Interview with Andrea Ferro & Cristina Scabbia
6th April 2016
Interview by Jacob Ovington
Italy’s premier metallers are back and heavier than ever. Lacuna Coil’s upcoming album, ‘Delirium’ is set for release at the end of May, and it promises to be an insight into the darkest and most tortured corners of human experience. Based around the concept of an asylum in the hills of Italy, the record explores the themes of insanity, and as the name suggests, it’s a trip into delirium. We spoke to the band’s vocalists, Andrea and Cristina, to find out more about the album’s concept, where they got the inspiration for it, what it means to them and why they’ve taken a change in musical direction.
Hello, thanks for talking to Metal-Rules. How are you both doing today?
Cristina: Really great. We have a coffee machine, that helps.
You’re set to release ‘Delirium’ on 27th May, what can you tell us about the concept and how did you come up with the idea?
Cristina: It’s a long story, but to put a long story short we were working on one of the songs, we were working on the chorus of it and the word ‘Delirium’ came up. Since that day everything opened up in front of our own eyes, and in a second. So we immediately visualised the whole idea, not only for all of the lyrics, but also for the artwork, for the image that we wanted to connect with it. So, we imagined this fictional asylum close to Milan where patients within the asylum, and also spirits and old memories of patients that lived there before would tell us stories about their past experiences or their present experiences. So, the songs came out in this way, describing insanity, different levels of insanity. Not only from a medical perspective, but also something bigger that encompasses the insanity that we’re living in nowadays with everything that’s happening to us in the world.
The asylum that you talk about, is this place entirely fictional or based on anything real at all?
Cristina: It’s based on something real.
Andrea: We’d been visiting a couple of abandoned asylums that we have in northern Italy. One is about an hour out of the city, and the other one is a but further out. But still they’re very very dangerous because they’re falling to pieces, so you’re walking and pieces of the roof will come down around you. It’s not actually legal to go inside, but we wanted to check it out. Many people use it for pictures and stuff like that. It was very impressive to see all these very tall corridors and all the rooms, and thinking about people that lived there. We’d also been watching old pictures we found on the internet about patients. Those were more scary than some horror movies about these kind of things, because these patients were real first of all. Just the look on their faces, the emptiness, the sense of abandonment, the sense of getting really lost. That was scarier than something you see in a movie. You don’t need blood or violence. Just those pictures and the positions they were taking spontaneously, it was so weird.
Cristina: It was just disturbing. You could totally feel the anxiety, the pressure. It was really uncomfortable.
Andrea: The position of them when they were outside in the open, they were sitting randomly but it looked so weird. It inspired a lot, also about the research we did for the stage clothes and stuff like that. The way that we position ourselves in the pictures for the artwork and the promotional pictures.
So you did a lot of research on the subject?
Andrea: Yes, because we thought it was a very strong concept and it was worth doing something that really gives you an idea of what we meant with the metaphor of real life problems, and more generally the big problem of mental illness.
Cristina: And also something that we felt close to talk about, something that we also experienced in a way. Some of us went through episodes, periods of depression, some of us have been visiting for family reasons, places where people with mental problems were.
It touches everyone at some point.
Andrea: And there’s a strong reality to this part of you.
Upon first listen, the album strikes me as coming across a lot heavier than anything you’ve done in a long time, what are your reasons for this change in direction?
Cristina: It’s not like we just sat round a table and decided systematically, it was more of a spontaneous evolution of the record. We knew that we wanted to go heavier just because we enjoyed playing some of the songs more, when we perform live especially. So, the overall feeling of the band was that we wanted to do something heavier. But, of course, once you start songwriting you don’t know really where you’re going to go. So we didn’t really know that some of the songs were going sound THAT heavy compared to our usual type of songwriting. But, that’s what we liked about it, we said everyone is expecting us to maybe go softer, and we’re going in the complete opposite direction. We were loving it, but we also liked the fact that it was going to be something different from usual.
Andrea: We wanted to surprise ourselves first, and then also the listeners. That’s why we chose ‘House of Shame’ as the first song, which is probably one of the heaviest of the record. We thought that it was a good idea to shake things up, to say we’re back but it’s not just another Lacuna Coil record, because we’ve done quite a few records now. We wanted to tell people that we want to say something different this time, and we still have the passion to write music and to explore some territories that are not so common for us.
There are also a lot more growled vocals than we’re used to, why have you decided to make this change and why didn’t you use them so much before?
