"Interview with Stefan Olsdal", Sep'07

September 11, 2007
by Simay

7 years ago, I would be jumping around, yelling, “Since I was born I started to decay; Now nothing ever ever goes my way,” dreaming of the day Placebo would show up in godforsaken Turkey and “maybe” spot me in the crowd, knowing I’m feeling every word. Well, that didn’t happen since I wasn’t there when they DID play in Istanbul, but what you’re about to read is the continuation of the purest morning I ever woke up to when I got to sit down with Stef before Projekt Revolution in Ohio. I can't thank The Anarchist enough for letting me do this. And I'd also like to thank Alison Pinion for coming along for the ride, and Sarah Ginn for helping me transcribe the interview. 

Simay: How’s [Projekt Revolution] going so far? 

Stefan Olsdal: Done half way, already. It’s kinda flying by. It’s been good. It took us a while to kind of adjust to the crowd, to get the right set list together and kind of fit into the whole way for us to get through to the audience in the best possible way. We tend to be the outsiders, you know, we can’t feel quite comfortable being that. When we started we definitely felt a bit like that. We don’t scream as much as the other bands. We kind of work around that, and I think by the second week we got a good set. We’re getting more reaction from the crowd than the beginning. We play for half an hour in the middle of the day, and it’s usually baking hot with the sunshine. You gotta get people’s attention. A lot of them have never heard of us before. 

Simay: It’s your third time in the US within a year. Is this one different than the first two? 

Stefan Olsdal: Yes. First two were quite similar in the way that we came over by ourselves. The first time was co-headlining with She Wants Revenge. And the second time was [with Evaline]. Of course, this is different. It’s a much much bigger scale. We’re playing to an audience [of which] a lot of them have never heard or seen us before. 

Simay: So that makes it a lot more different than the festivals you play in Europe, then? 

Stefan Olsdal: Oh, yeah. We headline festivals in Europe. 

Simay: I wanna ask you some questions about Extended Play. Is it released just for the US? Is it like a “Hello, this is Placebo” kind of [album]? 

Stefan Olsdal: Yeah. 

Simay: How did you choose the songs on it? 

Stefan Olsdal: Well, we thought, what’s the best way to introduce Placebo at this point in our career. I guess [the album] is more of the rock aspect of the band. It’s one track from each Placebo record. I think it's like people's attention spans; they say it's good to keep it quite short and sweet. 

Simay: You signed to Capitol Records in the US. 

Stefan Olsdal: It’s all under the EMI umbrella, and we’ve had a different label throughout the five albums that we’ve put out. It just so happened that the changes in the companies have made it so that we ended up with Capitol. 

Simay: Was that your decision? 

Stefan Olsdal: Some of the changes have been in EMI. We’ve been under EMI, and there’s hundreds of labels under EMI. That’s just the way it happened, just how we ended up with Capitol. 

Simay: How was the writing process for Meds? 

Stefan Olsdal: Most of the tracks were written when we were in France a couple of years ago, [where] we rented a house and had a writing session. Saying that, there’s tracks in the album that were written [and recorded] six years ago. 

Simay: Which ones? 

Stefan Olsdal: “Pierrot the Clown” is probably the oldest. And then “Post Blue” is about four years old. And “Because I Want You” was recorded two months before the album was finished. So they span quite a long time. But they just need to choose their time. These 12-13 tracks kind of chose their time. That was the songs that we ended up working on, the ones that just felt the best. 

Simay: How is the reaction to Meds in the US? 

Stefan Olsdal: It’s kinda hard to tell because it’s such a huge country. It’s been more positive than the previous albums. If you look at it in terms of how many people we’re playing it to, we’re playing to more people. [Whether] that’s because of Meds or seeing and hearing Running Up That Hill, or if it's because of Pure Morning years ago, that I don’t know. We’re still seeing young kids. I’m talking about the previous, previous tours now. [We’re] still seeing kids that would be very very very young when the first album came out. So we’re grabbing some new generation of fans with this record, which is all the very encouraging to see for a bunch of guys who are in their 30’s, you know. 

Simay: In the US, should they call [your music] Brit Rock, Brit Pop or just rock‘nroll? 

Stefan Olsdal: No one likes labels, you know. Rock and Roll is definitely much better than Brit Pop. I’m not British, Brian’s not British. We don’t sound like a lot of British bands, like Oasis… 

Simay: And you don’t sound like most of the American rock bands either… 

Stefan Olsdal: No. I mean, labels are just there to make it easier for people to categorize things ‘cos people like their order in their heads. It’s rock music, you know, if you wanna put a label at something. 

Simay: How was the making of the Meds video? 

Stefan Olsdal: We worked in conjunction with a director for that one. We were on tour, and there wasn’t much time to shoot one. So we decided to try to do it on the road and actually filmed on the road. It’s basically a bit of a trip inside the life of being on the road and how twisted it can be and how unreal and how much of a surreal nightmare that can actually be. 

Simay: Are there any memories related to that? Any bad things happen or anything? 

Stefan Olsdal: Sure. You put a bunch of people in a confined space and send them off around the world. You encounter all sorts of different interesting situations. 

Simay: Like what? 

Stefan Olsdal: Psychotic… Dramas… You name it. It’s not a very realistic or grounding existence, and sometimes you can lose it, you know, you can really lose the plot. And that’s when we sort of try to pull to the back and we try to pull through. Luckily, those kind of episodes aren’t as frequent or long lasting as they used to be 10 years ago. I think we, at a point, kind of let life start getting in the way of the art, which is very easy to do when you spend so much time traveling, hanging out to fuck all. It’s a more focused effort now. 

Simay: Does it have anything to do with getting older and being grown up, compared to 1996? 

Stefan Olsdal: You learn how to survive the most impact in tact, looking ahead, and just for your own well-being and your own sanity, sometimes you need to make a little bit of an effort and not just live it like a 24-hour party. 
Simay: I’m curious as to whether or not there’s gonna be another live DVD like Soulmates Never Die. 

Stefan Olsdal: Nothing has been planned yet. We’ve been on tour now for a year and a half with Meds. We’re taking a break once this tour is finished. As far as the DVD goes, we have to do something that’s [gonna] top Soulmates Never Die. It has to be something special, more special and in a different kind of format. So we’re loosely talking about it. I can't give you anything definite. I like the [Soulmates Never Die DVD] format a lot. I really do think it gives a hell of a lot for the fans. It's a very versatile disc. 

Simay: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your US fans? 

Stefan Olsdal: Thank you for the support. We really appreciate it. This is really kind of corny now, but we came over here and next time we come over, if you save more of those seats for us, we’d appreciate it even more. 

Simay: What should we be looking forward to after this tour? 

Stefan Olsdal: I have a side project called Hotel Persona that might be coming over. It’s on Myspace and everything. So I’m gonna be doing that and some DJing. We’re gonna see if there’s something filmed on this tour that we could release A DVD [of] or something. I don’t know; we’re still working on it. We know it’s important not to be away for too long.