Lacuna Coil interview (01/2009)
|Conducted by:||.mrt, Ivor (in person)|
The date - 13.12.2008
The place - Rockvere m/ (actually Rakvere), Estonia
The event - Green Christmas 2008
It was the second day of the increasingly more accurately named rock&metal festival, as Christmases become more and more green these days with the global warming. At least in our little country, that is not imaginary and is not called Elbonia, I assure you!
I believe it was in the beginning of the Horricane set when Ivor called me and said that now might be a good time to roam backstage as there might be a possibility of an interview with someone from Lacuna Coil. I was glad to get some action as I was rather bored with the noise on stage.
The place of the festival was, as for many years now in a row, the Rakvere sports hall. So, the room we were lead to was basically a dressing room with lockers and showers. Fortunately the floor was dry and there were no naked men "hanging" around, if you catch my drift. And there was a nice soft couch that basically wanted to swallow Cristiano when he sat down. So, I wished myself good luck with my first interview and began with my failed attempt of looking intelligent and uttered some Italian.
Buona sera! (Ed: Good evening!)
Buona sera! (Ed: Good evening!)
Come stai? (Ed: How's it going?)
Bene, grazie! E tu? (Ed: Good, thanks! And you?)
(Here my Italian skills fail and after some mumbling I can manage, apologetically) Good! But I'll switch to English now as I'm more fluent in that.
OK! All right, all right! (Laughs.)
So first, I'd like to thank You for giving us the opportunity for the interview.
Oh, thank You guys for coming.
And welcome to Estonia!
It's Your first time here.
Yeah, it's a first time.
Somehow I think it's not going to be the last one.
Well, I hope not. (Laughs.)
Actually, because, compared to the morning, there are quite a lot of more people who have come to see you.
Really? It's good to hear! I mean, we didn't know exactly what to expect.
Have you had the time to look around a bit?
Just a little bit. I came in last night like around 5 o'clock. I was so tired, went to bed straight. But today we actually had some time...
...around the Tallinn city?
No. Not Tallinn city, but ..
Yeah, here. Because we came right here and so we didn't have the chance.
Did You walk around and see the castle?
Yeah, the castle! It's pretty cool.
OK, nice. If I'm not mistaken, you had a couple of gigs in Finland now, before this week, and then in Denmark, one, right? And then you came here, right?
Yeah. Well, actually, the gig in Denmark got cancelled.
Oh really? That's too bad.
Yeah! At the very last moment.
So your were already in Denmark?
No. We found out when we were actually playing the second show in Finland. And we didn't even go back to Denmark. I mean, I did, because we had our flights already booked. So, we travelled like back to Denmark. Back to Sweden first, then Denmark and then Germany. (Laughs.) It was...
Heh, sounds terrible.
Ivor: Why did it get cancelled?
Um, I don't know. But there was some problem. As you probably know we were on tour with Bullet For My Valentine and they had some problem and they decided to cancel the last two shows. I don't know any details really but we found out at the very last moment.
Ivor: Hmm, OK.
That's too bad, but still, we're happy that you're here. So, what have you heard about Estonian shows or have you got any expectations for this evening?
Well, as always, I hope that people who came here tonight will have a great time. You know, since this is the first time for us. We don't really know what to expect, because we don't how many people actually know us. But judging from the amount of people, it's probably going to be a pretty good show.
Yeah, quite decent amount.
... I mean if they don't leave right before we start. (Laughs.)
Right... So what about differences between countries and audiences? Like Northern Europe and Southern Europe and Americas and such?
It's hard to say. It's not easy to compare. Well, the thing is that it's not about being in a certain country and everybody reacts the same way, but it changes more from show to show. You know, if you play two shows in Finland, one can be amazing and the next one can be so-so.
How were, for example, the last two shows in Finland? How was the difference there?
We played the first night in Helsinki and it was a very big place. Like probably 2,500 people. And the reaction was great! The second night, it was really good as well. I mean, there were a lot less people, but people were more, like, standing and listening, you know. So, you can't really say it's not like Estonian people are icy and then you go to Italy and everybody are warmed up.
Helsinki is the capital, so probably there would be more people there. So, the next gig will be in Moscow, I think?
Three days away. Are You planning to chill around in Estonia or going straight ahead to Moscow?
The way we actually program our trips is that we are going to leave tomorrow right away and spend a day in Moscow. Also because it's our first time there too. We would like to go sightseeing and see some stuff, you know. As this was our first time in Estonia, unfortunately we didn't have time to check out Tallinn, but...
You'll be back!
Yeah, I'm pretty sure, we'll be back.
