Interview: Lacuna Coil
I think the performance was good and that's what people really appreciate. The fact that there was a lot of energy, almost like a real show, even though it was completely different than a normal live show.
With live gigs being off the agenda for what seems like forever now (although hopefully they will start coming back soon), Italian gothic metal heroes Lacuna Coil took thee absence into their own hands and recorded a live show especially for all their fans which has just been released. The live album which is aptly titled Live From The Apocalypse, sees the band in their natural habitat (albeit under different circumstances than usual), giving it their all with a set that sees them playing their last album Black Anima in its entirety and with the absence of live gigs, it’s a worthwhile substitute until shows return. Gavin Brown caught up with Lacuna Coil vocalist Andrea Ferro to hear all about Live From The Apocalypse and the show it was recorded at as well as hearing all about standing up for the return of live music, the return of shows, the bands history of playing Download and other memorable gigs, working with DC on their own Batman comic and the state of play with the new Lacuna Coil album.
E&D: Your new live album Live From The Apocalypse is out now. Are you excited to share the album with the world and get that out there?
Andrea: Yeah, I mean, this is a show we did, a streaming show, last September during the lockdown basically. We just planned it to be just a show, just the live streaming with people watching and we put it on right in the moment when it was live, we left it online for a few more days. We just wanted it to be a unique event, like a proper concert. Then after that, a lot of people started to ask if they can have the DVD, if they can have the images, obviously it wasn’t meant to be a DVD, but we decided to do a CD and vinyl and you get the DVD as a bonus, because it was not wasn’t meant to be a super cool DVD with a lot of different angles and stuff like that. It was more about streaming the show from a nice venue with nice production and that’s it. It became something after people started to ask for something and we talked with the label and decided to put it out and then get the DVD as a bonus because it is what it is. We had to cut the images a little bit because during the live streaming, we had people commenting and sending messages and interactions with the band. We had to cut those for privacy reasons obviously. It came out pretty well and sounds good, so we decided why not? People have been asking for it, let’s do it and it also fills the gap we have now because of the pandemic.
E&D: You played your last album, Black Anima in full at the show. How was it playing the new songs and had you played them live before all this kicked off?
Andrea: No, most of the songs we never played live. We started promotion for Black Anima in the United States with a tour with All That Remains and we only introduced the first two singles, ‘Layers Of Time’ and ‘Reckless’. Then we did a European tour with Eluveitie that we played maybe four or five of the new songs. Then we went to South America where we did the same basically and right after South America, we landed in Milan on a Saturday and on Monday we started with the soft lockdown because of the virus. We didn’t have time to promote the album so we had to relearn, let’s say most of the songs to be played live because we wanted to do all the album and the bonus tracks as well so people can hear them all, even if we can’t tour, so we had to learn a lot of songs. We needed a lot of rehearsal, even if the pandemic condition made it a little difficult with all the rules and distances and stuff, but we made it happen. It was only stressful because of so many new songs all at once, you know, but in the end, I think the performance was good and that’s what people really appreciate. The fact that there was a lot of energy, almost like a real show, even though it was completely different than a normal live show.
E&D: How was the experience of playing the show during the live stream? Was it strange not having an audience there and were you conscious of that?
Andrea: It really sucks to play without an audience! In the beginning we talked to the promoter and we thought we could put maybe 200 people sitting down, separated and stuff like that, but then it wasn’t possible because the rules weren’t clear enough, they were unclear on what the risk was and who’s responsibility it was, so we decided to just play for the empty room with the techs watching. The greatest thing was to see our crew and the people working for the venue and for the director for the streaming, to see them work for one day. They went back and did what they normally do. It was just so happy to do what they always do and what they normally do that they haven’t been able to do for such a long time. Everybody was so happy about going back to the reality of your life. That’s the greatest outcome we have personally about being there. Obviously people were also happy to kind of reconnect with the band and seeing that it was still possible to do something, even if not exactly what everybody wants, but, but in terms of, as a band it sucks to be without a crowd, you try to find a focus on something else. The only thing that really catches our attention was the fact that we have to perform so many new songs, to remember all the words, remember not to fuck it up! That was the feeling we had but other than that, we felt relief when we were done because there was so much responsibility at the same time.
E&D: In February just gone you made your presence felt online about the closure of the live music scene in Italy and how. Can you tell us about that situation and, and what progress has been made since then in terms of live music coming back?
