"I'm so sick of unicorns," says Combichrist's Andy LaPlegua about the song "Fuck Unicorns" from their new album We Love You (Out Of Line [EU]/Metropolis Records [US]). "They went from being something ironic and ridiculous, to an overexposed hipster icon. Fuck unicorns!"
In some ways, the peaceful and gentle unicorn can be seen as the symbolic opposite to Combichrist. To them, music equals mayhem and volume; the louder and the more aggro, the better. Their brand of head-pummeling electronica has been amped up and adrenalized. There are louder guitars, heavier drums, darker electronics and a lot more anger.
Kicking off the album is the disjointed and anthemic "We Were Made To Love You." LaPlegua imagines a "futuristic robot-controlled society", slowly setting up the listener for 13 tracks of relentless aggression and bass heavy electronica. From the stuttering thump of "Every Day Is War" to the choking-on-glass/buzz-saw aggression of "Satans Propaganda" to the breakneck punk metal of "Love Is A Razorblade", We Love You leaves you gasping for breath. The searing first single "From My Cold Dead Hands" is a crash course in everything We Love You delivers. It's a paean that glorifies guns and the power they wield, and is as much a midnight dance-floor anthem as it is a personal statement devoid of the tired politics that accompanies the topic of guns. "I'm not a politician, and I don't expect my politicians to make music," he explains. "However, people are so afraid to say what's on their mind if it's not PC. I believe in the rights to have guns, and I believe in personal freedom."
Initially cutting his teeth in the seminal Norwegian hardcore bands My Right Choice and Lash Out, LaPlegua segued out of that scene into the electronic music world with Icon of Coil. Originally a solo project, it morphed into a full band with the additions of Sebastian Komor and Christian Lund. Not only did IOC mark LaPlegua's first major work with electronics and dance beats, but it also granted him wider exposure beyond Norway; IOC was LaPlegua's first project to be released in the United States.
It wasn't until 2003 that LaPlegua founded Combichrist - the project that would soon dominate his time. A departure from IOC's futurepop sound, Combichrist took LaPlegua's hardcore past and electronica present and merged them into a singular, mechanical music monster. Without the compromise of the band dynamic, LaPlegua, who does everything in the studio himself on Combichrist releases, was able to explore whatever musical avenue he desired. What he found was a long dark road with plenty of twists and turns. The Joy of Gunz, LaPlegua's first release as Combichrist, was quickly followed by two EP's: 2004's Kiss the Blade and Sex Drogen und Industrial.
In 2005, LaPlegua was back at it again, releasing the landmark album Everybody Hates You. Defying the dreaded sophomore slump, the second Combichrist full-length featured two tracks that would become club classics: "This Shit Will Fuck You Up" and "This Is My Rifle", and was also the project's U.S. debut on Metropolis Records. Further benchmarks were set with the release of the 2006 EP Get Your Body Beat, the title track of which landed Combichrist its first appearance on Billboard's Top 10 Dance Singles chart.
The years that followed brought three more full-length albums - What the Fuck Is Wrong with You People? (2007), Today We Are All Demons (2009) and Making Monsters (2011) - as well as a handful of additional EPs. Following the release of Making Monsters, they promoted it loudly by accompanying German friends Rammstein on a North American stadium tour, expanding their audience even further. At the tail end of 2012, LePlegua was commissioned to write the music for the CapCom videogame DMC Devil May Cry, resulting in over 20 tracks, many of which appeared on the soundtrack album No Redemption. Not really a follow-up to Making Monsters, yet not really a side project, No Redemption was intentionally harder and more metal than anything that had been released previously. While it resulted in mixed reactions from fans and critics, No Redemption managed to topple the adversity and enjoyed a successful run. Stretching their musical scope even wider, in late 2013 the band performed with a symphony orchestra in Leipzig as part of the Gothik Meets Klassic Festival. Paying homage to their history, they completed a series of "old school" shows to remind fans of their illustrious electronic roots.
With We Love You in queue to usher them into the next chapter, Combichrist is ready to return to the road with a new live show that showcases all facets of the band. And like all previous albums and tours, the fans can expect pure and unadulterated Combichrist. "One of my best friends said it the best, 'listening to this album sums up everything I know about you and music'," he laughs, "only bigger, more bombastic and even louder!"
