Judging by its name, you might think Combichrist is a Sunday-morning church band. But then you hear those notes of super-aggro-industrial electronic music ripping through the air. It all becomes beautiful blasphemy built exclusively for raging like a maniac.
One could argue that the veteran outfit is returning from some time off for the Everybody Still Hates You Tour, but the truth is, these musicians never left. Asked if he’s in tour mode, lead singer and founder Andy LaPlegua responds, “Yeah, you could say that. Or you could say that we’ve been touring since 2003.”
New Times spoke with the Combichrist frontman ahead of the band’s show at the Culture Room this Saturday, June 16. He tells of the hard-working band’s plans for 2018, including new music, and how much he loves being the instigator of mosh pits and their freeing power.
New Times: Is this current tour, Everybody Still Hates You, a nod to your 2005 record? Will you be playing the majority of that album’s songs?
Andy LaPlegua: No, I’m just reminding people that everyone still hates them. We’re not doing a whole lot. Usually, right before I release a new album, I don’t play too much of the newer stuff. I usually do one more round where we play all of our favorites, kind of to wrap things up.
So you do have a new record out this year?
Um, we’ll see what happens [laughs]. We’re working on it. It was supposed to come out before this tour. We started with new management, and we have a whole new team around us. At the very least, you’ll have new music out this year if not an entire album.
When is the earliest we should expect that?
Around September, because we’re touring all summer; that’s when we’ll start leaking some stuff. I think people are going to be stoked, man. It’s heavy as hell — really, really heavy.
This Is Where Death Begins was more heavy metal, more rock 'n' roll, more guitars — will you continue in that direction, or will you include more of the electronic elements from the past?
It’s completely the opposite of Where Death Begins. It’s not rock at all; it’s all industrial. I took it as far as I wanted to take it. I never changed because I needed to. I never changed because I thought people wouldn’t like it or for commercial reasons. I took the next step because of what I wanted to do, because I was exploring. Where Death Begins was as far from the starting point as I thought I could take it. It was time to go back to the starting point and take my experiences with me.
“What the Fuck Is Wrong With You?” is one of those older favorites that came out during those starting-point days; it’s also a perfect song for so many situations. How often do you find yourself saying those same words out loud?
I mean, it’s hard to talk to people without asking that question. I always said that I believe in the individuality of people, but I hate humanity. It’s hard to click on the TV or the news or read your social media feed or anything without asking that question. Humans are just — I’m surprised we make shit. We make rockets that go to space, man, but we can’t even talk to each other. One of your last tours, you hilariously titled it "Make Europe Great Again." At the time, you said you named it that because you wanted to wake people up. Are they finally awake?
Not at all. I don’t think people get it at all. I prefer not to talk about it, to be short about it. Everyone is screaming about it and screaming about our president. They keep forgetting: He was elected. You can hate him as much as you want, but he was elected while we were arguing about Hillary or Sanders. We divided ourselves.
Let’s return to music then. Your shows are wild already, but can you recall any gigs that the crowd surprised even you?
We’ve gotten to a point where it’s pretty gnarly now every show. I remember one point when I tried to instigate back in the day, and people were like, "Can’t I just dance? People are pushing me. What’s going on?" Things have changed since then. Now people join in or they stay on their side. Everyone found their spot. No one really complains anymore because they know what they’re getting into.
We did one show in Paris, and during the breakdown, I yelled, "Wall of death!" And I didn’t expect them to do it because it was such a big crowd. But all of a sudden the entire room opened up. And I felt so sorry for the people that went in first into that pit [laughs].
But it’s cool, man — no one got hurt. That’s the thing. Back in Seattle a couple of days ago, I opened up the room. I jumped down and I was walking around in the open pit, pushing people around. You’re seeing the same thing. It’s aggressive, but everyone is so happy. They’re working things out. Same thing for me. I’m such a chill human being because I get it all out.
People ask me: "What would you do if you didn’t do music?" Probably jail.
Combichrist. With Wednesday 13, Night Club, Prison, and Death Valley High. 7 p.m. Saturday, June 16, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-564-1074; cultureroom.net. Tickets cost $20 via ticketmaster.com.
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Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd who happens to write words (and occasionally take photos) for Miami New Times. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you. His wealth of useless knowledge concerning bands, film, and Batman is matched only by his embarrassingly large collection of Hawaiian shirts and onesies.