“IN ITALIAN, THE WORD ‘PIPPA’
basically means ‘somebody who sucks at
something,’” says Lacuna Coil guitarist
Cristiano “Pizza” Migliore. “They started
calling me ‘pippa’ because of my terrible
performance at a soccer tournament,
and, eventually, it got distorted to ‘pizza.’
Luckily, it didn’t mean that I suck at guitar.”
Migliore, along with co-guitarist Marco "Maus" Biazzi are the lynchpins of the
band frequently pigeonholed as “The Italian
Evanescence.” Formed in Milan, Italy,
in 1994, Lacuna Coil recruited Migliore
and Biazzi in 1998 and 2000 respectively
to flesh out a lineup that features both
female (Cristina Scabbia) and male (Andrea
Ferro) lead singers. The yin and yang vocal
dynamic is just one way Lacuna Coil
explores the darkness by flooding it with
light. Seamlessly weaving between pounding
guitar riffs and ethereal ambience,
the band juxtaposes the best of both
worlds by pitting harsh guitar tones
against sweet ones, and pairing gloomy
atmospheres with optimistic resolutions.
For the group’s fifth full-length release,
Shallow Life [Century Media], Biazzi and
Migliore added another element to the
Laguna Coil experience—the sound of
7-string baritone guitars.
Reading forum posts from your fan community,
it seems there is some debate as to whether the
band’s sound is changing.
Biazzi: Maybe it’s the baritone 7-string
guitars we’re using now. I think the heaviness
those instruments produce has definitely
changed our sound, because the first three
records were all recorded with 6-string
guitars. We were also lucky to get Doug
Gilmore as a producer for the new record.
He has worked with Linkin Park and Pearl
Jam, and he had great ideas for layering amp
sounds. However, it has always been a characteristic
of Lacuna Coil to blend melodies
with heavy parts—not Lamb of God heavy,
but heavy enough to create a totally different
mood from the lighter parts. But
whatever else we do with arrangements or
audio production, you’ll still recognize a
Lacuna Coil song when you hear it.
Did not releasing any new music for three years
inspire the evolution of the guitar sounds?
Migliore: Perhaps. We took a long
break—almost one year—at the end of the
touring cycle for Karmacode to just sit and
write. This meant we were able to spend
more time focusing on all the little details
that you usually leave behind because you’re
running out of time or money. Everybody in
the band participated and exchanged ideas,
and we wound up with enough material to
record about 20 songs. But one of the main
reasons we switched to 7-strings is because
of bands like Meshuggah and Korn. We saw
how the 7-string guitars really give you a
wider range of choices. We’re not fast players,
and our music is different from theirs,
but listening to them, we started to hear in
our heads how something would sound being
played on a different type of guitar. This was
of critical importance because our song ideas
always start with a chord progression or a
melody from the guitar. Our bass player,
Marco, always uses a guitar when he writes
music, so we basically have three guitar players
in the band writing music. All of our
music is born on the guitar.
Biazzi: With a guitar, you get the complete
vision of a song. You can get the lines,
the rhythms, and the melodies at the same
What kind of 7-strings are you playing?
Biazzi: ESP—We’ve been with them for
about four years now. We use the ESP LTD
SC-607B baritone, which is one of the models
they made for Stephen Carpenter of the
Do you experiment with alternate tunings?
Migliore: Normally, we don’t want to
mess with alternate tunings. We need to be
able to play the older 6-string stuff live, plus
we have two singers, and we have to consider
what types of tunings will work with
their voices. So, the 7-string tuning is normally
B, E, A, D, G, B, E, [low to high], but
we sometimes drop the low B string to A.
What type of strings do you use?
Migliore: We use Dean Markley Blue
Steels gauged .010-.056, and the low B on
the seventh string is a .060. It took a few
weeks to get used to tuning a 7-string, but
now it’s very natural.
What other gear appeared during the album
Migliore: We mainly play through Line 6
Spider Valves—especially on tour. They’re great,
because you can get so many different sounds
straight from the amp. I still think it’s amazing
that they’re digital amps and sound so good.
For Shallow Life, we did use a variety of amps
to mix it up—like a Bogner Shiva for some heavy
rhythms—but we kept going back to the Line
6 amps for clean sounds. Don had so many
good suggestions for different amps to experiment
with, and we went a little crazy, because
it was so easy to rent gear in North Hollywood,
where we recorded the album. We didn’t use
many effects, but we did try the pitch shifter
on a Line 6 Floor Pod for the whammy-style
lead on “I Won’t Tell You.” Normally, unless a
part really needs something, we try to keep the
tone as dry as possible. If we change our minds,
we’ll add effects during the final mix, but most
of what you’re hearing is just the amp.
With so many tonal and creative options—as
well as multiple songwriters—how do you know
when a song is finished?
Migliore: You need to know when to stop.
If you over-think songwriting and production,
they can become processes that don’t really pay
off. You can always find more stuff to change,
and you can go on writing and arranging forever.
If your first thought is that something
sounds good as it is, then you should stop.