Sometimes the best things come from the most unexpected places. This statement is true of Milan-based goth metal band Lacuna Coil. Despite line-up changes, life challenges and going against the grain of common music in their home country, Lacuna Coil has defied every odd, silenced every doubt and pushed their way to become one of the best bands in metal today, ultimately receiving the recognition they deserve. One of the key ingredients that has always set them apart has been the exceptionally powerful and melodic dual vocals of Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro. The insatiable chemistry is undeniable and flows effortlessly in juxtaposition with the aggressive guitar riffs and theatrical tone.
The evolution of Lacuna Coil is not easily explained. They have endured the loss of members and formed new bonds which might discourage other bands, but not Lacuna Coil. It is through these doses of good and bad personal life experiences that Lacuna Coil has been inspired to write raw, and at times disturbing yet empowering lyrics that manifest throughout the story each album represents. The limitless boundaries that push Cristina Scabbia (vocals), Andrea Ferro (vocals), Marco Coti Zelati (bass, keyboards), Diego “Didi” Cavallotti (guitar) and Richard Meiz (drums) have manifested with their ninth studio album Black Anima which was released on October 11th.
Lacuna Coil singer Cristina Scabbia set aside some time during their busy tour schedule to catch up with Screamer Magazine about their new album Black Anima, touring, the 20-year anniversary of their debut album In A Reverie and their book Nothing Stands In Our Way. It was the first time we had spoken to Scabbia since our 2016 interview and was more like chatting with an old friend.
Their connection with fans is amongst the strongest of any band out there, which has garnered them one of the most loyal fanbase out there. When Lacuna Coil takes the stage, they hold nothing back and perhaps this is why they recently won the Metal Hammer Golden Gods award for Best Live Band last year. “Regardless of what we are going through or if we are tired or don’t feel well or even if we don’t really feel like going out there, we have to. We owe it to our fans and we love doing it. It makes it easier when you love what you do. It’s still a job but we are lucky to be able to do this and I am grateful,” Scabbia confesses. Currently out on their Disease of the Anima tour with All That Remains and special guests Uncured and Toothgrinder, the energy of the crowd has been something Scabbia says they feed off of, “Seeing everyone out there having fun and enjoying themselves at our shows is what it’s all about. It makes me happy to see this and it’s been really awesome,” Last week, Lacuna Coil was forced to cancel a few dates due to a snowstorm as they were traveling in their tour bus to Minneapolis and while it frustrated many who had been looking forward to seeing their favorite band, the genuine support for the band’s safety seemed to be the fans biggest concern. The band is back on the road and ready to continue the last few US tour dates before heading back to Europe.
Black Anima was released on October 11th and it is said to be their heaviest and darkest record and perhaps their best yet according to fans and critics alike. On September 6th, their label Century Media Records teamed up with Metal Hammer to give Lacuna Coil fans an exclusive experience at the London Dungeon. Lacuna Coil took fans around the exhibit before a Q & A session, which included playback of the entire album prior to its release, and all proceeds were donated to charity. “It was so great to do something like that in a spooky, entertaining place like that. It was very intimate at the same time with not a lot of people, but it was actually a sold-out event. I was really surprised,” Scabbia divulges. Music is one of the most vulnerable expressions of emotions and Lacuna Coil has always opened themselves up to the naked core with no hidden bullshit. Initial fan reactions can be intimidating regardless of how many times a band has released a song or an album. Some artists are a bit more shy than others and some welcome the diverse praise and even criticism that comes along with being a musician. We asked Scabbia what thoughts were running through her head during the listening portion of the event. “At first, I was like, let’s hide! We are sitting right next to everyone and they’re going to look at us and it’s not like a big show on stage where we are performing. In smaller events like this, I tend to feel more unnerved and shy than playing in front of just a few people. Everyone loved the record which really meant a lot to us. I remember looking around the room while the record was playing and hoping everyone liked it. The reactions came from curiosity, and we weren’t looking for approval or anything, but it was nice to see everyone’s reactions and they seemed positive. It was a fun experience for us” Scabbia conveys. “Music is so personal. It is all about just being able to share our songs.”
