Women have never been absent from the metal scene, even in the male-dominated times of the 80s (Warlock, Lita Ford, Sentinel Beast, Detente, Sacrilege etc.). From the 90s and on with the rise of the symphonic/gothic/atmospheric metal bands fronted by amazing (by all means) women, to the modern era of women partaking in all subgenres of rock/metal music. Lacuna Coil is one of those bands from Italy, with a well respected career so far and a big fanbase all over the world. Metalpaths had the chance to talk with the bands’ second singer Andrea Ferro about their upcoming album “Delirium”, the term “female-fronted metal” and much more.
Good afternoon Andrea! So, Lacuna Coil are working on the first dates for the promotion of the new album “Delirium”. Could you give us more details about it? Where would you spot the differences between this one and your previous works?
We’re in a very chaotic moment with many things to organize, to let the plan fall into the right piece. We’re definitely doing everything we have to do for the live shows: rehearsing, we’re doing the visas, studying a little bit of the choreography for the shows and at the same time promoting the new record. So, me and Cristina were on this European trip for a week to do all the interviews, and also we’re still working for the video ideas. A lot of different things all at the same time, very exciting time but also very busy and rich in stuff to do. So we enjoy talking abou the new record, because it’s been kind of a different process compared to usual. We sort of consider it like a new chapter in Lacuna Coil, not only because of the new line up, but also because we’ve been approaching the whole concept and the whole process of songwriting in a little different way. We’ve been more open and free, we’ve been trying to not be stuck in a cliche, our own cliche, you know, don’t keep writing the same kind of songs, don’t make this just another Lacuna Coil record. Try to surprise people, try to push little different ideas, different places we could go with the music, just try to follow the inspiration and see what’s coming.
Lacuna Coil’s lyrics have always dealt with darkness, loss, love and despair. What other lyrical subjects do you like bringing up in your songs and where do you draw inspiration from when writing lyrics?
Yeah, mostly we’ve been talking about our real life experiences. No matter what is the main theme or concept for the record, we always like to talk about experiences we’ve felt or we’ve been through. Because it’s really hard to make up a story when you haven’t really experienced something like that. So we always found it more natural and easy and spontaneous to talk about something that happens to us, even in a wider spectrum of possibilities, but still the original theme, the original frame we come up with are always inspired by our own experiences. Because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to make up a story. Actually, even when you think about people writing fantasy stories or fairytales, they’re always based on the real life, on real events, and they use different twists on the way they’re using the language. But it’s very important for us, to do know what we’re talking about. Even this time around that we’ve created some sort of concept of the Lacuna Coil sanatorium. Actually, we’ve visited a couple of sanatoriums around North Italy, to get some more inspiration and to understand how weird it must have been to be in those giant buildings with those big alleys and all the different rooms and all the different life experiences and illnesses. We imagine this record being like buildings and every song being like a different building, with different cases and different life stories. And then we made a sort of paragon between the real mental illness so we took influence from Stockholm syndrome and other classic topics of mental illness. And then we made a paragon with a smallest craziness of everyday life, the little moment of depression, like myself I went through some period of depression and some panic attacks for a while. And I overcome it, just by experiencing it and living it, cause there’s no other way that you can get out of it with a magic touch. So we made these paragons. Especially on the internet you can live a fake life, make it look better make it look nicer, always talk about what you’re going through in a happy way, while life, you know you cannot Photoshop life. You cannot always be happy, a lot of people who’ll listen to the album and the lyrics, they’ll ask me if the lyrics is a positive or a negative message. I’ll say it’s both. That’s what life is about and sometimes it’s good to be crazy, it’s good to be in some difficult times that are not normal for what people consider normal, but we want people to embrace this thing, to be felt welcome in the record, even if you’re not ok, even when you’re going through a hard time, it was very important for us to connect with people in this level.
This album is due to be released once more by Century Media records. You’re probably one of the oldest bands in their roster, counting 19 years under the same label. I can assume that the interaction between you and the label is more than just strictly professional after all this time. Is that so?