In all genres of music, we have witnessed countless successful bands that were here today and gone tomorrow. The true art that endures time and trends is often driven by a rare breed of dedicated and unrelenting individual, one who is borderline possessed with the need to get whatever is inside of them out. Money is great and fame can be cool, but these are the types of people who would be doing what they do with or without the rewards. They are making music and building visual representations because, deep down inside, they simply “need” to.
DOPE is exactly such a career entity: an endlessly creative, prolific and provocative force. DOPE inspires the full spectrum of reaction from their devoted legion of followers, and from those whose tastes penetrate deeply into the dark past of driving industrial music to the hard-partying savage beasts hungry to deploy and destroy to a cinematic soundtrack. DOPE is as much an idea as a band, a lifestyle and a cultural force; the brainchild of a singular, visionary mainstay known as Edsel Dope.
EDSEL DOPE continues to triumph against the odds, beginning as an independent Dope slinger in NYC who rose to the heights of daytime MTV, rock radio, major labels, and everything in between. Edsel and his fraternity-like assemblage of merry, roaming pirates, have recorded 6 full length albums, successfully toured the globe, while building a rabid “cult like” following who has consumed more than a million Dope albums around the world.
Dope is a unique story of a consistently successful band that has never had that one, universally identifiable song, which catapulted them into the mainstream, nor was Dope spun out of the success of another association. Instead, Dope is a band that has built its fan base through compelling live shows and remains connected to its audience through a deep catalog of music, which challenges its listeners to agree on any one favorite piece of work. Those loyal and dedicated fans are eagerly awaiting the latest Dope work, appropriately titled Blood Money (Part 1).
Blood Money has taken a bit longer to arrive than previous Dope albums. Because of this, there is a tremendous amount of new Dope music in the works, and, as a result, Blood Money will be at least a two part album.
“We toured virtually non-stop for more than 10 years” says Edsel. “It was just time for a little break from the ever present gypsy life. Once I was off of that unrelenting roller coaster for a minute, it became time for me to prioritize some other areas of my life, and to focus on some very important things that I had been neglecting for quite a while. During the down time I continued to write new material and the band continued to play regional dates, but there was definitely a shift from the (pedal to the metal) philosophy that had become the status quo, since the band first hit the scene. Because of this, it seemed to many that the band had gone into hiding, while the truth is, we simply shifted gears for a while.”
“The collection of songs written for Blood Money, represent a larger chunk of my life than previous albums. It only feels appropriate for me to keep all of these songs under the same title. Now that this process is fully in motion, I anticipate that Blood Money part 2 will follow part 1, relatively quickly…”
“Blood Money picks up where our last album No Regrets left off” says Edsel.
“It is heavy, melodic, and technical, and like all Dope albums, it is very broad in its song selection and sound, while also touching on a variety of topics. Saying all of that, Blood Money is also a bit more of a personal album for me, a bit more of a look inward, rather than me looking outward on this album. I went through allot of growth, on a personal level, over the last few years and some of that is depicted in the new music.”
The massive hard work and undertaking that went into 2009’s No Regrets was somehow taken a step forward with Blood Money, breathing a refreshed sense of excitement and anticipation into the Dope community.
The video for the title track “Blood Money” goes above and beyond the modern standards. In a world where hard rock / metal bands are churning out low budget performance videos, or often times simple lyric videos to support their musical works, Dope continues to take their visual elements to a whole other level.
“The music videos and the artwork that surround the recordings are every bit as important to me as the music” says Edsel. “The music video for ‘Blood Money’ is one of my proudest works to date. I put a tremendous amount of time and effort into writing and producing the song, as well as in writing and directing the video.”
In addition, the band has already released music videos for the song “Selfish,” which is a destructively heavy track and like “Blood Money” is the type of Dope anthem that could have just as easily been on their very first album. “There are lots of flavors on this album” says Edsel, as demonstrated through the dynamic music video for the song “Hold On,” which celebrates the more melodic / soulful side of the band as well as showcasing some of their more modern and technical guitar work.
There are several more music videos in the works for the tracks “1999”, “Drug Music”, “A New Low,” and “Violet”, once again expressing the band’s commitment to its visual content.
“’1999’ will be the next video that we release” says Edsel. “The song is very much, a classic Dope song. Heavy as hell with an anthem style hook that the old school fans will certainly appreciate.”
