Interview with Andrea Ferro by Claudio Vicentin
Lacuna Coil’s third album, Comalies, definitely succeeded to put the band in the higher level in the Metal scene all over the world, going beyond the initial expectations. Finally the duets of the vocalist Cristina Scabbia with the vocalist Andrea Ferro had some effect, as well as the instrumental line of the band always with sophisticated arrangements, atmospheric passages and, mainly, the weight, end up making them an innovative Metal band. From a promise they became reality, specially in the much disputed north American market where they managed to have great tours, including being in the cast of the mighty festival “Ozzfest”. And soon after the “Ozzfest” tour was over, we talked with the vocalist Andrea Ferro who, even though was on vacation after over a year of constant concerts, took time for this exclusive interview.
Roadie Crew: Lacuna Coil has had a bigger success recently after, three studio albums and two EPs. How do you see this moment of the band?
Andrea Ferro: I see this moment as a dream come true. We fought a lot and never really thought that we could reach sales so expressive as the ones that are happening today in the US and across Europe. I don’t mean to say that we are pessimists, because we always worked for the band to grow, but it has been really good for us nowadays. The band has evolved in a calm way, not only when we are writing, but also live, and with the big amount of concerts we are playing this had to happen. The tours make a band grow and we played a lot of gigs specially in the US. I think we hit it big with Comalies that represents very well what Lacuna Coil is today, a heavy, atmospheric and melancholic band, all mixed together properly, without exaggerating.
Roadie Crew: Do you think that this success happened because of Comalies or because this is an excellent time for bands with female vocalists?
Andrea: I think it happened because of both of the situations you mentioned. Comalies is a work the presents songs that are good for airplay, video clips and also having a female vocalist in front of it all helps because the press has given more attention to these bands.
Roadie Crew: Albums like In a Reverie and Unleashed Memories are great, but with Comalies the band took a big step forward. We can feel a more mature band. What can you say about these albums?
Andrea: The evolution is constant, that’s why Comalies, as I already said before, is a right album that shows Lacuna Coil in a way that fans have to get used to. By that I don’t mean that our next album will be Comalies part II, that’s not the way to go, but it won’t be too far either. In our first studio album, In a Reverie, we were still synchronizing ourselves, searching for a path for the band, even though it doesn’t have that many differences for the style we have today. In Unleashed Memories we managed to take another step forward in this natural evolution and also bringing a more gothic and depressive side of the band.
Roadie Crew: How is the set list of the band nowadays when you play a complete gig? Do you play many old songs?
Andrea: Like you said, when we have enough time to play our full set, we have a lot of songs from In a Reverie, from the EPs and also from Unleashed Memories. Currently since we have been playing more in the US along with other bands and after in “Ozzfest”, we can’t play a full set and so we concentrate more in the most recent album. But even so, since we don’t have that many released albums, we can always play songs from each album. I think it is important to keep older songs on the set list, specially when we record a first live album and a DVD, we’ll have to play stuff from all our career, because that’s definitely what the fans want.
Roadie Crew: The record label Century Media has released a new version of Comalies that has a bonus CD with edited and acoustic versions of your songs, video clips etc. How do you feel about playing your songs acoustically? Do you like it?
Andrea: That was something new for us, to play an acoustic set. We were touring in the US and a radio asked us to go there and play some acoustic songs. So we started rehearsing and rearranging some songs and it turned out quite interesting. Later we ended up doing acoustic sets in other radio stations, on TV and it helped even more to promote the band. When we were confirmed to “Ozzfest”, Century Media decided to take the recording of the acoustic set that was good and release a new version of the album with more stuff for the fans.
Roadie Crew: Would you like to play an entire Lacuna Coil set in an acoustic version?
Andrea: Nothing against it. If we have enough time to rehearse and rearrange all the songs it could be something interesting. We could add some Latin percussions, invite other musicians. Or even maybe release an entire acoustic album, but nothing that is in our plans right now. What we want now is to some time to rest and soon begin working in a new studio record to be released in the first semester of 2005.
Roadie Crew: Lacuna Coil has sold over 150thousand copies in the US up until now, making it the higher selling band of Century Media. That was something surprising for an Italian band and also for the record label Century Media, that even though is big, is not a major label, right?
Andrea: Yes, definitely! That was only possible because Century Media, even not being a major label like Sony or Universal, managed to show to American radios and to MTV Lacuna Coil’s potential and the quality of our music. That’s why I say we were at the right moment because Comalies shows songs with enough quality to get airplay on radios and TV. When Heaven’s a Lie started to get airplay on the radios, the album started selling more and more and then we had the songs playing in a lot of cities in the US and the clip started playing on MTV and then it all started to grow. We toured for four months in the US and then again for six months to promote even more and those tours were the right shots with Opeth, Anthrax, P.O.D. After Heaven’s a Lie we shot the clip for Swamped and that song started to get airplay too. Then came the “Ozzfest” offer and the record label released the version with the bonus CD what upped the sales even more. So, it’s all surprising up until a point because all that, if we stop to think straight, isn’t happing without a reason.
