Lacuna Coil is preparing to make a return to the U.S. this spring for a special West Coast run. Metal Contraband’s Chelsea spoke with iconic Lacuna Coil frontwoman Cristina Scabbia just before the holidays in 2022, and we’re pulling this one from the archives to share in light of the upcoming tour.
We are here mostly to talk about your new release of Comalies XX, and this is an awesome record because it’s not just a reissue or remastered album, but you took a whole new look at the original Comalies and gave it a fresh energy that is very fitting of Lacuna Coil in 2022. To start off, what made you revisit and dig so deeply into this record?
Yeah, you said it right, Chelsea, it’s not an embellished version, it’s not a remastered, but we really wanted to give the proper homage to a record that came out twenty years ago, Comalies, and it is very important for Lacuna Coil because it’s the record that made us do the next step. We saw things changing after Comalies, it was the very first time that we started to work in a more professional way, and we saw the popularity of the band growing, and it gave us more opportunities to travel around the world, to play and compose our music. It was worked on as a new record, though. Because even though it was our tribute, it’s not something that we did like, “Okay, there was this record, let’s refresh it, let’s write it in five minutes”. We treated it as a new record, and it is sounding like a different record because we accumulated many experiences, we grew as songwriters, we write songs differently. We obviously took advantage of, nowadays, technology that we didn’t have back then when everything was recorded in analog. And we relived everything in a new spirit, but keeping the same vibe because the songwriters are still the same, you know? Just with a few more years over the shoulder, but it’s still us. So it was cool to work on something new, keeping the vibe alive, but work on a record that sounds different.
I like that you made the point that it is the same songwriters at the end of the day, but just like it’s new versions of the songs, in a way, it’s new versions of the songwriters, because like you said, you guys have the experiences of touring and so many other records since Comalies under your belts, I feel you definitely took a new look and new perspective as, you know, more experienced versions of yourselves.
Totally, I like to say that it’s like meeting an old friend, which is, of course, someone that you’ve known for so long and been waiting to meet again. But, of course, this person changed along the years, and it’s a different person, so you’re meeting a different person and how the person is in present days. So it’s kind of the same idea.
Was there anything that you found a challenge to re-record, or something that really made you think hard about how best to transform it for the modern record?
*laughs* Everything. Because when you’re redoing a record that became a cult record for many people, many fans, you’re basically touching holy grounds. When you write a new record from scratch, some people will like it, some people might not like it, but it’s something new. They can say anything about it, because nobody’s even heard those songs before. But in Comalies XX’s case, we were talking about songs that were very much loved from fans, so working on them with a different spirit was also risky for us, because we didn’t know how people would react to it. We knew that we were loving the songs, but of course, you’re putting out something without knowing the reaction. And this time, we were expecting the reaction from new fans, but also old-school fans, that knew every single song so well. So it was very stressful. Maki, our bass player, went in his house in the mountains for a long time because he was like, “I don’t want any distractions, I just want to be alone because I have to focus on the music”. It was really hard on him, basically, because obviously we changed some vocal lines, but we didn’t change the lyrics. So for Andrea and I, it was less work on this side. The music was the real change, and then of course, we had to put everything together, to change parts here and there, to re-sing everything, to re-record every bit of music. It felt like it was a new record, but with the stress of redoing a classic record.
Kind of like a little bit of a legacy hanging over it for the album, like a “we have to live up to this, but put our own new spin on it” kind of thing.
Yes, not stress because we are working toward an expectation from outside, but obviously we were feeling the pressure, because we love it, but of course we have been playing these songs for many years, we wrote them so we feel we have the right to change them if we’d like to, but we were really wondering if our fans would have been sharing the same opinion. And, luckily, they liked it! Very much. So much now that some of them are confused. Because they’re like, “we don’t know anymore, the original version or the new one”. And they don’t even have to choose, because pretty much in every version, you will find the original Comalies, in Comalies XX, which I think is a pretty cool thing.
Definitely, yeah, I was going to say, they don’t even have to necessarily choose, I agree, because the two can stand as unique works on their own. Just related in a certain way. But you mentioned that you didn’t have to do too much in terms of lyrics and vocals, to change it up too much, but there were a few spots where you and Andrea did switch places from the original songs. So was this something kind of spontaneous that you found yourselves doing along the way?
