Combichrist, one of the leading at the moment industrial bands in the scene, off stage with numerous smashing club hits, as well as on stage, they are bombastic!
Ladies and Gentleman, we present you the mastermind behind Icon of Coil, Combichrist, Panzer Ag, Scandy and many more, Mr Andy LaPlegua ! We “interrogated” him for you and although he was exhausted from touring, he gave us quite thrilling answers! Thank you Andy!
Andy LaPlegua – CombiChrist and more Interview
By Malice F
1. EW: Andy, we first got to know you from Icon of Coil, back in 1997. Great dance floor hits like “Repeat it”, “Dead enough for life” “Swallow nation” to name but a few. What are your memories from that time with IOC and your collaboration with Sebastian Komor?
Andy: Well, my memories…. Hmmm…
Andy: It was a good time, definitely good time, we were out, you know. Extensively touring with electronic music. I mean I had a hardcore band before that, we were touring all over… it was the first time we were in the scene. It was… yeah, it was a lot of good memories, so, of what I can remember! There was a lot of partying you know!
2. EW: So, are there any intentions of reviving the whole thing with IOC or is it over?
Andy: Well, it’s over for now. I mean, I don’t mind playing a concert every now or then, because it’s fun, I’ n not ashamed of what we did…
EW: … you should be rather proud of it!
Andy: … and you know, Sebastian, Chris and I are still good friends, so we take the opportunity to just hang out and play music together, it’s fun, but we don’t really have any time or inspiration to do any IOC stuff, you know. So the band is finished, but we might still do some shows every now or then, it’s fun.
3. EW: You have succeeded in expressing your inspirations simultaneously through various projects, experimenting with different stuff in music. Isn’t that a little bit confusing for you? I mean from Combichrist to metal to techno and punk hardcore, you have a lot of side projects, e.g Scandy, Panzer Ag
Andy: Really not, it’s really the opposite. I mean, if not, I would be sitting in the studio and say “alright, I really don’t feel like doing this now, I wish I could do something different”, because I got so many different inspirations, and so many different things I want to do, so I think I would just kind of take away from what I am doing when I am working in the studio. So, it’s actually really nice to go and do something different, so that I can be objective and focus on what I have to do when I go and work on Combichrist. I mean, same thing, with most of these things is done, I mean Scandy is done. I just don’t have time for it and honestly, I really feel like doing it and like I said with IOC, is done for now, so the only thing I got now is Combichrist and I have a punk rock band called “Scandinavian Cock” and that’s for fun, so my main priorities now is definitely Combichrist.
4. EW: With Combichrist, you managed to introduce us back in 2003 with a fresh and powerful EBM sound, suited for dance floors. Did you expect that this project would become so successful and the tracks such big hits?
Andy: No, not at all! But I think that the reason may be why it was so successful was that, the whole idea, with Combichrist . I mean, it still is… to make music I want to listen to, and not necessarily what people in the scene expect and what people in the scene is used to. I mean, I was and am making music that I would like to hear, regardless if it’s popular style or not, that’s why Combichrist albums are a little bit different too, because I change. So as I change, what I want to hear change. So it’s never meant to be specific, e.g. a noise project, or EBM project or electro project or you know anything… it follows what I like to hear.
5. EW: So, you have come up with a name or term about this kind of music… it’s called TBM – Techno Body Music? How did you come up with it?
Andy: It was kind of funny too! What I consider as TBM, is not necessarily Combichrist, what I consider TBM was around long before Combichrist, at least the style of the music, maybe not the name, like Thomas P. Heckmann, I kind of took a lot of different stuff from the techno scene to old school EBM and put it into techno … so it was just like a good description for what I was doing at the time. I mean, I don’t feel like I am doing right now, so it’s hard to use TBM for Combichrist, because like I said it always changes and right now it’s not inspired that much by that techno or that old school EBM scene, you know. Now it might be from something else.
6. EW: You come from Norway, yet you live for the last 5 years or so in the USA. How did you decide to live in another contingent, leaving your family and friends behind? Was it best for your music and band?
Andy: It was same old story I think… it’s like you meet somebody and move and then you break up and stay!
EW : So, it came naturally…
Andy: Yeah… well, I actually didn’t want to move. I just went to visit my now ex wife. I just missed it and kind of stayed… for us, not for living in the US, but to be with her…
EW : Not for band purposes or labels …
Andy: Not for band, not for… just to be with her. Then, after while, you got used to it, and now I really like it, I just realized by living there, there were so many other things that was important to me that was there and not in Europe. For example, certain music stuff, fast cars and motorcycles, it’s been really hard to do anything with it over here. It’s such a big community, such a big scene for it over there.
EW : Where did you live in the US?
Andy: In Atlanta.
7. EW : What about your favorite bands and music influences from other music styles, from the 70s, 80s etc?
Andy: Oh, everything is an influence! It’s not only the music either, you know. It’s everything like the movies, life, news, like modern pop music to rock music, whatever. I grew up with 60s – 70s hard rock music playing, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, stuff like Accept, Motley Crue and all the heavy metal stuff. Then I had some other cousins who were into Depeche Mode… so I got every ankle, every single different type of music was kind of brought to me by my family. We were a very musical family; there is a lot of music in my family. And then myself, I found old school electro or what I am saying Detroit electro or hip hop, break dance electro stuff to punk, I listened to Dead Kennedys, Sentenced
I think it was not until the mid 90s that I started mixing punk with hardcore and electronics… you know, it was not even until Combichrist, where I really put it all together.