Andrea: Yeah, it’s been brought up because we knew that a lot of the fans probably weren’t getting it personally, because obviously you announce a free live streaming and then they don’t get any, they just see us onstage not saying anything, so it was tough, especially because we were one of the few international bands to do it, so a lot of people outside of Italy weren’t aware of the situation as much. We tried to keep it for Italy, like just saying only in Italian, nothing in English or other languages, just to try to avoid as much as possible people waking up at six in the morning in South America got to see a show that never happened and get pissed, we tried to avoid that, but obviously there’s no way you do a strike with a meaningful message if you do something that nobody cares, you know, if you say no we were joking, it’s not going to happen. Then nobody is watching, nobody gets pissed off, nobody talks about it, so what we have achieved, although it was more meant to be for Italy, everybody can relate to because the problem is the same everywhere. What we have achieved is that from a budget dedicated to the venues, we got 50 million euros, which is nothing if you put it in perspective of how many people need hell but at least it’s better than the zero that was there before, so it worked, we had the attention from the politicians, all the news talked about it, so it had a stronger impact than we expected to have, although we knew we were going to also have some backlash from the fans because they were disappointed and and we didn’t want them to pay for it. It was meant just for public opinion to talk about it but there was no easy way to do it. It is like when you do a strike, you go in and block the model, you don’t do it in front of the factory where nobody cares, you just do it to cause problems because that’s the only way to get attention.
E&D: What are your touring plans once gigs and tours can start happening again?
Andrea: We have received some offers for this summer in Italy, also some European shows as well, but we have decided not to take them. We have decided to wait because we feel it’s still a little early. The vaccination is doing well. The campaign but there is still too many complications at the moment, so we have decided about working on the new album, start working on a new album then go out in 2022, starting from Spring, something like that, introducing maybe one or two new songs and then working from then on. We say just wait, we don’t want to play for sitting down people or stuff like that. I’m sure in one year or one year and a half it will be better even if not totally normal, so we have decided to do that and work mostly on the album and focusing on other side projects we are doing then start to play live again.
E&D: What is the progress on the new album and when can expect that?
Andrea: We’re still at the beginning process, so we have some music, some kind of songs but not many and we are mostly focusing on finding the right concepts, because normally we start from a concept, its not a concept album, but just an overall concept that goes together with the art of the album and all of the ideas behind the album, not just the songs or the lyrics but the right ideas and the first melodies. It will be a while before we will be done, but at least now we feel more creative because all during the lockdown, we fell completely flat with inspiration, like zero input. The lifestyle was just, I’m going to the supermarket with gloves and a mask, nothing was coming alive. Especially when we write normally, it is based on our life experiences, so instead of doing two years of touring where we meet people and you you listen to new bands , they give us a lot of influence but instead, we’ve been sitting home doing nothing, playing guitar, but not really not really getting any proper inputs. Now we feel a little bit more recharged and ready to go, to face something like this, but it’s been a year of just a flatline!
E&D: On a more positive note, you’re playing the Download Festival next year, are you looking forward to getting back and playing at Donington again?
Andrea: Of course. We have played there quite a few times now and it’s always such a great show, such a great crowd, crazy things happen! The last time I remember there was a pile of people piling up doing our show and it gets higher and higher. It was so crazy, so it’s a great, great festival even if the weather, sometimes it is a bit dodgy, but there’s still such a great atmosphere. it’s unique. I think it’s one of the unique festivals of Europe together with Wacken and Graspop, you know, those classic European shows that you don’t want to miss, so we’re looking forward to coming, hopefully having a couple of new songs to play. We have debuted songs at Download before and it always brings good luck to the album, hopefully it’s going to be the same.
E&D: You’ve also played other big festivals, you mentioned Wacken there and you played festivals like Soundwave and Ozzfest. What were some of your favourite memories of playing these big festivals?
Andrea: Well, Ozzfest definitely has been the very first time we real see we were growing as a band in America, internationally in general but especially in America. It was the first time we were on the same lineup with Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Slayer, Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Hatebreed, all the bands we were looking at in magazines, they were there, right in front of us. I remember we just got a drum endorsement at the time, for the very first time and we got a new drum kit from Pearl and Bill Ward from Black Sabbath, we were becoming friends because he liked our music and he played our songs on his radio show in California, so he came to our table and introduced himself and we became friends and he came to check out our drum kit with our drummer while he was building it, and he helped him out build it and he’d give him suggestions. Those kinds of things, they don’t happen when you are in a rehearsal room or when you’re playing a little club, so then you realise how much your life is changing, and also by the end of Ozzfest, we became the second best selling band at the CD tent after Slipknot, who had just gotten Volume 3, one of the greatest albums they did, so you realise something is changing, our songs started to be played on radio and MTV requests for a video, so many things piling up that you realise that something’s changing. That’s one of the biggest memories, but obviously also Australia for Soundwave , that is such a cool festival that travels around Australia, so the same plane you got, I remember Alice In Chains, Nine Inch Nails, Lamb Of God, Devildriver and us, and we would stay in the same hotel. I will always remember, Alice In Chains, one of our favourite bands ever, we were sitting outside of the hotel and then there was Jerry Cantrell smoking a cigarette or on the phone, something like that and he came to us and said are you guys Lacuna Coil! Jerry Cantrell knew who we are! It was such an adventure, it was a unique experience, but I have to say even nowadays that we have been playing everywhere, it’s always a great, great feeling to still be relevant there with all those bands that you always admire, that they made such an impact in a career, its such an honour for us to be there and still be able to do it.