Scabbia goes on to elaborate even further into the motivation behind Black Anima and like all of Lacuna Coil’s albums, they have extreme significance in what the band is going through at the time of writing. While some may consider Black Anima a continuation of their 2016 album Delirium, it is a stand-alone album with an even heavier and more disturbing theme. Scabbia says, “It’s hard to describe exactly the meaning behind the music. It’s just what we mechanically do because we are going through certain things in our heads or our hearts. It’s a heavier and darker theme. The realization that it’s OK to not be OK. To be comfortable within the dark because sometimes it is part of life, but you don’t have to fight it too much because, in the end, everything always turns out OK. Black Anima is in all of us. It’s you and it’s me, it’s everything we hide and fiercely expose to a world that’s half asleep. It is the fogged mirror we are peering into searching for the truth. It’s sacrifice and pain. It’s justice and fear. It’s fury and revenge. It’s past and future. Human beings in the magnificence of disturbing ambiguity. The black core that balances it all. Without darkness, the light would never exist. We are the Anima.”
Black Anima is such a completely different record compared to last albums they have done such as In A Reverie, which just had its 20-year anniversary prompting a live show called 1:19 which was recorded for DVD. Not only has the songwriting solidified and become much more confident, the evolution of Scabbia and Ferro’s vocals are also undeniably impressive. Each album is a stepping stone to the next level for them and exceeds expectations over and over. Lacuna Coil maintains their signature formula, but they aren’t afraid to take risks and add new elements to their songs. It is also clear that they continuously elevate their talents as Scabbia is hitting such a wide range of notes now in juxtaposition with Ferro’s absolutely fine-tuned screaming vocals. The journey of Lacuna Coil isn’t just boxed into the theme or content of their albums but the progression each member strives to make to take it up a notch. When we asked Scabbia about how she feels she has grown personally and they have grown as a band she opens up. “I think we are better songwriters” Scabbia states. “When you grow up, you realize everything you did made you who you are and on a personal level, I went through some hard moments that are kind of making me feel a little aloof right now, but that is the good thing about darkness. When you find out you can survive your darkest moments, you become stronger and happier. Now I have different priorities and I know what life really is now. I remember I used to focus on too many stupid things or worry about things and there are so many more important things to focus energy on,” Scabbia says on her personal experiences.
The history of Lacuna Coil–where they’ve been and where they are now is a fascinating story. One that is told intimately and truthfully is in their book titled Nothing Stands In Our Way which was released this past November. The book depicts a direct view of each band member’s life story and their perspective on the formation of Lacuna Coil all the way through to the present day. We asked Scabbia what it felt like to write the book and how it has impacted her on a personal level as well as the band. “This experience made us closer than we have ever been in our lives because of the anecdotes and the little stories and the time it took to get where we are now. How we went through this journey and how we got up to this very moment and at the time, that moment was Delirium. We really considered writing another book. This book was only a chapter that was closing and signified a new beginning of life. This is something we did when we visualized what we have done so far. We never had really taken the time to sit and think about it,” Scabbia acknowledges. In closing that chapter, one might think that Black Anima would be the first chapter in their new story but Scabbia doesn’t consider this anything but a record they just more or less tuned in to the inspiration they were feeling at that time. The music started to flow and the lyrics began to flow and it just happened. “We tend to change things and add new things up until we are all in the studio, even during the recording of the actual album,” she explains.
With the 20-year anniversary of In A Reverie, Lacuna Coil’s debut album, it was only natural that we would bring up the controversy about the album artwork that was mentioned in their book. At the time, both Scabbia and Ferro wanted to change it and were completely unhappy with how it came out despite the interesting artistic elements it portrayed. In the book Nothing Stands In Our Way Cristina describes the experience: “Andrea and I were on a promo trip, going city to city before going to Germany for a photoshoot for the cover. We had no idea what the shoot was going to be. They just told us it would be something artistic, something cool. So Andrea and I ended up in this huge hangar amid a scene that looked like a forest. They covered us with body paint and made us look like you see on the cover. Initially, we were like “What the fuck is this?” We were so confused. After a while, we started to have fun and it was definitely different, but it was the least heavy metal image you could have possibly thought of. It’s my least favorite cover but it has become iconic in its own way.” Artwork aside, In A Reverie was Lacuna Coil’s first defining moment.