ElectroWelt : From contemporary bands or projects do you find any new projects or bands interesting?
ANDY : In the scene right now or in general?
ElectroWelt : In the scene or outside …!
ANDY : I listen to so many different things, there are a couple of bands that I listen a lot from the metal hardcore scene, like “Bleeding Through”, well I guess it doesn’t count!!!
ElectroWelt : No, it’s ok!
ANDY : There is a hardcore band that I listen to a lot, “Modern life is war” and then from this scene there a couple of bands that I think they are really good. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are really too many good bands in the scene right now! And it’s a shame, because I like the music, but I don’t think there are too many interesting bands doing something good… definitely, SAM, Northborn, Krishan (from Rotersand). I like them; they really stick out and are really good right now.
ElectroWelt : Any further collaborations with other bands from the scene or in the studio that you would like to mention? Are you planning anything these days!
ANDY : We did on the new album…
ElectroWelt : it’s coming up by the end of August?
ANDY : Yeah! I have Brandon from “Bleeding Through” he does guest vocals on one of the tracks. There is still a couple of things coming up for the next single, but I just don’t wanna mention anything, just in case they fall through! But there are definitely some things coming up, it’s about time, there are so many people we have been talking about forever to do something together and just never gotten around to it until now. I think it’s about time!
ElectroWelt : you also like to perform live on stage with your friends. I remember I saw you live with Johan Van Roy from Suicide Commando, some years ago… it was great!
ANDY : It was many years ago. It was in England I think…
ElectroWelt : No, M era Luna (festival)!
ANDY : M era Luna? Oh, yeah, yeah! I know, we had Johan and Mark Jackson (from VNV Nation) on stage…
ElectroWelt : It’s great when you all get together and do stuff like that!
ANDY : Yeah I know! It’s fun!
ElectroWelt : Combichrist has supported live Rammstein during their 2009 – 2010 tour. We even enjoyed you live in Athens in June. What are your feelings about it, how was it to collaborate with such a huge successful band?
ANDY : it was great! I really don’t have many things to say about it, than it was absolutely amazing! I mean Rammstein is like family to us; they are like brothers. On tour, it was just like one band, it was like Combichrist Rammstein, it wasn’t like two bands on tour. It was really like one band touring together; and it was great! I miss the guys already.
ElectroWelt : Is the tour completed?
ANDY : The main tour is completed, but we are still talking about doing some things together. We’ll see what happens… It only takes a few weeks before we call them up and it’s like “man, we should be touring again!” you know, it’s like “I miss you guys” but it’s more on a personal level now than anything else. Of course the shows were great too. It was surprising for us to see that Rammstein fans were really much into us.
ElectroWelt : You‘ve been in Athens a few times in the past! I personally would like to mention the Icon of Coil gig in Athens back in 2003 – George, am I right? Yeah, I am!, as well as the first Combichrist gig in 2005 at Underworld club! Those were my favorites! What are your memories and feelings about your visits in Greece and of course your Greek fans?
ANDY : Of course it always ends up being one of my favorite shows in Athens too! Just because it’s the first impression, smaller venues and more personal touch to it… you know… it’s like more intimate. And like they say: first cut is the deepest with everything you love as well, you always remember that the most. I guess that’s the memory I will always have with me, it’s just stronger feelings about everything, because it was the first time!
ElectroWelt : and Greek fans are very loyal to Combichrist, you know…
ANDY : Yeah, I know! It’s amazing! I can’t state enough how much I appreciate the fans … sometimes it’s tough to give everything of yourself back to the fans, when you are not on stage, but we try because it’ s important to us and everywhere our fans are ridiculously loyal! Obviously, I am very appreciative of it, of the fact that without the fans we would be nothing!
ElectroWelt : You have a new Combichrist album, it’s called “Making Monsters”(it was released in August). What should we expect from it?
ANDY : More Combichrist I guess!
ElectroWelt : New sounds, different from past ones?
ANDY : it’s what I say every time; it’s more little bit of everything! I think that this time what separates this from other albums is that I based a lot of Combichrist lyrics and feelings on the character Combichrist you know, the comic book kind of character, if you can see that way, like a movie, like a storyline from that is not my life, obviously, violent. I think this album is way more personal, it’s much more me and the character behind it, it’s kind of felt like “Kiss” unmasked! Because suddenly it wasn’t the characters any more. It was us! Without the makeup and stuff like that to show that it was us, more personal, more me! I think it’s just a little bit more on the serious side maybe.
ElectroWelt : Thanks a lot Andy! Do you have a special message for your Greek fans?
ANDY : Without the fans we are nothing! And I appreciate everybody being loyal and hopefully we see everybody again, when we come to Greece again!
ElectroWelt : Thank you very much Andy! Hope to see you again in Athens really soon!