know this song…?'”

Andrea: “I think it’s a problem for many bands. You always have someone that knows every last song, unless you are a band that explodes on the first record and then goes down. In our case we are band who are constantly growing, so we have as many new fans as there are old fans, so it’s important to have a variety and to also play a different set. We’ve already toured Europe for Shallow Life, and we’ve already done the classic songs you would expect from Lacuna Coil so this time we thought we would bring something different to the table. It makes it more interesting for everybody. Also it’s called ‘The Survive Tour’ and that’s also a little joke that we’ve survived all these years and we’re still playing music, and you show everything that has been part of your life.

Matt: “One thing that strikes me a bit strange with the setlist is that you’ve not included ‘I Like it’ on there. Given that you’ve released what I think is is you’re best video with the song (Andi laughs), why haven’t you included it?”

Cristina: “I think it’s because it’s kind of a controversial song. We put the song out for a bit of irony. We’re rock and roll, we love rock and metal but we put out a song that’s a little bit different to have fun with, and that explains the video as well. But a lot of people didn’t get it, that it was just a single thing that started and ended there, and we didn’t want to risk then give more importance to it than it was supposed to have.

Matt: “Ok that makes sense! I would like to hear it one day. It reminds me of Closer. That also feels different; it’s a fun song. ‘I Like It’ feels like Closer but for Shallow Life…” Nods of agreement from both of them. “..and you get a good reaction from that song”.

Of course, I did think later that we shouldn’t dismiss the fact that Closer was on Guitar Hero, which would have opened it up to a whole generation of people.

Andrea: “I’m not excluding the fact that we might play it on one of the tours. Maybe when there will not be as much pressure on the song any more, after the next album, maybe we can play it just as one of our older songs. We’ve never even rehearsed ‘I lIke it’ for a live show..”

Matt: “Speaking of the next album, what are your plans now for the next album. Do you have any ideas?

Cristina: “We have some plans but it’s really too early to see how it’s going to be. We’ve not finished any song yet. We have an idea of the type of direction the songs are going to take, but until the ending you can never really say. I believe it’s going to be darker, it’s going to be heavier..”

Andrea: “We will start from Shallow Life, in terms of the way we have been approaching the songwriting, like in a way of more fluent structure and the vocals maybe a little more prominent. But so far what the guys have come up with is a bit darker and heavier. But I will work the structure of the songs in way we did with Shallow Life..”

Cristina: “It’s really early. We haven’t decided on the producer, where to record it. We’re still refining everything.”

Andrea: “We learn every album. So we’re going to take all the positive experiences of Shallow Life and bring it to the next album. It will be different because it’s a different album! A lot has been going on in our personal lives this year and that will be part of the music in some way.”

Matt: “Yes, you’ve said in consistently in the past that your experiences are reflected in the music.”

Cristina: “Yep!”

Andrea: “That’s why it’s hard to tell now. You can hear the melody in the music now, but when the vocals come along that can change the song. For sure there is some heavy material in there, not super-heavy or complicated, but just powerful. There will be ballads for sure. There will be a variety of songs, but so far we’ve heard some cool riffs and some melancholy slow songs, with a lot of atmosphere. I’ve feeling positive about the next album” He laughs.

Matt: “Ok! If you were to look back over all your albums, and find a song that you would like to re-engineer and maybe re-release..Are there any that you’ve ever thought that about?”

Andrea: “I think there are many songs that we could do that, but I think we are a band that looks forward rather than looks back. Sure there will be sounds that we could use, that are still good. But not really something we’ve already done. It’s done you know.”

Cristina: “Let me think…I’m really happy about the latest album, besides a few little details that you always would change. I like very much the song ‘Distant Sun’, but I would rearrange it maybe in a completely different way….

Andrea: “Oh yeah, that one.”

Cristina: “..like a soundtrack..

Andrea: “Probably Unleashed Memories is the album we think we should have worked on more, because at that time, in general the band was working and playing music at the same time so we couldn’t dedicate enough of our time just to the music. So for that album we thought we had very good songs, but we could have done them even better with more time. Then Comalies was the first album were we could actually focus on the music”

Ok we’ve talked music, now let’s get serious again..

Matt: “We talked a little while ago about what was the best thing a fan could do. Let’s turn that round. What things are so-called ‘fans’ doing thats actually hurting your career?”

Andrea: “I think the problem is more general, it’s not about one fan downloading a song. The problem is that the music industry is collapsing because of the changing of the system – the system where you go and buy a record and then buy a Tshirt.. Even the record deals you sign today are different. They are killing the economy of the band, because the label own everything because it’s the only way they can make money out of the band. It’s not just about not telling CDs anymore more. It’s a big problem behind the music industry and if we don’t find a solution it will bring about a crisis. In fact it’s already a crisis; they are closing departments in every label and it’s shrinking and shrinking every day. It’s the same problem for movies..”

Cristina: “For a musician it’s really hard to express how important it is for us to get fans to buy the album or coming to the concerts or buying the merchandise. If you eat bread, you buy bread and that pays for the guy making the bread to make more bread, and that’s the same for musicians. Everyone thinks that all the musicians are millionaires just because they see your face on the magazines. It’s not like that! You’re doing your music, it’s still your passion, but you want to survive with it, and to do that in a way you have to sell your product. Its rough to say that, but in the end it’s like that..”

