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April 17, 2014

Exclusive Interview: Combichrist
vocalist talks new album, video, tour

By Joshua Hoover

Andy LaPleguaBefore taking the stage, Andy LaPlegua, the frontman and founder of Combichrist sat down with the Stater and provided some insight on the new album and the current tour.

What were some of your inspirations for the new album?

“Life, ha-ha. Honestly, I was sick of constricting myself to doing a certain thing with Combichrist, and having to do other things with other projects. Like, I kind of said, kind of like ‘f*** it’, and I’ll just make the album I want. You know, I’m obviously not one single person. I just wanted to make a good album regardless of whether it was a scene album or not, I just wanted to do an album that represented me as a whole as a musician, and not me as Combichrist within a certain scene. I just wanted to make the album that we should have been making for a long time. Kind of like no restrictions at all.”

“The new album seems to be more political than any of your others.”

“Yes it is. It’s an extremely raw and honest album. If I wrote something, I just, I looked at it, and I said, ‘maybe I shouldn’t say that’, and I went, why not, that’s how I think? It’s what I believe. So, I mean, it’s obviously the most honest album to date. There’s really not much of the character of Combichrist anymore, it’s just me, it’s really, truly, just a heartfelt album. At the same time, as people ask me, “it seems political’, and I’m like, you know, not really, it’s not political, because I’m not trying to convince anyone. I’m just saying what I mean and what I feel. A politician would try to convince you, while I just say, “you agree with me, cool, we have something in common,” you don’t fine I’m not going to argue. It’s not up for debate, it’s just how I feel and what I think. In my mind, it’s not political, it’s just personal. I’ve said this a million times in a million interviews, I don’t do politics, and I don’t expect my politicians to do music. It’s really important, unless it’s Bill Clinton naked on a bearskin rug with a saxophone.”

Was the video for “Maggots at the Party” as fun as it looked to film?

“Yeah, for sure. I think it was more fun that it looked. There was so much footage, and we crammed it into a 4 minute video. It was so hard, because there was so much good material, because we just had the best days filming this. It was really amazing. The party scene was literally, there’s no fill-ins, no stand-ins, no actors, no nothing. It was literally all my friends, and this was all my friends, doing what we do, more or less, except for obviously the storyline and set-up, that was just to make up the comedy factor. The whole party scene, that’s just all my friends. We do that, on weekends we drive our cars and bikes and stuff and we hang out, we go to this bar, that’s actually the bar (in the video) we usually hang out in. The people working there, that’s the people working there on the weekends. It’s very, very real. Then we mixed it with the comedy factor, which was f****** hysterical shooting. My face was hurting bad after shooting that day with the cops and everything because I couldn’t stop laughing. It was amazing.”

How’s the tour going?

“Really good, yeah! It’s been great, of course, everybody’s a little excited because we haven’t toured for a couple of years, including us. There’s a lot of energy. Most people don’t really know the new songs yet, so it’s a little quiet during the new songs. But it’s well received and everything, and obviously the old hits are being very well received. But it’s been great, we’ll have a great time, and we’re only one fourth through the tour yet, and this is just the first leg, because we’re still going to be doing Europe and stuff. It’s been amazing.”

How’s it different playing here compared to Europe?

“Convenience wise, I prefer to play here, because there’s really no big deal with language barriers or anything like that. This is the land of convenience, you know, there’s 24 Wal-Mart stops, and if you need something drunk at 5 am you can always stop at Wal-Mart. But, the shows themselves, it’s really hard to compare. You can’t really compare country to country, you kind of have to start comparing city to city. New York would be more or less like Berlin, you know, Paris would be more like LA shows, it’s really hard to compare country to country."

Is there a big difference between playing a festival and playing a venue like the Agora?

“Yeah, it’s different, it’s a different kick, too. Both as an audience and as a band, it’s a different experience. It’s great to be at a festival and have 20,000 people around you and you’re dancing with 20,000 people, or you’re in a pit in a smaller club with 400 people packed into it, it’s a total kick, but completely different. And that’s how it is being on stage, too. It’s a different rush. And, sometimes I prefer the intimate shows, I prefer the close-up energy. I can’t deny that when we played with Rammstein, we played in front of like, 30,000 people, it definitely gives you a kick, but it’s a completely different feel."

What gave you the idea to do a VIP pizza party?

