August 22nd 2010 - I took what seemed like the longest elevator ride of my life getting to Andy's hotel room. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous as hell. My breath quavered as I went over all the things that could go wrong. I get to his room and he anxiously greets me with a handshake and a "c'mon in big daddy." At this point my anxiety wears off.
I take a seat next to his bed as Andy prepares his DJ equipment with local scene icon DJ Virus. They're both spinning at the Church/Lizard Lounge tonight.
After many concerned looks from Andy at his laptop he says "shit, I think I broke it," which was followed by a laugh.
He got his equipment fixed as Joe Virus listened in awe to previews of what Andy was playing tonight. DJ Virus is an excellent DJ and to see his astonishment with Andy's methods was something I didn't expect.
At this point Andy sat at a desk across from me and the interview began.
Andy: You'll have to excuse me, I literally just got back from the airport coming from Denver
GZ: You're cool, how was Denver?
Andy: It was fun, it's cool, yea that's about it (laughs)
GZ: How does it feel to be back in the U.S. after the Euro-tour
Andy: Good, I've been missing it because we've been doing nothing but European dates since October, so almost a year now. It's nice to be back on, now what I call my homeground. I'm looking forward to doing shows here again.
GZ: How do prepare differently for shows here in the States as opposed to in Europe. I saw you at Granada Theater where there's maybe 4 or 5 hundred people as opposed to Rammstein where you're playing for 30,000? How does that affect you?
Andy: It's like comparing making love and having sex. Same thing but two totally different things and one isn't necessarily better than the other. Both are great in totally different ways. It's just the feeling [of the show]. Sometimes I prefer to play the venue shows, like the 5 or 6 hundred because it's so much more intimate. But the preparation is the same. Except for when you're playing the big shows there's like a million people running everything and there's no fucking around. You're ready 10 minutes before the show behind the stage and literally on the second of when you're supposed to go on you go on. There's 120 people in the crew and it's a million dollar production everyday. 21 trucks, 13 night liners so you have to adjust to everyone else. You can't expect people to adjust to you when you're a part of something this huge. But if you're playing your own show no one really cares if you're a little late. If I want one more beer before I go on people will say ok.
GZ: Why do you think they get such bigger crowds in Europe than they do here? Is there a different appreciation for music over there?
Andy: I don't think that's the case. In regards to Rammstein they never focused on promoting here in the states and plus they sing German lyrics. They push really, really hard in Germany specifically and in Europe. So they're a mainstream band there. They're like Madonna here. It has nothing to do with music style. Like Metallica, they are Europe's Metallica. So it's not really any different they just happen to be bigger there because that's where the market is. Club shows and venue shows are very similar here and there. Obviously you have a lot more festivals in Europe but that's because it's more of a cultural thing. There's more of them and they happen more often in Europe so it's more of a festival culture there. Plus, I think people just like to go away for a week and get camped. They can get fucked up for a week and go and see bands.
GZ: Is tonight an actual CD release party or just a listening party
Andy: Hey Joe, you wanna answer this? Does this mean I have to play my own stuff tonight?
Joe: I'll play your stuff for you
Andy: I think it's mainly just to promote the new single [Never Surrender] but for me personally it's to just go out and just go to the cities I've been missing. Go out and hang out with the crowd because I miss being here in Dallas.
GZ: Well we miss you too
Andy: Awwww, it's so sentimental! I love you man! (laughs)
GZ: I love you too. Was there an overall theme for the new album or does that develope as the album comes along?
Andy: There are a couple of tracks on the album that are very Combichristy when it comes to like not taking things too seriously like with funny lyrics but overall, this album is more serious and personal than any of the other albums. Since I'm not writing anything for Panzer AG or Scandy anymore I felt I had more liberty to use elements from them that I normally would used on those projects
GZ: Making Monsters is being released barely a year after Today We are All Demons, do you think this might be too much too soon or do you think you're doing the right thing?
Andy: I never really think about that because I never really cared. It's the right time for me to do this and I had this in me. The last thing I'm going to think about when doing this is marketing. For my sake it's music and I'm doing what I want to and I'm going to do it when I feel like it's right.
GZ: Why is Never Surrender the lead single off of Making Monsters?