Andrea: “You don’t sign a record deal to NOT sell albums, you know..? There’s no point in signing the deal if you don’t want to sell records! Why? If then, you just stay in the practise room and play your music for youself, sometimes you do concerts for your friends, and thats just the pure art. You’re making music just because you like music. But music is also a job..”

Cristina: “..You use the money to make another album, to pay the producer, to pay for stage clothes, to pay the people working for you, for the concerts. You’re not putting away the money to buy a new car…”

Andrea: “There is of course there is a thin line between making music you like, and keeping some quality, or just selling out and just writing something because you know its gonna sell. Music is something you need to sell if you want to be a professional musician. Otherwise you’re just playing for the fun of it.”

Matt: “So being part of the music industry is getting tougher and tougher and tougher..”

Andrea: “It is!”

Cristina: “If something doesn’t change it will be…insane.. The big artists, like U2, will survive, but all the smaller bands are gonna die.”

Another moment of silence (if you ignore the sounds of Slaves to Gravity soundcheck next door, that is). This is a subject close to their hearts and there is a sense of doom lingering in the air between us.

I’m getting worried now.

Matt: “And yet..Are you still enjoying what you’re doing? You still…in it for the long haul?”

Cristina: “We wouldn’t be here!” They both laugh but it’s a laugh of irony. “We definitely still love what we do.”

Andrea: “You enjoy it but this whole thing is not helping to band to be more focused on the music. Now you have to worry about designing keychains to sell it, to make some extra cash, when you should focus on writing better songs. But you have to design the *****ing keychain. You have to be a businessman. It’s moving you away from making music sometimes.”

Cristina: “It’s definitely taking some time away from it.”

Andrea: “But. At the end of the day we’re still doing it because it’s what we like. My main goal, now we are writing the new album, is to give better vocal lines for the next album, better lyrics, better…songs in general. That’s my first goal as a musician and my second goal is to pay my bills. If paying my bills becomes the priority over being a better song writer then maybe I should think about whether I still want to be here.”

Matt: “Given what you’ve said about the music industry, and the pressures that are on you, and the fact that you’ve been a band for as long as you have…If you had one piece of advice for a new band coming into this horrible music industry today?”

Cristina: “Get a lawyer.”

Andrea: “Get a lawyer.”

Matt: “Get a lawyer! ok!”

There’s laughter but it’s the laughter of experience; of people that have obviously had to learn from their mistakes.

Andrea: “Yeah but other than that I think it’s really hard to tell someone because…it’s like when you’re a kid, it’s hard to teach him what life is about. He has to experience life to learn from his mistakes most of the time you know? I see people making the same mistakes. The only thing you can do is manage a band, trying to avoid the mistakes for them.”

I think back to my original question about fandom and it’s clear to me. Supporting a band isn’t just about saying to like the music, though that is very important. It’s also about supporting their career and contributing to their ability to continue to make the music. How many of us actually give thought to the potential impact of ‘free’ music?

Not having my original questions was making continuing the interview almost impossible so I decided to draw it to a close..

Matt: “That’s all I can remember of my questions. I know 1.19 was in there”, I’m grinning, “but er… it wasn’t my question, it was someone elses!” This got a laugh from Cristina.

Cristina: “You ALWAYS try Matt!”

Matt: “I think it was the first question but I er.. wasn’t going to embarrass us all by asking it…” More laughter all around.

I did remember to bring my picture of the boots, and showed it to Cristina…

Cristina: “It’s a female make of a line from a stylist called Mark Nason, and the brand is called Siren. I don’t think they have this one any more.”

Matt: “Thank you very much!”
And that was as many questions as I could remember at the time I sat down with Andrea and Cristina.

Postscript to the Interview

Here’s the questions that didn’t get asked, though I did manage to get answers for some…

1. What does 1.19 mean?
Yeah…er….good luck with that one. Check out my investigative video into the this..

2. Are you planning any more singles from Shallow Life, if so, what?
From other conversations it’s clear that there will be no further singles from the album.

3. Will the song Comalies ever be played live?
One for next time.

4. Is there any one show that is particularly memorable for whatever reason?
This question has been asked a few times in the past from memory, including my first interview in 2003.

5. What is/are the band members’ fave song(s) from Shallow Life?
I’ve asked this elsewhere. Keep an eye out for the answers..

6. Are there any songs (besides “Stars” and “Enjoy The Silence,” of course ) that the band has considered covering?
I didn’t ask this! Damn.

7. What sort of plans are in place for a next album, if any? Can we expect to see that in stores by 2012? Will the band be working with Don Gilmore again?
The answers are covered in my interview. I found out that they are certainly planning for a 2011 release.
10. Is anyone thinking of doing any more collaborations, either as guest musicians with other bands or having guest musicians in LC? If so, any info?
Not asked.

11. Has the band ever considered looking back into their In A Reverie/self-titled EP material for a live show? I always thought that songs like My Wings or The Secret would work well with their recent setlists.
You have your answer to that one already!

12. Have another When Are They Going To Do Another Tour For US?
Likely to be next year in support of a new album.

13. Does the “solitude” printed in the Shallow Life deluxe edition refer to anything in particular?
Not asked. Yet.