In 2018, Lacuna Coil put together a live show called 1:19 that was held in London and was recorded for a live DVD which is now available on Amazon among other sites. This was genuinely a celebration of the astonishing musical career that Lacuna Coil has created. This was a special concert because they were able to make it all about them, and Scabbia described the experience as exciting and thrilling. “Normally, you can’t really put much up on stage because other bands have gone up before and other bands are going up after you but we were able to create something unique. We thought of getting together with this guy who does a circus and doing one of those types of shows with aerials and fire and makeup. The problem is, we lived a bit far away so it made it difficult to practice and were going to be performing with people we didn’t know. Some hanging from the ceiling and dancing would be required. We really didn’t get to rehearse aside from a few times the day before the show. I was in a parachute skirt so they could lift me up to sing. I was terrified. I knew it had to be perfect because we would be filming for a live DVD. I was panicking a bit before and during the show but I was so relieved once it was over” Scabbia adds.
Taking Scabbia even further out of her comfort zone, she was completely shocked when she was offered to be a judge on the television show The Voice of Italy. I speak for all of us who are prominently into rock and metal that more of us would watch The Voice here in the States if she or any other metal artist was on. “At first I thought it was a joke” Scabbia admits with a chuckle. “I was like, are you kidding me? But it was such an honor and a great experience. I was able to be myself and not have to develop a fake TV personality which was important for me. I agreed to be part of it only if they allowed me to play at some level. I told them “I understand that this is a popular show. I understand that most of the people are listening to commercial music, whatever. But I want to bring something that belongs to me because if not, it doesn’t make any sense that I’m here. If I have to be here and change my style, dress up as a person then that doesn’t make any sense. I had a great time because everything was new for me and I looked at everything with children’s eyes. That was a cool experience.”
Scabbia has always been true to herself and candid with her fans through her music and in her social media and like everyone else, she has faced her share of positive and negative feedback. She is incredibly active handling her own account which can be time consuming, but it is important to her to have that special connection with fans. There have been times she has had to jump in and stand up for fans and times where fans had to stand up for her. No one is immune to internet bullying. Scabbia recently posted a video about self-acceptance and remaining strong and true to yourself. Social media is a wonderful way to bridge the gap between artists and fans but it also attracts people who hide behind the screen spreading negativity. We asked Scabbia what prompted the need to make this video directed at how people comment on each other. “These people have to understand what they’re doing is wrong. But I realize that a lot of times people do this because they are secretly admiring me or whoever they are directing their hateful and jealous comments to. I had commented back to some hater comments on my page, which I don’t have a lot of and when I do have them, other fans go in and stand up for me. I could block them but that wouldn’t change anything, they need to know what they’re doing is wrong. Then I would get private messages with apologies for the negative or mean things they said. Sometimes people are just seeking attention because they are going through something. It doesn’t make it right but it is what it is” Scabbia says. “I enjoy doing social media though because ultimately it is fun and it gives people a glimpse into life on tour and shows the good and I love being able to have that direct connection with fans,” Scabbia concludes. There has also been a higher level of expectations for females in the metal community, but things have certainly changed since Lacuna Coil began. More and more women are attending shows and female artists like Scabbia have inspired others to front metal bands. She details her recollection of there only being three or four female-fronted bands and her advice has always been to just get up there on stage and just do it. “Music comes from you, it comes from your soul. The energy and feelings don’t depend on whether you are a man or a woman, it comes from the same place,” Scabbia asserts.
The interview concludes reflecting on the past and discussing the future of Lacuna Coil. Will they still be around in 20 years? “Well, I hope so,” Scabbia states. “I don’t know where, what will happen in 20 years because I mean, I honestly would’ve never expected to be here after 20 years. So I really have no idea what will happen. And I hope that we will still be here and making music and evolving every day and just enjoy life.”
For upcoming tour dates. Check out their website for more information: https://www.lacunacoil.com