Combichrist is one of the biggest aggrotech/industrial bands in the world thanks to its bombastic sound and post-apocalyptic theatrics. But while the band performs in front of thousands in Europe, Russia, South American and elsewhere, it maintains a strong cult status here in the United States. Though Combichrist mastermind Andy LaPlegua is originally from Norway, having originally established himself in the electronic rock underground as a member of Icon of Coil, many may not realize that he has called Atlanta home for several years now. With the fall leg of Combichrist’s tour coming to an end at the Masquerade on Thanksgiving eve, before the band heads back out for a short December stint that includes an opening slot for Rammstein at Madison Square Garden, LaPlegua took a moment to talk about living in Atlanta, touring and his other musical endeavors.
You’ve lived in Atlanta for a few years now. Why did you choose to move here from Norway and what has kept you here?
Well, initially it was because of my ex-wife that I moved there. The reason I stayed was because it’s the perfect place to go between touring. It’s kind of quiet and I like the weather, except for July and August. And it’s a good hub for traveling anywhere. It’s kind of in the middle of everywhere, between Canada, South America, Europe, the East Coast, the West Coast, wherever.
You’re involved in the Atlanta music scene in many ways, from your rockabilly band Scandinavian Cock to your monthly industrial Das Bunker nights at the Shelter. How do you feel about the local music scene? Is it another reason that you stay here?
Not really. I do like a lot of the bands coming out of Atlanta, for sure, especially from the more straight up rock ‘n’ roll and punk rock scene. But I really enjoy just being at home and not really doing anything when I’m at home, because I’m constantly on tour. Every now and then I’ll go out, and I do Das Bunker at the Shelter each month, which is something cool for that scene. But I kind of go into hiding and turn my phone off when I’m home.
I know you’ve at least found one longtime bandmate in Atlanta with Z. Marr, your keyboard player. Does the band also record and rehearse in Atlanta?
I do all the recording in Atlanta. Rehearsals and pre-production sometimes takes place in Atlanta. But sometimes we do it on the road or in Australia or Russia or Europe or wherever. It really differs from tour to tour.
What is the process of translating the music that you record in the studio on your own to a live setting with a full backing band like?
I actually bring a lot of the live experience with me into the studio when I’m writing new material. Without doing it on purpose, I kind of know in the back of my head what it’s going to be like with the rest of the band playing it live. From there, I never tell the band members how to play anything. I know I can trust them and I know they bring something and can do a good job.
Your latest album, Making Monsters, is a good deal more complex musically and lyrically than your previous albums. What was the concept behind this album?
It’s kind of just the next step in the same direction as before for me. Every album takes on a different concept, I guess, but the main concept for Combichrist was always that I could do whatever I wanted to do without making any compromises. I’ve been in a million bands and I always had to compromise because of the other people involved. I never got to do exactly what I wanted to do. So, Combichrist has always been a project where I’m deciding what it’s going to sound like and I’m deciding exactly what I want to do in the moment. I don’t necessarily want to do the same thing on every single album, but for this last album I just decided to make a very personal album and an album that concentrates more on myself and not just the character behind Combichrist.
Last time Combichrist played in Atlanta, Wes Borland’s band Black Light Burns opened for you and you guys played some onstage jokes on him. He’ll be joining you for some shows later this year, but do you have any sort of similar surprises planned for your Atlanta show since it’s the end of that leg of your tour?
Well, it wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you, huh? But we’ll see what happens. As far as Wes goes, we always love to have him play with us. Unfortunately, right now he’s working on a new Limp Bizkit album, so he’s stuck in a studio doing that. But we are working on a couple of things that people might find interesting, we just can’t say anything about it because it’s not nailed down yet. As far as Atlanta goes, it’s the last show of this short run and the last show is always the craziest and most fun. I guess people will just have to come out and see for themselves what happens.
You’ve done a lot of touring over the past few years, yet you always seem to be working on new music. Do you have any new material ready to be released in the near future?
No, not really. Right now we’re working towards the next single off the latest album. Aside from that, I work on Scandinavian Cock as much as possible, which has members of the Rock City Dropouts, Gargantua, the X-Impossibles. It’s a really good group of guys to rock out with, so I’m really excited about that. Hopefully we’ll get an album out soon.
Combichrist with Aesthetic Perfection and iVardensphere. $15-$18. 7 p.m. Nov. 24. Masquerade, 695 North Ave. 404-577-8178. www.masq.com.
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