Warez Magazine "Bill Lloyd - Behind the Scenes with Placebo", Aug'06

Bill... Placebo mystery man!
Aug 25, 2006

On our trip earlier this year to the studio where Placebo were recording their fifth album, ‘MEDS' which has now been released, Warez managed to corner William Patrick Lloyd, (better known as Bill) who has perhaps one of the best and most unusual jobs in the music industry, and got him to answer a few questions. Bill acts as a kind of interface between Placebo and their crew; sort of half a fourth member, half tech. He does a bit of everything from playing and programming to looking after the equipment side of things. You can usually see him at Placebo gigs lurking at the back of the stage, playing extra guitar and keyboard parts and trying not to be noticed. He wouldn’t even let us take his photo for this interview on account of his modesty and shyness! 

WAREZ: How did you end up such a unique situation? 

BILL: I started off as a tech for Placebo around the time of the second album, and they asked me to play some stuff at gigs so I developed this dual role. Then eventually I got to contribute a few little ideas and bits of playing in the studio on the odd occasion; a bit of bass or keyboards. 

WAREZ: How did you get involved in music? 

BILL: I was in a band from the Croydon area called Faith Over Reason and we got a publishing deal while I was still at school. Then we carried on after we left school for a few years. I mainly played keyboards and then bass. 
The music was kind of folky indie rock… a bit dodgy really, and not very cool! 
Then I worked for a small record company for a while where I sometimes had to drive bands around and help them set up. It was a really cool label called Big Cat; they had bands like Pavement who I really liked. 
I was always interested in technical things so I learnt a bit about it… you have to be interested in technical stuff to be any good at it otherwise you’d get bored! 

WAREZ: It always seems to me that Placebo have quite a heavy workload. Is that by choice? 

BILL: It’s more out of the necessity of keeping the profile up. It’s not too bad though, we have had a bit of time off here and there. 

WAREZ: What did you get up to in 2005? 

BILL: We were touring, then we did some writing sessions where I had to set up the gear and get the sounds so we could record it for the demos. Then we started doing the album. 

WAREZ: Do you enjoy the extensive touring that working with Placebo involves? 

BILL: I mostly like it but it can get a bit much after a year or so! 

WAREZ: What’s your favourite place to play? 

BILL: We went to South America for the first time earlier in 2005 and that was fantastic, I had a great time. 
France is a good place for us to play; we always get treated really well and the venues we play are designed for bands whereas in countries like the UK you’re sometimes playing in classical music venues, which sound terrible. And I always look forward to going back to Australia. 

WAREZ: What do you think gives Placebo its international appeal? 

BILL: It’s kind of unique and doesn’t follow any particular styles; it just does its own thing. 

WAREZ: Do you think Placebo will carry on forever like the Rolling Stones? 

BILL: If you’d have asked me that a few years ago I’d have said no way but the longer it goes on the more I think I can’t really see a finish! 

WAREZ: What’s your favourite type of Placebo song? 

BILL: Probably the darker, mellower stuff interests me more than the up-beat songs. I really like the album we’re making now because it has that darker flavour. 

WAREZ: What’s it like being behind the scenes all the time? Do you mind not being in the press shots and having none of the glory?! 

BILL: I really like it; I wouldn’t like to be at the front of the stage and I don’t like the limelight. A couple of times the band have pushed me to the front if it’s my birthday or something and I hated it! It was kind of sweet of them but I didn’t feel comfortable. I prefer being out of the spotlight and just working on the music. 

WAREZ: What was the first proper gig you ever saw? 

BILL: I think it was the Thompson Twins… I was in my early teens and I was really into synthesisers. I learned to play my grandmother’s electric organ and wanted to get a proper synth. I seemed to have a fairly immediate understanding of that type of technology, it was definitely my thing. I had a triple keyboard stand and a home-made A-frame which I thought was really cool but it was the 80’s so that’s ok! 

WAREZ: Would you consider doing the same kind of job for another band? 

BILL: Probably not! I don’t think I could start all over again with anyone else; getting to know them and exactly how they do things. 

WAREZ: What equipment can you recommend? 

BILL: If you’re starting out, Fender probably do the best guitars for the least money. You can get something playable for £200 or so that will sound all right, you can gig with it. All the amplifiers I like aren’t starter amps; my favourite bass amp is the 200T Ampeg. For guitars, Marshalls are always good but if you can afford it, you can’t beat the Fender Twin ’65 reissue… it’s the best reissue I’ve heard. 
With keyboards, the old classics tend to be my favourites, my first keyboard is my favourite still, it’s a Korg 700S monophonic synth. The latest thing I like which is quite cheap is the Korg Legacy reissues of their old synths. You can get all the vintage sounds like the Poly 6, Wavestation and MS20 and they’re all really good. 

WAREZ: What do you use for programming? 

BILL: We don’t use sequencing live, but I’ve started using a sample programme called Contact. Live I use a keyboard and pedals to trigger clicks and sounds and stuff. 

WAREZ: Have you ever missed a trigger and not brought a song in? 

BILL: I’ve done it a couple of times! It’s a nightmare. 

WAREZ: That sounds like a huge responsibility! I guess that means you can’t get drunk before you play? 

BILL: I probably used to but I can’t play drunk now! None of us get wrecked before we play; maybe just a couple of drinks! 

WAREZ: What music do you like to listen to? 

BILL: The Sigur Ros album was my favourite from 2005. I like a lot of film soundtracks by people like Ennio Morricone and John Barry. I like such a wide range of music; all the greats and some obscure stuff too, it’s hard to specify anything in particular… 

That’s where we leave Bill, sitting at the grand piano in the live room. The mix of the new Placebo album is due to finish soon but Bill will still be there at the weekend, sorting out the equipment and tying up loose ends. His wide musical tastes, refusal to be in the limelight and amenable attitude (rare qualities in the music industry!) seem to make him the perfect, and possibly the only candidate for the job he does so efficiently! For info about Placebo, go to www.placeboworld.co.uk