Metal minus moping 

The terms goth-metal and doom-metal might cause you to chuckle. Many bands have made pathetic attempts at performing music in these similar genres, trying so hard to be dramatic that they become comedic. Italian six-piece Lacuna Coil, however, fits in these genres without any hint of cheesiness.

Instead of the standard goth topics of vampires and evil minions, the lyrics are about pain and frustration found in everyday life. The band’s lyricists are also its vocal duo of Christina Scabbia (best described as Natalie Merchant without the annoying twang) and Andrea Ferro (if pain has a sound, it’s his vocals).

It’s easy to imagine Christina and Andrea as stereotypical goths who mope around all day, clutching a notebook into which they write lots of bad, dark poetry before coming up with a song. But Christina, who has taught herself English quite well, is quick to tell you, “We are totally happy!” She goes on, constantly laughing and radiating a love for life. “You can be as happy as possible, but there are some moments in your life that you are alone with yourself and you start to think. The moment when you think most is when you are sad or depressed.”

She doesn’t sit in her room all day writing. “I don’t consider myself a poet, because I write all the lyrics after the music is finished. I just find the perfect note that fits perfectly with the rest of the song. When I was young I used to write a diary. I just discovered [one day] that I wasn’t anymore. Everything I like [and] I want to remember, I have in my head.”

Christina, who’s always loved to sing, began her professional career in 1991 when friends requested her voice be lent to some dance-music tracks they were producing. In 1996 she joined another group of friends who were already in the process of forming Lacuna Coil. With the exception of a few Lacuna Coil songs performed in Italian, she has always sung in English.

According to Christina, there’s not a real heavy metal music scene anywhere in Italy. “There’s a lot of good bands, but we cannot grow that much [in Italy] because of the media.” Lacuna Coil received plenty of attention from other countries’ publications when its self-titled debut CD was released in 1998. Germany was the first country to provide Lacuna Coil with a substantial fan base, and Christina seems to be in awe of its music scene. “In Germany a supermarket can play Slayer without any problem. It’s pretty weird. Germany is special for metal. It’s like commercial music.”

Lacuna Coil’s music began catching on throughout Europe, and the group quickly found itself with fans from all over the globe and live performances scheduled before large crowds. Christina’s finding both her loves for singing and meeting many different folks being fulfilled.

“It’s really nice that a lot of people write me about really personal experiences, like I was a friend. I’ve had people tell me [our music] saved their lives. I’m really surprised about that. The power of the songs, that’s great! We like to chat with fans and talk with them, because we want to hear about what they like and the experiences.”

While many metal bands, of all subgenres, project a cold-as-steel attitude, the members of Lacuna Coil are consistently warm and friendly; it’s the traditional Italian passion that influences the band the most. Christina takes pride in that: “In general we are so full of energy and we are always so open from the first time we talk with a person, it’s like we’ve known them a lot of years. This is a part of the [Italian] culture for sure. We like to have fun, we drink beers with [fans].”

Living in Milan, one of the world’s fashion capitals, is bound to affect the visual image of even a nontrendy metal band, right? Well, Christina isn’t particularly interested in the fashion industry. “But, it’s sad but true that people look at the image. We still take care of the music more than the image. If we can give an image that fits perfectly with the music, I think the thing is complete.”

Speaking of image, how does she feel about being voted “Most Shaggable Female” by the readers of Terrorizer magazine? She has to control her laughter before she speaks, “It’s not that good, the word shaggable, but I love [it]. It’s kind of like a compliment. I really like to play with my feminine side.”

The role of sexy siren isn’t the main focus of Christina’s life. With an all-round interest in the arts, she’s taught herself how to draw portraits and fantasy images, and would like to try styling photo shoots. She also works as a barmaid in a Milan pub, yet another outlet for her to meet and interact with a lot of people.

Of course, Christina is ecstatic about touring and meeting fans in the United States for the first time. “I just want to discover a new place, and I want to come back with a cowboy hat! I don’t know when I will wear it, but …” she trails off, laughing.

Lacuna Coil is currently touring with longtime friends, Portuguese goth-metal outfit Moonspell. When you see Christina and the band milling about the crowd at one of their shows, try to match their Italian hospitality by buying them a beer and saying hello. They’d love to talk to you.

Lacuna Coil with Moonspell
Wednesday, Dec. 12
I-Rock
16350 Harper, Detroit
Call 313-881-ROCK

Nicole Jones molds molten messages for Metro Times. E-mail njones@metrotimes.com

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