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"To me darkness is more represented by super dark bands like Lacrimosa for instance, but you can also find darkness in pop song lyrics."

Interview with Andrea Ferro (LACUNA COIL)

Two years after our interview with the lovely Cristina Scabbia, this time it was with Andrea Ferro, the other voice of Lacuna Coil, that i had the pleasure to talk with. It was to talk about their new record « Broken Crown Halo » that Andrea, one of the main songwriter for the band, called me this wednesday afternoon. While waiting for our review, you can read what Andrea had to say about this album, the upcoming tour and these last couple of years.

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Interview done by phone by Sabrina, the 12th of February, 2014.

Vous pouvez également lire notre interview en français

Sabrina: Your album was recorded in september and you were already back on tour before it was mixed. What was the composition and writing process? Did you have time to all get together to compose? Or did you do it one song at a time between concerts, just following your inspiration?

Andrea: Marco, our bass player who is also the main composer for the band, has been forced to be out of the touring cycle for a year and a half because he had an injury on his arm so he had to stay home. But in the meantime, he started collecting a lot of ideas and by the time we were finished with the main tour - it was around may - he already had demos of most songs to give to me and Cristina. So we sat down and stayed home for about a month to relax and listen to the songs and collect some basic ideas. Then we met all together during the summer in Marco's little home studio and started to show those ideas and listen to them and see which ones were more convincing. And then we did some voice demos. At the end of August, Jay, our producer, came down to Italy, and we began recording in september and spent about a month and half in studio here in Milan. We finished around mid october just before going on tour with Paradise Lost and Katatonia in Europe for Paradise Lost's 25th anniversary tour. And then we did the mixing and mastering basically on the road, talking about it with the band.

Promo photo of Marco Coti Zelati from Lacuna Coil

Even if it's not a concept album, there's a really strong theme you can hear in all the songs: confrontation to an hostile world and survival. Was it a conscious choice from all of you from the beginning of the composition process or did it just happen that it was what you all wanted to talk about?

We have always been talking about the real life, we've never been the kind of band that likes to tell stories. But this time alone, we wanted to play with a metaphor between the real life and some kinds of movies, like horror movies for instance, and that's how we've been writing the lyrics. But in general the topics of the lyrics are things we experienced in the previous years before the recording. And we (me and Cristina who are responsible for the lyrics) put down together what we thought were the strongest lyrics. But it had to be something we lived, it wouldn't possible for us to talk about something that we never really experienced. And in the end there are really different kinds of songs musically and lyrically. For instance, if you listen to the three first songs that were out (Nothing stands in our way, Die and rise and I forgive). they are really different songs with very different atmosphere and roots.

When you announced your new album, many of your fans were really intrigued by the titles of your new songs because lots of them could sound like the soundtrack of a zombie movie. Can you tell us just a few words to describe each of them?

Well, like I said, on this album we've been approaching each song with this metaphor, using these characters from horror movies to represent the real life topics that we've been experiencing.

1. Nothing Stands In Our Way: This song goes about the real life battles, the difficulties we face in our everyday life. It's about how you have to stay united and shouldn't look back. And we wrote the song to make it sound like in the movies when you drive on the road and you go your own way and nothing can really stop you. There is also a lot about the crushing economy we have in Europe, the heartbreaks in personal relationships, the lifelong obstacles, getting sick, losing people etc... All those normal problems that, put together, make your life more difficult, but also more interesting. We learn from our mistakes and we say nothing can stop us because music is our life, it's what we like. And we say we fear nothing meaning that nothing is going to stop us because we are determined to keep going up as musicians but also as human beings.

2. Zombies: Like zombies we wander around confused but also realize that we live in this life, in this reality and we have to be adaptable to it. We feel alone sometimes, as if we were in the shadow because we live another lifestyle but all together we are like an army of zombies because we share the same passion and same difficulties that go with this different lifestyle.

3. Hostage To The Light: It is a song about zombies afraid of the unknown, of taking chances. Like this zombie imprisoned by the light, we are imprisoned in our own cage of daily problems and cliches. And we feel that sometimes we have been forced to live a certain way, to follow certain rules. But we don't actually have to do what everybody is expecting of us, we don't have to be in the norm, in the light everyday. Like when sometimes people tell you you're a sinner but for you you're not because you live your own way.