Yes, and a lot of people that are working here at the office, we’ve been knowing them for almost 20 years. Not all of them of course, but we’ve seen the company growing, I remember the first time we came to Dortmund and we signed the deal, the office was at a completely different are in the city, the office was like a big apartment. We moved into a new building and when we signed a deal with EMI for distribution. And now we’ve signed a deal with Sony. We saw it growing from the underground scene of metal into the giant, still an independent label, but on a completely different level of experience. So it’s never just a working relationship, but even in a working relationship there’s times when you love the people you’re working with and there’s times you hate the people you’re working with. We fight, and that’s part of the deal. Never heard a band that’s completely happy with their label, or the other way around. There’s always something you think they could’ve done better or something they think you could’ve done better. But at the end of the day what really matters is that there’s always been a respect for the relationship between the parts, and we’ve been growing together. We have to thank them for the opportunity to become an international touring band for 20 years now and so we have achieved everything that was beyond expectation. When we signed, being a little band from Milan, Italy, in 1996-1997 we never thought we could ever become half of what we are right now. So there’s definitely gratitude as well as anger for certain things. It’s a relationship and relationships are never just positive or just negative. I consider a strong relationship the one we have with them.
As I mentioned before, you’ve been around for two decades making music. Along with Epica, Theatre Of Tragedy, The Gathering, Nightwish, Within Temptation and After Forever, you’ve been put under the “female-fronted metal” label. Is the term misleading at best? For I feel it takes the attention away from the music being played.
Yeah it is, in a way. But always people need categories to understand. It’s the same when you say “gothic metal”, gothic metal could be anything: Type O Negative or Moonspell or Tiamat or Paradise Lost or even The Gathering or us. We were definitely born of that style during our first 2-3 albums and then we develop into something else. We started from there, but dark or gothic metal is not just that type of music. To me even some songs from the Deftones or Korn could be dark, just because the atmosphere they create with the music is dark. So that doesn’t make them a gothic metal band, but definitely it could be gothic and it could be dark as well. So people need cliches to understand, that doesn’t mean you follow it precisely. There’s nothing you can do, it’s not offensive anyway. It’s like when they call it “Hot chicks in metal” they don’t mean to offend anybody. It’s just a stupid way of saying something, it’s a necessary evil. As long as there’s music behind it. It’s like saying “oh you’ve got a cover cause you’ve got a girl in the band”. Yes, we”ve got a cover cause we’ve got a girl in the band, but the girl can sing and can write lyrics and perform live. The talent is there and it’s bigger than the image you can portray. Obviously for a magazine it could be more interesting to put a woman in the cover of a magazine instead of another long haired guy or four guys with tattoos and black hair, but that doesn’t mean the band sucks. That means that there is a different image, if it’s backed up by quality music that’s fine. That’s when it becomes a problem, when you have only the image and you seek for attention by going out undressed.
As a continuation of my previous question: more and more women were encouraged by women like Cristina and the frontwomen of the aforementioned bands to take the stage and show us what they’re made of. Do you feel like you’ve somehow passed the torch to the next generation of singers?
Yes, sometimes when we stop and think about it, yes. But we never did it for that reason in the first place. We just liked the way Cristina sang and asked her to join the band. We never thought “oh she’s going to be an example for the next generation of singers”. Also because, to be fair, in the past there were already some female singers that made history in rock music. Not like the male singers of course, especially in the metal category, but she wasn’t really the first one to do it. It’s true, that a lot of bands these days are inspired by her. And what I like about her is, like she said, she’s a role model not because she’s super beautiful or tall or perfect, but because she had the character the strength and the personality to show that you can be a good looking woman and a talented singer most of all. And the generation of kids that get inspired by her or us, understand that Cristina is first of all a singer and a person who is not shy to show herself as she is.
When you first started out as a band, both of you had your influences, idols etc. Which were the first ones and the ones who are still a major influence to this day?
