Conventional wisdom used to be that the hyper-masculine world of heavy metal would never fully embrace a female superstar, but that was before Lacuna Coil's Cristina Scabbia hit the scene. Armed with a soaring contralto and a humble attitude that belies her striking beauty, Scabbia has converted more than a few skeptics over the past 14 years.
Last month, Lacuna Coil delivered its sixth album, Dark Adrenaline. Powered by its first single, "Trip the Darkness," the album scored the band's highest U.S. chart debut to date at no. 15 on the Billboard Top 200. A slick and moody affair featuring Scabbia and co-vocalist Andrea Ferro trading hooks, the release was a triumph for a band many considered too different, too feminine or just too Italian to achieve mainstream success as a metal band in the U.S.
Now Lacuna Coil is capitalizing on that success with a slot on the season's highest-profile metal tour, the fourth iteration of Dave Mustaine's Gigantour. In addition to Lacuna Coil, headliners Megadeth are joined by the legendary Motorhead and Denmark's Volbeat. The show rumbles into Verizon Wireless Theater Friday.
Rocks Off caught up with Cristina Scabbia earlier this week to ask her about the big tour, the new record and what to expect next from Lacuna Coil.
Rocks Off: Cristina, you're on tour with some real legends at the moment, guys like Dave Mustaine and Motorhead who have been doing this for a very long time. You're no touring newbie yourself, but what are you taking away from a tour with guys who have been shredding around the world for 30 or 40 years?
Christina Scabbia: It's just a pure pleasure to be part of this tour. I mean, Motörhead and Megadeth, are you kiddin' me? If there's something to be learned by bands that have been around so long, it's the fact that you can have a long and healthy career as a band if you really love your music and what you do.
RO: You're one of very few artists who have been asked to duet with Dave Mustaine. Will you be performing "A Tout Le Monde" with Megadeth when the tour rolls through Houston?
CS: I think so. I've done it every night on Gigantour, 'cause Megadeth think it sounds great and it's always cool to give a little extra on a show to the crowds that are coming to see us.
RO: In the wintertime, we can't seem to go three weeks without coming down with a cold or a sinus infection or some other malady. How do you keep your voice in good shape traveling around the country in the cold?
CS: Haha, it's actually funny you asked... I'm slightly sick now, nothing too bad, just a little bit of cough and chest congestion. Normal on tour, for me. The stress of singing every night and most of all the cold are not helping. I try to rest as much as I can, and it's helpful I'm not a smoker. Then I drink a lot of water, which rehydrates the vocal chords.
RO: Dark Adrenaline has been out for a few weeks now. Which songs from the album are you enjoying playing live the most so far?
CS: So far we've been playing, like, five new songs live from Dark Adrenaline. I'm enjoying a lot, besides "Trip the Darkness," also "Upsidedown" and "I Don't Believe in Tomorrow." They are the heaviest out of the ones we're playing, and it's just fun to be on stage with something very energetic and rockin.'
RO: The new record scored the band's highest-charting debut on the Billboard Top 200 to date. Was that a surprise?
CS: It's always a surprise because you never know how the sales can go. We've been happy about the news but for us it's more important to keep the sales consistent, because that would mean that more and more people are getting closer to Lacuna Coil.
RO: We definitely weren't expecting to hear your cover of "Losing My Religion." R.E.M. isn't a terribly common influence on metal bands. How did the idea for that cover come about?
CS: The idea was there from years ago, but this time around was fitting with the Dark Adrenaline theme. Doing a rock/metal cover of a rock/metal song would not make a lot of sense, in our opinion. It's more fun and challenging to experiment with a song that is very diverse from the music we play and R.E.M. are a respected band that signed history, no matter what.
RO: Was exploring more pop sounds in Lacuna Coil's music a focus in recording this album?
CS: No, not at all. Instead we wanted to go into a heavier and more obscure direction. Don Gilmore has produced a lot of successful bands in the past decade.
RO: Dark Adrenaline is your second album with him at the controls. What does he bring to the process that made you want to bring him back for this record?
CS: Don is a great guy and a great producer. We decided to work with him again 'cause we knew he would have been able to translate our desire of changing things from the previous album. He knew Dark Adrenaline would have been Lacuna Coil's next step to the next level and we worked together again, in perfect alchemy.
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RO: Once Gigantour wraps up, what's next for Lacuna Coil?
CS: After a little break we'll hit South America for some gigs with Lamb of God and Hatebreed and then we'll be back to the States for a headliner tour and more dates to be announced. Summer festivals in Europe and then probably a European tour.