“I have nothing to excuse myself for; I do what I do and I’d do it again”
Perhaps the most successful band in the genre, Combichrist has placed itself as a pivotal element within the EBM community. Throughout its career, spanning now almost 10 years, the band has toured all over the world, even opening for Rammstein during one of their US Tour, gathering a legion of fans.
Having developed a unique and easily recognizable sound, and in the middle of a massive European tour, the band stopped at the Summer Darkness Festival in Utrecht, performing to a soldout crowd.
Andy Laplegua, the singer and mastermind of Combichrist took some time to discuss not only the band’s career, but also to respond to some of the criticisms that have been raised against it.
Metal Blast: Tell us a bit about the European tour. I saw on your website that all the VIP packages are sold out, so I’m guessing it’s going OK.
Andy: It’s been really good. It’s been surprisingly good actually, considering it’s summer. We did a lot of headlining shows as well as festival shows, and so it’s been surprisingly good. You would think that everybody would go to the festivals and not to a club show, but we’ve seen that we’ve had some really good club shows. Even though we’ve been out for like 6 weeks, so it’s getting towards the end… there’s only one more show after tonight (two if we include today) and then we go back home and go straight to the studio.
MB: In a recent interview you mentioned that you’re working on a side project of sorts, something that, in your words, was like an “acoustic guitar bar thing”. What exactly is this project? because it obviously represents a huge change from what you usually do, particularly in Combichrist.
A: It’s not a big change from what I listen to at home; I like a lot of stuff like Tim Barry , Lucero, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and a lot of old acoustic stuff. I listened to a lot of this when I was growing up and, actually, a lot of this newer bands, like Tim Barry and Lucero, started like harder hardcore bands around the same time I did, so it feels like it’s a natural progression in a way. It’s just going to be a personal album, something that I wanna do for myself and we’ll see how it turns out; it’s just cool to sit down and just be an acoustic guitar and me and not really have to worry about anything electronically or any other band members. It’s very personal.
MB: Speaking of side projects, Icon Coil was supposed to be dead and, yet, now it has risen once again. What made you decide to bring it back and to continue doing it, despite the fact that you thought, and actually said, that it was the end,
A: It was easy. We, honestly, didn’t want to do anything more. Now and then we would do a show, because it would fit in and we had the possibility to meet up as old friends and do something for fun. We did a few show in Australia and we just decided that we had to something more, regardless of what we said before; we just had to do something because we were having so much fun; there’s no big comeback or anything like that, we’re just going to make another album, do a couple of tours just for the fun of it and, except for that, there are really no huge plans for it, but it’s definitely going to be fun.
MB: You’ve been working on the soundtrack for the videogame “Devil May Cry”. How was it different for you to work in this type of thing, compared to what you usually do when you write music for Combichrist or your other projects?
A: The cool thing about is that when you write on your music you have to come up with sort of a concept, figure out a background to it and to come up with those ideas; when I was working with Devil May Cry, the storyline was there, the action was there, the character was there, so I could follow that and just make music to it. Plus, it really gave me the opportunity to go really metal, and just do a lot of acoustic drums and guitars, which would have been too much of a change for Combichrist in itself to do it like that fast, so it gave me the opportunity to really just let loose and do a lot of stuff that I’ve been really wanting to do for a long time, because of my own background and everything.
It was definitely a lot of fun, and I had completely free hands too, which is awesome; the more extreme, harder, heavier, darker and faster I made it the more they digged it, so I just went on; it was awesome.
MB: With all of these going on, when do you think you’ll be able to actually start working on a new Combichrist album, or are you already working on new Combichrist material, considering all the stuff that you have going on the side?
A: I’m going to the studio in October to record the new Combichrist album, and that’s probably going to be out in April or May of next year, depending on how fast I finish it. I don’t wanna rush it, I don’t wanna make another album just to make another album, it has to be good. I think too many people release an album just to release it, so they can tour to support it, but I rather make a good album so we can support the album and not the other way around.
MB: Perhaps a bit of a silly question, but why did you choose Andy LaPlegua as your stage name?
A: It was just silly… everybody called me Andy, because my name is Anders, and I dug into some family stuff, old, old family stuff, and I just picked out something. Now it doesn’t really matter anymore.
