Andrea Ferro, Lacuna Coil interview

Ahead of Lacuna Coil’s UK dates with Eluveitie and Infected Rain, here’s an interview I did with Andrea Ferro the day before their special fan album preview at the London Dungeon last month.

Your new album is called Black Anima. Where did the title come from?

The title was one of the things I already had. I have a book where I note all the words, phrases, possible titles for songs or albums, and when we were braistorming, Me and Cristina, abot possible topics for the lyrics, we were talking about the fact that in the past two or three years we’ve been losing some dear people, family members, parents and so the fact the way we reacted to those painful tragic moments has been completely different to what we expect. The way we’ve been feeling that these people who are not present physically in our lives are still with us in some way, and it became a different version of what they were, but still around us. Then we put on the table the fact that I was reading a book called “The physics of angels” and it’s a book written by a priest and a scientist. They were both analysing the figures of angels, ghosts and spirits in history through the past, a scientific journey, and we thought that would be a good interesting topic to have on the record. Black Anima means Dark Soul basically, we thought it was a good title and we always like to play with mixing words from different languages which we did on Comalies or Karmacode. So it seems I proposed the title and everyone felt it was the right title for the ideas we had in the background.

So is it the idea that comes first then the music and lyrics follow or do they come together?

They came together. Marco the bass player, who is the main songwriter, came up with some riffs, parts, ideas, melodies and keyboards, but at a certain point he was stuck. He told us “Guys, I’m here sitting in front of the computer for three nights and nothing I like comes out, so I need input, inspiration”. So the three of us sat down, not worrying so much about the music, just putting on the table, ok we’ve got this style, these possible lyrics, then we started to design some clothing we could use live, some graphics we could use, we were looking at photographers and digital artists we like, so we put it all on the table and started brainstorming. From there Marco in three days had three more songs done. So it was the first time we’ve progressed all the aspects of the records at once. When the record was done we already had a cover, clothing ideas, video ideas, so a little different process. This time around, maybe because of past experience, we know that we have to develop all these other aspects. Everything fed everything else – the lyrics were fed by the images, the music was fed by the lyrics, so it was all working together in the same direction.

What we did on the previous album, Delirium, we pushed a bit on certain aspects, the double bass, more heavy parts, more heavy vocals from myself. So we thought we’d taken some chances on Delirium and everybody really liked that, so maybe unconciously we felt more freedom to go that way without worrying that it’s not what people expcet from us, that it’s too heavy or whatever, so instead we just followed the path of the music which is probably the best thing you can do because then you release something and people can tell it’s an honest product, it’s not searching for the compromise.

When you are a known band there’s some things that you know has been successful for you, maybe it’s radio play or youtube, so you put yourself in a position where you’re putting yourself under pressure. This time we really didnt think about it. We just thought if we like it people are going to like it. Someone’s going to hate it too but if you don’t do it you’ll never know.

If you create something people should love it or hate it – if it’s just “ok” you’ve failed to stir any emotion.

I think so. It’s very important, especially these days when you drown in thousands of releases or the very short span of attention people have because of the internet and the way music has become. We still thought about the album as an album. It has an intro, outro and songs and we want to be able to listen to the while album. Obviously there will be people who skip some tracks, but for us those arent the people who are likely to really support the band in the long term. We put the same attention into every song, obviously you’ll like some more than others but at least we put the same thought into each.

I’ve listened to the album several times already and it’s noticeably heavier than some of the more recent albums such as “Broken crown halo”, it grabs your attention more and is a great album in my opinion.

I think it’s the most metal record we’ve done, certainly the most heavy. Thank you, I’m glad you liked it. “Broken crown halo” was a very particular record, it was a record that kind of closes our relationship in terms of music, with the older members of the band that left and changed their lives – they left to do something different, and one of them even moved from Italy. So it was a record where we felt there was a passage. Then “Delirium” was us coming back and searching for a new direction, and this album seems to me like more of a complete record – we know where we are and we know who we are again.

Any record you make will always be a reflection of what is happening in your lives at the time.

