Lacuna Coil Interview with guitarist Cristiano “Pizza” Migliore
by Ollie Thomas
Photography by Graham Hilling
Lacuna Coil released their self-titled E.P. in 1998, and fourteen years later they’re still going from strength to strength – a remarkable achievement for any band and they’ve decided to celebrate that fact by treating their fans to a two-hour set spanning their entire back-catalogue as well as songs from latest album, Dark Adrenaline. We were lucky enough to get some time with guitarist Cristiano “Pizza” Migliore before they wrapped up the UK leg of the tour in London.
So on this tour, you’re doing an extended set with material from all the albums. What was the inspiration for that idea?
Well, we thought we would do a different type of tour and we tried this experiment in the US back in March. We wanted to bring back some of the older material and build up a longer set with two parts; one part focusing on the older stuff, then an acoustic set and then a part with mostly newer songs. It worked out really well in the US and all our fans in Europe were like “you gotta do it here!” when we go back and we have to tour Europe, because we haven’t done it yet we’ll just do that again and it’s actually working out very good here too.
So you’re getting to play stuff you haven’t played in ages?
Ah, so long. I had to re-learn some older songs, I had no idea how to play them anymore!
Earlier on this year you released Dark Adrenaline, how do you feel it was received by the fans?
I think it went down really good – all the responses from the fans, the reviews the critics, whatever was very positive. We’re happy about it because it’s exactly what we wanted to do for this time. When we started writings songs, that’s exactly how it came out. So the fact that people really liked it a lot is nice, you know?
What did you think the progression was from Shallow Life?
Shallow Life was more of an experimental album, we all actually contributed a lot with the songwriting but we just thought like let’s just see what happens. Everyone brings whatever they want and we’ll just pick most of the stuff we like and we’ll see what happens. We’re very happy with the result because there are some songs on there that we would normally never have recorded. I’m glad with it because it puts things into perspective and when we had to start writing songs for Dark Adrenaline we knew what to focus on because we liked it more, as opposed to Shallow Life where everything came together at once.
There was quite a mixed response to Shallow Life, wasn’t there?
It was a bit of an experiment and the response from the fan was a little bit mixed, but to be fair it was the album that got the most air play, and videos. It opened doors we never thought possible. That really helped because Dark Adrenaline is a lot heavier and darker, it’s getting the same kind of attention from radio and fans. So I feel Shallow Life was necessary to get to Dark Adrenaline.
How does having two vocalists affect your song writing, specifically the lyrical side. Does everyone contribute or do Cristina and Andrea just write their own parts?
Mostly Cristina and Andrea come up with their own vocal lines and lyrics. We usually write music first and then we just try to put vocals on certain music parts and see how it works, what happens, whatever. Normally they come in at a later point and we try to see what fits and what works best. Sometimes we even completely restructure a song and something that was pretty much done, we have a certain vocal line like this works better with this other part so we just try to mix it together at times and sometimes the results are very interesting.
Do they ever find it a struggle getting their vocal parts to mesh?
No, usually it’s a very natural process. This year is fifteen years of Lacuna Coil and we know each other, we know how to work together, the parts and things we know to expect from each other. That’s how it goes, you know? It’s actually very natural and we try to use as much stuff from everybody as possible.
Is the balance of male and female vocals pre-mediated or is it song-by song, what the song requires?
It’s more than anything a song-by-song situation. In certain songs Andrea will write a vocal line and maybe he’s supposed to sing it, but then when Cristina sings it just to try sometimes we find it sounds a lot better that way, or the other way around. Sometimes Cristina writes a vocal line and we find out that Andrea’s voice works a lot better with it. It’s interesting sometimes because having two singers gives you a chance to experiment a little more with the vocals and see how a really heavy instrumental part can become less heavy just because you fit Cristina’s voice and the other way around, something can sound heavier because Andrea maybe screams a little more and so on.
Obviously metal’s a male-dominated environment, do you feel your band gets a lot of attention shifted on to Cristina? Do you feel that’s a bad or good thing?
I think it’s just a normal thing when you have two singers, and especially as you say when males are predominate basically in 90% of the bands. When you have a female vocalist, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Especially in the beginning, now after so long when you mention the name, people know what you’re talking about. They know Cristina, the sort of music we play. In the beginning it was funny because we would walk onstage and people would be like “what’s this chick doing here?” and then we’d start rocking out and people go “wow, I didn’t expect that!” Now we’re more established and it still happens when we support bigger bands and fans have never seen us, but it was funny at the beginning.
