While Italy is known mostly for its food and wine, it has also produced a handful of homegrown metal bands. Perhaps the best and certainly most popular is Lacuna Coil. The goth-tinged, dual vocalist six-piece released Coma Lies in the fall of 2002 and never looked back. In 2004, they are working hard as ever, still touring behind their last album and looking ahead to the next. Their incredible (and beautiful) vocalist, Cristina Scabbia, filled me in on the band’s unrelenting schedule.
Pit: How are you holding up? It seems like you’ve been on the road non-stop since Comalies was released.
Cristina Scabbia: We are totally exhausted to be truthful. We have toured so much this year.
Pit: I guess all the touring you’ve done in America this year as a support band has really paid off?
Cristina Scabbia: Yes it did. This headlining tour here in the US has done very well for us. Of course, in some venues there are more people than others, but it always depends. We have a new video coming out, so that will help us out as well. It is difficult for European bands to come over here and tour, especially because we are from Italy. We never expected radio stations to play the song in America. We were sure of our potential in Europe, but not here.
Pit: That’s for “Heaven’s A Lie,” right?
Cristina Scabbia: Yes. MTV and FUSE will be playing it. There are a lot of special effects and it is very beautiful. And I’m not just saying that because I am in the band (laughs).
Pit: So this is your first big budget video for the band?
Cristina Scabbia: Yes. We did a low budget one for “Heaven’s A Lie” during the Opeth tour, but with the radio stations picking up the song, we needed a better-produced video to go along with the song.
Pit: If the video networks play the video as much as they have been playing the song, do you think you might actually return to the US again?
Cristina Scabbia: Yes, I think that might happen…we have to do Europe and then we need to stop off for a little bit. Not to take a rest or anything, but so we can start working on a new album. You Americans just discovered us now, but for Europe it is time to do another album. We will try to continue to promote Coma Lies while working on the next album as well.
Pit: Are you writing the next album already?
Cristina Scabbia: We have some songs, but we are still working on them. We are not a band to improvise on song writing on the road. We will write ten songs and everyone will work on the arrangements until we are happy. We have basic ideas, but nothing is finished yet.
Pit: Is there a game plan for when you want to finish writing the album or start recording?
Cristina Scabbia: I hope to have something finished and out before the end of 2004 for sure. Maybe before then actually.
Pit: And idea what direction this new album will take? Coma Lies seemed more aggressive than your previous album, Unleashed Memories. I know personally I would like to hear Andrea do some more growling vocals like on you first few releases.
Cristina Scabbia: I think we will be going heavier in the future based on the new compositions. We try to keep a balance. We always liked the balance between the more aggressive and the more melancholic. It’s kind of a challenge for Andrea to sing a clear way because it is harder to sing like that instead of growling. He wants to do more than that with his voice. He wants to do everything from the growling to the clear voice.
Pit: Do you think you would ever try more aggressive vocals yourself?
Cristina Scabbia: No. First of all, I don’t really like it. I prefer to keep my kind of voice because I know that I can work in this way. I don’t want to ruin my voice because I think it’s something that you have to have inside, singing this way. It is something you just don’t learn. Plus, I want to keep my feminine side to Lacuna Coil.
Pit: You mentioned touring the US earlier this year with Opeth. How did that part of the tour go?
Cristina Scabbia: That was very good. They are very, very nice people and very good musicians. We got along good and they are very talented.
Pit: Then you spent the summer touring America alternating between Anthrax and Type O Negative.
Cristina Scabbia: I’ve been a big fan of Type O for a lot of years. In every interview I kept saying I would love to tour with Type O Negative, it would be like a dream. Now, to actually have done it and to get to know them was fantastic. They are totally cool people and I think their new album is just fantastic.
Pit: I caught you opening up for Anthrax in upstate New York and the crowd seemed to give you a bit of a hard time.
Cristina Scabbia: With Anthrax it was a challenge. Anthrax fans are something completely different from Lacuna Coil fans, so it was better for us. We had to squeeze out all the energy we had to win over them. We won a lot of fans over from that tour. I never had any problems with any of the fans while we were on tour.
Pit: Were you surprised at the amount of support that Century Media was giving the band this year? It seemed like you were high on the priority list since they kept bringing you back to tour here. Lots of other bands on the label wish that they could get that kind of support.
Cristina Scabbia: That always stems from the results from the tour. And of course, it’s always a question of business, let’s be honest. A company has to spend a lot of money to bring you on tour here. The tour bus is really expensive, the crew, the tour manager, all the equipment must be rented because it is too far to bring your own. If the tour is successful and they see you sell more copies from the tour, of course they want to bring you over for another time. If they don’t sell that much, it wouldn’t make any sense for them. Of course, other bands don’t understand that, but we have been lucky to keep playing here.
Pit: Since there are two vocalists in the band, how does that work out with who will sing what parts?
Cristina Scabbia: Well, it’s really important when you have two singers that there are no egos. That’s the way it is between us because this is not a competition. It doesn’t matter who gets 50% of the song or whatever. It is just another instrument. If you want to go higher the let’s use my voice because I have a higher tone. If you want more aggressive then use Andrea’s. We always work together and everyone has been 100% satisfied. Everyone has ideas to see which one is better.
Pit: There is no tension then between you? He doesn’t get mad if you have more vocal lines than he does?
Cristina Scabbia: No way. Lacuna Coil would be nothing without him as well. If he weren’t like this, it wouldn’t be possible for us to stay together. It just wouldn’t work
Pit: Do the other band members then ever get angry that a good portion of the limelight is on you?
Cristina Scabbia: That’s part of the game. We are in the metal movement that is a male-dominated market and there are so many bands that you need to catch their attention some way. If you have a girl, then the focus is on the girl. If they say the girl looks good in the pictures that’s fine, but I want them to say she is a hell of a singer. I know I can sing and that’s my job. The singer always gets more attention than the other members of the band and that’s just the way it goes, but the fact that I’m a woman surprises everybody. This is something I don’t understand.
Pit: It doesn’t bother you if people first get attracted to the band because of your looks?
Cristina Scabbia: No, it doesn’t bother me. It just bothers me when some envious people thing that we are getting all the attention just because of me. If our record sucked, nobody was going to buy it. That’s the point. People are not stupid. If they just like me, they can just download a picture; they don’t need to buy the album if they don’t like the voice. When they buy the album that means I have done my job.
Pit: I did want to ask you about Lacuna Coil being compared to Evanescence. What’s your take on that situation?
Cristina Scabbia: They are the ones getting compared to us, to be honest (laughs). We are more popular in Europe, but we have been doing this for quite a while. Of course, when you are on a bigger label with a bigger budget for promotion, it is easier to reach more people. The people that don’t know you, they see them first and then they see us and they think we sound like them. I think they are more pop and we are more metal and we still belong to the underground. We are still on an underground label; they are on a major and doing something completely different from us. They are a pop band and I mean that with no offence because I like pop bands too. I don’t see any competition, it’s just because they have a woman in the band. I’m pretty sure if they didn’t have a female singer, they would never get compared to us.
Pit: Do you think their success has helped or hurt your own chances of success?
Cristina Scabbia: No, I think if anything it has helped the band. In every review for them you read our name and of course people will us out too. You know this Evanescence thing is driving me crazy (laughs). It’s like people are trying to build up a competition, but there is not. I don’t want people to read the articles and think that we don’t like them. I know that Amy even came to see us a couple time, but I did not have the chance to meet her because she left before. I don’t want to build up a competition; I totally support bands with females.