Roadie Crew: With Comalies going really well, it must be much better the tour with more Us and European fans. How has the overall reaction of the audience been?
Andrea: Very exciting! We are touring for quite a while and this time we had all kinds of experiences. We playing in small clubs in Europe and in huge festivals and in the United States we did it all, we played in big venues and in huge arenas in “Ozzfest”, and the reaction of the fans were beyond our expectations. You can’t describe what it is like to be playing in the Us, so far away from home, and seeing the people singing the lyrics to your songs. That’s when you realize it was all worth it, all those days away from your family, being homesick. It’s not easy to be six months touring non-stop away from home, and only the reaction of the fans can make it up, not even financial comeback makes you so happy.
Roadie Crew: How do you see today the difference between the US and the European markets?
Andrea: For us today the US has a lot of advantages. They have a very strong promotional structure with a lot of rock radio stations spread all around the country, besides the TV channels. So, if you succeed to get in this structure, your band will do well. It is not easy for a traditional Heavy Metal band to break into that market because they are always looking for something different and the style of Lacuna Coil works, because, even though we are a Metal band, we have the gothic side, varied arrangements, keyboards and Cristina with the female voice. In Europe everyone is more used with the type of sound we play because there are other bands like Within Temptation, Nightwish, Theater of Tragedy that had female vocals a long time ago. Markets like Germany and the Scandinavian countries give us a lot of support. But nowadays we are doing better in North America because there the female voice is much newer, they threw Evanescence up there and that is a band that is in Sony, with a strong power of divulgation (does this word even exist?).
Roadie Crew: On the other hand, Europe embraced Nightwish very strongly, much more then Lacuna Coil, but in the US they are still quite small.
Andrea: Nightwish has, more or less, the same conception as us, but they are more classical, they have a lot of classical influences. Europeans love that, but I’m sure that if they succeed to go to the US with the right plan of promotion, they will also sell a lot of albums there and play a lot of shows.
Roadie Crew: How did you get in the cast of “Ozzfest”?
Andrea: With our song playing on the radios and on MTV, it all got much easier and so the people that manage “Ozzfest” got in tough with our manager. They have that second stage that has the bands changing the time slots during the tour. Just the fact of having your name on all the divulgation material, it doesn’t matter anymore if you are on the second stage or in the main stage because the press gives attention to all the bands, even so because the bands playing on the second stage, such as Slipknot, Lamb of God, Hatebreed are bands that are already well know and big in the US.
Roadie Crew: How was it like being on tour with “Ozzfest”? I imagine that a few years ago you didn’t imagine you’d be touring with Black Sabbath and Judas Priest with their original line-ups.
Andrea: Right(laughs). Actually when we were confirmed for the festival, a lot passed through my mind. Not a long time ago I read the Italian Metal magazines that covered “Ozzfest” and all of the sudden I’m there with Lacuna Coil. We were really very happy to be part of this circle of tour specially with Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Slayer, bands I’ve been listening to since I was eleven and started listening Heavy Metal. It is something inexplicable to spend so many days with the legends of metal(laughs).
Roadie Crew: What other bands did you enjoy seeing?
Andrea: Besides seeing Black Sabbath, Slayer and Judas Priest, I really liked seeing on the main stage Dimmu Borgir that was different from every other band and still were very well accepted. I also saw the bands that were playing with us on the second stage and I liked Unearth, God Forbid, Hatebreed and Slipknot that puts up a great show, always.
Roadie Crew: The songs Heaven’s a Lie and Swamped are on the radios and on TV. Are you going to release another single off Comalies or are you focusing on the new album now?
Andrea: We won’t release another single off Comalies. Actually we considered the idea, because we recorded a few concerts from “Ozzfest” and we could release a video clip for the song Daylight Dancer, as well as a single for the radios, but through the contract, we realized that we couldn’t use any image from “Ozzfest” and so we just had to forget the whole thing. So the idea now is to go for the new record and focus on doing our best.
Roadie Crew: Swamped in on the soundtrack of the movie Resident Evil: Apocalypse 2 and also in the RPG Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. How did this happen?
Andrea: From what I’ve heard, the director of Resident Evil, Alexander Witt, likes our music and chose Swamped to be a part of the soundtrack, got in tough with our manager and arranged everything. About the song being in the game, I don’t know the story very well, but these things always, as far as I know, are the companies that get in touch asking the release of the songs to the record label and the band. I’m curious to see this Resident Evil with our song (laughs). Cristina Scabbia is a fan of videogames and of the Resident Evil game, in which the movie was based on, now she’ll have even more fun playing this game (laughs).