Female fronted bands are very often tarred with the same brush, and accused of being very sameish. How would you respond to that?
I think what we do, the music that we write has never been very uhh… I mean we’ve been labelled gothic rock or gothic metal or whatever but I don’t think we’ve ever really been any of that. So we just do what we like and not really care what goes on around us. When we go and play certain shows like I don’t know, with other female metal vocalists or festivals like that. We fit because we have a female vocalist but we don’t fit musically because we’re so different.
If Lacuna Coil were to disappear tomorrow, what album would you want to be remembered for?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. Obviously we’re pretty attached to Dark Adrenaline because it’s our newest baby, but I’m really struggling between Dark Adrenaline and Karmacode. Karmacode is still one of my favourites.
What was your favourite tour to date?
There’s been quite a few. Maybe in 2003 when we supported Type O Negative in the US, that was really, really cool. They were one of our favourite bands before we even started making music together and the fact we could actually support them on tour, that was amazing and then I’d say Ozzfest for sure. I mean every tour that we do has at least a special little thing that happens. I remember a lot of fun memories, you know?
What’s the strangest gift you’ve received from a fan?
Gift? I don’t know about a gift, but during a signing session once, while we were at Ozzfest once when someone turned up with a toilet seat that we had to sign. [Andrea interjects] or the wheelchair… [Cristiano] or the guy in the wheelchair [Andrea] he took the wheel off and held it over the fence, “please sign this!”
You were in the UK in 2010 for Sonisphere, are there any plans to do another one soon?
We don’t have any plans right now, but I’m sure that something at some point will happen. I mean, after we do this tour we’re going to be home for a little while and then at the end of January we’re going to be doing 70,000 Tonnes of Metal, this metal cruise. That’ll be interesting. As far as anything after that, I’m not sure. Maybe South America, maybe the US. Then possibly next summer if we have the chance, we’ll definitely come back. Sonisphere is awesome, the fact it was cancelled this year was a bummer.
Besides Type O Negative who would you say were your influences, personally and as a band?
There’s been really a lot of bands that have influenced us, when we started we used to listen to bands like Paradise Lost, Type O Negative etc. there were so many bands and the more we went o we started to listen to other stuff too. More American bands like Lamb of God, or Three Doors Down or other bands like that. I wouldn’t say there was a specific band we try to copy or sound like, we just do what we feel is good for us.
Being on tour for a long time together, do you feel you ever need to make allowances for each other and would anything be different if it was all male originated?
Not at all, I mean we’ve never been like a super wild band that does anything on the bus. I mean we party, but Cristina’s a part of it when she feels like it so we don’t feel like we have to wear suits or whatever when Cristina’s around!
Would you say there’s a big difference between the UK and European fans?
I wouldn’t say so, I mean the UK is definitely our main market in Europe but that doesn’t mean that when we go and play in France or Italy that our fans are any less passionate. I mean it really depends on the evening, you get really awesome fans in Spain and then you get really awesome fans in London. It could be anywhere and you don’t have a huge distinction between the fans, even though people maybe think the Latin fans are warmer over there because we can have an awesome show in the UK too.
Who would be your dream band to support?
[Andrea] The Spice Girls!
[Cristiano] hahaha! I don’t know. There’s a lot of bands out there that we would like to maybe go out with. Obviously a huge tour would be amazing, like Rammstein or Metallica. You never know when you go on tour with those bands, because the fans that get there. You play in front of a huge crowd, it’s always like let’s see what happens. I don’t have a favourite band that I’d like to go on tour with. It’s always a matter of trying to find the right bands to go on tour with.
Who’s the most annoying band-member to be on tour with?
Our drummer but he’s not here so… no, there’s not really anything that annoys us in a bad way. If there was we wouldn’t be on tour after fifteen years! Everybody has their own little things, but we learn how to put up with each other so it’s no big deal.
After a tour do you find you’re quite happy to have a bit of a break?
A little bit, but then we come back, we know we’re always gonna do it together.
It’s like when you go to work, and then you come home and then you go back again!
Thank you for your time today!