Interview Combichrist Friday 25-October @ Mezz (Breda, NL)
in cooperation with sparklingphotos.de
Abby Nex, Z-Marr, Andy LaPleague, Joe Letz
Stefan: Thanks for having us; it is great seeing you again. The new album, what can you tell us about it?
Andy: I started writing it, and magically a year later it was finished… (Laughter). No seriously: It was very different. The writing process was different. I took myself a lot more time to finish it. As well production wise as writing it.
Usually when I go write an album, it is like a flow through the album: I write until it is finished. Now I took my time and did this kind of a cycle several times. I had a lot of material to choose from. This time, instead of focusing on just having a full album, I kind of made a concept so it is almost like a story book. It is the most divers album we ever have done. I think it is very electro, but it also has the heaviest rock influences than we have done before. It is very mixed up… there is some acoustic in it and it is really dark and it fits in the atmosphere of the album.
There is still a lot of electro on it. So it is definitely my favorite album so far.
In the past I could say I am happy with this and if not, I would not release it. But now I can say…..this is my favorite album and I can stand behind it.
Stefan: Did the change of people you are working with influenced you in the way that you developed the album, because you can see there are different influences in the album?
Andy: I do not think they did bring anything to the bag?. …(Laughter). No, a lot of the live experience we take with us into the studio. When we did the soundtrack from Devil may cry (this is the No Redemption Album) everybody was surprised.
But in all honesty, that was just an intermediate, it was not an album that really represents Combichrist….. However.. it did spark something in us, we did not want to continue in that drastic way. We are playing a couple of songs live because we like to play them. We want to do a little bit more like this, but at the same time I really even want to do more electro as well. And that is how the album came about. We wanted to do more of everything more electro more rock, even darker as well. It kind of came together that way and with the live influences I had with these guys. When we came into the studio I could already hear it in my head how it would sound like. And that is how it influenced the album.
Stefan: The writing is done by you?
Andy: Yes, they do influence the writing part but they do not write with me. But if it was without the band live I would write the music differently. After years working together you have to bring something back with you. I can think like “what would Joe play here” What would it really make hard for Joe (laughs at Joe…).
Joe: It is really interesting for me because he (Andy) is not a drummer, and he is writing things I would not think about as a drummer. So he is challenging me to become a better drummer because he is thinking not like a drummer.
Andy: I really think that way: when I do live drums in the studio I think: “what would Joe do here?” and how it would be like if Joe was at the drums. At least with this new album I did. And then I add a little extra to it and I think… Now he has to work hard (Again the band starts out laughing loud.), I think it makes the band better.
I am from the punk-rock scene , In the hard-core scene I grew up with this music and in a certain degree metal as well.
When I started doing this electronic music I kind of did not want to have to do anything with the music from my childhood, I wanted to do purely electronic because it was something new for me. But Now I feel it get to a point where it is more adult. In a sense that meaning .. I do what feel is right and not necessarily what I supposed to do.
The song writing is natural. And that is what this album is about, every song is very different. And also I wrote it with honesty, without thinking about which genre or what style it should be. So it really is an honest, honest album.
Stefan: You moved a bit from EBM to rock. Today you play as Combichrist, Tomorrow (In Leipzig) again Combichrist, but the day after: Gothic meets classic…. Why?
Andy: It is interesting, it is really interesting. It is an honor, to be asked to play with an orchestra. (S: So You have been asked?). Instead of saying No, that is not going to work, we do everything in our power to make it work. We respect the classical musicians because of their skills and how they are trained; we still want to prove we can do this too. So it becomes this thing like we need to do this first of all because it is an honor to do it. Second of all we want to go and kick ass!
Roger: Normally on stage you have so much power and let us feel that. Now with that classical, you have to hold in.
Andy: It is very quiet, but it is not the power but it is more the mood. We did rehearsals now, we are very happy, it is dramatic, dark . More emotionally power than in your face power.
Stefan: (To Abbey) Combichrist was always EBM, heavy, dark and then you (Abbey Nex) came in with your guitar. In new songs that has been taken in account that you are in the band.