MB: Looking back into what happened at Kinetic festival with Ad-Ver-SaRy and his presentation. At first you gave some credit to the guy, and then in some interviews you spoke of how this sort of thing actually makes you want to be more controversial or even more offensive. Now, personally, I thought that the presentation itself was sort of intellectually offensive, since it sort of derived a political intention of your picture with the confederate flag… surrounded by Chinese girls wielding chainsaws.
A: People dig too much; they think everything people do is political, it was just fun, it was just like if you were doing a horror movie; that’s all there is to it. Nobody screams at Rob Zombie when he’s doing something with shooting and killing and raping in his movies, so why would you blame me? It’s the same thing. Just a story line.
Oh, and Japanese, she would kill you if you call her Chinese.
MB: Now I’m going to be called racist and get my own presentation!
A: Exactly! She’s the wife of one my best friends, tattoo artist and bass player in Scandinavian Cock. It was just fun.
He [Ad-Ver-SaRy] achieved what he wanted with that presentation, and that was to get his name out there, nobody knew who he was before that and congratulations to him.
MB: Did it piss you off?
A: No. I actually asked him if I could use the video for a show, but we weren’t allowed to do it.
MB: Here’s the problem I had with it was that, you know, this guy made this very dramatic presentation and the MLK quotes, very slowly, with fade-to-black effects, etc. Showing, among other things, that only 3 organizations had supposedly used the Confederate flag, namely the Confederates, the segregationists and the KKK… and then shows to this picture of you with the Japanese girl and the chainsaws and yet, tries to take something political out of it!
Plus, the fact that he was opening for you and called the press in advance before his show so the whole thing was a publicity stunt.
A: Yes, for sure. Not only that, but people should know what they’re talking about before they make a statement. The rebel flag was the State flag of Georgia until 2001, it’s not just a civil war thing. It was a State flag until 11 years ago, it’s very recent.
First of all, the t-shirt was made a Mexican company, which is really funny; it’s a Mexican brand and it’s actually not even stars in it, but actually pentagrams. But it doesn’t really matter. I have nothing to excuse myself for; I do what I do and I’d do it again. I’m still wearing a rebel flag on my belt buckle on stage, who cares?
MB: On the other issues he raised, not so much about Combichrist and Nachtmahr in particular, but rather in general, that the industrial scene does suffer from certain elements of misoginy embedded in it. Do you think that this is an accurate criticism, that this is real problem for us right now?
A: Well, the thing is that you also have to separate. The one thing you have to separate is people flirting directly with fascism because they think it’s cool and it’s an awesome image, but it has no meaning behind it, there is no excuse to use, they just do it to be provocative, like Nachtmahr does. That’s one thing I never did, it was always a character. I wrote stories, like movies, and it was never one type of message or anything, I just went with a storyline, like anybody would write a movie; it doesn’t have to be political, you don’t have to take the political out of it, it’s just a story, that’s it. I don’t think Hostel was made for any political reason, it’s the same thing with my music, a lot of it was done just to entertain, and it was not to provoke. I never did anything to provoke, I only did it because I thought it was ironic and funny.
MB: Ad-Ver-SaRy used your video for “Throat full of Glass” as an example of the misogyny in Combichrist’s imagery, a video that is sort of a slasher film and ends up with all of you getting shot.
A: That’s also funny, because we all fucking die in it! … except for the strippers.
Not only that, but the girls got us into trouble; the girls in the video were the ones who were like “yeah! Let’s do this, let’s do this!”, which was a lot of fun. It was a two-day shoot, and we were having a lot of fun, and I think the girls were the ones who came up with most of the storyline. They can say whatever they want. I mean, for us it was just a tribute to 70’s grindhouse movies, we just went along with it and had fun.
MB: Well, one of the things you’ve said about it is that nobody calls Wes Craven misogynistic because 90% of the women in his films end up being slashed to death, so why should they call you misogynistic.
A: In all fairness to Ad-Ver-Sa-Ry, we had a good talk after the show and I think that, in one way, he might have gotten closer to understand what we were doing, as I got closer to understand what he was saying. It also comes to know what you’re talking about; he even misspelled Ku Klux Klan. I mean, know what you talk about before you talk about it.
Thumbnail Photo by Mark Marek