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What the fuck is the deal with Andy?

– It’s all in the hand-painted wrapping!

I meet Andy in his night liner. There is not much to it, I state my business and he says plainly: Ok! Jan Winterfeldt – the manager ­– is cool with it, all though I’d put my claws in Andy before he even arrived.

This is so not America. However this is really backstage. Hours before the doors open and twelve hours before the gig starts. It is slow anticipating and a pinch of boredom for most of us; intense work for others.
For fuck’s sake, the sound check’s still not even begun and we’re not even drinking yet!  Jeez, the bus holds some twenty-odd people. And smells like old socks. It’s amazing, this is the real shit. The thing that gets all the girlies panties soaking wet and the guys faces turn green of envy as they suck up to the artists.

The world spreads its legs to another star… And thus we begin streaming Andy’s consciousness into mine:

What constitutes Combichrist, what is CC’s edge?
What constitutes and is unique about Combichrist, is me. That is what separates me from other artists.

Andy initially seems like he’s rehearsed the interview. Everyone is unique in some sense? Is he bullshitting me? Is this one going to be though? It’s a friendly interview – fuck it, I do it to promote a particular show. But it’s still gotta be interesting, for Christ’s sake, no pun intended!  But Andy is not an idiot. You can see in his eyes that his answer not only disappoints me, it annoys me. So he starts feeding me with what I want: the tale of the ice truck killer! (Google it: Get the analogy, ignorant bastard!)

I had apparently asked him who he’s talking to. And he said himself so I naturally said: If you’re not talking to anyone, if there is no particular edge, then why are you doing it?
I always talk to myself. And every now and then there will be people coming up to me picking up what I did and go “Hey, I understand this, I understand what you are doing!” And I go alright, now I’m doing it for you as well, ‘cause you understand it. And this is always how it’s been: I’ve always been obsessed with staying in touch with the people that makes this possible. Because these people really gives something back to me. They really give something back to me and say they think it’s important to us what you are doing. And it feeds me with more creativity to just continue working. And like 24 hour a day. Actually it’s like 18 hours a day to be specific, and then I sit down for two hours to unwire and then I sleep for four hours and then up again and I continue working.  I can’t stop, it’s like a disease. I have to continue.

But why do you do it?
I can’t imagine doing anything else. You know I’m living with my wife. I have a dog. Kind of a stable little home, when you review the surface from the outside. But at the same time I don’t spend too much time there. I’m constantly touring. When I’m home I sit in the studio working. I spend maybe two hours on the couch with my wife and then I sleep for four hours.  And that is pretty much my life. But I mean I don’t want it any other way. I couldn’t handle to have it any other way. But I guess that is why I’m doing it, because I can’t do it any other way.

And now you’re putting out your new album – what the fuck is wrong with you people? Who are you talking to?
Humanity, in general; I mean it’s not specifically to anyone in the scene. It’s so wide right now. And segregated into different…eeh, whatever. It’s just that I feel that I trust my dog much more than I trust humans, humanity, it doesn’t mean that I have no sympathy or no love for humans. But I mean, there are like specific people. And yes I do have people I like, and in general I’m always open: If I meet somebody I’ll say like who are you and generally thinks positive about people I meet until they show me the opposite. I’m never a negative person. However, in my experience, from what I’ve lived and the media from how you see what’s going on in the world and all this stuff. And without being political. Instead of being political…

But it does seem political?
Well, but is…is kind of. But instead of being directly political and say “This is what you should be doing” I’d rather say…

“This is what you shouldn’t be doing!”, or what?
Yeah, NO. Instead of telling people what they should do or telling them what they are doing wrong I say “What’s wrong with you?” What are you doing. Not that you are doing this or you shouldn’t be doing that. I’m saying “Why are you doing what you are doing?” A general question for humanity in all. Because I don’t try to be…I’m not a politician and I’d rather not have politicians doing music. But eventually, since it’s a personal project and I don’t write anything that I’m not passionate about, I have to just put something down. And this album is probably my most…more personal, more political maybe than anything before. Still fiction, still serial killers and movie-inspired stuff. But at the same time probably my most personal as well. I guess.

Yes, I consider Combichrist as a character. Combichrist is a character like in a comic book or a movie. And most of the lyrics – of course I’m not serious, you know I wouldn’t shoot anybody or rape anybody, but… CC’s got a little part of me, a little part of what I’d like to see in a movie this and that and a little part of irony and humor. For sure!

It seems a bit ironic or even sarcastic seeing this socially adapt person coming with all this anger…?

