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Filling the empty spiral
by Nathan Orme
Jul 22, 2009 | 456 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Photo/Chris Denmar
Lacuna Coil, a metal band from Italy, performs Saturday night at The New Oasis in Sparks.
Courtesy Photo/Chris Denmar Lacuna Coil, a metal band from Italy, performs Saturday night at The New Oasis in Sparks.
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For a band with a name that translates to “empty spiral,” Lacuna Coil sure seems to have a positive outlook.

The Italian hard rock group has been playing together for 12 years and in April released its fifth album, “Shallow Life.” The album title seems fitting to the depressing connotation of the band’s name, but guitarist Andrea Ferro says that being shallow is not always a bad thing.

“Sometimes you need to be shallow. You can’t be serious all the time,” Ferro told the Sparks Tribune by phone from Santa Rosa, Calif. on Tuesday. “But sometimes you need to be serious and take a step and do something.”

“Shallow Life” is the first of Lacuna Coil’s albums to have a common theme throughout: superficial lifestyles in the modern world. Ferro said the idea came as band members were watching TV and reflecting on their time together. They thought about the important meaninglessness of having a beer with a friend while watching a soccer match and about how fragile life seems when seemingly immortal celebrities die (think: Michael Jackson). There are positive and negative aspects inherent in life’s shallowness, he said, and both need to be embraced — a message the album tries to convey.

“Sometimes it seems like life is just passing,” Ferro said. “You have to go back to the basics and go back to your life and enjoy it.”

Lacuna Coil always has a heavy touring schedule, playing music festivals all over the world. The current three-week trip to the Western United States includes a stop in Sparks on Saturday at The New Oasis. This is Lacuna Coil’s first headlining tour in the United States in three years and is called The American Spellbound Tour, promoting the band via the radio success of the song “Spellbound” off the “Shallow Life” album. The song debuted at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in May. “Spellbound,” Ferro said, is about being under the spell of someone or something, not knowing why and being unable to break its hold.

“I think it happens to everyone,” Ferro said. “It can be a girlfriend or an addiction you have. It’s something everyone can relate to.”

Speaking of addictions, Lacuna Coil’s female singer, Cristina Scabbia, could make any man an instant fan of the band. Thanks to her, Lacuna Coil was part of The Hottest Chicks in Metal Tour in 2007. Her presence in the group not only adds visual appeal, but in conjunction with Ferro, the male/female vocal combination is unique among bands of the genre.

When it comes to Lacuna Coil’s vocals, the group sticks primarily to the English language rather than the members’ native Italian.

“Italian is a very melodic language; it’s not so good for our music,” Ferro said. “It’s hard for us to rock in Italian.”

Lyrically, however, switching languages has had its challenges, Ferro said. When first writing songs, he said, the group’s English skills were not so refined. They’d try to sneak phrases from books to use in songs, but he said they would often not translate the way they intended. After signing a professional music contract, he said, part of the deal was to have someone check their English usage.

On “Shallow Life,” the years of practice have paid off and they have been able to be a little more poetic and have it make sense. For example, from “Spellbound”:

Velvet drapes

Glowing candles

Silent whispers

Of words inside of my head

The night then comes

It waits for me

Leads me to

The ending of another day

I’m haunted

Working with producer Don Gilmore on “Shallow Life” also has aided Lacuna Coil lyrically. Gilmore has worked with such acts as Avril Lavigne, Eve 6, Good Charlotte, Dashboard Confessional and Duran Duran.

Though they are working with a big name producer and have played with Ozzy Osborne, Megadeath, Metallica and Guns ‘n’ Roses, Lacuna Coil has tried to maintain a humble approach. Ferro said that Lacuna Coil gained popularity in Europe by practically going door to door playing their music and introducing themselves to music fans, and they are trying to do the same in America. Gigs in small places such as Sparks are part of that effort. Developing a grass roots fan base has helped the band maintain its longevity.

“It’s the only way,” he said. “The fashionable bands are here today and maybe in a year but when the next fashion comes you’re gone.”

Lacuna Coil plays at The New Oasis, 2100 Victorian Ave. in Sparks, on Saturday with Kill Hannah, Seventh Void and Dommin. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance and can be purchased online at www.newoasisreno.com. This is an all ages show.

For more information on Lacuna Coil, go to www.lacunacoil.it.
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