Andy: I was impartial about which one would be the single and my management picked it out. I had so much conflict with myself because I wasn't sure which song I wanted to use that would represent this album overall. They [management] said "why not Never Surrender?" I thought about it and it kind of had every element of the album in it. The lyrics embodied the overall album with what I was going through and how I was feeling at the time so it ended up being a good decision. Initially, it was not my idea but I'm glad it came out this way.
GZ: The lead singer of Bleeding Through [Brandan Schieppati] does guest vocals on "Follow the Trail of Blood," what made you decide to do a song with him?
Andy: We have a similar background, we both come from the punk rock and hardcore scene. We're friends and I thought it would be cool to collaborate with him. I really dig what they're doing. Every time I listen to them, every time I see them, every time I go to hang out with them I always get flashbacks of when I used to go out to all the hardcore and metal shows when I was a kid. It brought a lot of energy and good memories back to me. I wanted to see where we could go with that for that track.
GZ: How do you juggle all the projects you have?
Andy: It used to be no problem because I had time for everything. I don't really do anything else but Combichrist right now aside from Scandinavian Cock which is my punk-rock n roll band. It has everything from punk rock to even southern rock and straight ACDC rock n roll. I don't want to call Scandinavian Cock a project, it's a band. It's 5 guys who get together and jam and play rock n roll. It's something that I miss doing. It's 5 guys with instruments who play them. You don't have to sit down and produce anything. I can only do this when I'm home though. The EP for Scandinavian Cock will be out soon too. I'll take it as it comes and hope to do more of it.
Everything else is basically scrapped or put on ice. Icon of Coil hasn't existed for 6 years. We've done a couple of shows here and there but we haven't written anything. We just use it as an excuse to get together every now and then and party. Panzer AG, I haven't written anything for in a while. I think we'll do a couple more shows but those will be the last ones we'll do for Panzer. Scandy is done, finished. That's what I meant earlier when I said I had more freedom to do this album because I could use more of my other inspirations and put into Combichrist and make it even more variated and evolve even further. I don't really have to juggle anything anymore which is nice. I'm just too busy with Combichrist.
GZ: Do you have any intentions of doing a cover? Putting a Combichrist twist on any classics or anything?
Andy: I was thinking about doing some ABBA covers.
Grant: I don't know if I should take you seriously on this one or not.
Andy: I'm not sure, we've been talking about doing 3 or 4 of them and doing them live as we feel like it. So far we haven't had the time to but we've been thinking about it.
Grant: Will there be a live CD at some point?
Andy: I'm not going to say no but personally I'm not a big fan of live CDs. There's something about being in a room and seeing a band live that you can not translate to audio. I see Combichrist as two different parts, the studio part and the live part. They're two totally different experiences. Feels and sounds different and I kinda want to keep it that way. I don't think anyone is able to create that feeling on CD. Maybe a DVD because at least you get the visual of it.
GZ: For me, I've seen you live and I can conjure you live on stage doing what you do. For instance "this shit will fuck you up" is dramatically different live than it is on CD. As soon as I hear it live I immediately want to get up and break shit.
Andy: (laughs) Right, if we do one I don't want to make a big deal out of it. I'd rather do this CD for the people who haven't seen us live because if you have seen us live there's always something that can bring you back to a place because you have that in you already or you've done it before. It's refreshing and you have a personal connection to it. It's not something I'd like to push towards people who don't know Combichrist.
GZ: I first saw you when you were opening for the Genitorturers, how did you evolve from a 2-man group into the 4 member, sometimes 5 group you are today?
Andy: We evolved with our music. Natural progress with the band. I'd say I want more of this or more of that I want to do this and I want to do that but I needed other people. Right now, it's only me in the studio and the band comes when Combichrist is live. It evolved into a band rather than just me. We're not just an electronic band anymore, we wouldn't be able to get our sound out there with just one or two people on stage.
GZ: Do you think you'll ever do a song in your native song (Norwegian) for Combichrist
Andy: If I feel that it's natural to do it then yes but when I don't feel it's necessary there is no point to push it.
GZ: How about one Spanish?