And it’s also like a concept of… The original idea of Combichrist was like. I always look at the Jesus-character, the Christ-character 2000 years ago, like he was a hippie. So I was thinking: Why can’t the Messiahs now be a punk-rocker? Halfway doing good, but halfway being all fucked up at the same time! Why not?

Like totally diverged and bi-polar?

Yeah, why not? Why can’t he be schizophrenic? Why can’t he be one side evil, one side nice? There is actually nothing that says that he couldn’t. I’m not a religious person, all that I’m saying is that’s why I did the character. I live in the Bible-belt…

You come from Norway, moving to the Bible-belt, in the middle of Bush-country. Is it about that? Because it seems like you are doing, sorry for saying so, but some kind of synth-version of Marilyn Manson?

Well I don’t feel like I am. Because I feel that Marilyn Manson does everything he can to provoke and I feel that I’m doing everything I can…to express myself.

So it’s not a PR-stunt, what you are doing?

I don’t think it’s a PR-stunt. I think that if you would transfer what I do with Combichrist into a movie that is what kind of a movie I would like to see! But in this case I took the idea of what kind of movie I would like to make and transferred it into a concept around the bans. So, yes, it’s driven by PR, image, imagery all this stuff – everybody would say…more image over substance. And I would say, yeah, whatever you say man…

But you’ve been doing a massive variety of stuff. You’ve been into old school Hip-hop, you’ve been doing punk-rock, been doing…

and metal!

Yeah, and lots of other stuff. Is this a temporary phase that you merely morph through or is this what we shall consider you? Will you stick with the electronic scene?

My favorite band in -89 was Nitzer Ebb but I didn’t do EBM, I went into old school hip hop. But I don’t say it that way; because when you say that people would think that I did Beyoncee and that kind of thing, but I didn’t even do NWA. My roots are in the Detroit electro, like more break-dance electro-stuff, basically very similar to what I do in my side-projects now. A lot of the same lines, you know? But the stuff I listened to in the late 80’s – Nitzer and so on – Is a lot of what I am doing now. I’ve always done stuff in-between. I did an ambient, drum ‘n base project. And the ambient stuff came through on the last album – Everybody hates you – when I did a second disc with ambient stuff. I try to keep in touch with my past all the time. But I keep exploring new territories all the time. But that is just me as a musician. Me as a selfish little bastard, I mean, I just want to explore and conquer something new all the time. This is not necessarily for the audience, I want to do this for me, but I always try to bring my past with me. Like now, I think we got plenty of punk-rock in what we are doing. I’ve got plenty of electro Hip-hop. I’ve got plenty of stuff like that. And I think that this is just the result of everything that I’ve done before. And I don’t think it’s a phase, it’s more like…when you put a sum to it all.

It’s actually some kind of Darwinistic evolution…?

Yeah, it’s like a mix of everything that I’ve done. But I feel like I don’t need the guitars. I can make riffs that maybe don’t sound like guitar but I don’t need the guitars. I need drums, real drums and percussion; I need to have that feeling to it. But I do not need guitars. Because I feel like I can do what I need to without them. And I think that is the only difference to what I’d do if it was a punk-rock band. Like an electronic version of it. And still it’s electro with all the roots of that field.

So if you were supposed to describe your music, I mean it seems like you’ve basically invented the expression TBM, but if you were to explain what it is…?

I’ve actually never called Combichrist TBM as a genre. I only…that’s just a description when they ask me what I do. Well, it’s kind of like...Techno…Body Music…you know. I never really intended to invent a genre. I never felt it was a genre, I just felt it was a mixture of techno and Body Music…and a little bit of everything. And I guess it became a genre, which is kind of cool, but that was never my intention. I mean, there were people doing stuff like this before me, but now adapted the TBM-genre. Like Thomas B Hackman, who is definitely calling his stuff TBM but had been doing the music long before me and my music. But I guess they feel kind of like the same way as I do, I don’t know? I didn’t invent the music style, I just unintentionally happened to put that stamp on it. I guess that’s what happens. I guess that is what happened to Ronan too when he said that “You know we’re doing future pop” and BAM there you had a new genre though the intention was just to describe what they were doing in general.

You are very obviously a very investigative and exploring person and musician. And what you are doing is…very well accepted. You hit the US Billboard Dance chart and everything like that…

Yeah, I was a bit surprised about that…I...

Yes, please tell me about that?

