INTERVIEW: Andy LePlegua of Combichrist
by Adam Warner
Ok, the last time you guys were here was with KMFDM about a year or two ago.
Yeah yeah, what was that venue called again?
First Ave, that’s right, we were trying to remember the name of that club earlier.
It’s a great club, hell of a history, that’s for sure.
That was a fun show to dude, it was awesome.
You do an awful lot of crowd interaction, but that show you had jumped down and got everyone worked up, it was a lot of fun.
Now my back is paying me back for all those types of things.
So “Today We Are All Demons” just dropped on the 20th, congrats on that…
So how do you feel about the new album?
I’m psyched! I’m happy about it or I would have never released it, ya know? I really did not have too much of a deadline or anything to follow. So we set the release after I started seeing the production. So I didn’t really have that much pressure. I didn’t let it out until after I was happy with it. So yeah, I’m pretty psyched about it.
How did you guys get associated with the “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans” soundtrack?
Danny Lohner [formerly of Nine Inch Nails and Black Light Burns]. I guess that’s the primary, and Wes Borland [Black Light Burns] too. It was put together in LA and we just got into it put in. Danny had asked if we wanted to do something and that’s how we ended up in it.
This tour just started a couple weeks ago, so how’s it going so far?
It’s been really good, very exhausting like every other tour. It’s not only unicorns and butterflies, it’s quite hard to be on a tour. It’s definitely been worth it. We’ve had great turn out, an amazing audience, they seem to give good response to the new songs. And it’s great to be on tour with a band that we really like, and get along with too, ya know. It’s like a big family with us and Black Light Burns, to be with a band that you have mutual respect with.
Combichrist is known throughout the industry as a non-stop touring machine. What keeps you guys motivated considering the exhaustion?
I think half of it, and I’m not saying this because a member of the crew is right here, but half the thing is having a good crew. To take away a lot of the stress, it would be humanly impossible to be able to do this only as the band. The crew is really being helping out like on the physical parts and then we have to deal with the physical performing part, obviously the mental part about being on tour. I think it’s just to do the show, meeting new people and sometimes, some days, the idea of being done with the show keeps you going. But mostly it’s the idea of just doing the show. Interacting with the audience, I guess in the end it’s a combination of having the right people working with you and the audience.
With respect to performing and the crowd interactions, do you seem much difference between US crowds and European crowds?
I always get this question and the answer is the same thing in that it’s impossible to compare, it’s such a big difference from state to state in the US. In the same way it’s different from country to country. And even from parts of countries to another in Europe, I can compare cities in the US and cities in Europe, but I cannot compare the continents. It’s really that spread out and that much different from wherever you go.
Is there any particular area you enjoy going back to over and over again?
Well, it’s obvious that the bigger cities are always a lot of fun. It’s a bigger show, big venue, bigger crowds, and big parties afterwards; everything that comes with it. And then you have the really tiny places, that you walk in and you go “fuck, this is going to be the shittiest show we’ve ever done” and you walk out and you have 1% body fat left and everyone is fucking happy cuz it’s been so intense, one of the best shows ever. So I would say, it’s the big shows and the intimate shows.
Do you miss being the fan in the crowd or do you prefer being the leader up on the stage?
I’m still the fan, ya know. Whenever I go and see a show, I’m still a fan. I mean if I go to see somebody just to check them out, I’ll be working in the background probably, ya know, I’m doing this every day. But if I’m going out and I’m seeing a band I really like, I’ll be in the most pit, I’ll be a part of it like anybody else.
Being from Norway, how long until the language barrier wasn’t an issue?
It’s still an issue *laughs*
Well how many languages do you speak?
Yeah, I do speak a few different languages. Obviously the three languages are very similar, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish; it’s very similar.
You speak a little German too, right?
Yeah, I speak German. I lived in Germany for a few years so I speak pretty fluent German. I could probably get by with French and Spanish if someone put a gun to my head, but I wouldn’t bet on it *laughs*
Right, enough to get by.
Yeah, I had a couple of years of each in school but that was about it. You never really learn from that, but I never really learned German, I learned it from living in Germany. I don’t know, the language barrier has always been something, like, English has always something that I grew up with. Movies and music were a little different, ever since the 4th grade I could already understand everything of the English language. It has never really been that much of an issue, but with touring, there’s always issues. Like being in South America, or even in America you get in the neck of the woods somewhere and it gets hard enough to understand anybody.
As far as the song writing process, do you write everything or is it a collaborative effort?
Well, in the studio it’s just me. For song writing in general it’s just me. But I always try to make people understand that if it weren’t for the people playing with me live, I don’t know if I would have done what I’ve done in the studio. It’s always different things that inspire me from them, live, that I bring with me into the studio. Like I kind of keep it in the back of my head, ya know, these parts have to be played by them live. That kind of pushes me that extra mile ya know, to do that little extra effort. I kind of bring a little part of them with me into the studio even though they’re not there. But writing-wise, it’s just me.
What’s the meaning behind “Today We Are All Demons”?
It came from the last couple of years; it’s been probably like 2 of hardest, toughest years in my life on a personal level. It really affected the album and the writing and everything to it. It’s always been a lot of fiction, harder, serial killer stuff you know, fiction. But the latest album, I brought in a lot more of the personal aspect of things to the album. And it’s basically that I just felt that I was fighting a lot of personal demons during the writing of the album. I mean, we all have them and sooner or later we just have to get rid of them somehow. That’s how the title on the album ended up.
What kind of negative feedback did you get for creating “God Warrior” on the last album?
*laughs* Well, you know, just being rock and roll, I don’t mean the type of music, but the way of life. Being rock and roll, doing what you do, it’s always going to get you into trouble with conservative Christian people. Like I get all kind of weird hate mail, like “God’s going to cut you down”… should I take it seriously, in one way, yeah like I know there’s a lot of crazy’s out there but the MOST fucked up people out there are our fans. So I feel pretty good.
Awesome, great to meet you Andy.
Nice meeting you too.