Yes. very often people ask us, especially from the press, “Is this your best record?”. Of course everyone always says yes it is the best because it’s new and they want to sell it, but for me it’s not the right question. For us I think every album we’ve released was the best album we could make at that moment in our career, our life. So this is the best we could release in 2019. That doesn’t mean it’s the overall best, everyone will always be attached to a certain album for their own reasons. For instance if you found lacuna Coil through Comalies then that might always be your favourite, so it’s always very personal and depends on many factors not just the music. So yes it’s the best record we could do in 2019.

You’ve got a busy year, heading off to the US soon, touring there for a month. I suppose over the years you must have got used to being away from home for long periods.

It’s never really completely easy. For us it’s fun being on tour or we couldn’t have done it for over 20 years without killing ourselves, but obviously it’s always hard to leave the family and people at home – it always takes a couple of days to get used to being somewhere else and not at home but in the end of the day if we do it, it’s because we really care. We understand that it’s necessary. We still have fun on tour, it’s not a vacation but stil it’s being with your friends around the world and meeting other friends, it’s a pleasure – it’s not something we suffer from. Now it’s a lot of touring because we want to be in Europe as well pretty quickly after the release of the record. That’s kind of a mistake we’ve made in the past, where we’ve embarked on a huge American tour when the record came out because of pushing the charts and stuff like that, and then we weren’t coming to Europe till three or four months after the record is released. This time we’ve tried to do shorter runs – it makes sense to be in America but also Europe where we belong even more. So we’re going out next week and come how at Christmas basically.

I think your last show is something like the 21st December, so really close to Christmas.

Actually I’m going to make the Christmas tree in October because in October we come back from the American tour and have about a week at home, so my wife said we can’t do it the 23rd December, that doesn’t make sense, plus we have a big tree so it takes time and dedication, so we’re doing it in October and it’ll stay up longer, kind of a Nightmare before Christmas mood.

That’s something people don’t realise – how much touring affects family life.

At least we will have a good reason for not doing Christmas presents – there’s no time to do shopping. I’m kidding obviously but yeah you do miss some moments – anniversaries and birthdays. Also we’re not that young anymore and our parents aren’t young so you’re always worried that something will happen to them while we’re on the opposite side of the world. It is what it is, what can you do.

I suppose some of the band have been together so long that it’s like a second family anyway.

Yes surely. We’ve seen each other more than anybody else, even our wives. I haven’t seen my wife as much as the other guys. I have to say Me and marco, we started the band many many years ago becaause of being kids and skateboarding together so we definitely know each other well by now, and also Cristina, she joined the band very early so it’s been a journey that we’ve faced together and that’s why we’re still here, because we have that kind of relationship. If we fight about something we understand each other and what we mean, but it’s impossible not to have discussions because when you care about something you put yourself into, you’re kind of stuck to your ideas until you’re proved wrong. It’s like a family, but we’ve got a very good friendship that’s allowed us to go on so long.

It’s nearly two years now since the 119 show. That must have been fun, getting to put on such a big show.

It was also a lot of work because for that one show that was being filmed there was a lot of stuff. We had to make a contract with the circus that was going to perform, make a contract with the video people, the label that’s going to release the DVD, then find the right venue that had space to hang all the stuff for the performers, the fire – there has to be fireproofing…. The setlist, we started with 80 songs and we had to shrink that to 25 songs because that was the length of the show, and there had to be 4 or 5 we’d never played before, 2 or 3 that are really old that havent been played in a long time, then two of the band members (the guitar player and the drummer), they were in the band for 3 and 7 years, so most of the old songs they’d never played. So we had to rehearse, but they had to learn the songs from scratch. On some of the very only tracks – up to Comalies everything was recorded analogue on tape so we didn’t have files for the keyboards on those songs, so we had to go back and listen and separate the melodies and notes to remember what was there. Also not all the songs were possible, or they would have taken too long to do.

I doubt if anyone in the audience realised there were issues like that to deal with.

