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Exclusive: Interview with Cristiano "Pizza" Migliore of Lacuna Coil

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"Pizza" is the lead guitarist of the well-known Italian Gothic metal band Lacuna Coil since 1998. And Rock Era Magazine had the ability to expose the difference between the band shifts from local to global and explain what the most important needs for the global producer are, as well as clarifying his opinions concerning the independent music scene in the Middle East and Arab world. Let's find out more...

How did Lacuna Coil turn from a local band to a global band?

Just like most other bands, I think. We started playing for fun and recorded a demo tape that was sent out to many record labels and picked Century Media because of the many great bands it had in its roster. From then on it was a lot of touring and hard work.


It was mentioned before that the beautiful Cristina Scabbia joined the band for backing vocals, how come she turned out to be the lead vocal of the band?

At first we just wanted to add female vocals to only certain parts of our songs but then since it worked so well (and because of Cristina’s amazing voice) we thought we could go further and try something that wasn’t very common at the time. It certainly paid off!


When it was decided that Cristina would be the lead vocalist of the band, what were your expectations? Were they right?

Pretty much shortly after she joined the band. Her and Andrea, our male vocalist, both gave the band its unique approach to the genre, and although we didn’t know to what extent things would’ve worked, we simply liked the wide range of possibilities offered by having 2 vocalists to play with.


When you first started in 1994, how did the people accept you?

Well, it wasn’t until 1998, after the first EP was released, that the band became sort of “professional”. Before that we didn’t even play in public (except for a couple of shows) but just in a rehearsal room, writing songs and having fun. It was mostly a hobby.


Were there many Gothic metal bands when you first started? If there was, did you feel challenged?

I think that when we started, Gothic Metal was pretty much at its peak with bands like Paradise Lost, Moonspell, Type 0 negative, The Gathering, etc. We were very much influenced but never wanted to sound exactly like any of them. We also liked Death Metal bands like At The Gates, Carcass and Dark Tranquillity among others and our first goal was to combine elements from both genres. What came out was totally unexpected and evolved a lot throughout the years.


LC is now almost a 12-year-old band; do you feel satisfied about the current position of the band? Besides, how do you see the future?

I can say that we’ve definitely achieved more than we ever dreamt of. When we started out we obviously hoped to become a successful band (just like any other band that tries) but never thought we would get to where we are today.
Of course, we hope it’ll get better and better and seeing how the band developed throughout the years, we can only wish it continues this way.


Which song for LC is so close to your personality, and why?

I don’t know, really…There are so many songs that are close to us. When we write stuff we always try to keep the very best and each song, for one reason or another, is special. I really can’t pick a particular one; it also depends on the mood I’m in that day!


What is the album that really got Lacuna Coil worldwide exposure?

It was definitely Comalies. Not because it was better than anything we did before (although the songwriting certainly got better) but because it was the breakthrough album in the US. Heaven’s a Lie became a radio single and projected the band into a whole new dimension. People started talking about us and we got on many huge tours like Opeth, Type 0 Negative, Ozzfest, P.O.D…That’s when it all happened.


It’s written on a website that the band name was "Sleep of Right" and "Ethereal", why did you change it? And did this affect your old fans?

We changed our name when the band wasn’t really popular yet so that didn’t really affect anyone (since nobody knew who we were!) and we just did because there were two other bands with the same name.


The Shallow Life album; some critics said it changed the band’s sound from Gothic metal to alternative and hard rock. How would you reply to that?

Well, to be honest, although we always incorporated some Gothic elements in our music (and still do today, even on Shallow Life) we were never a Gothic Metal band. That was just the press sticking a label on us so that people would know, more or less, what kind of music we played. Which is a positive thing! On the other hand, we never really felt comfortable with that definition because I think we’re much more than that. If you listen to all of our albums, you can tell that the band has been evolving constantly: take Comalies and then Karmacode and then move to Shallow Life; they all sound different. It’s just us trying to evolve and play the music we love at that particular moment in time, without betraying our roots.