Blood Money follows Dope’s No Regrets and American Apathy, both of which continued to fuel the bands post major label career and have combined to move over 150,000 copies in the USA alone. These work also achieved the highest chart positions for Dope albums thus far, proving that the band has been trending upward since returning to its independent roots.
The enormous Fast and Furious franchise, Scream series, Guitar Hero phenomenon and cult thriller American Psycho all bear Dope’s bloody fingerprints. The bands music continues to serve as the landscape for multiple video games, tv shows, and films, continuing to demonstrate Dope's sonic appeal.
The albums Felons and Revolutionaries and Life represent the bands major label debut and sophomore efforts, setting the world ablaze with anthems like “Everything Sucks”, “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record),” “Now Or Never,” and “Die Mother Fucker Die”. The bands 3rd album, Group Therapy, was released independently, was self produced and contained a full length music video for every song on the album, a creative feat which, at the time, had not been accomplished by another artist.
Over the course of an increasingly impressive career, Edsel Dope has continued to handle the majority of Dope's workload. His responsibilities on Blood Money include producing, engineering, mixing, programming, art conception, video direction, vocals, & live drums, as well as sharing writing and performance duties on guitar, bass, and more. All of this has combined to make Edsel an unstoppable Renaissance Man.
Blood Money features a unique mix of support musicians. Dope mainstay guitarist Virus can be heard on multiple tracks, while new musical partner Nikk Dibs played a large role in guitar / bass / programming and production. Former Chimera guitarist Matt Szlachta and Chicago shredder, DJ Nelson were also recruited by Edsel, for some of the guitar work and collaborations on Blood Money.
“I appreciate all of the people that contributed to this album and to Dope, in general throughout the years” says Edsel. “I have a talented support group, and a great team of (go to guys) for touring and recording. Every album has consisted of a different line up, so I have allot of talented people to choose from at any given time.“
“We are all grown ups and I have a truly great relationship with all of these guys” says Edsel. “Dope has been a bit of a breeding ground for talent.. So many of the dudes that came up through the Dope fraternity have gone on to be part of some very successful things”: Device, Static-X, The Murder Dolls, Joan Jett & The Black Hearts, and most recently Marilyn Manson and The Misfits Reunion, just to name a few.
Dope is currently engaged in the Die Mother Fucker Die Reunion Tour, which features the classic Dope line up of Edsel Dope, Acey Slade, Virus, and Racci Shay. The line-up recently recorded Dope's first ever (live album) , Live From Russia, Fall of 2016.
“This tour has been a lot of fun,” says Edsel. “It’s been a long time since the four of us have toured together. The Live From Russia album is one of the coolest things Dope has ever done. It consists of 21 of your favorite Dope songs, all together on one killer sounding record. We recorded it half way across the globe and is packed full of live energy and emotion. It was allot of work, but well worth it, it really sounds great!”
The Dope manifesto is simple: individualism, self-empowerment, resistance to authority, and a take-no-shit from anybody attitude, balanced with a non-pretentious sense of humor. There will always be people committed to saying what they feel, to break out from the pack, and to simply be themselves. For those people, let there always be Dope.
September Mourning revives the concept of rock star meets superhero. If Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga had a kid, it would be September Mourning, who also cites influences as varied as David Bowie, Motionless in White, KISS, Paramore and My Chemical Romance.
"For me, the project is a story, a theatrical art piece," September explains. "Music is a piece of the backbone, but for this to work, it has to include the imagery and the narrative all symbiotically linked into the whole. Music taps into your innermost being. There's something very intimate and personal about it."
The character of September Mourning is a human-reaper hybrid, who feels the need to give some human souls a second chance, and thus toys with Fate. To expound on this narrative, September is working with iconic comic book artist Marc Silvestri, who started out on the original X-Men comics and went on to form both Image and Top Cow Productions (Witchblade, The Darkness). Together, they are putting together the story of September Mourning in graphic novel form, to accompany, and enhance the storyline and musical message.
September Mourning carries positive passions into its music, which is often operatic, but also completely rock 'n' roll in all its majestic glory.
Having toured with Marilyn Manson, September Mourning has already built up an impressive fan base, which she calls her "Children of Fate," constantly encouraging them to have "the courage to embrace their passion… to allow yourself to follow your heart and not be a slave to your fears. To know that the only boundaries that exist in our lives are the ones we allow."