That’s hard to say, cause as you grow up, you change your taste a little bit. But also you incorporate some stuff that you weren’t listening to before. So it’s definitely when we started getting into the gothic metal scene, with the bands I named before like Type O Negative was an influence for us, and Paradise Lost. And all that wave, like Tiamat, Samael, they were all bands that we look up to, bands that made us move towards the more dark side of metal. And of course growing up, we’ve been very open-minded. When we started the band me and Marco, we were skateboarders and we were listening to all kinds of metal. Pantera, Slayer, Metallica, Maiden, AC/DC. We were listening to hardcore music like Dead Kennedys and Black Flag and Circle Jerks, lots of punk bands. So we’ve never ever refused to listen to something else. There was never one band that was my favorite band, they’ve been several bands that I’ve been loving and still love like Alice In Chains and Korn, that came with a new sound and Deftones, so many it’s hard to name a few, you know. I always had one singer that I admired, Mike Patton from Faith No More, because he was capable of doing different stuff with his voice. I’ve never been into the classic metal singers, the high-pitched like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Even though I love Judas Priest I love Rob Halford, I never wanted to sing like that. It was a style that was already kind of old when we were young and Type O Negative was the opposite. I always liked more the voices that were able to communicate with the people, and not just hit high notes. Depeche Mode is another example.
You mentioned a lot of bands who don’t seem to have directly influenced your sound. Have you always been that open-minded?
Yeah, like I said, we grew up on that skateboard environment listening to rock, metal, reggae even The Beastie Boys. So we’ve never stuck into a cliche, we’ve never been the typical metal kid who’d only listen to Manowar. I love listening to Manowar, but I was never so conservative to only listen to them. I think there is a song for every moment. There’s times where you wanna headbang and times when you wanna relax. No one in the band has ever been conservative about music.
You’ve been one of the most commercially successful bands of the modern metal scene. Do you think that being a successful band is still a taboo within the rock and metal community?
Sometimes it can be, and I don’t understand why. Bands like Iron Maiden have always been successful, they sold a lot of records. I remember Bruce Dickinson coming on national TV in Italy promoting the new album on a “Top Of The Pops” kind of program in the 80’s. All of this underground attitude belong in something that’s from the recent times. Cause if you think about it, Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, they were huge bands and they were new bands, not conservative at all. They made success because they were offering something new. So this kind of mentality of the underground that surfaces more recently, I don’t understand it. I understand if a band sells out, but if you sign a contract with a label, you want your music to be listened by people. You don’t sign a record deal, so that you could hear your album or your cousin or your mother. Of course that doesn’t mean you have to do everything, even things that you don’t like, you need to be happy with what you do artistically, and then try to sell it in a good way. Without trying to be sneaky, false or fake.
What are your memories from the last time you played here in Greece? Plans for a gig in Greece?
Yeah, hopefully we’re gonna make it back, cause it’s been a while. We didn’t touch Greece on the previous album, and it’s a shame cause I remember the last time in Athens we had a great time. We got to stay in the city for a couple of days, so we enjoyed a bit of the nightlife and the food and the culture. Definitely Italy and Greece have a strong connection culturally. So it’s always a pleasure to come back to Greece, hopefully the situation there gets better. I’m pretty sure we will try to play anywhere possible with this record. We’re already touching some places we haven’t been before and the ones we haven’t been in quite some time.
What are the rest of the future plans for Lacuna Coil?
Basically at the moment the main thing is promoting the record and starting the tour at the end of April. We’ll go to Asia first, then to the Phillipines, a festival in Manilla, then we go to China for the first time, we’ll go to Shanquai, and then we’re gonna start a tour around the release date in North America, plus some headlining shows with Halestorm. And then we’ll come back to Europe to start promoting the new album live, some shows in Italy and some shows in Austria, Germany and as much as possible around Europe. Probably in the fall we’re gonna start again from Asia, probably going to Australia and Europe for headline tour somewhere before Christmas. That’s the plan for the moment, plus the video shoot and some other promotional activities, starting to play live and introducing the new songs on the live shows.
Thanks a lot Andrea for your time! You get to say the final words.
I hope everybody in Greece will enjoy the album, it is something fresh. Hopefully they’re gonna like it and we’ll see you soon on a headline show or a festival in Greece.