Italian gothic metal band Lacuna Coil have quite a few albums under their belt. Ten years after the album that brought them U.S fame, Comalies, the band is still going strong, with the original lineup and original record label, Century Media. Their latest, Dark Adrenaline recently brought them on a US tour with Sevendust and Coal Chamber. Staff interviewer Laila Hanson sat down with male vocalist Andrea Ferro on their recent stop in Philadelphia to talk about the progression of the band's sound, what it's like being married on the road and how they tapped into a higher form of lyric writing due to their partnership with producer Don Gilmore.
Your new album, Dark Adrenaline seems a little heavier than some of your older [music]. I was wondering if this was intentional. Your lyrics are also a lot more personal.
Youâre right. When we were songwriting for the album, we were feeling that the album was going to be darker, and heavier as well. So, we were looking for a title that could express those two concepts together, especially because some of the band members were going through difficult moment[s] in their live[s]. Nothing crazy, but normal negative stuff…like a family member passing, or you broke up with your girlfriend. Normal stuff, but altogether it was one of those negative moments for the people in the band. So we knew that that was the outcome, and we wanted to turn it into a more energetic thing, to use that negative moment and make it something strong for the band. We knew the album was going to be heavy, so we chose the name Dark Adrenaline as a title, because we knew it was a good combination of something dark that gives you energy, I think. We take all our inspiration from what happens around us. So even the lyrics are always personal, because we always talk about stuff that really happened to us. If you donât experience [it], itâs really hard to talk about something.
There are, though, a few songs on the album that I thought seemed a little less heavy, like "Kill the Light" and "End of Time." I was wondering what the story was behind those two songs.
All the songs are written separately. We collect a lot of ideas, and then we start work on one [song]. But, sure, there is a vibe on those songs and maybe some of the other songs on the record which are bringing back some Lacuna Coil vibes from past records, like Comalies or Unleashed Memories. And maybe thatâs just because itâs us. We try to change a little bit all the time, but the essence of the band is the same. Thereâs always some heavy stuff or soft stuff that goes with elements [that] will always be there no matter what.
You worked with a new producer the last couple albums, Don Gilmore, and I was just wondering how itâs been different working with him compared to your last producer, Waldemar Sorychta, who you had been working with for awhile.
Itâs been different for sure because Waldemar is a European producer that is more in the gothic metal scene, while Don has been producing all kinds of bands. Heâs an American who has been produced Linkin Park, as well as Duran Duran, a lot of completely different artists. He has a different kind of experience, a different background. I think that Shallow Life was our first work with him, and we managed to do a good job, but I think [the better] result was Dark Adrenaline because we got to know each other better and he understood more where we were coming from and what Lacuna Coil is. While with the first approach, we tried to find a midway between what we wanted to have and what his idea of our sound [is]. Itâs complicated, because itâs easy to make it wrong if you donât find the right balance. I think some of the songs on Shallow Life was 100% what we wanted to have, some others, we tried to go somewhere else, but maybe it wasnât the right direction for the band. But that happens every time you change people; it [was] the same when we changed management. It wasnât easy the first time, because there were a lot of new things that he had to understand about us. When you work with someone whoâs very important [and] new, itâs always a challenge. Now I think we found a good balance with Don, but that doesnât mean weâre going to use him again on the next record. We donât know yet; we want to see what kind of material weâre going to have, and then decide once we have some demos of the song[s] and focus. Don has been really helpful, especially in the lyrics. We learned a lot about writing lyrics and having a [clearer] idea of songwriting lyrics in English. Thatâs why I think that our newer lyrics, since Shallow Life, are more understandable or the message is stronger. Before we were using a lot of poetry, because maybe we didnât know how to express ourselves in a normal way. Sometimes we put in a lot more complicated words because we think itâs cool. But then you kind of lost the meaning somewhere; itâs not as straightforward as it is now.
Thatâs awesome. I really noticed the lyrics on Dark Adrenaline - they really pop.
