Beyond the Boys’ Club is a monthly column from journalist and radio host Anne Erickson, focusing on women in the heavy music genres, as they offer their perspectives on the music industry and discuss their personal experiences. This month’s piece features an interview with Lacuna Coil vocalist Cristina Scabbia.
When Lacuna Coil first came on the scene in the mid-’90s, seeing a woman onstage at a metal show was an anomaly.
“I remember the face of guys coming to the gigs when they saw a woman onstage,” recalls singer Cristina Scabbia. “In the beginning, they just looked at me like, ‘What is she doing up there?’”
Scabbia and her Lacuna Coil bandmates quickly earned the respect of the greater metal community, crafting dark, melodic, sophisticated, and gothic metal music. More than 20 years into the Italian band’s career, Lacuna Coil are gearing up to release their ninth studio album, Black Anima, on October 11th, and embark on a co-headlining North American tour with All That Remains this fall.
Scabbia spoke with Heavy Consequence for the latest “Beyond the Boys’ Club” column, discussing the rise of women in rock and metal music, the female musician who inspired her the most, and the band’s upcoming album. Read the full interview below.
On how she was treated by the metal community when Lacuna Coil started out
To be honest, I never had any type of problems when I started, like people coming to me and degrading me because I was a woman. I just looked at myself as a member of the band. I never looked at it like I was a woman. Maybe in the beginning it was a little the focus. Because in the beginning, you don’t know better and people are pushing out photos of you for the appealing side, but we are a band, and I don’t want to be the standout element. I’m one of the two singers in Lacuna Coil. I don’t want to be seen as a separate person. I’m very happy that a lot of women have the opportunity to do what they like now. I think it’s fantastic to see a lot more women in the music business and metal world.
On the lack of women in metal music when Lacuna Coil was first breaking out
It was very, very rare. But, as soon as the audience started to see the show, they started to appreciate it, and for me, it was a lot of fun to see their reaction like, “Oh, wow, she can sing and give a good performance!” That was the big difference. People were really surprised to see a female onstage, and it’s not like that anymore.
On the female musician who has most inspired her
This is going to sound weird, because she doesn’t belong to the metal world, but I always loved Madonna because I appreciate the fact that she has been able to elbow her career up to the stars. I like the fact she was in total control of everything and came out with control of her career. And she belonged to a time when pop songs were really good, because they were played by a band and had greet songwriting. So, she was definitely an inspiration.
On the #MeToo movement
Well, personally, I never got any weird invitation. But, I think every situation is completely different. It’s wrong to take advantage. I don’t think you should ever compromise to go on with your career. It’s wrong, and I would hate if someone would say to me, “Hey, I’ll push your career further if you do this,” but it hasn’t happened to me so far.
On her advice to women looking to get into the metal music industry
Be yourself. It’s very simple and always works. When I started this career, in the beginning, I was mesmerized about getting on [magazine] covers and attention, and the line is really thin, because you can start to think you’re better than other people. But, this is completely wrong, because you are not. You’re only doing your job the best way you can. The best thing is to be yourself, because when you try to transform yourself into something you’re not to try to please everyone, that’s going to fail. People can recognize what is genuine and real. I can confirm that it works much better if you are yourself.
On the close relationship with her bandmates
I’m very lucky, because the band is a second family to me. I believe working with people that I like was crucial, because I hear of so many bands whose members are not talking to each other and have separate dressing rooms. I could never do something like that, and therefore, I’m lucky that I got this positive experience.
On Lacuna Coil’s upcoming album, Black Anima, and why that title represents the new songs so well
We were thinking about the word “black,” because it reflects our style very well, and Andrea (Ferro, second vocalist) came up with Black Anima. Anima means “soul” in Italian, and it was perfect to describe the whole vibe of this new record, and that’s how we picked it. There was nothing incredible behind it! (Laughs) We love it, and whoever hears the record will immediately connect the songs to this name.
On the inspiration and theme behind Black Anima
We thought about it not as a concept but an idea. The music came forward step by step with the visuals for the record. As soon as we wrote different songs at different times, we put everything together at the very end, and it was like as a puzzle. We wanted to talk about human nature and didn’t want to hide any flaws, because in society, everyone tries to show the beautiful part of the truth, but a lot of people are afraid to tell the truth and the darker side of human beings, like envy or hate or anger, and we wanted to show the spectrum of feelings.
On the importance of visuals and image to Lacuna Coil’s story
To us, it has always been important, because I don’t believe image is not part of it. Of course, music is always the priority. But, to me, a picture or show have to be visual, because anyone who comes to the show wants something more than just the songs. And why not? It’s going to add something cool to whoever watches the show.
On the dynamics of Black Anima
This album is so diverse. Some songs are heavy, and some songs are more intense. I like “Layers of Time,” which is the first song we put out, because it represents the new Lacuna Coil perfectly. I had a great time with this record, and I personally played with every song. I like how I’m a different person in every song. You’ll notice that my voice changes from song to song and gives a different interpretation, and that was fun to do.
On Lacuna Coil’s upcoming tour with All That Remains
I think it’s a good pick, because we toured with the guys already, and we know they’re great guys. We’re going to miss Oli (Herbert) very much, the guitar player who passed away. But, I can’t wait to see the guys again, and I think our music matches, because even though we are different, it’s good to offer a different package to everyone coming to the show. They don’t have to hear the same style of music over and over and maybe get bored. I think it’s a great package.
Our thanks to Cristina Scabbia for taking part in this month’s Beyond the Boys’ Club column. Pre-order Lacuna Coil’s Black Anima album at this location, and pick up tickets to their North American fall tour with All That Remains here.