If someone had told Lacuna Coil back in 1997 when they signed to Century Media Records that in around 20 years three of their albums would have reached number 2 in the US Billboard charts, they might have not believed you. However that long making music and touring must have caused some rocky relationships within the band right? Two members left back in 2014 and another member in 2016 for unnamed personal reasons but everything (surprisingly) seems to be on good terms with all three ex-members.
It’s been a period of change for the band, their new album ‘Delirium’ has elements that will make you stop and think “Is this really Lacuna Coil?” In the good way though. So before their show in Manchester we sat down with one of the two vocalists, Andrea Ferro, to chat about that new album, the band’s long past and keeping an open mind on a new generation of musicians.
It’s been 17 years since your first album?
Andrea: Yes, I think next year it’s going to be 20 years of the band.
How does that feel? Do you feel like it’s gone really fast?
Andrea: Yes, it definitely doesn’t feel like 20 years. Obviously we’ve done a lot of stuff and we do have experience but were still feeling like every time we release an album, we still have the excitement of writing something a little different and see how the people are going to react. So there’s still a fresh vibe because recently we also refreshed part of the line-up. So there is something always alive. We want to go out there and play for the people and see new places and do new things with the band so there’s still a lot of excitement.
Do you feel your attitude towards the music and song writing has changed since the start?
Andrea: Obviously were more experienced, and now maybe we waste less time in useless discussion. We just try to follow the music and where it’s going, I think we have a more mature approach in the way that we try to find a topic that is going to represent the album right away. Our bass player, who is the main song writer, writes all the music he also kind of navigates it towards that direction and so we are more able to make it all in one way, one direction and build a complete package for the album on the visual side, the music side and on the lyric side being all in the same direction. Even more so than in the past, in the past we were more random and looking for a good song or whatever was coming. Now were a bit more aware on how you write and album, on how you produce an album and all the things that are part of it.
Is there something you would pinpoint across the past nearly 20 years that stands out to you as the most memorable moment?
Andrea: There’s been a few steps that we took that allowed us to become an international band and for sure when we did the first Ozzfest in America in 2004 that was the first time we felt we elevated to another level as a band, being together with bands like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and all those bands that were on the bill. It was a higher level for us, they were people we only looked at magazines for and they were right there touring with us every day and coming to hang out. It was the time when we realised we were moving forward in our career and becoming more of an international band instead of just a little tiny Italian band with a particular sound. So I think that that moment we realised we were playing a different game and then there are other things like chart position, like the first time we broke into the US charts and in England as well, ‘Enjoy The Silence’ went into the main stream charts. So there has been several things, and sometimes we still get surprised, even now with the latest record we’ve had some of the best reviews we’ve ever had even in the magazines all around the world. We’ve also had some of the highest chart positions in Italy or in Germany or in other places, so there’s always something new that keeps these thing exciting. Exciting for us to do too.
You can hear a story behind your new album ‘Delirium’, can you talk a little about that?
Andrea: This time around we’ve taken a more extreme approach in the way that it’s the heaviest record for both musically but also for the content of the lyrics. We have been playing around with very delicate topics like mental illness and we’ve done a metaphor out of every mental illness that is also more day to day craziness that we went through personally in our lives. I’ll give an example, we wrote a song called “You Love Me ‘Cause I Hate You” and it runs along the theme of the Stockholm syndrome which is a syndrome you experience when get kidnapped and then you fall in love with the person which has kidnapped you. Obviously we’ve never been really kidnapped! One of our members in recent years when he was really imprisoned, although he didn’t recognise it but for everyone else around him it was obvious it was a very negative situation for him. But he didn’t realise how bad this relationship was for him until time went on and something really happened and he realised it wasn’t really good for him. So we’ve used these kind of metaphors and parallel between real experiences to make a bigger topic of mental illnesses and then we went to do some research for pictures from the old sanatoriums in the beginning of the century to see what the scary part was. It wasn’t the blood or the horror as much as the intensity of the look of these people and their positions and how unnatural their bodies were. To look at it was frightening, but nothing really was happening, they’re just standing still. But the look is great and that’s where we too inspirations for the booklet and for our clothes and we tried to portray that kind of feeling into the music you know. Also the songs, we tried to go crazy a little. In every song there is a little part where the music goes crazy or the vocals go crazy.
