Photos by Charnelle Stöhrer
Combichrist are the current kings of industrial music. Led by Norwegian frontman and main creative force Andy LaPlegua, the band comes across as more musically conscious than snarky peers like Mindless Self Indulgence. While guitars sometimes make an appearance the band is more about hardening the beat on the dance floor. This way they’ve now taken up the mantle as a more modern version of Laibach and KMFDM. Chances are if you’ve seen a Rammstein concert in the past five years you’ve seen them open the show.
While industrial music is often associated with leftist social and political views, LaPlegua (who resides in the US) tends to veer more towards sarcastic humour in his lyrics. While others in his perceived scene are singing about child soldiers, LaPlegua is often content espousing the virtues of having a good time with friends. Which is why I was a bit taken by surprise by the latest Combichrist release entitled “We Love You”, as it comes across as more politically confrontational than any album before it. The album is also perhaps their most musically diverse, at times incorporating pitch-shifting pop vocals and extreme metal guitar. This led some to speculate that LaPlegua’s recent stint composing music for the video game “DmC: Devil May Cry” had affected his writing.
I got to sit down with a relaxed-yet-energized LaPlegua backstage before a recent performance at Toronto’s Opera House so I could tackle a few of these ideas. We also compared notes on our recent engagements, as photos of his marriage proposal had popped up on Facebook, an entity that Andy isn’t so keen on (so much so that he missed my attempt at a dirty joke). What I found was a gentleman who is hitting his stride just shy of his 40’s, standing at an intersection between musical styles and scenes. In our modern culture where the mainstream and the underground now seem to cyclically feed off each other, Combichrist and those who follow them fit in quite comfortably.