Rip it up "Steve Hewitt interview", Aug'99

by Stephen Munchenburg

International success is one thing, but the pressures it places on a band is another entirely. Since the release of Placebo's second album, Without You I'm Nothing, in October 1998, the UK outfit has been touring constantly, with no time for a breather. Despite a succession of singles rocketing them into the public spotlight, according to drummer Steve Hewitt- relaxing at home in London during a recent nine-day touring hiatus - the band is handling the pace with ease and had just played in Greece in front of, "about 80,000 people going ape-shit".

"Yeah, we just got back from Athens last night, having just finished about three and a half weeks of European festivals. And I'm doing interviews already - I CAN'T FUCKING BELIEVE IT - they're whipping my arse" he laughs.
 
The drummer was actually in a jovial mood, despite the interruption to his break, and was looking forward to returning to Australia - their second visit in several months. The band had been intending to tour new territories like Brazil and South Africa where they have a strong following, as well as revisiting America. Fate, however, had different ideas.
 "All the band were like, do we have to go back to America again?" he said. "Can't we go to South Africa instead? And all of a sudden it was perfect timing. Garbage got in touch and asked if we wanted to come to South Africa with them for a week, and then silverchair were like, after that you can come down and tour with us."
 
"I'd rather be (in Australia) than America any day. It's just more laid back and everyone's cool, smiling, chilling, while in America they're smiling at you with a gun to your head."
Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the band hope to stop touring by the end of September, have a well-earned rest and begin work on the next album, which has already been sketched out.
  
"There's lots of new stuff floating around, but it's very embryonic at the moment," he said. "We haven't got a lot of time to sit down and analyze it and tear it apart and get the vibe - but we hope to start recording in January."

He's also adamant that their swelling success rate hasn't placed any pressure on their preparations for their next LP.
 
"I wouldn't say we're feeling pressure, because we all love what we're doing, it's all been kept on an even keel. It just seems like we've got gigs coming out of our arse. There's been less time off and more shows, I shouldn't complain really."

Their latest Australian tour coincides with the release of the album's title track as a single, which has been re-recorded with none other than their long-time friend and number one fan, David Bowie.

"We were in New York in January and there was an option for us to go up and do the Brit Awards," Hewitt said. "Brian said we should ask Bowie to do it with us."

"So next thing you know we're in a rehearsal studio in London and fucking Bowie's there. After doing the Brit Awards together he got back in touch and said he had a great idea for a harmony for Without You I'm Nothing."

The Bowie connection is further enhanced by the band having starred in glam-rock movie, Velvet Goldmine last year. I wondered whether Hewitt had any further acting ambitions.

"I'm retired darling" he drawls in a mock-camp tone. "I've retired from the silver screen, and I'll stick to music. Making movies is fucking boring - too much hanging around. Music's more immediate, so it works for me."

"Brian's gonna be following it up," Hewitt concludes. "He's just got himself an agent, so he's gonna be looking for more roles. He's a trained actor. He went to Goldsmith and did all these drama courses. It's like another passion of his, which is cool. But me, I just can't be asked."