Cristina mentioned that the 5th album of LC “Shallow Life” would have some Arabic influences, can you tell us more about that? And why “Arabic influences” in particular?

Rather than Arabic influences, I would call them Mediterranean influences. Being Italians, we’ve always been in touch with different cultures and our music (I mean Italian music) is greatly influenced by Greek music, Arabic music, etc. So it was rather normal for us to incorporate certain feelings into our own music, which is something we’ve always done: take for example, the Half-Life EP; there’s a lot of that stuff in there. Shallow Life is no exception: we simply kept doing what we’ve always done.


Does Shallow Life follows a specific theme? If yes, what is it?

Yes, it does. Although it was said by many people that Shallow Life is a concept album, it really isn’t. It follows a theme but that’s all. It basically talks about modern life and how everything has to be consumed quickly and how everyone feels the need to be someone, to be important or rich. It mostly talks about how shallow life can be nowadays and depicts the various aspects of it (based on our point of view, of course).


Your last album "The Shallow Life" was not given as much credit as your previous albums, why do you think that is?

Actually, Shallow Life is our most successful album to date! It even debuted in the Billboard charts at number 16 which is something that never happened before and even though record industry and record sales are plunging we still managed to sell copies more rapidly than Comalies and Karmacode (although since their release they sold more but that’s also because Shallow life has only been out for a year).
I can understand that some people criticized it because it was different and, possibly, they didn’t like it but this is simply who we are today and the music we write just reflects it. It would be sad if we stuck to the same formula over and over again just because it worked, you know? Some bands are OK with it but to us music is our passion and we need to go beyond our limits. Who knows, maybe the next album could even be a Death Metal album…


Have you ever thought about performing in Egypt or did you not expect to have such a big fanbase here?

There are many countries we’d love to visit and Egypt is one of those. Unfortunately we don’t always get the chance to do it until the time is right. It took us years before we started touring the US or go to Japan and Australia. We’ve been to Russia 2 years ago for the first time and we’re going to South America next summer also for the first time. Our Egyptian fans just have to hold on for a little while longer, I’m sure we’ll come over soon!


What is the concept of the live DVD “Visual Karma”?

We wanted our first live DVD to be something special and decided that the end of the Karmacode touring cycle would be the perfect thing to gift our fans with before we released Shallow Life. We had some awesome live footage from the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany and the Loudpark festival in Tokyo, Japan and thought those would be great to present the band to people who maybe never had the chance to check us out live. We also thought it would be fun to show aspects of our everyday life too so that our fans could feel closer to us!


Are you sticking to a certain formula within writing your music?

Yes, of course. But that doesn’t mean that we follow record sales to understand what sells the most otherwise we’d be playing Hip-Hop or R’n’B since that’s what sells the most


Does this return to the global market?

Seriously, there isn’t any formula that can guarantee you any record sale. That’s why you have to follow your heart and stick to the music you really WANT to do. We’ve always done that and it paid off, judging where we are today.


Have you performed tracks in Italian? If No, why not? And will you? If yes, what are their names?

Yes, we have, actually. We have 3 songs that have Italian lyrics in our discography: Senzafine, Comalies and Without Fear. The former is completely in Italian and it has become a classic for LC. The other 2 contain Italian and English lyrics. We like writing in Italian but it’s not the ideal language for the type of music we play. Also, this way, when we do write a song in Italian, it’s a very special thing that only happens when we have the right song.


Written on The band's website biography that on 1996 you sent the two-songs demo-tape to many labels, so what advice do you give to the new bands nowadays to distribute their music?

Times have changed very much since then. Now it’s completely different. When we started internet, MySpace, YouTube, etc. weren’t popular or didn’t even exist yet. We had to rely on what was available back then and sending a tape with pictures and a bio was all we could do. Nowadays a band can open a MySpace page, post videos or songs on YouTube so that many people can find out about it. As far as the record industry, it’s changing so much and it still unclear where it going at. The traditional Medias aren’t working anymore and every band out there is struggling to find new ways to promote itself. We’re in the middle of a transformation and nobody really knows what will happen…


Are you with or against fans downloading your music from the Internet? Maybe because some of them cannot afford the CD price or even the CD's are not sold in their countries.

