INTERVIEW: Andy LaPlegua – Combichrist

COMBICHRIST, an American aggrotech band, are in the middle of their European tour, including a Sheffield date where we met up with frontman Andy LaPlegua to discuss the tour, their new album, and world events.

You’re not having a lot of luck on this tour, with two dates cancelled and one relocated!

Yes. I think it’s actually quite normal on a tour for something to go wrong. I’d prefer it not to, of course, but it’s quite normal when you’re doing a tour that something happens. We’ve been pretty unfortunate on this tour but I prefer not to cancel anything. I hate cancelling anything. The one show was cancelled because the venue was closed down like two days before we were playing and it was like, okay, guess we’re not playing there. So that was out of our hand and the other one the bus broke down and we were a country away so there was nothing we could do then either. And the replacement one was actually fortunate because the new venue was way cooler than the original venue.

How is the tour going apart from those hiccups?

Really well, really good. It’s also festival season so I expected actually a little less people than there has been because it’s always hard to tour during festival season because you’ll end up being in a city where everybody’s at a festival. But it’s been really good. I think the only place that it really crashed was in Gothenburg where it was just a little slow compared to what it usually is because we did it at the same time as Sweden Rock, unfortunate. We should have played Sweden Rock instead, but we didn’t so it was a little slow. But except from that it’s been great.

You’ve just released your latest album, This Is Where Death Begins, has the release gone has hoped?

Actually it went better than I’d hoped. We went into the German album charts in the first week to, I think, twenty-seventh. Which is the highest we’ve been in the mainstream album charts so that was good. Except from that it’s still a young album, it’s only been out for four weeks. People were very weary of it when we started leaking the teasers, but when the album first got out everybody seemed to be really happy with it. And live it’s been working really well.

Is there anything you’d have liked for the album that didn’t happen?

Errm, no. Not really. It would have been great to have David Bowie on it, but no. I did exactly what I wanted on this album and I think it came together exactly how I wanted it to be. My only regret is that I didn’t have a little bit more time to do even more songs, there’s no songs that I don’t feel should be there and we had such a good time recording  the album, and recording the album with a co-producer for the first time because I’ve always produced everything myself. So everything came together really well.

Where does your inspiration come for new songs and albums?

Same as everything else and same as everything I’ve done in the past, of course there’s a lot of stuff that I’ve released that’s more of a movie inspirations, like a horror movie inspirations and stuff like this. I also feel like a lot of the stuff I’ve done is like a social documentary, or mockumentary, you just soak up whatever goes around, you know, what’s going on around you, what you see on the news, what you see on the street, what you see in daily life, and you just kinda soak it up and use that as  inspiration for writing.

How do you go about writing music, what’s the process?

It’s different from song to song, some songs I have a keyboard line idea or a guitar riff or just a lyrical idea. So it really depends on the song, but very often I write on tour, I write a lot on the road so I will have a conceptional idea of a song and a certain idea of a song with half the lyrics. Then you go to the studio and make the music, add lyrics, then you add more lyrics, and you build on it, and you add more music. That’s kinda the normal way to do it I would say. Well for me.

A few weeks ago, you postponed the released of your latest music video in respect to those in Orlando. Can you tell me how you came to this decision?

Well it was because we were all really looking forward to the release and even the video itself is kinda like a tribute to the grind house, a little bit of a horror thing or whatever, but the violence in itself in the video was really not the main decision why I didn’t want to release it at that date. The main decision was because we really looked forward to releasing it, and we worked hard on it, we were looking forward to it’s supposed to be when it comes out we push and it’s kinda like a celebration, you know what I mean. But it was just a really rough week for everybody, thankfully to me, my friends were safe. But I have friends in Orlando who have family members and we were still trying to track down people who was there, we didn’t know if they were there or not, we didn’t know if they were alive or not. It just had such an impact on me personally, it always has, and now in Turkey as well, does always have an impact on me that someone can do something so horrible. I just couldn’t get myself to release the video and have like a yay, we’re celebrating. It was just the wrong time to do anything. It wouldn’t have had to be violence in it at all and I would have taken the same decision. It just felt wrong.

Will these world issues affect the kind of videos and messages you send in your music?

It already does, this is what I said, my main inspiration is what’s going on in the world so it will always be like that. I wouldn’t call myself an activist, but I’m opinionated. I think there’s a big difference. I can write about things I feel strongly about, am opinionated about, but I don’t wanna be an activist through the music because I’m trying to keep politics out of it. Of course I push certain things I feel strongly about but also try to keep it a little tongue in cheek, you can’t take yourself too seriously because then you take away the fun in your music. If you take the fun away in the music then it’s not me anymore. If you try to be an activist then it turns really serious you take the fun out of it because then everything is about being really serious and being politically correct and I’m absolutely not politically correct.

There have been comments about the change in your sound, both positive and negative, what’s your opinion on the matter?

Well, the thing is, when I released the first COMBICHRIST album, I was doing ICON OF COIL at the time, and everyone was complaining because it was so different from ICON OF COIL, and I released Everybody Hates You and everyone was complaining because it was so different from The Joy Of Gunz. And so on, and so on, and so on. What surprises me is that everyone is so surprised that it’s changing because it’s changed every single time. The latest album is really not that different from what we’ve done live for the last seven to eight years so if they’ve seen us live over the seven or eight years with guitars, with live drums, why would they complain that it’s on the album? I just don’t get it. In the end it’s the haters that talk loud, people who like stuff they listen to the music. They don’t sit on the computer and complain about it, they sit and listen to the songs. And with what I said about the album charts it proves that people do like it, even though the haters are loud. And I don’t care, in the end, that’s the main thing. It’s my favourite album so far. And if every album can be my favourite, personal album so far, then I’m happy.

Over the last seven or eight years how has touring changed for you? What’s different?

Not much, we kinda doing the same thing that we’ve done the whole time. We’ve done bigger shows, because we have gotten a bigger fan base. But apart from that, nothing has really changed, we keep touring, we keep working. We work hard by touring all the time and then I’m in the studio when we’re not. Some tours will be more sober than others, or more drunk than others, but apart from that we keep doing what we like doing. I can’t imagine doing anything else, it’s what I do.

Thank you!


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