Andy LaPlegua talks about live music, keeping in touch with fans, and going back to the roots in the jam-packed and attitude-filled interview.
Combichrist is an industrial machine that started with a vision back in 2003. Now, 16 years later this vision continues with a brand new album called One Fire. This album is heavily inspired by the band’s older stuff. One Fire takes a step away from the previous album’s heavily experimental tone and brings the sound back to the roots. With new members, a new tour, and a new album, Combichrist is ready to conquer the world of industrial yet again. Andy gives Loud Hailer some information on what inspired the new single and album, doing longer sets, and visuals.
LH: You guys have a brand new album coming out June 7th. I feel like going through your previous catalog of your music and listening to this single, it seems like you guys have really gone back to your roots but in an evolved way. I know you guys have been really experimental. Why did you decide for this album to do a revolutionized take on your industrial roots?
Andy: You know it’s amazing! You answered my question without me even having to say it. Everyone asks “so what’s different on here?” I always go back and say, I feel like I’m taking everything I’ve learned and I’ve picked up my favorite elements of what I did before. I took the experience, elements, and the feels that I liked from other albums. So, you kind of summed it up for me. It was a natural thing to do. The previous album was as far as I wanted to go as far as rock and metal goes and things like that. So, I felt with this album it was time to go to our roots and back to electronic music in general and rewrite the idea of the band a little bit, you know?
LH: At least judging from the single “Hate Like Me” you seem even more blunt and straight to the point. Why choose that song for a single and what was the inspiration behind that song?
Andy: I was sitting on the couch watching TV and having a beer and I was feeling super happy and comfortable with life. I just couldn’t imagine if that street punk that I used to be were to see me right now and how comfortable I was with my life, I think I would kick my own ass. I just thought I need to write a song about this like what the younger me would say to the older me. Of course, that’s not what the whole song is about but that is where the song idea started. It’s just about a younger version of yourself is kind of complaining to the older version of yourself.
LH: When I was listening to the song and taking in the lyrics, I kind of got the idea of bands that start off heavy and with that attitude selling a few records and making things a little sweeter and making it easier on the ears.
Andy: That’s an idea of the song too, when you look at it from the perspective of music and yourself, too. That’s where I thought it was. There is 100% truth to what you said. I was just talking about where the idea came from but there is definite truth to what you said.
LH: You guys have overcome a lot of obstacles, you have got to play so many places, and do so many things. What was the mindset while having to write this album? Do you still get nervous or do you know what you’re going to do as soon as you get into the studio?
Andy: I do write over a longer period of time with the initial writing. So, I’m not forcing myself to do anything. I feel like if I had a limited amount of time of writing or producing, I think that’s when I would have been nervous. I had so much time. If I don’t feel like working on a track one day or I don’t feel like writing, especially if I’m forcing myself to, or it’s a pressure. If I feel that way then it’s the wrong way to start writing in general. It needs to be natural and I need to feel it and go the right direction immediately. If I feel like I have pressure it’s not going to work out and I’ll probably leave the studio and go straight into a bar (laughs).
LH: You guys are currently on the One Fire North American tour. What can fans expect from this tour if they catch a show? If it had an overall theme or message, what would you say it would be?
Andy: This tour, we actually are playing a longer live set then what we usually do. The reason we are doing that is so we can play a lot of the old material that inspired me to do the new album as well. I obviously want to play new stuff, as well. We are going to play a lot of the (I’d hate to call them hits) fan favorites. That’s what people can expect, man. I have new band members and they are super dedicated. I haven’t seen anyone willing to work as hard and to do something like they have now. I’m really excited to go out with all this newfound energy from new band members, from a new album, and we are stoked to play old stuff. My new drummer, Dane, when I showed him the setlist he was like “hell yeah, those are all my favorite songs and I can’t wait to play this.” We all have new energy and we are excited to get out there.
LH: I’m glad to hear about all the new things! It has to be great for you to get out there and play all this fresh and new material that no one has really heard months before the album is out.
Andy: Yeah! We are going to be streaming the album at our meet and greets. They can listen to the whole album during the meet and greets. So, we are really excited about that.
LH: I know the album doesn’t come out for months, but can you give us a little insight on your favorite track and the one that you are most excited for people to sink their teeth into?
Andy: I’m really excited about the song we are about to make a video for. I’m not going to tell you what it is; you’ll know when the video comes out. I’m really excited about the concept of it. I’m trying to get ideas together for the video and I’m so excited about the ideas for everything. The song itself is one of my favorites for a very long time. That’s all I can say, man. I don’t really want to give too much away. So, I’m definitely stoked about that song in particular. I’m happy with the whole album. I’m actually really excited about the whole album as well.
LH: You have always been about the imagery music videos. Do you believe that even in today’s modern music world that videos and imagery is still important?
Andy: I’ve done a lot of s**t in the past for content. People need to realize there is no difference in the content for music and something like a horror movie. A lot of those things have nothing to do with my personal opinion in life. Even when one thing is important, I still feel like it’s very important to put visuals to it. A lot of times when I write music, I have a lot of ideas not just for what it’s going to sound like but what it looks like and that helps me write. When I start writing music, I usually already know what I want to do for the music video. I have that imagery in my head while I’m doing it.
LH: If you could sit down with one of your idols and ask them anything, what would it be and why?
Andy: I don’t think I would ask them anything, but I would just listen. I don’t think my idols are interesting because of my fantasy about them. I think they are interesting from who they are already. So, I don’t really have any questions and I would just listen. That’s what makes people interesting, it’s not what I wonder about them. It’s about what they have to say from their core and from their heart. That’s what makes people interesting.
LH: With so many albums, incredible music, and the entire archive, how in the world do you manage to pick and choose songs from that 16-year catalog?
Andy: This is why we are playing a longer set than normal (laughs)! That’s why Depeche Mode play like three-hour sets. The singer said in an interview that it was basically “killing your babies” because it’s impossible to choose. I love playing the songs that I personally love, obviously. We also have to play crowd favorites because it’s so much fun playing those songs that people want to hear because it’s just better energy and people are excited about it. I actually made a Facebook post about it asking “what do you want to hear?” We pretty much made a setlist out of the most requested songs. I assume that’s how it needs to be going forward to because there’s not going to be fewer songs.
LH: It’s quite evident that you care about your fans with everything you do for them, from the social media to the meet and greets. Why do you feel that it is such an important thing to have a close relationship with your fans?
Andy: It’s the day and age, man. You can. When I grew up, it was impossible to have a relationship with the bands you were into. Even if it was the smallest punk band, you had to write them a letter through the record company or something, it was just impossible to get in touch with people. I remember I sent a demo and I was given advice and different kind of thing. I remember the feeling I had about getting feedback from an artist I loved. So, now that we have the option to be in touch with everyone, why not? It’s also to follow the times and let the fans be a part of it, like not to the point where they make creative decisions but let them be a part of it.
Be sure to pick up their brand new album One Fire out June 7th on all platforms!