Yes, yes, because we really wanted Andrea to growl on this record, and I knew that I would have been doing some of the parts in a better way because of the experience, more years on the road and recording, and it absolutely happened spontaneously. The fact that I said that Andrea and I had less to do was just because writing the lyrics, it’s an extra job the singer has to do usually, compared to the rest of the band, but the band is always responsible for music. In our case, Maki is the main composer of the music, and as I said, for him, it was difficult to keep the core of Comalies and transform it into Comalies 2022. We changed, completely, some of the parts, but most of them, we kind of kept the same. We swapped some parts, but we sung them better with a better intention. Because it was not the case to change everything completely. I would have never changed it completely. There are some things that I like very, very much. It “vintaged” very well throughout the years.
Absolutely, and I feel like that’s a great perspective to have as a musician, kind of validating as a musician, because a lot of times, bands, when they finish a record, they might go back and pick at it a little bit like, “Oh, I could have done that differently, could have approached that a different way”. So for you to be able to look back at certain things and say, “You know what? I liked the way that was, and I’m going to keep it”, that’s a great validation as a musician.
Yeah, I mean pretty much every artist will tell you that they would change something about their songs, their paintings…it’s always hard to find out that moment in which a song is complete and you call it done. Because you’re always like, “Ehh, maybe I can change this, maybe I can arrange this one, maybe I could have sung this one better”, but there is a point in which you have to say, “Okay, that’s it”, because if we get over, we’re going to lose the purpose of writing a song, and we’re going to lose the momentum and the vibe into it.
Now, you guys also just did Comalive, so that was a highly anticipated concert, and songs from Comalies have always been in your setlist over time, but was this actually the first time playing them all in the same set?
It was, because all together, yes, we played four songs out of the set, we played “Tight Rope”, we played “Swamped” because there were videos out…I don’t remember which other ones we did, but there were four on the tour we did before Comalive. And it was special, it was very special. This was our second anniversary show. The other one was The 119 Show in London, and we thought about a completely different show, because the 119 was highly spectacular, we had a big group of aerials and people working in a real circus. So we had a lot of performers on stage, we had effects. There were a lot of things. We were playing in a setup that looked like a real circus tent, and this time we wanted the opposite. We wanted the show to be very, very intimate. We wanted to keep it a one-shot. We wanted people from all around the world together for a show that would never be streamed, that was just happening there. We just wanted to be with our people there and live the moment. And I’m so sorry, of course, we had to make this decision, sometimes you just want to reach everyone, and obviously with the streaming, with the recording, it’s easier. But we really wanted to be there with them in that precise moment. And it really happened, it felt really magical, everybody that came to the show that I talked to really felt the intimacy of that show. During one song, I even decided to go in the crowd, I just walked there in the middle of the crowd without security, but I felt protected. It was one of the moments in my life where I felt the most protected in a situation that could have potentially been…I’m not going to say dangerous, but you know how fans can be sometimes. They want to touch you, they want to be close to you, so without even thinking about them coming over me or suffocating me, everything was perfect. Everybody was living the moment, everybody was hearing me and the band singing and performing, and the whole show was magical.
That’s amazing, I love that you had that magical experience, and I’m sure it was magical for everyone there too, definitely, that’s awesome. So moving a little outside of the world of Lacuna Coil for a moment, a little more into Cristina’s world as an individual, I saw from your social media that you just went to a film premiere this week, of Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, that’s awesome. How was that?
I went yesterday, and it was amazing. It’s a pretty long movies, it’s like 2 hours and 40 [minutes]. I can’t spoil, of course, what I saw, but I liked it a lot. I’m one of those people that wants to enjoy the emotions out of every movie. Movies without being too anal, without saying, “Oh, but in the previous episode, he was wearing a jacket that was slightly different”. I’m not that type of person. I just want a movie to grab my attention, and most of the time I have a very short attention span because I am very easily distracted by things, because I am always curious, I see something and I just want to pursue that new something that I just saw. The fact that I stayed there watching the movie for 2 hours and 40 minutes tells a lot, because it really caught my attention. The fights are amazing, the CGI’s amazing, I love the fierceness of the Wakanda, and I just went out of the movie feeling stronger and empowered. It’s hard to describe, but I liked it a lot.
I think you described it well, and that’s awesome. It’s easy to see your connection and appreciation with pop culture, comics, Marvel, that whole world. You’re definitely familiar with comic book stories since you’re also part of one as well. Can you tell me about Lacuna Coil meeting Batman there?