Yes it was something weird. It was like the one track that I did, probably the most old school. For me...I mean of course adapted into a new package but still for me a very standard old school EBM… And I wanted to release it as a single. And my label didn’t want that. Because they didn’t think it was original enough. And I said that it’s not about being original, it’s about doing what I like to do. And release the track and suddenly it ends up with Paul Oakenfold, Madonna and Beyoncee on the hot dance charts on the billboard list!!! You know that felt weird, really weird! Because originally I didn’t care if it sold only a hundred copies and suddenly all of this!!! And it’s a blast! It was amazing.

It must have been!

Yeah, it was amazing. And I mean I always try not to be that person that kind of person who goes like “Now, listen, I don’t care about the charts. I don’t care about sales. I don’t care about this and that…” But at the same time it was just like…I was just shocked, you know. You know I can really understand why people loose contact with reality sometimes, because when this happened I was just walking around on this buzz where nothing could touch me. But then I – hopefully – got my shit together. You know, it doesn’t really mean anything. But fuck, man, it does! Sales are down for everyone and it’s important to get down on the ground…

But the buzz, isn’t it still there? Because after that you really went into another pace more touring with increasing demand…

I feel like musicians…something is happening right now… In the end of the eighties and in the early nineties you could sit in the studio and do an album and release it. And then you could make a lot of money and you could be a successful artist. But now unfortunately, or no not unfortunately, I do not want to say unfortunately, now something new is going on. Now you cannot sit on your ass anymore. No matter how good you are, no matter what great music you make…unless you’re already established. Like Wumpscut, he’s never toured. Never did a show. And he still can sell albums, because he is established, but when you are a new artist you cannot sit on your ass anymore. You have to go out; you have to work for it. You have to work every day! You have to prove to everybody that; I don’t just have some cracked software from The Piratebay and so on. You have to go out and show the world that: I’m a musician. I’m working hard for this. I’m serious. I’m dead serious about it, I’m not doing this as a joke. You have to go out and convince everybody that you are for real. And this is what is happening. It is going back to how it used to be in the end of the fifties and the sixties. Then, if you convinced people, you really sold. You really got to them. This is why I’m going out. And this is why I can say that it wasn’t the buzz, it was more like; I see what’s going on. You know what, if I’m going to get to continue doing this – it wasn’t even about getting bigger, merely about surviving – if I’m going to be able to continue doing this I have to go go out and play every single city every single day all the time. And just continue doing music; not for the money, not for the release; But for the music itself! And as long as I’m honest about what I’m doing, hopefully the fans will appreciate and recognize what I am doing.

But if we back the tape a little bit to when we came into this US Dance chart discussion, we were talking about…I was just wondering one little thing. Both the genres that you were mixing…and what you are doing, and the whole scene, the whole synth scene…it’s like twenty years old and the roots of what I hear in your music is very…it’s like, late eighties early nineties…it’s very…you hear the stuff that Jean-Luc de Mayer was doing in the nineties, the techno beats of KLF. But it doesn’t really sound like the indie-pop and rock-stuff that is selling today. How come that an exploring, forward and inventive artist like yourself; how come that you do stuff that is a bit out of date?

It’s quite easy to explain. It goes back to what I said earlier about what I’ve been through as a younger artist – God, I feel old saying that – but, hey, as a younger artist I’ve been through different genres and doing different kinds of music and this is what it all adds up to. And instead of… No, let me put it like this: I believe everything has been done before.

Absolutely everything has been done before. It’s just the way that you put it together. And I think that of like the indie-rock, all the new school stuff, all the new invented stuff all got roots in something. It’s all a copy of a copy…of something older. It’s always like “Oh, this is the new stuff” but it’s not, it sounds like a Beatles-album from sixty-eight. Nothing is new. Everything is done before; it’s what you do with it. That is the important thing! And to me; my favorite music is from this specific time-period. And this is where I get my inspiration from. And I try to pack it all together. It’s nothing new. I just put a new wrapping on it.

It’s just a hand-painted wrapping. I didn’t buy the wrapping down at the gas-station, I hand-painted it myself. And I just took all these things and I packed it in my own paper and I hand painted it. And that’s basically; I mean there is no choice in doing anything for me. If I’m gonna do anything I just have to do it the way I’m doing it!

So the narrow-minded hyper-critical EBM-audience that Tinitus is talking to: What do you want to say to them, why should they come and see your show in Stockholm?

Well, they don’t have to. That’s the beauty of it. But I’m pretty sure – not to be cocky, I don’t want to be cocky – but I’m pretty sure that everybody that is listening to EBM, especially EBM, no matter what time-period: I think they’re gonna get blown away! Even if they seen us before, because the live show we’ve got now is much more explosive than anything we’ve ever done before!

Interview: Morten Solholm
Image: Mattias Nordgren

� 2013 Mekanomind