(Photo Credit: Raymond Flotat)
If you compare Lacuna Coil’s early music or even just looking back at the album covers, it’s crystal clear that the band is in a different phase of its musical career. Several member change ups and the toll of everyday life make Lacuna Coil‘s 8th studio album Delirium , released on May 27th through Century Media Records, the perfect departure from the traditional metal album, showcasing the growth of the band as a whole and as individuals. I caught up with front man Andrea Ferro to expand on the experiences that influenced the album and lead to the construction of Lacuna Coil’s private sanatorium.
mxdwn: Can you share with me some of the events that that transpired that led to this greater depth of sound?
Andrea: Basically we started working on the song “Delirium” on the album and then we were looking for words that could speak to the chorus of that song. We were kind of obsessive with those kinds of words and then we came up with the word delirium. Once that word came in, it kind of opened a much bigger lesion and we decided to use it as the title of the record. We started to visualize the artwork and the clothing we were going to wear and the direction of the kind of concept of the album. It really opened a big flux of ideas and inspiration and then we decided to do a sort of parallel between the big mental illnesses and the more day to day craziness of life, you know. So that inspired us to go ahead and follow the nature of the music that we had that was already coming up pretty heavy and strong. We decided to follow and found that that sort of concept went perfectly with the music. We ended up having a pretty heavy record, compared to our other kinds of records, but also a very dramatic, dense kind of record. We were able to push out a lot of our own personal experiences toward the music in a very strong way. I think that’s why people are reacting very well to the music because they can feel the real connection. Then we went back much more for other lyrics and to the time we visited sanatoriums in North Italy, remembering all the empty rooms and all the ideas that we had of all the people who had been through all these problems. We kind of imagined the record as this big sanatorium, with all the different rooms and each room as a different patient with a different case and different problems. We did a big parallel between the two things, which worked pretty well.
mxdwn: And it definitely does. I understand that this is the first album that the band took full control over the entire creative development. How did that work out with the record label?
Andrea: We’ve always done our own writing, but this time we had more control because we decided to produce the record ourselves. After working with a lot of big name producers, we’ve collected a lot of experience on how to work music. For this record, we thought that we had to do it ourselves because, first, Marco, our bassist, who produced the album was ready to do it and second, because we thought this record was so personal that we didn’t want anyone to interfere. When you work with a producer, it’s interfering in a good way, in a way that means well, in a way to make the record even better and even stronger. But, obviously you have to compromise at certain points because your ideas sometimes collide with the producer’s ideas. This time, we really wanted nobody to be able to interfere and we wanted to see what the outcome was of just ourselves in the studio with Marco as a producer. He’s done a great job, and he has been able to kind of separate the role of bass player and friend of so many years with a more professional producer way to keep all the dates and make sure that everything was delivered on time, not letting us lose ourselves in changing ideas or wanting to make it better or wanting to make it different, keeping the timeline pretty straight and deliver everything in time.
mxdwn: I thought that was very interesting that Marco was the one to produce it because it really does put that personal touch on it. Delirium was recorded in the BRX Studio between December 2015- February 2016 and was engineered by Marco Barusso and produced by bassist Marco “Maki” Coti Zelat, who also did the album art. Can you walk me through the production process?
Andrea: It was great because we’ve known each other for such a long time and we know the pros and cons of every person, every character in the band. It’s been tough at times because obviously sometimes we argue and our ideas are not matching completely, but it has also been very democratic and everyone has really been willing to work for the best of the music, of the album, instead of getting too attached to one idea or thinking that your idea is the best. We’ve been very democratic. That started in the songwriting process when me and Cristina brought our ideas for the vocals to the table. Then we met with Marco in his home studio. We already threw away a lot of stuff, we had already been willing to change things and nobody was convinced that was the task for the songs, we were just throwing away the ideas. So we kept working to accept other people’s opinions and it’s been really very democratic. It’s also hard because it’s like a birth, the record is like making a baby… you have to start from the very first and basic operation to the arrangements to choosing the studio to mixing or mastering, so it’s a long process that lasts half a year at least, but I’d say more. It’s a big part of your life because the big amount of energy you put into it. It’s not a simple as it seems to record an album, especially when you’ve been doing it for a while and you know that people have expectations towards your music. People get really attached and really believe in your music deeply, so it’s important that the outcome is not just something that we did because we need to release another record or sell another t-shirt, you know? It needs to be something. For us, in our careers, it is another milestone.