Yes! That’s an awesome collaboration we did with DC Comics. It was incredible for , when they asked us first, it was back in 2018, 19, they asked us if we wanted to become an official cover for #68 of Batman. It was like “…What? Excuse me? Our favorite hero? What?”, it came as a surprise and I can’t believe that not only that occasion, but it happened again for another comic. There was a very special edition that was including many things and also a book that was putting together different designs of Lacuna Coil in the Batman world, and it was incredible. It’s still amazing to think that we did this, and we’re so thankful towards DC Comics for allowing us to be part of the Batman universe.
Absolutely, that’s so cool, it’s two great worlds collide in a sense there.
Absolutely! In the darkness, perfect. *laughs*
And you were also recently part of Lucca Comics & Games, which, for those in the U.S. that don’t know, is a huge pop culture festival in Europe, I’d love to hear more about your involvement with that.
Yes! I mean, I’ve been seeing Lucca Comics & Games pretty much growing during the years, because a lot of people in the organization are my friends, and I remember back in, I think, ’95, ’96, and that’s the very first time I went there, it was very, very extremely small. There were a few booths, it was something super, super small, and it grew so much to become one of the biggest comic conventions in the world, in a beautiful city like Lucca, which is this medieval city, it’s something extremely unique. And, this year my involvement was different, because we played there once with Lacuna Coil, we presented the DC Comics Batman collaboration. This year, they asked me to be part of the official hosts for the digital part, so I was on their official Twitch, we were streaming a couple of hours each a day. Actually, I was streaming a couple of hours because I had to stream with them, but I also had to do other stuff, including panels, I did some interviews, I did a roleplaying game one night with other content creators. I had the honor to moderate a panel for the new Dungeons & Dragons movie that’s coming out next year, so the producer and directors came to Lucca, and I got to interview them and present the movie, or some trailers, to the crowd. And it was overall a very tiring but very, very cool experience. I learned a lot. I have decided to try something different because I wanted to learn something. I never really did interviews, I was always the one on the other side, and I wanted to take my risks. I’ve learned throughout the years that it’s better to say, “I tried this, and I failed, but I learned from it”, instead of saying, “I didn’t have the balls to do it, and I lost the opportunity”. I like to learn this way, in the roughest way. But everything went amazingly, I learned so much, I worked with an amazing crew, and I’m very, very happy about that.
That’s awesome, and I totally agree, and I’m glad you had that awesome experience. Something I have to throw out here is, we’re approaching the holidays, and I have to say that Lacuna Coil “Naughty Christmas” song is part of my yearly listening, it always gets stuck in my head, it’s so great, first time I heard it, I loved it.
*laughs* That makes me so happy. Because, I mean, it became a classic somehow. And it’s the same for us, we always play it around Christmas. The inspiration for it came out of Krampus, which is basically the…not the helper of Santa Claus, but he is the guy, let’s call it a guy, that basically punishes kids that have not behaved during the year. We said, “Okay, we don’t want to make a song about Santa, but about the Krampus”, and it was born, and it’s our favorite.
It’s so much fun, and it fits in perfectly – the metal world would feel a little weird sometimes talking about Santa, but Krampus? Perfect. Fits perfectly.
Krampus, perfect. I love Krampus, and we have so many cultural rituals here about Krampus. They even do, sometimes, parades in costumes of Krampus. And I’ve never witnessed one, I’ve seen some of the Krampus at Lucca Comics, and it was awesome, but there are some parades with a lot of them.
That’s so fun. It’s funny, you know, it’s really not so much of a thing in the U.S., but I mean, they did have that Krampus film a couple of years ago, and I feel like people are a little more aware now, but it’s just interesting because I do see a lot of references in European culture, bands, and everybody tends to know about Krampus.
They should know, they should Google it. It’s cool. If you behave.
Exactly! *laughs* Got to be careful. Of course, the holidays are approaching, we’ll definitely be blasting Lacuna Coil’s “Naughty Christmas”, got to listen to that. Tell me what else is on the horizon for Cristina, and Lacuna Coil.
Well, we are going to be leaving soon, we have some gigs aligning, we’re going to be away for about a month, we’re coming back right before Christmas. We’re going to be in Dubai for the first time, Singapore for the first time, Manila for the first time, Colomadu for the first time. And then we’re coming back to Australia for a festival, for different gigs, and then we’re going to Japan, we’re going to be playing in Tokyo, we’re going to be staying there a couple of extra days as tourists. And it’s going to be a lot of flights, but I’m sure that we’re going to have a great time.
Keeping busy and just having a great time with Lacuna Coil Comalies XX. Congrats on the release, and it’s been awesome talking with you today. Thank you so much!
My pleasure, thank you, Chelsea.
(Metal Contraband thanks Cristina for the interview)