4. Victims: It is a song inspired by all the negative outcomes from the news of these last couple years. It's about the crisis, the people getting killed because they love their job or their country and how with these years filled with drama and economic crisis are suffocating people, our government keeps lying to us. We don't really know what's going on anymore. And we don't want to live like this anymore, we're fed up, we just want to live our dream while they're destroying it.

5. Die And Rise: We're using the metaphor of the vampire. Someone dying as a normal person and rising again as a vampire. We want to live our life to its fullest because life always regenerates and you have to be ready for the change, to be adaptable to it to become a better and more mature person.

6. I Forgive (But I Won't Forget Your Name): It's a song about betrayal. Some things in life leave a permanent mark on you and you won't be able to look away, like there's a crack on the mirror you cannot clean away. So you will be able to forgive but you can never really forget what has happened to you.

7. Cybersleep: This one is a kind of a mental trick, it's about people that live in a cyber world like on the social media, like facebook for instance, where nobody's what they say. On internet everybody's a DJ, a model and nobody's working in a store or in an office. People often project what they want to be on to what they really are on the internet. The song is about living in different layers, it's inspired by the movie inception where they live different layers of dreams. Sometimes people prefer to live in those fake layers of cyber life instead of facing reality.

8. Infection: It's about relationships that can be really addictive. They can really drive you down and make you lose yourself in the other person, make you lose your personality but you're so much into the situation that you don't even realize it's not good for you anymore.

9. I Burn In You: It's about the very consuming feeling of separation, it can be about a relationship, a friendship or a very dear person. You have this feeling of being lost after a big change in your life and you feel you will never be the same again and even if you don't like this change you have to face it.

10. In The End I Feel Alive: A song about the lack of trust, this feeling you get after a negative experience but there's a lot to be learned to get stronger. It's about growing up, starting to live again and move on.

11. One Cold Day: A song about the devastating feeling of losing a loved one. The cold, the rain and the grey seemed to be a perfect way to reflect the passage of life and nature. And this song was also written to be dedicated to Claudio Leo which was our former guitar player who died last year of cancer.

Also, this album seems even darker than "Dark Adrenaline", did you decide to make it sound darker from the start or did it just happen to be that way when you finally put all the songs together?

It's both. You try to express your feelings at the moment when you write but it's also something we wanted. We've always been fascinated by the dark side of things as a band. We've always been somewhere in between, not like the super dark band but we've always had this kind of melancholy, darker side in some of the songs. To me darkness is more represented by super dark bands like Lacrimosa for instance but you can also find darkness in pop song lyrics. So there are many ways of expressing and living darkness. Everyone has its own approach of what is dark. But I think it's in our nature and I don't think we will able to write any other kind of music at least in this very general idea.

Andrea from Lacuna Coil on stage at L'Alhambra (Paris), the 29th of november, 2012

Andrea, we noticed an heavier sound throughout this album compared to the previous ones. Some of your lines are grunts like we used to hear more often in the first albums and Cristina does something that sounds almost like rap in "victims".Were these elements suggested by your new producer?

No, they were all our ideas, our producer stepped in a lot later in the process when we were basically finished with the vocal parts. We just went free, it's not something that we thinked through that much, we just went with the flow. If we felt like singing this part or that part like this, we did it. But I think overall, it's a really gothic and heavy album, there's nothing out of the ordinary. There's just this part in victims where Cristina wanted to express more rage and power. And we said if you wanna do it, why not do it?

Can you tell us why you decided to work with him this time and what was his impact on this album?

Well we like to work with different people because every time you meet somebody, especially someone with a lot of experience, you learn different things about songwriting. Jay is more like a big picture kind of producer, he really listens to the whole thing and then gives his opinion on the lyrics and how we sing them. We liked working with him and Kyle, the sound engineer who is a really young and talented guy, because we learned a lot of new things. We haven't really changed a lot of the songs when you compare what we had from the start and the final product. For them, it was more about the technical things how the guitars should sound and finding the good studio and things like that. We really felt like working with someone else because it gives you a different perspective, a different vibe, a fresh element to your music. We all changed in the band over the years so we felt it would be a good thing to also work with someone different. But all in all, I feel it's still a dark and heavy album.

This album is the first since the "Half Life" EP to be fully recorded in Italy, was it important for you to stay close to home this time and did this particular studio have an impact on how the album sounds?