We’re not against our fans downloading our music or any music if they do it legally and support the bands that created it. What we don’t like is people downloading stuff for free: that’s stealing and damaging the artist a lot more than the record industry. When you think “Oh, those SOBs have so much money that it won’t matter if I download their CD. It’s just one copy!” Well it’s not really like that. Bands that actually make money making music are actually few nowadays (and we’re talking about names like U2, Madonna, Lady GaGa, etc.) but most bands at our level can only barely survive and to do so, they have to be on tour constantly because they don’t make any money from record sales anymore. Downloading music illegally IS killing the music business. If people keep doing it they have to realize that one day there won’t be any music to download because artists won’t have any means to survive playing music…


What’s your opinion when the musician uses his homeland’s folklore through his rock/metal compose riffs?

I think it’s great! We always try incorporating certain elements of our own country’s music. That’s what makes a band and its music special.


It’s written on LC’s website that Ozzfest 2006 was one the major and most important festivals for the band, so what differs
this festival from the others?

Well, being on Ozzfest with so many huge bands (Slayer, Slipknot, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath) opened a huge amount of doors for the band in the US. It simply used to be biggest festival around. The perception the people have of a band after it’s been on Ozzfest is kind of like “Wow, they were on Ozzfest: they’ve got to be good!” So magazines, radio stations and fans all start looking at you and realize you exist! It’s probably not “better” than other festivals but it certainly used to be one of the most influential as well as the Monsters of Rock or the Dynamo, back in the day.


Some people think that Gothic Rock/Metal became more famous after the appearance of some black metal bands like Cradle of Filth. What is your commentary about that?

I think it started even before that. Besides, bands like Paradise Lost or Type 0, practically started the genre. Certainly the huge success of Black Metal bands like COF, gave it a big push and helped spreading the word.


What are the differences in lyrical themes between Gothic rock and Gothic metal bands, if there are any?

Honestly, I wouldn’t know. Our lyrics have never been strictly Gothic Rock or Metal. We simply talk about our personal experiences or about topics that interest us and we don’t like to use clichés or stereotypes (and if it ever happens it’s not really because we follow certain rules).


Tell us about the Rock/Metal scene in Italy.

Unfortunately, although there are many bands (and some really good ones) in Italy, it’s very hard, because of the lack of radios and promotion, for them to become popular. Also, rock isn’t a mainstream genre over here and if you wanna try and make it, you have to work in different territories and that’s exactly what we did. That’s why we’re where we are today. We knew it and didn’t even bother contacting Italian labels because we knew they couldn’t have helped.


Because of the un-accepted relation between Satanism and metal music, have you faced any cancellation for the band events or the band sales?!

Not really. No. Although we play Rock/Metal, the way we’ve always presented ourselves was never very “Satanic”…There’s been a tour though, the one with P.O.D., back in ’04, that was kinda funny in that sense: they are a Christian band and we were still touring supporting Comalies so our single was Heaven’s a Lie. Well, you can only imagine what kind of comments some of the people who attended the shows gave us...


What do you wanna tell your fans in Egypt? Will you satisfy them once and come over?

As I said, I sincerely hope so! We’d love to come to Egypt. It’s a beautiful country, full of history and we really wanna try to make it happen someday. Keep your fingers crossed!


What do you think of Rock Era?

I honestly didn’t know it before this interview but I actually went online and checked it out. I think it’s awesome! It’s great to see that despite the crisis that the music business is facing, there are still people like you who have the passion for this kind of music and support their local artists other than the big, international acts! Keep on rockin’!


We would like to thank you for your time and for this interview!

Thank you very much and we’ll hopefully see you soon!

 

Interviewed by: NJ BakrYasser Mohamed and Monk.

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