E&D: What are some of your favourite gigs that you’ve played over the years, that have stood in your mind as being memorable? There must’ve been quite a few!
Andrea: Oh yeah. I mean, obviously it’s hard to say. Some you remember for very good things and some you remember for very bad things. I will always remember that one time. I think it was 2000 and we played for the first time in Belfast, Northern Ireland and towards the end of the show, I fell on the drum kit and I dislocated my shoulder, which I already have a problem because of skateboarding years before, so I ended up singing two more songs with the shoulder out and then I had to rush to the hospital to put it back in. I had a guy behind me that was having a heart attack so the machinery that was checking him was being crazy with the sound. It was such a traumatic thing, I’ll always remember that show, but then you have also very positive shows where, for example, we did some smaller shows in very tiny venues in between bigger tours. We did one in New York City, a bar in Brooklyn and the place was super packed with people crowdsurfing and we had no way to escape. We were there with no security access in the back so the only way was in the front. It’s super warm, but the show was crazy! We could barely hear because of the PA and the people screaming but it was such a great show, sometimes you have the craziest show, even if there’s not so many people and it can be better than a huge sold out arena, which could be very cold and not very personal, although we love to play for a lot of people, obviously, but sometimes it doesn’t really matter about the size of the venue.It’s more about the vibe we have from the place, from the crowd and it’s just cool to do all kinds of experiences.
E&D: You released the Batman: Death Metal comic with DC recently. Can you tell us about that and how that opportunity came about? That’s awesome!
Andrea: We started, last year, a collaboration with DC comics. They contacted us maybe a couple of years ago and then we did a comic just for Italy, they had this special volume called Dark Knight: Metal metal, they had inspiration from Greg Capulo, who is the guy who draws all the characters. He’s always been a metal guy, he’s always been drawing album covers for Korn, Disturbed, Iced Earth, a lot of different metal bands. He is into metal so he decided together with the creator to go for a complete metal multiverse of Batman, so it’s a story, that takes place in the multiverse where Batman is actually an evil character and they get all kinds of craziness, all kinds of different distortion of the Wonder Woman and Superman characters and it is all taken from the aesthetics of metal albums and the metal world. They asked if we want to do a collaboration for Italy which is a huge comic book market, of course we said yes, who wouldn’t want to be in a Batman comic! Everybody has been on a metal cover but not many bands have been on a Batman one! We love comic books, we love video games and that stuff so obviously we say yes, and then during the tour, the first for Black Anima in America, we went to DC comics in Los Angeles, the main office and they took us to visit Warner Brothers where they do all the films for DC studios. They got a museum for the costumes. We saw the original costumes from Aquaman and from Harry Potter as well. A lot of different stuff from the movies they do and we just got to hang out, we had a great time together. The metal series was very successful so they decided to do death metal this time, which is even more metal than the one before. They involved those other bands, and every month there was a different band collaboration on the cover like Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Ghost and they asked us if we wanted to do it again, so obviously we said yes again! It is in all different languages, German, French, Spanish. It’s just cool. It’s just perfect for us. We love it and we go to the comic conventions. When we did the first collaboration with Batman, we went to Luca comics, which is one of the biggest comic convention in Europe that takes place in Tuscany and it’s pretty cool because it’s a medieval town and all the town becomes the comics. You start in one big warehouse, spreading out around the medieval town, on the walls, full of cosplay, like a hundred thousand people in one week, something like that. It’s huge and we went there and signed all the copies of the comic for the fans and sold t-shirts, it’s pretty cool, we played there one year for Halloween.
E&D: That obviously must’ve been a highlight in your career with Lacuna Coil, what other highlights stick out in your memory?
Andrea: There’s obviously many, many, times, you know. It’s hard, but I can say, I always been a very big Danzig fan, Misfits as well and so we got a chance to tour with him twice, actually in America. I remember one night we played our headline show at the Key Club in Los Angeles, a smaller venue on the Sunset Strip. I saw him in the balcony, he came to the show, we didn’t know he was coming. I saw him at the bar and then we went together for dinner at The Rainbow., so we talked about how his family’s originally from Italy and he knows everything about the Italian comic books, especially from the eighties, we got a lot of horror softcore kind of comics, about vampires and sex and stuff like that. He knew everything, he actually owns a little comic book store so we talked about the comics I grew up with as a kid, he knew everything and all the collections, so it was cool to getting to know somebody deeper, someone you had looked up to. That’s just one, you know, I can tell you also about when we played at the House Of Blues in Las Vegas, we were on tour with Rob Zombie and after we played, he came to our dressing and said “Hey guys, do you want to meet my friend, Nic, he’s here with his son and he really liked your show. Do you want to meet him” and we said, of course, give us five minutes to get ready and then come in. Five minutes later he came in and he was Nicholas Cage! Those kind of cool things that don’t happen every day so when that happens, it’s pretty cool, we took a picture together and he said it was a good show. That was pretty cool!