Abbey: I really enjoy writing music on my own. When Joe wanted to save me from an old band I was in for it and I joined this band.
I had a list of songs to start learning. I literally sat down and learned it one by one. I wrote industrial guitar riffs that layered properly on top of the music. I did not take away anything from the electronics. I just added an extra layer of something that exited me. The new song he is writing the guitar riffs are taken in account. I am just adding an extra live element, just adding extra aggressive guitar. So I am really proud of what I have done.
Andy: When we asked Abbey we did not have the guitars lined out for him. The final test to have him as a member was: can he do this on his own? He did some samples on video and send it to me.
Abbey: every track I did, I recorded it, and got approval from everybody ..
Andy: and send it to me. And that was eventually one of the reasons I wanted to have him in the band, because he could bring something to the songs.
From Z-Marr to Joe to Abbey, or everybody else who has been in the band, I never told them what to play. Because if I do, we would not be longer a band. When I am on stage I can’t worry about what everybody else is doing. They have to be able to do what they do on their own. They have to be able, (when we go on stage), to go up and play and make it a better show. And I think that is what this band separates from other bands: because other bands go up and play what they are told to play. We walk up and actually love what we are doing and everybody is creating their own part. Because on stage Combichrist is the band, off stage it is me, on stage it is not me, it is the band.
Stefan: Joe, you posted on Instagram that you are giving your drums away…?
Joe: It is a long story. I have got en new endorsement from a new company. My new drums did not arrive yet so I have a rental kit. The old drums I cannot use anymore so I get rid of them. Little presents for the fans.
Andy: It has been years and years of destroying drums and getting new ones like every second day. And we have hundreds of drum pieces. After destroying a set I get new ones, but instead of getting rid of it we save the pieces.
Abbey: We take 10 drums and make one drum… We are carrying hundreds of drum pieces around the world,,,,,
Andy: We could take all these parts and create something like Frankenstein…. Hahahaha!
Roger: When is the new Album coming out?
Andy: The album is finished, we just mastered it and it will be out in March (2014). And I am really happy with it.
Stefan: The new album is with these four guys?, what is it with Tiffany?
Andy: Yeah, Tiffany is our new keyboarder, a new band member.
Z-Marr: But I am still in. I had to train her on how to do all the stuff that I do and show her how to make it work. How to approach writing for this band, this kind of music. It is not easy to fit the playing in with all the programming.
Andy: She is such a great performer. She played with us one show, she really fit in with the band naturally. Plus she has been like a sister to all of us for years. We know her for more than 10 years. It feels like a natural thing for us. For the new album I am really excited to go out and play it.
Stefan: There is going to be a new tour around the new album?
Stefan: You have on your tour scheme a number of performances with the “old school” Combichrist (Only with Joe or even with Björn)
Andy: When we were working on the new album I did want to go out. I did not want to go out with the full band an do the same as I have done for the last few years. I really wanted to do something different when I was finishing up the new album and get a little bit more a roots kind of feeling.
We did really played at small clubs, just me and Joe, just Z-Marr and me, Bjorn and me, even Tiffany did a show with me. The whole idea was to do small clubs and do the old stuff.
Kind of reconnect with the roots of the band. That is what I was doing whilst working on the album. Plus when the new album is out we might not have time in the sets to play all the old stuff. So for me it was a natural thing to go out and do these last shows and play the old stuff. I mean…. I do not say we are never going to play those songs again. But for the beginning of next year it will be more of the new material and obviously some classics here and there. That is just how it works. It would be like Depeche Mode not playing “enjoy the silence” or “personal Jesus”. I mean you have to play what you have to play. And we are still doing some roadshows, we are doing Hamburg, Duisburg .. London and Amsterdam.
Next year it will be the new show.
Z-Marr: rehearsals and then the new shows.
Stefan: Thank you for the interview and see you tonight at the show in Breda (Oct.25.2013) and tomorrow in Leipzig (Oct.26.2013)!
All: Thank you
Interview: Stefan Bertram // sparklingphotos.de
Audio, Backstage photo: Roger op den Camp // sparklingphotos.de
Thanks to PLUSWELT PROMOTION / Combichrist for making this possible .