Yeah I was going to mention, in “House Of Shame” your vocals especially are some of the most aggressive I’ve heard from you.
Andrea: We were not afraid but kind of thinking about it, because it [“House Of Shame”] was probably the heaviest song we’ve ever released and we’ve ever wrote and so we actually put it out as the first song off the album. We wanted people to wonder “who is this band?” A lot of people were like “is it really Lacuna Coil?” because we’ve never done something so heavy and that’s exactly the reactions we wanted for releasing a first single or a first song on the internet. That’s what got a lot of attention towards the album because people were very surprised by that, so it worked out pretty well although we were a bit apprehensive about what was going to happen. It turned out very well, exactly the kind of reaction what we wanted.
Has the line-up changes at all affected the writing process’ of the last few albums?
Andrea: Not much the writing, because Marco the bass player had already wrote most of the music and me and Cristina vocalise together and then we always arrange them together. So the team that’s writing the music hasn’t changed much compared to recent albums. Obviously having different people in the band makes a difference because there’s a different style of playing, there’s different attitudes. With the other guys in the band you build up a career, so people leaving after 16/17 years has been a sort of traumatic event just because you get so used to being with these people. It’s a very deep relationship you have when you spend so much time together and travel the world together. But the new people in the band, particularly Ryan (Drums) because he’s the only one who actually participated in the recordings and the writing. It allowed you to have a different approach, especially on the drums because of his style.
And you had a few of your friends on this album like Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) and Mark from Nothing More? How did that come about?
Andrea: So when we were in the studio we had no real guitar player. So when it was time to put some solos, and there was room for solos on this record, we thought to ask friends to participate on the record and one guy was the guy who mixed the album, another couple of friends from Milan who play for other bands. Then we have Myles who’s been a friend of ours for a few years because Cristina did a collaboration with one of their (Alter Bridge) songs, since then we stayed in touched and he came out when we played Spokane, his home town, and then we met in several different shows around festivals. So we always stayed in touch, so we tried to ask him, because a lot of people know him to be a really good singer but not many know that he’s also an amazing guitar player. So it was a natural question to ask. We didn’t know if we could have him because he’s so busy but he replied immediately and told us to send a few demos of the songs. He picked out one that he really liked and he felt comfortable with and just recorded. Then the same for Mark. Nothing More did their first American tour opening for us a few years ago and since then we’ve always been in touch and they came to play our home town, Milan, and we went out for pizza and beers with the guys. He has quite a unique style of guitar playing so we thought he could have done a good job on a certain song. We gave him the song and he loved it and he did a lot more than we asked him too.
Yeah I was going to say, they must have both taken their own spin on it.
Andrea: Yes, so that was a natural thing for us to ask friends to do it.
Do you and Cristina ever fight about who sings what part in a song?
Andrea: No we usually don’t because first of all, we have two very different voices so were not in competition. Then there’s quite an open way to approach song writing, usually we work separately then we meet with Marco in his little studio in the basement and we exchange all the ideas and we listen to them, discuss what works and what doesn’t. Then we’ll try parts to see what works with the different voices. So we work for what mainly fits the parts of the music. We don’t have to be 50% all the time it’s just whatever the music requires we try to use it.
The last time you were here, was Download but before then was the Motionless In White tour, which was quite a diverse line up.
Andrea: And that’s exactly why we did it because it’s interesting for us to bring a different generation of fans into the same concert. In the end I think we both share a certain pattern for some dark elements, obviously the music is different but I think we learnt from each other and we exchanged good vibes. We have a very nice relationship with the guys, it’s cool I hope to do it again with some bands like that because it’s interesting and challenging for us. Very often ‘older’ bands try to say “no this is new I don’t like it” but for us it’s very interesting to exchange ideas with younger musicians because we are more experienced and they have a different approach. So I think it’s important to exchange and keep your mind-set updated. To be a person that lives in the current year. Obviously we will always have our own little twist on our taste but it is important this exchange, for us but also for the fans to get to know different people.
Yeah, it was very nice to see people who wouldn’t normally turn up to your show.
Andrea: And now were noticing on this tour we have people coming from the motionless in white tour and probably they have the same. Very often there is this barrier like it’s not the same. In the end it’s all Rock, weather it’s more extreme or less. I think we belong in the same kind of world.