mxdwn: And I think that’s what really makes your music great! You guys put the energy and put the care into making an album that you are proud of and that you know that fans will enjoy. And that’s fantastic because not every musician can say that they’ve done that…
Andrea: That’s why we are doing this. It’s a great life if you like to travel and visit places, meet people and exchange your music with other people, but it also takes away a lot of your private life. So it’s important that you really believe and you really want to be there. We’ve had a few lineup changes in the past three or four years and that’s just because some of the people wanted to change their lives. They didn’t want to be on tour all the time or they just wanted to focus more on their own private life. They were done with the business and it was totally understandable and totally done in a friendly way. It obviously just stopped the band for a little bit because now you had to find new people. You need to find people who really want to be here and that motivate you as well. It’s been refreshing on one hand, but not easy on the other because we’ve been with the people for many, many years, building the band together, so it’s been a change. Changes bring up a lot of good things in the end, but the change itself is not always easy, it needs time to be settled.
mxdwn: Amidst recording in January, it was announced that longtime guitarist, Marco “Maus” Biazzi was going to be leaving the band and Diego Callotti was to fill in. How did it affect the band and album production?
Andrea: Marco [Coti Zelati], the bass player, had been recording all the guitar parts, besides the lead guitar and bass as well as keyboards, so we started really with just four people: me, Cristina, Marco and Ryan, the new drummer who also helped us with the lyrics. You know, being American it is easier for him to come up with words and saying things people with their mother tongues would say. He was really great with the drum arrangements because he is a different style drummer, so he brought a completely different approach to the table that refreshed, in a way, the sound of the band because we were able to do different things with him. It’s been good, it’s also been a lot of work, but it’s been great and I think that the result really pays off. So far, all the reviews have been very, very positive and the presales have been well. Even the label is pushing a lot on the record. It’s very, very positive, sort of like we are re-approaching our careers in a way. We feel like when we did “Come Alive,” when we were this little band from Europe that was starting to get popular in the United States and the rest of the world as well. Now we have, I don’t want to say the same feeling, but something very similar. There is this refreshing air around the band that is very cool.
mxdwn: Definitely! I know that the first singles you released “House of Shame” and “Ghost in the Mist”, fans are going crazy over. It’s leaving them curious just to find out what the rest of the album sounds like.
Andrea: Yeah, exactly and we chose those songs as the first songs of the record because we wanted people to be woken up… I don’t want to say shocked, but almost like, “Is this really Lacuna Coil?” That’s the reaction we got and it was great, it was exactly what we wanted. This being our 8th record, it was important for us to show people that we still have something to say, which was not to bring again our formula which has been successful. We just keep going that way because we’ve had some success in the past. We wanted people to understand that we are a contemporary band, although we’ve been around. Obviously we do have our sound and our characteristics, but we also want to say we are here to show you something else, another part of us, which is ourselves in 2016.
mxdwn: It’s good to mix it up and keep your fans on their toes because, like I said, people are so excited about this album and it’s always good to mix it up, have fun with it and keep fans engaged.
Andrea: Yeah, so far we’ve been receiving a lot of great feedback and we are really happy about that, both from the old school fans who have been following the band for many years and from the people who maybe knew our name, but never really checked out our music because they thought that we were lighter or different from what they expected. It’s with those songs like “House of Shame,” which is pretty different, that they got caught by that and now maybe they’ve checked us out live because of that and maybe found that they liked other songs off the older records. It is great to be able to do that after almost 20 years in our careers. Next year, it will actually be 20 years since we’ve created the name of the band, signed the deal, and we put our first EP out, so it’s very refreshing to see that we still have something to say to catch the attention of people nowadays and not just fans who have been following the band and have been very loyal to the band, as well.
mxdwn: With this new record, is there anything you would like the fans to know from your perspective? Like how it was creating it and what it means to you?