I think theyâre the best lyrics weâve written. I [also] like the older material, but Iâve seen a maturity in the new lyrics. I see the way weâre writing now; it totally makes sense from start to finish, whereas before some songs were really [full] of poetry and big words instead of explaining what [we meant].
You have a couple covers of 80s songs; you did "Enjoy the Silence," and then "Losing My Religion," which was great. What led you to choose those songs to cover? Do you have a special connection to the 80s?
Yeah, yeah, we love the 80s, we were kids, so we grew up listening to that music. But also, when we go for a cover, we usually try to choose a song that is not a metal song. It wouldnât make sense for us to cover a Metallica song, because itâs going to sound quite similar to the original. Itâs more challenging for us to take a song which comes from a different place, [those] being very famous song[s] important in our past, and try to make it [ours]. I think thatâs why a lot of people donât even know the original song; they just discover it because theyâre new kids, they didn't grow up in the 80s, they never knew as much Depeche Mode as we used to know, or REM. So sometimes we get mail from people, saying "Oh, I discovered this band because you did a cover; I didnât know the original one," which is weird to me, but I understand that a 15 year old guy doesnât have the same experience. So we chose those songs because we respect those bands, because they were popular songs of course, and because it was a good challenge for us to turn them into our song. We knew we could play them at the festivals, where not everyone is familiar with your band, and you can play a song like that and everybody knows it. So it helps the mood of the show going. When we chose to do, "Enjoy the Silence," "Losing My Religion" was another candidate. Since "Enjoy the Silence" worked really well right away, we kind of put ["Losing My Religion"] on the side.
Youâre on tour ALL the time and you release a new album every two years or so. When do you usually start writing new songs, how far into a tour?
Usually itâs when we finish that cycle; we never write music on tour. We normally finish the cycle and then go straight to the songwriting. But this time around, Marco, our bass player had a knee injury on his ligament, so heâs not on tour with us. Since last summer he has not been playing live with us because of the injury. Now itâs much better, but he couldnât face a three month tour like this one. So instead, we left him home, and heâs working already on songs. He already has demos for nine songs or something, only the music. But as soon as we finish the tour, weâll take a little break and go straight into the songwriting for those songs, like try to do vocals, try to see who we can produce with, who we can work with. So it will be quicker, I think the next record could be some [time] in the beginning of next year.
You have a few songs with Italian in them, which I love, theyâre beautiful. When you write in Italian, is it for a specific reason, or do you just decide randomly?
Usually when we do that, itâs because we have some music that could fit Italian lyrics. The problem with Italian is that itâs a very good language for melodic music, or opera music, but itâs not a good language for rock music, because it is very mellow and it has a lot of vowels, so the sounds of the words [are] very different. If you want to do something exotic or strange, it works, but if you want to do something more standard rock metal, itâs not really the right language. So we do it, and we only use Italian language when it really belongs to the music. You know, when we have a song that is different than anything else, so why not. But we will never do a complete record in italian because it wonât make sense, because most of our listeners are not from Italy. But Iâm sure there will always be a piece of music that will fit [for] an italian song. Itâs one of our characteristics, so weâll keep it.
How do you choose the artwork for your albums? Are you involved at all?
We always give some ideas to the graphic department of the label, and then they usually come up with something. Only on Karmacode, we used an outside studio. It was the first time we tried to do that. If there is a good idea coming from the graphic department that we can play with, thatâs cool. Also, Marco, the bass player, [he] also [draws] stuff, so we did an alternate version of Dark Adrenaline with all his drawings. It was just a special edition of the album, so we used that too. We like to play with different people. We are involved in terms of telling them what [our] vision [is]. We like to have somebody from the outside to come in. Itâs just like when you do a video, you want somebody to come [in] with a fresh idea. Because you already wrote the song or the lyrics, recorded it, played it live. You have too much [involvement] in the song. If thereâs a good idea from the band, thatâs cool, but sometimes itâs better to use somebody that is not too involved, so [they] come up with something that you would never come up with.