Roadie Crew: “Ozzfest” ended in the beginning of September and you guys are now taking a break. Do you think that now there will be more Italian fans with the success of the band in the US? I say this because I remember that in Brazil Sepultura, after conquering the world was very well received in Brazil in the beginning of the 90’s.
Andrea: Coming back to Milan after all this extensive touring was very good, seeing the family again, the friends and going to the bars I usually go. And having to tell all the stories again and again because all our friends aren’t always together so that we can tell the stories only once (laughs). I don’t know if we’ll have more Italian fans, but that today we are more respected, I know for sure. I think the story of Sepultura is cooler than ours because leaving Brazil and being successful in all the four corners of the world, was something amazing. Sepultura achieved a lot. There is the positive side to all this, the true friends are happy for you, but at the same time, there is also a lot of jealousy of people that wanted to be where we are and couldn’t. I believe that in Brazil there are a lot of people that envy Sepultura and that is something that we are seeing here in Italy, but you just have to forget that and do what you have to do.
Roadie Crew: Bands like Nightwish and Arch Enemy are popular around here, especially Nightwish that here is a really big band. You are doing well in Europe and in the United States. What do you think about South America, especially Brazil?
Andrea: I think that in our next tour we have to play in Brazil, in Argentina, Chile and also Japan, Australia and everywhere else we had our album released. I think that speaking of Brazil, we have a lot in common, I think Italians and Brazilians have the same way of thinking towards life and, speaking for myself, I really want to play in Brazil. If I could I would’ve played there in our first tour (laughs). If Nightwish is a big band there, I believe we can get close to that, it’s just a matter of promoting and that would be great.
Roadie Crew: You are growing a lot here in Brazil and this new version of Comalies, as far as I know, is selling very well here.
Andrea: I’m really glad to hear that and I’m almost sure we’ll get some offer to play there when we are touring from our next album, maybe already in 2005.
Roadie Crew: Lacuna Coil is a Metal band with a lot of arrangements and moments that are more melodic. A lot of people say you are a Gothic Metal band. How do you feel about that?
Andrea: I don’t care about labels, even because I don’t buy an album because of whatever label people put on that band. I simply listen to the song, if it pleases me I buy the album. In Lacuna Coil there are different tastes for music and we listen to a lot of styles of music, from the most extreme to something that is Rock, and even Pop and that is why when we are writing we create some songs more melodic and some more energetic, some slower and some heavier, and that made Comalies a great album to listen to all the way through.
Roadie Crew: You have all this variation and the coolest thing is that that you are a metal band because you can clearly see that in you live performances that are very aggressive.
Andrea: That we won’t let go! We always try to make a very aggressive concert, we have the guitars very distorted in front of it all and we are very careful about the performance as well, specially me and Cristina that are vocalists.
Roadie Crew: Yes, you and Cristina are very important for the band doing all the duets. Cristina has a clean voice without growls, just using the potency and you with the more aggressive and harsh parts. What do you to during the tour to stay in shape?
Andrea: We do practically nothing, we are very lazy in that way (laughs). We just try not to drink too much, sleeping a lot is also good. That is the worst part of being a singer because there are all these parties and if you are not careful the tour may end in a week (laughs). When I know that we have a day off without a gig, then it’s ok and I drink all I can. But it’s not easy, sometimes we play thirty days non-stop with two or three days off. At home I try to workout.
Roadie Crew: Lacuna Coil has Cristina as a singer and she is a very attractive woman. You end up using that as a way of promoting the band. How do you deal with the image of the band without pushing it too much?
Andrea: It’s something we learn a bit more every time, so, how to use the image of the band usefully without being ridiculous. We try to talk a lot about it because the magazines, the media usually wants to have her in front of everything. Kind of obvious that most magazines prefers to have her in the cover as opposed to a bunch of hairy Italians (laughs). We are careful there so that it doesn’t cause misunderstandings inside the band. I don’t really care if I’m in the picture or not, I rather focus on the music, in writing and in the live performance. Image is important, but if the music sucks, it’s not Cristina that’s going to sell the records.
Roadie Crew: What do you expect of the next album? Are you under any kind of pressure because of the fact that Comalies achieved such success?
Andrea: I hear that all the time because my friends ask me that question and I think that it is natural that, when we are writing a new record, in the middle of the recording sessions, we will be more careful with the songs and we will, indeed, feel some pressure. We know that the new record is going to be very import to continue what we’ve already achieved and much more. At the moment I don’t want to think about that and just enjoy this great moment we are experiencing.
Roadie Crew: What was the bigger challenge you went through with the band until now?
Andrea: I think that the challenge of making Lacuna Coil appear all over the world and that we are succeeding, step by step, with a lot of dedication and hard work. It’s not easy to go through all the long tours, staying away from home, lots of things to do, daily schedules. A lot of people think that being in a band is only fun and it really isn’t. Of course we have our moments of fun, we get to know all these different places around the world, new cultures, the work is always first. Now the biggest challenge is to live with the band in the tour bus for so many days (laughs).