Andrea: For us, every record always talks about the basic personal experiences we have, but we obviously try to write the lyrics in a way where everybody can relate to the topics. The result is a lot of ourselves in the lyrics and in the music. It’s always very personal. Then we put it out for a bunch of people who will eventually have different sensations, different feelings from what we are saying, but it’s always very liberating for us as artists because we’re people with experiences just like everybody else. We go through difficult moments and on this record there’s a bit of the depression I went through in the past that I tried to overcome. I had some panic attacks while I was driving so I couldn’t drive for a little bit anymore because I just felt like I couldn’t hold the wheel. What I did was just keep trying and just kept doing, then I overcame that and I felt great. This year to me was very liberating. I want people to know that there is always a way to overcome things in life, I mean certain things, and it’s important that you just don’t let yourself roll down into the misery you are experiencing in the moment. You always have to try to make things better and it may take a few efforts. Maybe you will not solve the problem completely or you may never be able to solve it completely, but you can deal with it and that’s the main thing for us to see.
Also, some of us have been through some of our family members being in mental institutions right now with problems, so we were really able to touch with our hands the problem and the very damaging topic. It’s still very stigmatized and mental illness is very connected with horror movies, which are cool, but not reality. It’s a bit wider than that. So when we got the inspiration, for example for the artwork, we were looking at pictures of patients from mental institutions at the beginning of the century and what was scary about those pictures. There was no blood or violence, just the intensity of the look of those people; the emptiness in their eyes, the weird body positions, the nerves very tense… so there were all these things that were weird, but not supernatural. It was just people who were pushed to their limits of sanity and that’s what struck our attention. For example, we did real pictures in the booklet instead of doing some artwork or weird special effects, because we wanted to portray that kind of intensity. It’s important that fans find out that this record is very real. I’d say real is probably the most appropriate word to describe the record.
mxdwn: In writing and recording the record, your co-vocalist and frontwoman, Cristina Scabbia, has said that it was important for “Delirium” to be recorded at home in Milan. Can you expand on that importance?
Andrea: We recorded everything at home because we think that that is the best environment for us to work on records. We tour a lot of the year and we’ve tried to song write on the tour bus, but it never works. Our ideal environment to write and record is at home because that’s where we are more comfortable. Marco, who is the main songwriter, for example likes to write at night… he likes to watch some horror or action movies with the volume off, play over the images and create some kind of a live soundtrack… so, that’s the kind of thing that you can only do when you have your time, when you can take your time and when you have the inspiration. For our kind of music, for our kind of band, it’s really not possible to write music when we are out. We are not the kind of people who can focus when we are on the road. Our music has a different kind of inspiration that comes from reflection, from thinking, it’s very personal. We are not able to express it while we are at sound check or doing interviews or having a lot of people around and coming in and out; it’s not the right focus for us. We’ve also recorded records in Germany or in America, but I think being at home is just the best environment for us to produce our music. It’s just a natural thing for us to be there. Maybe it’s also the fact that we are Italian and we are very family based, very family oriented. Having family around helps us in some way.
mxdwn: I did read that while you were back home writing this record, you visited a lot of sanatoriums and even envisioned the album as your own sanatorium, a place where your mind went when you were writing. How would you describe this to fans who are maybe trying to get a better insight into the album and the inspiration behind it?
Andrea: We have created this fictional sanatorium, which is the Lacuna Coil sanatorium of the album. We imagined this place based on real places that we have actually visited for real, but we visited them even before the concept of the record was born. It was just a thing we did for curiosity because we like everything that is a bit unknown and mysterious; that’s always been in our nature. We just like to explore these places, so we did it and once we had the idea for the album. We brought back all the memories from that and that’s how we created the sanatorium. We also a backdrop that we created ourselves of the sanatorium, stage clothes that’s sort of a strait jacket based on the idea of a patient of the sanatorium. Everything’s been coming together, ideas after ideas. We also have other ideas we want to give out further down the album cycles and on the next tours. This tour that we’re on is more to present and promote the release of the record. Then we will do a proper tour for the record and that will be even richer in things that are connected to the concept, with videos and stuff like that.
mxdwn: I understand that some of the songs is associated with a different mental illness. For example, “You Love Me Because I Hate You” is associated with Stockholm Syndrome. Are each of the other songs associated with other mental illnesses or syndromes?