And also songs had to fit with the other songs in the set which I thought would be more complicated which it wasnt in the end. It was a lot of work, in the end I think 6 or 7 months of work, the artwork, the posters, everything. In the end I think it was a very good product – a very good show then a very good DVD. It’s also a very expensive show. People ask us why don’t we tour like that, but it’s too expensive. We’d love to do it if we could.

As soon as you start using circus performers that’s more people to pay for flights for.

Fly, tour bus, eat. We were only able to do the show because the budget for the DVD was there. It’s a show that maybe you could do at a festival where the budget is different, maybe if you offer them a special event they might put extra money into it, but for a club show it’s impossible. Obviously we liked it so much that we’ll try and bring as much of that spirit to the shows for the new album as we can but it won’t be possible to have the same.

Tomorrow you’ve got a playback of the new album for fans at the London Dungeon – something a bit different.

It’s a really crazy idea but it’s going to be really fun to do. We always loved horror and crime, so it’s kind of a natural environment for us. We go to haunted houses in America when we’re on tour, Universal studios Halloween special nights, so it’s something we look forward to. It’s going to be special because we’re probably going to interact with fans, they don’t know but we’re going to be there as characters, maybe behind a mask or something and scare them, and do some special stuff with them. It’s a nice way to make them part of the release and understand what’s behind the record. Then also we’re doing some charity work – some of the money goes to the charity organisation for cancer research, so there’s no negative, it’s a good way to promote the record, it’s something different, something we totally love, and we also do some good for other people.

You’re clearly a horror fan – you’re wearing a horror Tshirt today. So what are some of your top horror films?

There are many styles of horror I like. I would say from the Italian style which is 70s,80s till now is in Italian Profondo Rosso (in English, Deep Red) from Dario Argento, is one of my favourites. I watched it when I was a kid – I remember it was on TV after the cinematic release. From the American horror from the 80s was the ones we grew up with, Friday 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, all those. I think my favourite character is Jason Vorhees, that’s my favourite character from the American horror. Then for the more modern time, I really like, it’s not specifically horror, maybe thriller, I like Saw, the very first one, not so much the rest of the franchise because it was very obviously a franchise, but the first one surprised me, especially the ending. After many years I still loved horror but it wasn’t so surprising for me, but that movie was like wow, this is different, for the first time in a long time.

It is nice when a film has the ability to surprise you.

It’s the most difficult thing for a horror movie. Some horor they just look great – I like the Rob Zombie movies, but not so surprising, they’re more based on characters, the strength of a single character. I think the Saw movie, the idea behind it was genius.

I remember the original Wicker Man movie surprised me with it’s ending because you’re so used to the main character, particularly the hero character, surviving, and then for him to die was totally unexpected.

I still love horror movies and I try to watch when I have the chance. I also like to go back and watch the old horror movies – they have a special vibe that it’s almost impossible to reproduce these days, the combination of the music, the colours, not caring so much about the actors but the overall story.

They also had the matte paintings rather than CGI which gave them a different look.

The CGI I’m not a big fan of. If it’s used wisely then yes, but it has to be very minimal. Even science fiction – the beauty of the early Star Wars films was that stuff was all toys really and it looked real for the time. I saw Return of the jedi in a movie theatre with my dad, it’s the only one I’ve been able to watch in a theatre, and it blew my mind so much. I still have that feeling when I see it now.

I love the way you hear that first opening bit of music even now and it transports you back to watching the movie.

It’s magic, it takes you to another place.

Some horror films have that too – certain sounds that you hear and you can immediately picture the scene.

It means that there’s a lot of quality in all the details, the music the visuals, everything. Everything is perfect as it should be. I still love horror and go to conventions when I can. I buy toys, I collect the Munsters. It’s very rare but when I find it I always buy something. I’m really lucky that our fans love us so much they sometimes bring us stuff. An American fan gave me a plaster of the face of the actor who played Herman Munster, and it was one of 1000 limited, lifesized, beautiful.

Thank you for your time.

Thank you.

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.