So, something about Bullet For My Valentine. Can You give us some insight as to why did You choose to tour with them, or which way was it?
When we were working on our DVD, it has just been released. We were looking for a tour...
(I interrupt Cristiano to show him my new "Visual Karma" deluxe edition I had just bought.)
Heh, exactly! (Laughs.)
(It disappears back into Ivor's bag.)
...looking for a tour to promote it somehow, you know. And we know the guys from Bullet, because we actually toured together back in 2006 in the States supporting Rob Zombie. So, we met each other there and they're really fun guys, you know. We had a good time. And also they're doing really well in the UK and in the Northern Europe. So, it was the perfect timing and the perfect way to promote.
Did You have any time to hang around with those guys?
Yeah, yeah! Absolutely!
So, were there any other bands involved also like warming the two of you?
Yeah! There were two other bands. Black Tide from Florida, the US, and Bleeding Through. So, it was a pretty weird pack. Many different genres. But it was really good, though. People who came to the show, of course they were there for the Bullet for the most part. But it was great because it gave us the chance, and the other bands too, to play in front of the people who would probably never go to one of our gigs.
Spread your music.
Yeah! And find out about us.
Yeah, exactly. That's great! Well, you've been touring around the world all the time and if I'm not mistaken then you're also recording your new album in Los Angeles. So, have you had any time to visit your home, Milan?
Luckily we are done now with the recordings. Everything is finished.
Ah, glad to hear.
I came back at the end of September from LA. And I had the chance to spend like at least one month home before the tour started, you know. (Laughs.) It's been a busy year for sure!
I think You have couple of shows more and then you have something like a Christmas brake. At least that's nice.
When was the last time You were playing for your home audience? I mean Italy or even Milan specifically.
Um, it's been actually quite a long time. Um, we did a couple of shows actually about a year ago, around Christmas time. We did a small show that was because one of our songs was included in "Guitar Hero III." So, they were presenting the game and they invited us to play some songs. And then we had another show for the birthday party of this Italian rock TV channel which is called Rock TV. And they invited us to headline there. And that was actually the last show we played in Italy.
It was during Christmas time last year, right? Was it somehow Christmas themed also?
Yeah, it was probably couple of weeks before Christmas.
But were you, I don't know, covering some Christmas music there or playing your own.
No-no! (Laughs.) We were playing our own stuff.
OK, now a special question! I have had this, perhaps a misconception, that Italians are excellent cooks. How about You? I mean You don't exactly fit into the profile of an "average Italian." And I mean it as a compliment! So do You have any "special food" You like to prepare? Or perhaps You have a 100-years old recipe inherited through the ages from Your ancestors?
If I had that I would be rich by now. (Laughs.) I'd go selling it on E-bay and I wouldn't be sitting here. Actually, I must say that of all the people I know from Italy, 80% know how to cook. Even just like a simple pasta. It's true - Italians actually cook. Some cook better, some not, but it's true. And I can make pretty much anything. I mean, as long as you can read a cookbook, you can cook.
Yeah, but still Italians have this special gene.
Yeah, well. I think it's more that we have a lot of different food. Depending on like in which region you're in, and even city by city it's different. We have specialities that only came from that place. So, we have such a variety of food. You can eat something different every day for at least one year, if you travel the country.
You have these nice little cafeterias all around, sit down and have a little Siesta in between and go again.
How do you stay in contact with your families at home. Perhaps through Internet or phones.
As much as we can. You know we are gone so often away from home and it's nice to keep in touch. At least let them know that everything is fine, like hearing from them that everything is fine and so on. We try to do this as much as we can.
So, feeling very homesick by now?
I must say that we are past that phase. Some times You feel like "aww, I wish I was home," you know, after a while. But it's not that bad because otherwise we wouldn't be doing this any more after 10 years.
It's something that you learn how to deal with.
Do you remember when was the last time you saw some concert or gig that other guys played and you were enjoying and watching. What was the last experience?
I must say that because of all the touring that we do, I don't really go to a lot of shows when I'm home. I mean, I go when there's a band that really interests me or there are bands that I know and that we are friends with. But every time we're on tour with bands that I like, I watch them all the time. For example, we did a tour with Opeth in 2003 in the United States. I was watching their show every single time. I didn't miss one, really! (Laughs.) It's good, you know, to tour with bands you like because it's, like, you're done playing and then you can enjoy... (shows us how to relax on the couch) ...aaahh... and then you look at their show.
Did You hang around with Opeth, with those guys?
Oh, yeah-yeah! We're really good friends.