Andrea: Yeah, we approached the lyrics between the reality and the more generic mental illness kind of topic. Like “You Love Me Because I Hate You,” the idea came from the Stockholm Syndrome, which is the syndrome you have when you fall in love with the people who are keeping you prisoner. Obviously we’ve never been kidnapped and we’ve never been kept prisoner. The parallel with the real story is a relationship one of us has been through where you felt like you were imprisoned, you felt like it was really good for you and you couldn’t let it go, but it was very toxic for you, very negative. You were so attached and so convinced that it was the perfect thing for you. We’ve been approaching all the lyrics with the real story and then making it into a wider picture of the mental illness.
mxdwn: I think that’s a really interesting thing to do. I like that it draws those parallels between your personal life and those mental illnesses that are often taboo. People don’t like to address them and they are often ignored, but it’s important that people begin to pay attention and acknowledge that they do exist and realize that the sufferers, like you said, are not horror film characters. They are real people and their illness is just something that they have to live with.
Andrea: Yeah, exactly. It’s still a very delicate topic because if you haven’t been through it, you see it from the outside and you just think that it’s a crazy person doing weird things and they’re dangerous. You only analyze it from a shallow point of view because you haven’t had the chance to understand the problem. We actually tried to face these topics with the experience that we had and not just because it is cool to talk about, but because it was important for us to use it for our record and use it in a positive way. We thought maybe we could do something more directly connected to these problems to help these people with the music and to organize something special to bring these problems to the attention of more people. It’s very important that when you have a problem like this that you try to get help from somebody that can understand what you are going through. It’s important that you don’t just close yourself into your own little world and you get lost. It’s important that you try to reach out to people and it’s important that people try to be more understanding, more helpful, and don’t just judge because somebody is doing something weird, you know?
It’s important that you go a little deeper with people and that you open your eyes. Especially nowadays that we are connected 24 hours on Facebook, on Instagram, Twitter or whatever, but there is not very much human contact anymore. It’s very about letting people believe that you are living this great life and doing all these cool things, but very often you are alone and you may not be happy. This communication is very superficial. We, as a band, talk to thousands of people, so it’s hard to have personal contact with all of the people, but if somebody writes me a specific thing, I will try to answer as soon as I can. Obviously I can’t talk with everybody, I can’t solve problems for everybody but it’s important that if you have real contact with people that you understand what’s going on. You don’t just judge or stop at the first infraction. It’s important that you understand that people are not perfect, that people might be good for a certain thing and bad for another. Nobody is always going to be nice to you, nobody is always cool with you… sometimes people harm you or do something that you don’t like, but that’s the reality. There’s no way that somebody will only do good things to you, will always be loyal, will always be trustworthy. People are not perfect, people are people. Some people are worse than others for sure, but still nobody is completely perfect. People are just human beings, they do good things and they do bad things.
mxdwn: That’s some of the beauty of this record because it not only draws attention to the existing mental illnesses of people who are institutionalized, but also maybe even fans who may be dealing with things that they’re afraid to speak up for. It might offer them solace and help them to choose to seek out help. Connecting what you said about us always being connected, I’ve read several studies that have linked a lot of cases of depression to all of the social media accounts because some people are comparing their lives to the people that they see online. With that said, I think this is a great album to be released at this point in time.
Andrea: This record is a place for everyone to feel comfortable. A place for everyone to accept the problem they are going through, to accept the difficult times they are living. There is not an easy way out, nobody can solve all your problems right away, but for sure it is important that people understand that there needs to be more acceptance, there needs to be more understanding. This record is here for everyone to listen to and enjoy; just take a break from your problems and understand that you are not alone. Everybody, even us, who are at times put on a pedestal because we are a band or because we sign autographs, have the same problems as other people because we are human beings. It’s important that people understand that there is this connection and that it’s okay to not feel good every now and then, it’s okay to have problems. You are not the only one and you will have to face it and rise above it. Your life may not be perfect and that’s okay, it’s just reality, it’s just life. We have to live it, no matter what.
mxdwn: As a last question, what can the fans expect for the future of Lacuna Coil with this new found sound and perspective? Do you have a new album in the works?
Andrea: No, at the moment we are just focusing on promoting this album, being on tour and enjoying meeting people around the world. We haven’t really thought of writing new music right now because it’s too early. We need to collect some live experiences before we will be ready to create another album. Because we write about real life, we need some time to live [laughs] before we can collect and have something to say. Right now, we have already pushed what we wanted to say about our experiences of the past few years before we wrote the album. Now we have to live and collect more experiences, then think about it and come up with some other ideas we want to express. It’s important that we do have something to say, we don’t want to just push out another record just because. When we are ready to face another record, it will be the right time. It will be the time when we do have something we want to say and something we want people to hear. It’s important for us now, to just live, live the record, tour, to see people and talk, and experience.