Youâve been a band for over 15 years now, and youâve stuck with [record label] Century Media the whole time. Thatâs really rare for a band to stay with the same label. It must be a great relationship.
Yeah, itâs always a working relationship. So we have ups and downs, like in any relationship. But we still want more records with them. We have reached goals that we never thought we could reach as a band. So theyâve been good to us, itâs been working well, and weâve always had a good relationship with everyone who was involved. I donât know, Iâve never worked with anybody else, so I canât say if it would have been better with someone else, or worst. But for sure, weâre satisfied with what theyâve done with the album. Even if sometimes we fight, or sometimes we [donât] agree with what they do, thatâs part of the job. Itâs been a good journey together up to this point, weâll see whatâs coming for the future.
Itâs been 10 years since Comalies came out, which is the first record that I heard [from you], and probably your biggest hit that exposed you to American audiences.
I think Karmacode sold more than Comalies, but Comalies was the first album that made a big impact in the States. With Comalies, we [went] from a little, European, gothic-metal band to an international band. So a lot of people discovered the band with Comalies, thatâs why itâs the most important record in those terms.
Did you expect it to be Comalies and/or Karmacode? Was that the point in your career that you expected to break through? Were you surprised?
We were definitely surprised, even if we thought Comalies, at that time, was our most mature record. We really started to include elements that were not the standard gothic metal from Europe. There were already some elements from more international music and some things that [made] our music a little more modern, and going out of the cliche of the genre, while the first two records was totally in the cliche. Because we were kids, listening to Paradise Lost, Type O Negative - we wanted to sound like our favorite bands. Then with Unleashed Memories, we started looking for something else, and [with] Comalies we really made our sound wider. We felt that it was a more mature and different record, we were trying something, to go somewhere. But we never expected to explode here in the States especially, before that, we never did anything here. So the fact that the radio picked up, "Heavenâs a Lie," and [we were on MTVâs] Headbangerâs Ball, it was a very big surprise for sure.
I know you just got married, congratulations. Is it any different being on the road, now that youâre a husband?
No, because weâve been together for 12 years. We just got married, but weâve lived together 8 years. So itâs not really a change. Weâve been together since we started touring heavily, so we got used to it; from being away three months to being away a year. Not a full year, but most of the year. Itâs not easy, you never get used to it totally, even if you know what youâre going to face. The good thing is that she has a life; when sheâs home, sheâs got her friends, and she does stuff, so sheâs not depending on me. [And] I wouldnât like [that], even if I wasnât touring. I donât like when couples, they become one thing, and thatâs it. And they lose all their friends or their family. Because I think that when you isolate yourself so much, sooner or later youâre gonna get sick of it. Itâs always "You and me, you and me." I think the couple has to grow, to grow and make different steps. You need to experience, together, so you need to meet other people, do other stuff, and take chances as well. Sometimes Iâm on the road, I could have another girl, or sheâs home, she could go with another guy. But if we keep choosing [each other] itâs because we really care about the relationship. So to do all of that, you need to experience. You have to leave your life, and take chances. And if something will ever happen, and you find somebody [else] that you like, it can happen. I donât think itâs going to happen, but it can happen because itâs part of the human life.
You grew up skateboarding and really into punk music. What are some of the bands you like from your childhood in that scene? Does that translate into Lacuna Coil at all?
In some stuff, yes, but maybe not that much musically; more in the attitude and the live presence. More me than the band. But me and Marco, we were skaters, and we started the band because of skateboarding, because we couldnât skateboard in the winter. And thatâs how we started the very very basic form of Lacuna Coil. So the bands that we were listening to, besides the classic Metallica, we were listening to Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Germs, Minor Threat. All the hardcore American bands. But also the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Cure. Weâve always been pretty open; weâve never listened just to metal or just to hardcore. I listened also to like, the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J at the time, when I was a kid. I listened to everything, from grindcore to…I liked Madonna when I was a kid, I had my little crush on Madonna. Even Johnny Cash, all kind[s] of good music, Depeche Mode.