Andy: Let me get some Spanish lessons first and we'll talk (laughs)
GZ: Does the music or the lyrics come first for you
Andy: Both, it depends on the song. For Combichrist it's been mainly the music element first because the music is the main focus. On Making Monsters I did a lot of the lyrics up front because there were a lot of things closer to my heart that I wanted to write.
GZ: I know a lot of your music is influenced by certain movies, how did you translate those movies into your music? This is My Rifle based off of Full Metal Jacket and Blut Royale being a spin off of Battle Royale
Andy: That's a good question, I just had it in the back of my head as I'm doing it. It's kind of like "how do you paint a feeling" or "what color is greed?" There's no easy answer for it, it's just what reminds you of it at the time. It all gets back to personal preferences in art.
GZ: Combichrist has a dark theme going with Guns, Monsters, and Demons; do you think industrial focuses on the macabre and the darker aspects of the world?
Andy: I don't think it's necessarily dark, I think it's an outlet for people. For myself it's an outlet and I'm a very positive person. Having a channel for your frustrations is a good thing. It allows you to live your life positively. I think it's the same thing for a lot of people listening to this music. They get through certain issues and problems in their life. For me, I can be listening to something ridicously aggressive and I just get this happy feeling. There's just so much power in it and it gets me going. It's just something that fuels you with energy. It's therapeutic, just like driving your car aggressively. You don't have to be pissed off to do it, you just get that adrenaline going.
GZ: Do you think industrial can ever be "mainstream" again?
Andy: I think mainstream is a very relative term. It's really about if people pick it up and they like it and the majority of people like it becomes mainstream. Slipknot is mainstream and they're more brutal than a lot of underground bands. If people like it, I don't think it will be the genre that becomes mainstream but just that band will be. Like Nine Inch Nails for example, they're mainstream but it didn't make industrial mainstream just NIN mainstream. Even country music, a lot of it is mainstream but there's still some really gritty and dirty country out there that's underground.
GZ: Mentioning your love for films earlier, do you think you'll ever do the acting switch over?
Andy: Funny you ask that
GZ: Should I que the porno music
Andy: (laughs) I'm doing a movie right now that's coming soon it's called Gangbus 14.
GZ: (laughs) Joe Virus was in Gangbus 13 wasn't he
Joe: NO! (laughs)
Andy: Seriously though I would really like to do the movie thing. I did theatre in school but I hate theatrical stuff because it's so over the top. It's not something I'd ever do as a career. I'd like to do it just for the experience and have fun doing it.
GZ: I really like your "Can't Change the Beat" shirt which parodies the Barack Obama theme, do you have any political views
Andy: I don't have political views, I have personal views. It's impossible to go through life with out opinions of what goes on around you. I'm certainly happy it wasn't McCain who was elected but at the same time I'm conservative at times. I'm not a politician and I don't expect my politicians to be musicians. It needs to remain separated. If Obama would say "I really like this type of music" I would say "fine, listen to it but don't play it." Same with me, I can say my opinion but I'm not going to be the politician
GZ: Do you think you'll ever do an Andy-Fest and have Icon of Coil, Panzer AG and Combichrist play on the same night?
Andy: (laughs) Yeah with two pounds of meth to get through it all. We played with the thought of it just as a joke. It would be too tough. It would be even funnier if everyone involved played with their other projects too because it would be a festival of the same 5 people over and over.
GZ: What would you be doing with out music? Scary thought.
Andy: I can't imagine myself without music. It's not impossible but it's definitely strange. We'll see where I go when I have to cut down on touring.
GZ: Is there a pinnacle for you where you feel like you've done it all?
Andy: Is that a sexual question or a musical question?
GZ: However you want to take it.
Andy: Well then yes and yes. Seriously though not really. There's always something I want to do and I feel this way daily. I was say to myself I wish I had time to do this and that and even today I mentioned to Joe Virus that I wanted to do a classic jazz album. Like 1920's jazz. Stuff Portishead is based on. Blues based everything. I don't think I can listen to any music that I like without thinking man I should write an album in this genre. You never know, I might feel old one day and start doing acoustic guitar cello stuff.
GZ: Last question, in regards to one of your past albums; did you ever find out What the Fuck is Wrong with Us?
Andy: Good question but I have bad answers. I put it like this; I like people but I hate humanity. I prefer dogs over humans and I consider myself a dog.