Combichrist is risen4/9/2014
Combichrist — the aggro-tech brainchild of the Norwegian-born Andy LaPegua — has been accused in the past of being overly aggressive, misogynistic, racist and glorifying of violence. It’s nothing that metal and goth acts haven’t been dealing with for years, but LaPegua looks at his critics and sees cognitive dissonance.
“This is my thing, and I say this a lot,” LaPegua said in a phone interview. “Nobody criticized Wes Craven for ‘The Hills Have Eyes,’ and that was one of the most violent stories I’ve seen. (But) that’s all it was. A story. (And) that’s all Combichrist’s ever been — it’s just a character. It’s not political or about being correct or incorrect. It’s just a story.”
But more than that, it’s is a developing story. As LaPegua has become more and more comfortable with Combichrist as a musical device, he’s put less of an emphasis on his other projects and focused more on Combichrist. That’s allowed him to get more personal with his songs, which in turn, has taken more of the Combichrist “character” out of the storytelling and replaced it with LaPegua as a person and an artist.
“From the beginning, I’ve just been doing so many different things,” he explained. “(All the projects) are just different parts of me. Over the years it was important to me to do all of them, but for now… I’ve kind of eliminated the need for several projects by bringing everything into one.”
Much like most of his career, LaPegua didn’t have a particular career arc for Combichrist but has simply been content to follow his whims.
“Everything I’ve ever done with Combichrist has been natural,” he said. “I’ve never wanted to pretend or force things. I’ve never done anything because it was a plan; just because it felt right.”
And the act of abandoning the “Combichrist” character?
“Well,” he laughed. “You can only use four letter words so much.”
This deeper personalization of his music has culminated in the release of “We Love You” this past March. LaPegua hails this album as the closest he’s ever let fans in, and he believes in the power of that act.
“It’s for sure my most honest and raw album to date,” he said. “I spent a long time writing this album. I think the best way to explain it is with what one of my friends told me. He listened to the album, then he said, ‘This is everything I know about you.’ And that’s what the album means. This album is just me. Honest.”
LaPegua credits the deeper level of personal honesty to an adjustment in his writing process.
“The writing process is definitely different,” he explained. “It’s more of a contextual thing around the song. Obviously when you write more personally, it gets a little more heartfelt. The songs automatically get more emotional, whether that’s aggressive or happy or down, you put a little more of that in to the songs. (Writing for) the character absolutely gets a little more sterile in one way, because you’re writing something that you obviously don’t have specific feelings about.”
LaPegua wants fans to feel that connection to the material as well. He’s always made it a personal commitment to make every performance as memorable as possible, because he never knows when the next one might be someone’s first taste of his music.
“I don’t think I ever met a fan that doesn’t have a story from the first time they saw us,” he said. “It’s always a story. I want you to go home, and just bring that little piece of Combichrist with you.” CV
Chad Taylor is an award-winning news journalist and music writer from Des Moines.