Italian metal band Lacuna Coil have certainly been busy this year, getting back to the live stage with an appearance at the UK’s Download Festival, along with a 13-day US run in September.
They’ve also been celebrating the 20th anniversary of absolute classic Comalies – their third album – by releasing new record Comalies XX. A testament to the group’s ability to transform creative ideas into powerful songs, it’s a homage to the 2002 album that also brings it into this day and age, with extra layers and infectious grooves.
Ahead of the band’s much-anticipated shows at Good Things Festival in December (FYI Melbourne just sold out), vocalist Cristina Scabbia sat down to chat all things Comalies XX, prepping for the Australian shows, and the richness of her family relationships with the others in the band.
So how are you feeling about the release of Comalies XX? Exciting times!
I’m feeling extremely excited and also very happy, because I’ve been able to directly test the reaction to some of the new songs. People were ecstatic. I saw a lot of smiles and again a lot of happiness from people who love Comalies and are happy to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Absolutely. Now delving deeper into the album (Comalies XX) itself, how did the idea come to pass?
Basically, being the anniversary, you always tend to think about proper celebrations. However, we didn’t want to do something simple like a remaster or repackaging, because Comalies is a record that was really important for our career. It’s the record that made us do the step up and made us known to the world. So, we wanted to treat it in the proper way.
When we started to think about ways to celebrate it, all of a sudden we all thought about taking the record apart and bringing it back as it was written in 2022. This project was coming with a lot of excitement, but we were also scared because we were touching holy grounds. A record that we love, that the fans love… So, we said ‘Yes’, but it was not going to wipe away Comalies, it was going to be a tribute from ourselves.
So, we started to write the music and it was complicated to be honest, because when you write new music, the only stress involved is, ‘Oh I wonder if fans are going to like it’. In this case, it was different because when you write something new fans have never heard the music. They can give a judgement, but in this case, those songs are well-known already. This is going to be shocking for some people. Will they like them, will they not like them? So, we decided to make the songs how we like them, the way we would’ve written the record in 2022.
In our opinion it was something great, as we were bringing the vibe back from 2002, but it was adding a lot of darkness and cinematic vibes at times. It almost sounds like a soundtrack. We had a chance to play four new songs during the last American tour we did, and the fan reaction was insane.
Which tracks from the record are your favourite?
I was always very attached to ‘Comalies’ and ‘Entwined’, because they are the most tortured songs, and I really like when a song gives me a punch in the stomach. Of course, I like the more aggressive ones to play live, the more dance-y ones because it’s fun for the live shows. However, when I listen to songs, I love it when they capture me emotionally.
Tell me more about your recording process in general. How do you guys usually go about it?
Usually we start with drums, then we add guitars and bass. We always put down the structure of the music first. Andrea (Ferro, vocals) and I, and sometimes Marco (Coti Zelati, bass, keyboards) – because he does some backing vocals – come at the very end. So basically, we split the time in between all of us, so we could continue working at home when we weren’t in the studio. Some days we were all there following the progress, and sometimes we were at home rehearsing our parts or adjusting everything. We have to tendency to go back to what we’re doing up until the day of recording. We’re perfectionists.
Speaking of the recording process for the album, which track on Comalies XX do you think pushed you guys to your limits the most?
In terms of any technical troubles, we didn’t have any. It all went pretty smoothly there. There were some songs I was more conscious of such as ‘Heaven’s a Lie’, which is a classic for Lacuna Coil that a lot of people love. We wanted to change it, but we didn’t really know how. It took a long time to write that version. When I heard the new one and sung the chorus, I found out that it was perfect. I really wanted to make it more dramatic, and I remember that I put a lot of emphasis in the recording process as well.
Now it’s great you’ve been able to play a few of these songs live and that the energy was awesome. How would you reflect on that experience?
Yeah, it was amazing! Some songs were already out with videos. The video for ‘Swamped XX’ came out while we were on tour, so it was relatively new, but ‘Tightrope XX’ was out already. So, we had to chance to test it with ‘Heaven’s a Lie XX’ and another song. It’s always awkward when you play a new song in front of a crowd, but this time there was such a fantastic reaction. That’s when we realised that we’ve been able to recreate something really cool.
I’m sure your Australian fans are going to be really receptive to the songs as well!
I hope so! I can’t wait to be back in Australia, it’s been a few years now. We were supposed to come in 2020 but because of COVID we had to cancel everything. We are really looking forward to our trip and to meet our Australian fans.
Have you planned out a setlist for your Australian shows?
Not yet! Australia will be part of a bigger run, and there will be some other gigs added. Every show will have a different length, so we have to figure out the different sets according to how much time we have available. Obviously, we’re going to squeeze in some new songs, but we’ll also be playing some of the classics that people want to hear.
It’s not easy when you have so many records out! It’s always difficult to pick out the songs. Sometimes we’ll look at the other bands. If it’s more of a brutal or metal festival, we add the heaviest songs. If it’s more of a goth festival, we’ll squeeze in more gothic songs that may not be great for a super metal crowd.
The great thing about Good Things Festival is that it’s a more varied festival, there’s a bit of everything on that line-up.
It’s good! We always try to be ourselves regardless. I remember when we started to become more popular, we were different from the bands that were playing in that period. So, I think it’s good to be yourself regardless.
Thinking about your journey as a band, you guys know each other like the back of your hand. How would you reflect on that journey you’ve had together?
It’s crazy! I’m so lucky to be able to travel the world doing what I love, with a company of people that I really love. Lacuna Coil for me is a family. We literally spend time together even when we’re not on the road. I met yesterday with Andy and Marky to decide some stuff about a setlist, and we started to talk about things we do beside music. It’s really rare to be able to do something for so long with people you love and respect, and I feel really blessed for this.
That’s really great! Who would you say you connect to the most in the band on a personal level?
Maybe Marky, because he’s the one I’ve known the most, but to be honest I connect so closely to all of them for different reasons. I also text Richard (Meiz, drums) a lot because we both play Pokemon Go. Some of us are a bunch of nerds. Ultimately though I would say Marky.
It’s wonderful that you have those longstanding relationships.
As a family, you’re able to tell each other face-to-face how you really feel. We found out that when there is a problem, we need to talk about it. It’s always good to bring out every thought you might have, because that’s how you go on as a band… It’s a machine that has to be oiled daily, and everyone has to work for it and respect the others. Sometimes you need mini reunions to discuss if everyone’s okay with everything. This is I think the secret of being a band after 20 years.
Interview by Genevieve Gao
Stream Comalies XX here
Lacuna Coil – Comalies XX tracklisting
1. Swamped XX
2. Heaven’s A Lie XX
3. Daylight Dancer XX
4. Humane XX
5. Self Deception XX
6. Aeon XX
7. Tight Rope XX
8. The Ghost Woman And The Hunter XX
9. Unspoken XX
10. Entwined XX
11. The Prophet Said XX
12. Angel’s Punishment XX
13. Comalies XX