Oh! That's nice to hear. Opeth is also coming to Estonia in February.
Oh? Well, if You interview them, say hi from us!
Will do that! We'll probably interview them also. (I'm looking for the next question in my papers.) Mm... Do You play some computer or video games? I mean you're on the road and perhaps it gets boring.
Oh yes! (Laughs.)
Got your laptops with You?
Oh, absolutely! The tour we just finished with Bullet, we didn't have anything to do all day, because we couldn't sound check. Because we had digital boards and stuff, so we saved all the settings and... well, it was digital, you know. So, we were getting up at, I don't know, like 10 - 10:30, and then until 8 o'clock in the evening we didn't have anything to do. Yes, sometimes you can go walk around and do a little sightseeing. But we toured pretty much in Northern Europe. So it got really cold and you don't really want to walk around for too long. So, we had a X-Box on the bus and played video games, computer games. Everybody found like a way to kill time, you know.
Did You have some kind of LAN-party with Bullet there or something?
Um, they don't really seem like the guys who play a lot of computer games. Besides they were pretty busy, because they actually did sound check every day. They had more stuff to do than we did, really.
Interview with Cristiano Migliore from Lacuna Coil
What were you playing? I'm interested.
I'm a big fan of PC games. I play X-Box as well, you know, there are some games that I like, you know, like "Halo," "Halo 3." Pretty much like shooters and stuff. But I'm a big fan of PC-games. I play anything that's slightly interesting: "World of Warcraft," "Crysis." Like any game that's worth playing, I do.
Are you playing with your mates on the bus?
No, we can't do that, because we don't have a net on the bus. Sometimes when we find a venue that has Internet, then I try to go online. But they're not really into computer games. They're into, like, X-Box games more. Soccer and stuff like that.
Yeah, "Swamped" was used in one video game - "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines." This was back in 2003 or so.
Do You remember, how that happened? How did they choose it?
That time we were touring the US. I think we were doing Ozzfest or something like that and it was when "Heaven's a Lie" started getting super popular and I think the publisher of the video game, I think it was Activision. They were looking for bands for bands to include in the soundtrack of the game that would fit the atmosphere. And when we were asked, we were like: "Wow! Yeah, we got to do it!" I played the first "Vampire: the Masquerade" game that came out on computer and when they asked I was like: "Yeah! Yeah! We got to do it!" I actually played the whole game and saw the ending with our song and it was awesome! You're own song in a video game is like "wow!" (Laughs.)
You also play "Guitar Hero" on the X-Box there. So, is it weird to play, like, you're a guitarist and then there are 5 buttons...
It's always weird. It's not at all like playing guitar at all. Even if I can play "Closer," the song that's on there, with "Guitar Hero" it's so hard. Because you're pressing tour frets and don't really know what you're doing. It's like learning your song all over again.
So You haven't achieved the maximum score.
No-no! Even if I finish it, that's that. (Laughs.)
Ivor: Does your other guitarist get the maximum score?
No, nobody actually could. He could play hard, but expert - no way! I see sometimes these clips on YouTube about these kids who play expert and like 100% and I'm like: "How the hell did You do it? It's impossible, man!"
Ivor: You probably have heard that "Swamped" was sung by an "Estonian Superstar." Some sort of "American Idol" kind of thing...
Yeah! Estonian Idol. (Laughs.)
Ivor: Yeah, you can put it that way. What was your reaction to that?
Well, it was a while ago. One of our fans from Estonia sent us an e-mail with a link to the video on YouTube. And we checked it out and I think it was great! She has a great voice. I mean, she sings a little bit different then Cristina but I think the performance was great. Especially a song that's not like a pop song on a show like that! It was really a matter of great pride for us, you know. Having somebody that does something like that for a metal band. OK, we're not a death metal band or a black metal band but still, you know, with distorted guitars and everything. So, it was great to see that and she actually won I think?
Ivor: Do you have anything similar in Italy? A similar show?
Ivor: Has any performer there chosen a rock or metal song?
No. Italy is not exactly the country of hard rock and heavy metal. The music, that's very popular, I'm not talking about, of course, the underground scene, where there are quite many metal bands and there are very good ones but the music you hear on the radios or on TV is very different. It's like this poppy-melodic Italian shit. (Laughs.) It's hard, actually, for bands like us to become popular over there. We actually had to go out and become successful in Europe first and then in the US, before Italy discovered us. They're like: "Oh, you're Italians?" Yeah, we are! Now I must say that it's starting to change a lot. We get our songs used for, I don't know, TV spots or commercials sometimes but nobody has covered any of our songs in a show like that yet.
