Combichrist is one of those bands that you know just from the sheer number of T-shirts you see at Numbers on any given night. The aggressive synth act founded by Andy LePlegua is entering its seventh year as an unstoppable force of electronic beatdowns. This month the band released its incredible fifth studio album, Making Monsters.
It's not comfortable music. It's the kind of album you put on when your own expressions of hate and disdain for humanity as a whole are just adequate, and you require the input of a true artiste in the realm of clenched-fist rage. Regardless, it is impossible not to appreciate how much Combichrist has grown and continues to grow in terms of sheer songwiritng skill.
You may not neccesarily see the inherent beauty in a song called "Fuck Machine," but trust us, it's there. Rocks Off got LePelgua on the phone at a studio in New York to get some input from the mind behind such a stellar record.
RO: You'll have to excuse me, Andy. I have a cold and accidentally took double the recommended dose of Sudafed right before I called you.
ALP: Right. Accidentally.
Wow, we actually heard someone's eyes roll over the phone.
RO: Now, your new album just dropped, and you're about to go on tour. Why exactly are you still in the studio?
ALP: I'm just working on remixes, and preparing for the next single. I'm also here getting in shape for the tour.
RO: Gotcha. So the thing we really loved about Making Monsters is the way the album plays like a greatest hits of different subgenres of industrial music. There's no real motif, and instead the album has a lot of stretch. Was that done on purpose?
ALP: I've just been doing what I want to, and I didn't really care about style this time around. I just played what came out without worrying about how it was going to fit.
RO: One of the lyrical themes on the album is the degradation of humanity - a pretty common theme in Combichrist's music. Do you really feel we're failing as a species?
ALP: Most of the stuff I'm writing is more personal, I just kind of metaphor it into things people see going on in the world. It can sound like I'm really mad at humanity, but I'm just really mad at one person.
I love humans, but I hate humanity. Like, 70 million people get born every year, and we're already way past capacity. People seem to struggle. I'm not saying there's a solution, I'm just saying people are getting worse and more greedy. Then it gets even worse when religion kicks [in]. Then it just turns into a never-ending loop.
That being said, I'm fortunate not to live in a war zone, and that's what makes me still believe in humans. I still get to see good.
RO: Our favorite title and lyric from the album is "Throat Full of Glass." Where did you come up with that?
ALP: I was looking for the worst possible thing to have to swallow as a metaphor. When people say, "That's hard to swallow," about an issue, I wanted to have an example of something that would be almost impossible to swallow.
RO: You alternate quite a bit on the album between Cookie Monster-metal style vocals and more melodic ones. What dictates the shift?
ALP: I think really I just went behind feelings and emotions. Sometimes the most aggressive thing that can come out of a mouth can be a whipser. You can yell as much as you want, but a whisper can be more serious and crucial.
RO: Why exactly did you call this album Making Monsters?
ALP: Most of this has been directed towards me as the puppet master behind Combichrist. The whole time before, Combichrist has been a character, and for the first time I'm showing myself as Dr. Frankenstein behind the monster. More of me, and less of the character.
Last album, I went through a lot to face my own demons and figure out my life. This time I'm embracing those demons.
RO: We solicited some questions from fans, if you wouldn't mind answering them.
ALP: Go right ahead.
RO: One of the things a lot of fans loved about last year was the tour diary you posted. Is that something you'll be doing again on this tour?
ALP: The tour diary will continue. I'm glad people enjoy it, though it's a thousandth of what's going on. It's really hard for people to really get what's going on without the blog.
RO: One fan told us you racked up a ten-grand alcohol bill playing the Gothic Cruise a few years back. Is that true?
ALP: No, that's not true.
RO: OK, next...
ALP: It was more like 17 grand. Our cabin was across from the bar. It's a good thing that the ship comped our drinks.
RO: What did you think about playing the Gothic Cruise?
ALP: It's really fun. I think the thing that keeps it down is calling it the Gothic Cruise. It keeps the industrial and electro fans away. It's mostly regular passengers on the ship. Everyone there as part of the gothic package gets a pass to private functions and rooms that the other passengers aren't allowed in. The whole thing is a blast, though. I can't recommend it enough.
RO: Last question, and we apologize for the sharpness, but we got this one a ton from fans. Why the hell aren't you coming here instead of Austin? Do you have any idea how many Combichrist shirts we see out every weekend?
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ALP: We play Houston on bigger tours, but we cut down the list this time because we only have three weeks to do the whole U.S. We're not even touching Florida, and there's a huge fan base there. We'll definitely be back, though. I promise.
We really do appreciate our fan base. It's great to see people becoming a part of the band and the Combichrist army, spending their time being a part of it. If it weren't for the crowd we'd be nothing. While I hope people buy the album, it's really up to them. All I care about is performing and making people happy.
Making Monstersis now available through iTunes and wherever goth music is sold.
Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.