“Well, really, the whole original idea of it was that we were just so busy and our schedule got so busy, that most days we don’t have time to go back out and hang out. We used to do that, we used to go and party with our fans and go out. Kind of a controlled matter, we kind of came up with this idea, that way we can do this before doors open, and we can still hang out. I know that the tickets are more expensive, but it all goes into the merch, pizza and the dog tags. That way, we kind of made it a little bit more exclusive for the fans, but at the same time, gave us an opportunity to hang out with people for a bit and show our appreciation for everybody coming out."

What did you think of the cancellation of the Kinetik festival?

“My personal opinion about it...It’s always sad to see...I know their promoter personally, and it’s always sad to see something that was done with this much passion and it’s sad to see something like that end. He never did it for the money, just the music. We always did the same thing. We never did anything for the money, we always did it for the music. But, unfortunately, that’s the reality when you do something that is strictly based on the scene, it’s not going to hold on, because people IN the scene, unfortunately, don’t give as much to it as they talk about. They talk about it way more than they actually do it. It’s more talk and less do. And, I think that’s one of the reasons why the European festivals are way more successful. Even the scene festivals like Wave-Gotik-Treffen, they have everything from rock bands, to minimal ambient, to full straight-up goth rock, to industrial, and it’s very, very varied. I believe in that mentality more, and I think you get further with that mentality. I think people just appreciate music more than, at least for me, there are a lot of people out there that are only in the scene for the scene itself, just to be a part of something, just so they can dress a certain way, they feel like that’s the most important thing. To me, its music, so, I don’t, even though I love that scene, which has given us so much, I don’t feel that I necessarily belong exclusively to that scene. I mean, I’m a part of the hotrod car scene, I’m part of the metal scene, I’m part of the punk scene, I’m part of the rockabilly scene, I’m all those things, because that’s the things I care about. I don’t necessarily have to restrict myself to one thing."

Do you have any plans to do a Live DVD?

“We've had plans for years.  We're working on stuff, we have years and years of footage, but I kind of want to do...we had an idea, and I kind of want to fulfill that idea, and that idea was just make like a really raw DVD.  I don't want to make a live DVD where you see a show, because it never transfers to TV.  I want to make it raw, almost like it's all the best YouTube clips you ever saw in one complete chaos, like 3 hours, complete chaos, just to kind of give the vibe of what it's really like to be on tour with us.  And, get like all the backstage footage, all the party footage, all the mayhem on the tour, but also the downsides and the upsides. But, we'll see, it takes a lot of time, and I have to have my finger in everything, I have to do everything.  If we're going to be editing this, I'd have to be there and do it.  If that's going to happen, that's going to take several months, just from editing and going through all the footage, and making this the way I want it to be.  That takes away from touring, takes away from writing music, and it takes away from everything.  That's the only reason why it's just never really came through.  But, we'll see now, we have...well, I'm not going to say what we're doing, but I had a certain idea that I want to do, and we're working on a little kind of pilot, sort of, right now, so we can show the labels and see if they get a kick out of it, and if they do, then we're going to do it this year, and hopefully that will finally make a DVD."

How did you guys get hooked up with Abbey?

“We've known all those guys in Psyclon Nine since they started, because we were already touring by the time that they came around.  He was literally the only person I got along with, so when we got to that time we were discussing different people, who was available, who was interested, who would be a good fit for the band personally, and he came up in every discussion we had.  So, we asked him, we were like, “Hey man, we think you'd be a good fit, we've been big fans, we get along.” So, we basically flew him in and had him audition for us.  It's a weird thing to say about a friend, that he auditioned for us, but it still was, because we still had to see if we got the live vibe and if everything worked out.  And it did, I mean, obviously he's still in the band."

Do you have any plans for your other projects? 

“We'll see...yes, we're supposed to, we are working on a new Icon of Coil album, it's just it takes time, because we have to be in-between, and I'm not just going to throw something together, you know, we never did, Icon of Coil never did, it was always hard work, but we also worked hard on the material.  We didn't just throw shit out there.  It will be, eventually, it will be done.  And, when that's done, we might, we might not do another tour for that album. Who knows?  I would love to, because I love them, they're like my brothers, we've always had a great time together, but at the same time, Combichrist is my life at this point.  This is my family.  So, we'll see."