In fact, it wasn't meant to happen that way. We were supposed to record the album in Los Angeles where Jay has his own studio because it was more logical and financially better. But for personal problems we had to stay in Milan at that time, so we decided to go to the Officine Meccaniche studio which is a vintage studio with a lot of vintage gear. And there we got to know the owner of the studio which is an italian prog rock musician (Mauro Pagani). He owns a big collection of guitars from the 60' and the 70' so we actually got to play with those instruments. And that actually makes the sound of the album a little different. But it wasn't something planned, it just happened. He came up and said "Hey why don't you try this guitar?". So it was just a spontaneous thing but it made the album a little different.

The band's lineup hasn't changed since 1998 and the first track "Nothing stands in our way" really sounds like an hymn to the "band feeling", the importance of being united. Was it an important message for you to pass on?

I think it's a song that really portrays a lot of elements of Lacuna Coil: the importance of melody, the heavy sounds and the strong lyrics. It portrays the whole of the Lacuna Coil picture, it's a message about keeping going. What the song actually means is not very secret it's a matter of still having the passion to keep doing what you like, it doesn't necessarily need to be shared by all the members of the band. Some of them are gonna be more involved, some in a different way but what's important is that we like to express ourselves with music so we have those lyrics that mean whatever happens to us we are still going to stay strong and nothing is going to stop us from being a band.

You shot a music video for "I Forgive" just two days ago, can you tell me more about it?

the video combines a performance of the band with more cinematographic elements. I cannot reveal too much about it, I think it's going to be released pretty soon though but I haven't seen anything yet of course because it's just been shot. We have some really cool costumes, we have new uniforms that we're also going to use in the live shows. There's going to be a really dark atmosphere, there are also some italian elements, a lot cinematographic style italian references. But I cannot really tell you more until I see some of the footage myself.

Broken Crown Halo's cover art (2014)

Can you tell us more about your album title and cover art and the meaning of it?

The meaning behind the title is about telling the real life from the fake. And how you shouldn't try to escape your mistakes by living in your fake kingdom and try to be more open about the fact that it may not be as perfect as you think. It's a message about not living in a fabricated illusion because your darkness may not be so different from mine so you should not live in your own protected world an be more open to new experience and even learn from the negative things, from your mistakes. And the cover was first a design from Marco that was then given to the label and conceptualized by a graphic designer in the Century Media studio. It represents two crowns: one male, one female. One of them is upside down so it's about the duality of life. But I actually heard so many different interpretations... Someone told me it looked like a torture instrument instead of a royal crown. And actually I think that the fact we're not really sure what it is works well with the idea of the duality of life.

Now I have a few questions about the tour: These last two years, you've been on tour with many bands such as Motorhead, Megadeth, Paradise Lost or Volbeat. What are the strongest memories you keep from these moments?

Well there are a lot of memories because the tour has been going on for many months and we played with many bands. One of the best ones is when we were hanging out with Lemmy (Motorhead) and the other guys in the dressing room because we had never met him and never had the pleasure to talk to him and they were all great guys. There's also Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) who's been very cool with us, he welcomed us on the tour with a bottle of champagne and we got to meet all the band who was really nice and we developped a great relationship with them. But to be honest, every time we've been on tour, it was a really great experience. For instance, we were on tour with the guys of Sevendust for three months in America and it felt like a band of brothers. They were trully amazing: everytime we needed something, they would make it happen. It was a very positive and different kind of touring for us. And then we were part of the 25th Paradise Lost anniversary tour and it's always a pleasure to be on tour with them. We also met the Katatonia guys, I knew their music but I had never really met them in person and we really get on very well. It was a very cool atmosphere on the tour. It's been a great year, we went to Vietnam and South America and got to travel a lot which is very mind opening.

You've been to many different places. Is there a place, country, city or a specific venue where you've never been and where you would love to play in?

Actually we've never been to Africa, it's the only continent where we've never played. So maybe to South Africa because I think it's the country where the rock/metal scene is bigger. So going to South Africa would be nice, to discover a new place and new people.

Andrea from Lacuna Coil on stage at L'Alhambra (Paris), the 29th of november, 2012

At some point during the previous tour, you decided to play an acoustic set in the middle of your shows. People liked that a lot. Do you plan something special for this upcoming tour?

Well not on the first leg of the tour because it's more of a package tour so we won't have that much time in our set to do something like that. But for the following tour, we want to do something different, we've got a lot of ideas but we have to get together to see which ones we can make real. We'll see but we'll make something special for sure.