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Monday, May 5, 2008

Interview: Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil

[This interview took place on Lacuna Coil's tourbus. Jason Pearlman, the photographer who got me this interview, was with me. No other members of Lacuna Coil were visible, but their tour manager, a stern and muscular irishman (if I remember correctly) glowered at us while eating a Wendy's cheeseburger with a knife and fork. Cristina walked up from the back of the bus wearing baggy pajamas and no make up, leading me to the obvious conclusion that she just woke up. Regardless of being woken up by an angry emerald islander just to be pestered by two dorks three hours before taking stage at the Newport, Cristina was, not to sound like I'm 85... completely charming and wonderful to speak with. -Tim 11/13] 

I heard rumors that the only television you watch when in the U.S. is the Food Network.It's not the only one, but is definitely one of my favorites, yes. I have a few favorite channels. I love, for example, Cartoon Network when it turns into [Adult Swim] as well. Food Network is... I'm food addicted. I love to eat. I love to cook. And I like to watch all the programs because American food culture is completely different from the Italian one. Sometimes I look at it just to steal some tricks or sometimes I look at it to laugh at it, you know, when they show some Italian, some Italian recipes and they are completely wrong. Sometimes I laugh at it, but it's always good. But Food Network is not the only thing I watch.
What are your favorite shows?On Food Network?
On anything.On anything? Ah, in the U.S. you mean or just in general? Cause it depends. I'm not like T.V. addicted. I use it as a background in a way, when I'm doing something else at home. But it depends; cartoons, movies, reality shows.
[I could tell she was bored with this line of questioning, so I switched to something else] 
You have an advice column in Revolver with Vinnie Paul. What do you give advice on? Is it all musical, or...No, no, no. They are sometimes musical. Sometimes, most of the time they are asking how did I start the band. Most of the time the people that write me they are really young so they are just starting a band so they want to know how did I start it, how I met my partners in the band because they have no idea how it works. So I share my experience with them. Or they ask me sentimental advices, you know, like they may have problems with their friends, boyfriends, whatever it is. I just give the woman perspective. When I started, I had no idea what it was going, what I was going to meet, with the letters, especially because the Vinnie Paul page is very, very masculine. [laughs] So I think it is cool to have on the same page a woman's perspective, so you can have both sides.
What is the bands' process for writing songs?It depends. Most of the time we are starting from an idea, a riff, a melody. We build the music first and then add vocal lines and lyrics. Of course there are some songs that started from vocal line an idea. We're working all together and we're just working for the song so it doesn't really matter where the idea is coming from. We're not like, ego-freak.
Being on tour constantly for months at a time with the same group of people, do you get on each other's nerves?Sometimes yes. I think that is pretty much normal because you spend 24 hours a day together. There is no privacy. The only privacy you get is in your own bunk, so I think it's pretty normal that we fight sometimes, like in a regular family. You can have discussions, but they are always for the good, we love each other to death, we know each other so well. We know perfectly when it's the case to let somebody, on his own, chill out for a bit.
[Looking back, I should have asked a follow up to this question] Your vocal range is very impressive. Did you have any training?No, I wasn't trained at all.
Have you ever met any of your musical idols?Well I believe so, yeah. Basically in the music industry, we meet so many icons in metal from Iron Maiden to Slayer to Whitesnake [laughs]. We've met so many bands and toured with so many we love. Type O Negative and Anthrax and Rob Zombie, P.O.D., System of a Down, Disturbed, Slipknot. We met so many artists in ten years.
You were on tour with Danzig recently...Yes, we did a tour with him right before the In Flames tour.
He's pretty notorious for having a very abrasive personality.A what?
Um... he's famous for being an asshole.Seriously, from my opinion and I've met him twice. I'm talking about the tour we did now and the Blackest of the Black we did with him a few years ago. He's always been nice with us and been really kind. So from my point of view, it's a lie. But then, it's really easy for certain people to categorize, get a certain opinion of someone from one look. Maybe one day you're sick or tired and have your own problems and you're kind of grumpy. And someone sees that perspective and says, "Gee that's an asshole. He doesn't like to hang out. He doesn't like to talk." But that doesn't mean they're like that all the time. Maybe they just want their privacy. Can you imagine being a person like him being chased for years from the fans? I think it comes to the point where you just want to relax, be on your tour bus, to rest your voice, especially, because you know it's not easy, especially for a singer. And I'm saying that because I'm the one who would love to hang out every night, but I simply can't. Because if I start talking the day after I will be fucked up.
How do you keep your energy up between shows? Tomorrow you're playing in Chicago right?Well first I try to sleep a lot. I drink a lot of tea. There is a special tea that is good for the voice. Now I'm trying to warm up before every show, because this is something I wasn't really doing in the past. Not that I'm warming up now, but at least for a few minutes I try to. And then it's the passion that keeps you going. Cause we love what we do, even when you are tired, like, one minute before you go on stage, you just need to hear the scream from the crowd. That wakes you up in a second.
Italy isn't really well known for producing lots of metal bands. Do you see yourself and your band as being inspirational to...Of course yes. You always need a point to start from. And assuming as you say that there isn't a rock n roll/metal history coming from Italy: we are the first export band. The first band that made something out of Italy, so a lot of new bands are looking at us as an example to follow and they see that we made it so they have much more hope than before, they can think 'they made it, they started it, so we can follow them.' Basically I think we are a big inspiration for a lot of newcomers from Italy cause now they know that they can do it as well. And a lot of labels are getting more and more interested in Italian bands, because before they had no idea that there was a little bit of potential.
Why do you think that is?I just think that there was no history. So due to the fact that there was not rock n roll, metal music on the charts, not a lot of people was following this music so it was pretty natural for any bands playing something different that could, maybe, give them more success in music, no matter what. I believe it is due to that, cause there are a lot of bands that are really good.
How did you come to the decision to cover Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence?Basically we wanted, in Karmacode, to include a song that everybody could know and everybody could sing along to at the shows. So it was not meant to be a single, but people released it as a single. But we knew that it wasn't the most original song to cover, simply for the fact that it is so famous and a lot of other bands have covered it. But we just liked it and as soon as we started to practice the song in the practice room we found out that it was really similar to the Lacuna Coil style. So I mean it was perfect and picked it up, but we had other songs we that we tried, but they weren't fitting that well.
Is it difficult being away from your friends and family?Of course. I think it is difficult for everyone but it's a choice. There is a balancing between the two, because of course I love my family, my friends, my partners to death, but at the same time I love my job as well. I've been able to find a balancing of the two on tour. So I stay in touch with them on the Internet and the phone. When I see them it is the best thing in the world. It is still my job; it is the thing is chose to do.
How does it make you feel being the object of lust for millions of teenage boys?[laughs] It makes me laugh because as you can see me now, I'm not walking in high heels, I'm not... you know. To be honest, what I'm really happy about and really proud about is not to be the object of lust for the guys who have this kind of imagery about me. But what makes me really proud is that I get a lot of mails from young girls, and young guys as well, who are looking at me as a role model. Because they just see me as a person who has been able to improve herself and to give the best out of herself. Because I'm not perfect, I'm not a model. I know that you can be sexy in different ways, not just in cliché ways that you can see in Playboy and stuff. There is something special in the natural beauty of a normal person and I'm glad that people following us, following the art, just discovering that and they can be more sure of themselves, thanks to what I do and what they see about me, so that makes me really proud.
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