Cristina: Well, it’s something that we did at the very beginning of Lacuna Coil but we’ve never used as much as in this record. They just fitted perfectly with the vibe of the record and they were sounding great. I honestly love the sound of his (Andrea’s) growling vocals, I think they’re really distinctive. He has a very distinctive voice, and you can immediately recognise it as his voice. It’s so different from so many others. I was really excited when we decided to put more growls in the record.
Andrea: We kind of also, when we were songwriting with Marco the bassplayer who is the main songwriter for the band, came up with these heavy riffs and double bass. We thought instead of trying to water them down and make them more as we used to be and finding a compromise, we decided instead to push on the button and go full on heavy. If you’re going heavy, go all the way. Don’t try to make it work, just go for it. This way people can realise how honest the song is, not you trying to be cool by being a little heavier or whatever.
When releasing a new album, do you ever anticipate the response it will get or is it something you don’t think about?
Cristina: We don’t really think about reactions to be honest. That would be contrived, that would be really weird to sit down and write for somebody else. I mean, if we were a team writing songs for others then maybe we would think in this way. But, as soon as this is our art we want do something that we feel, something that we like, something that we can relate to. We don’t really think about how the album is going to be accepted, we didn’t really think about it. I believe that as soon as you’re honest and you’re putting out something that really represents who you are, I think you have a good that a lot of people will understand and like it.
For people who haven’t heard the album yet, how would you describe its sound?
Cristina: Ooh (laughs). Well if they’ve heard our music before this, they have to expect something definitely heavier. We stretched the vocals and we took them to the next level because Andrea’s never been as aggressive, and I’ve never reached higher notes. There are a lot of layers in this record, so there’s nothing so immediate. They will have to listen to songs over and over to find out all the layers that are in it, vocally and musically.
Andrea: If I had to describe the album, I’d say that it’s a trip. It’s a trip because it takes you through different curves, up and down. All the songs kind of build a little different mood, and until the end you can always go faster, there’s parts where you slow down and then go fast again. So, I would say it’s like a trip. A lot of people that have heard it told me that it’s an emotional trip in a way.
Cristina: And it’s also very evocative, very descriptive. So you’re totally sucked in as soon as you hear it, because you just listen to the lyrics and you know exactly where you are. The lyrics are just enhancing the music and helping the listener to have a more complete vision of everything.
What were the most challenging aspects of recording the album?
Cristina: For us singers, it’s recording vocals because it doesn’t really matter if you’re tired or if you’re sick, you have to be there. You have a certain amount of days, so you have to do it in that amount of days. For me it was challenging to try and reach the super high notes. It’s not always easy because some days everything is going good, and sometimes I’m like I’m too tired, I can’t do it.
Andrea: One thing that you’ve done one day, it’s so hard to reproduce. When we did the demos, some vocals that we sang on them still sound better than the ones we did in the studio. In the studio we sang it like 20 times, and at home when we were doing the demos we sang it once, and we never got the same exact intention, the same exact energy of that take. You can’t reproduce it. Sometimes it’s just that one take… you can’t reproduce it even if it’s longer or with a better pitch, even trying 20 different techniques you still can’t reach the same result. That’s an amazing thing about recording.
In terms of music videos, have you got any on the way?
Cristina: We are going to release a lyric video in a few days, but we’re going to film a proper video in the next few weeks.
What can you tell us about it?
Cristina: We’re still talking about it.
Andrea: We’re still discussing it, because we have a very clear idea of what we want but we need to find the right person to do it. We don’t want to abuse some cheap effects. As I said before, when we saw the picture of the real patients, those are stronger than any other horror picture I’ve seen. We want the video to be just like that. We want it to be very realistic and based more on the strength of the images than on some weird effect or light or whatever. We want everything to be more about the photography and the way you capture the images. That has to be strong.
I see you have a US tour coming up, but do you know when you’ll be back in the UK?
Cristina: Hopefully in the fall, because we’re playing in The Philippines and in China for the first time at the end of the month and the beginning of May, and then we’ll be in the US for some headlining gigs and some with Halestorm. At the end of that month the album will be released, then we’ll come back to Europe for some summer festival and we’ll be planning stuff for the fall, but we don’t have a schedule yet. Hopefully we can squeeze the UK in, possible during the summer. We don’t know yet.
Andrea: It’s going to be either in the summer for maybe one festival, or we’re going to come back for sure in the fall for a full European tour.
Cristina: It will be this year or next year, I believe.
Andrea: It will be before the end of the year, I think.
We’ve got to wrap things up there, is there anything else you’d like to say?
Cristina: I hope that people will understand the record and that they will understand that there’s a lot in it, and it’s deeper than it might seem from the first look or listen. So, I hope that they will understand everything of it because it is definitely a trip worth taking.