Maybe you will revolutionize the Italian music scene.
Heh, let's hope so. (Laughs and has his fingers crossed.)
As this was a kind of cover of your song then how do you feel about covering in general, like "Enjoy the Silence" you were covering. And how about people covering you?
I think it's always good to hear how other people interpret your songs, you know. Because you think about the song in a certain way and just to give you an example, on the DVD there are three songs that are remixes of our song "To the Edge." We gave out the original tracks so that people could play with it and do whatever they want. And when we got all the selection, we had probably like 100 songs to go through. It was amazing to hear all the different results. Some were totally different of what we thought the song is, you know.
And you could choose only three from the hundred?
We could only choose three, unfortunately, because it was for a contest. But there were some that were really amazing, like techno versions or country versions and somebody even totally replayed all the parts, like even sang the vocals. It was amazing! You're like "wow!" I would have never thought of it. So when you hear other bands covering your song... There is actually a song by this American band Mantis who covered "Heaven's a Lie" with the singer from In This Moment, Maria. It's a totally death metal version. A friend of ours played it for us and at first we were like: "Yeah, it's like a death metal song." But then the chorus came and she sang the lines, the lyrics: "...set me free.." and we went like "What?!"
It's our song!
Yeah! It's our song! It was great. It was great because they did it in a completely different way. And it sounds like a really different song, except for the chorus. It's always great to hear that.
Seems like it opens your eyes and gives yourself some new ideas.
Yeah, yeah! Absolutely!
I heard, actually read, that you had some fun experience in the US with Rob Zombie and Nicolas Cage coming to see you and well, what happened there?
(Laughs.) Well, it was completely unexpected. We played Las Vegas and right after our show we just went back to our dressing room, like starting to relax, completely sweaty. It was me, Andrea, and Cristina, some of the other guys were already left and some were taking the shower. And Rob knocks on the door, opens the door and says: "Guys! Sorry to disturb but there's a good friend of mine that would like to say hello. Is it OK, If I bring him in?" And we were like: "Yeah, yeah, of course!" And we were like completely sweaty and smelly and everything. "Yeah, yeah, it's OK, it's OK!" So, this guy comes in with a kid, like 15 or 16 years old kid or something. And at first we were looking at him and couldn't really tell. And this guy says: "Ah, I would like to say, it was a great show and my son is a great fan of yours. Actually, from this night on I'm a big fan as well!" And we were like: "Ah, thank you! Thank you!" And then he just leaves. And then all of a sudden I realize: "Guys! Did you know who that guy was?!" And Andrea was like: "Ah, yeah! I couldn't really tell for sure." (Whispering.) "It's fucking Nicolas Cage!" So, we put on some clothes on and ran outside and take pictures and stuff. It was funny because at first nobody really recognized him, "Ah, thanks! Thank you! FUCK!" It was great!
(Laughing.) Nice! Lacuna Coil's first DVD is out in the stores, so congratulations!
Ah, thank you!
Yeah, got it here anyway. (Holding my DVD.) How is the reception?
Well, so far I've heard a lot of positive comments about it. I mean, people have been asking for DVD for years. They're like: "When are you going to release a DVD?! When?" And we have tried to put together as much of interesting stuff as possible. The live stuff, we wanted to have something very special. Not just like a show taping on a random venue where the sound is shit or whatever. So, when we played this Wacken Open Air in 2007, last year, there was like a professional filming crew that shot all of the bands...
Ivor: Yeah, Wacken has that.
...and they gave us a DVD after the show and it was actually very good. We were like: "This is amazing!" And we found out later on that they actually recorded the audio on the Pro Tools rig, so we could remix all the audio and make it as good as we could. Which is exactly what we did. I went to the studio for two weeks and remixed all the tracks because they did the first rough mix but they didn't know how to balance the different instruments. Sometimes the keyboards were super-loud, no guitars and Cristina's vocals were quiet back there. So, I spent two weeks with a sound engineer, that's a friend of ours in Milan, in the studio, and we just worked on the audio. We didn't really re-record anything. Everything You hear is exactly what we played there. You know, sometimes you hear about the DVD's that are redone in the studio completely. And when we heard the tracks we're like: "We don't even have to do that." It's just great. Yeah, there are some mistakes every once in a while, you know, that you probably wouldn't even notice but we do, as we know...
Ivor: It's part of the show.
Yeah, it's part of the show. I mean it's the way it should be. It's what people who go to the show will hear, so why would you want to put out a live concert with a studio sound?
Yeah, just put the picture there with the music on a CD in another tray...
Have you heard anything about the sales of the DVD?
It's still too early. It came out like a month ago, I think. (Ed: 31st October 2008.) So, we're still waiting for the sales and stuff. But, you know, DVD's don't sell as records do. It's more of an amateur thing. People who are big fans will buy it but if you don't know the band then probably not. I mean, you might probably buy a CD just to check them out but you're not going to buy a DVD because that stuff won't probably interest you anyway.
Yeah. It's probably more to the hardcore fans.
Exactly, exactly. But so far, we had some meet-and-greets during the Bullet tour and I've seen a lot of people with actually that edition (pointing at the deluxe edition), that's more expensive one. It's like: "Wow, that's great!" Our fans seem to have liked it a lot.
Yeah, there's nice Wacken audio CD, sure.
You told already about the Wacken taped the whole thing but perhaps something more about the making of process, like you chose the three mixed tracks, but what else?
We did also like these individual little clips, where each one of us went around and did some stupid stuff. It was fun! We got told at the very last moment, like: "Oh, guys! We want to include something like this." And we were like "Whoa!" So, everybody were running around during the last week before the deadline, shooting stuff, and we didn't even know what to do, you know. In the end it's actually kind of funny to see what came out. I think Maus' video is amazing, or Marco's as well with a day in his life. Like going around and getting drunk at the pub. I think there's actually quite a lot of stuff that is interesting to our fans. We tried to select stuff you wouldn't normally see otherwise, like the behind the scenes of the videos that we shot: "Closer," "Enjoy the Silence," and "Our Truth." And it's stuff that has never been released before because it was shot by friend of ours, that gave us the tapes especially for this thing. So, we edited and put it together so people could see how stupid we look when we shoot the videos.
Ivor: OK, they are telling us to wrap it up so let's finish with the new album. What can you tell us about the status?
Well, we are done with the recordings. We recorded everything in LA, between August and the September and it was a really good experience. It was the first time we recorded in the States. It was a really good experience because it was totally different than what we did before here, in Europe. It's a different way of working. The sound is different. Of course, it's going to be Lacuna Coil album. I think it's going to be more in-your-face, more direct, you know. We tried to avoid putting like a million riffs and stuff like that. But to have stuff that is really there, you know, so people wouldn't get bored after two minutes or something. It's not going to be a pop album, don't worry about that, but we're really happy with the results. We keep listening to it, because they actually mixed it while we were on tour so we weren't in a studio while they did it. And we kept getting different versions and we were telling like change this and that. We finally have the master now finished and we were listening to it last night, actually, at the hotel. It's pretty exciting because it has been a long time since "Karmacode" came out and we can't wait until we can play the new stuff.
But why Los Angeles?
Well, we had the chance to do it and we have always wanted to try. We're big fans of American productions, because bands like Korn and even Limp Bizkit, although I don't like Limp Bizkit a lot, like the music, but the production, it's so much more powerful. I don't know what they do and how they do it but Americans, they always sound like huge, compared to most European bands. Well, bands like Rammstein, even though they're German, they still have this huge sound but they probably spent like a million Euros to record albums.
Ivor: Do you have the title for the new album and can you reveal it?
I can't say yet, I can't. It's going to be revealed soon, though. (It was a matter of days when the title was revealed, the new album is called "Shallow Life.")
Ivor: OK, do you have a release schedule?
Um, we are hoping we can release it around like March or maybe April next year. Yeah, hopefully that will be the time.
Ivor: OK, that's great to hear! If I can, I'll ask one question that's of personal interest to me. You all are in some way involved in the recording process and creating music. Besides your friendship keeps you together. Is that all that has been keeping you together for nine years in a row? In contrast bands with central mastermind like Opeth, or Therion, or Pain of Salvation, they do seem to have rotating members. What's this special thing that keeps you together?
I don't know. We were friends even before we started the band. I mean me, Andrea, Cristina and Marco know each other for probably like 15 years, so even before Lacuna Coil was born. I was playing a different band and when the first line up split up, they asked me because we were friends. So, we actually asked our drummer Criz and then Maus, the other guitar player later on if they wanted to join us. And we've always been really good friends. I mean, we've always gone through the same hard times together, you know, like when you start a band and you struggle to get somewhere. I guess it's, I don't know...
...friendship. You know, sometimes even I am surprised. We're like: "Wow! We've lasted like over 10 years and we're still here and doing it." I guess also one of the main reasons is that we could see an improvement from album to album and this really kept us together for so long.
Ivor: That's great!
I want to thank Ivor for being my wingman and Taat for organising the whole thing. And of course Cristiano, who turned out to be a pretty cool guy.
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