Rolling Stone Chile "Beyond the Battle", May'10

Translation by Dominic & LaraVictoryMolko

A year after the start of their tour around the world, Placebo stopped in Chile to be reunited again with their faithful audience. With Battle For The Sun in their bags, they visited Sebastián Piñeras, they presented to their new drummer and celebrated their renewed freedom, after they left EMI.

Minutes after that the Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone had left "La Moneda" Wednesday morning, April 7th after he had a reunion with President Sebastián Piñera by a protocol visit scheduled months ago, it was their turn. With the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to our country in mind and managing the audience with great secrecy -neither the DG Medios producer nor EMI record company knew- "La Moneda" notified the exclusive appearance in the halls of the government house of the English group Placebo. Soberly dressed for the occasion, Brian Molko, Stefan Olsdal and new drummer Steve Forrest displayed their hats, contrasting with the walls of the Blue Room of the Government Palace.

The appointment was justified only because of the announcement made by the band days after the earthquake occurred in Chile on February 27, explaining that one hundred percent of the profits from the concert –the first one in the Latin America tour- given on April 8 at the Movistar Arena would be returned to help the victims of the tragedy. “We do it because it’s the right thing to do”, they would say later.

Brian Molko, Stefan Olsdal, and Steve Forrest, the three of them with their sunglasses dangling from their sweaters, waited for the President Piñera to attend them on the second floor of “La Moneda” –there, where the decisions are taken and the most important visitors of international diplomacy are received-, they were accompanied by the presidential staff and cameraman of the band that has followed them throughout the tour, recording every step of the group.

After a time out to look over the balcony to the Plaza of the Constitution and take pictures with jovial presidential advisers, the new Minister of Culture, Luciano Cruz Coke, was responsible for presenting the group to the highest authority in Chile.

Three firm handshakes, Brian Molko's signature on the album that they gave to the President, and they were down to the Patio de los Naranjos, where they conducted a short press conference with the authorities, faced with a stunned group of journalists who did not know how to explain how happened so bizarre visit.

A little over an hour before the concert, Placebo reviews that unexpected meeting. Inside the grounds of the Parque O'Higgins and seated comfortably in the green sofa that almost all artist who perform in the Movistar Arena use, they explain the reason for their visit.

Surrounded by sandwiches, pickles, bottled water and packs of Marlboro Lights, Olsdal and Molko assume that the first Chilean president is not the kind of president with whom they are accustomed to be with, but they refer to encounter high-mindedness. “What we are trying to do is something that is above and beyond politics. We try to operate with a basic level of humanity, you know? It's about humanity, not politics. It is true that we have our own personal politics, but we decided that we would not get any profit of Chileans during this period after the earthquake disaster”, says Brian Molko.

Beyond supporting their vision, they feel honored that the governor has recognized the gesture made on behalf of Chile. “We happily accepted the invitation of President Piñera. It was not about supporting his party, was about accepting the gratitude he showed”, adds Molko, very proper. 

On their third visit to our country, Placebo again reunited with his faithful audience, that has not stopped following them for over 15 years of experience and that has suffered when they knew of the departure of drummer Steve Hewitt in 2007.

Absent in the interview, Steve Forrest, the drummer in his twenties with blonde hair that began to replace Hewitt, was dressed all in white walking down the hallways under the stands of the enclosure, where the backstage is. Followed by the tour manager and some close advisers of the band, checking his drums, moving back and forth with his drumsticks in his hands. He looks like a child about to receive his birthday present. But apparently, the leaders of the band don’t want him to be shown, that’s why he doesn’t appear in media conversations.

“The official members are Molko and Olsdal. They are Placebo.” Those are the kind of comments that their past record company does backstage, after removing them from their listing of artists.

And apparently, the less they are asked what happened with their previous drummer, the better. “First of all, we made clear that many people have said many things. There have been many opinions and speculation about the departure of Steve, and anyone who got angry at us is not aware of the reality of what happened and the circumstances in which the separation occurred”, defends himself Brian Molko. “t remains as a very personal thing for us. And I'd like that to be respected. There was a lot of negativity surrounding the issue.”

According to an official statement given from the band at the time that Steve Hewitt left Placebo, the departure of drummer who accompanied them for 11 years was "due to personal and musical differences with the rest of the group”. Romantically, the vocalist compared the relationship they had with a marriage –in this case a trio- which had been affected with the time and made it impossible to continue living under the same roof. “Saying that I don’t like him would be wrong, considering all we've been through and all the things we achieved.” Molko explained in the same statement. But this depart was not the first the band experienced. Hewitt, who participated in the albums Without You I’m Nothing, Black Market Music, Sleeping With Ghost, and Meds, had replaced the first drummer that had taken the group from 1994-1996, Robert Schultzberg.

Excited by a new beggining, inmediatly after Steve Hewitt had left, Placebo announced that David Bottrill - who colaborated in the works of Muse; Silverchain; 3 albums of Tool and in the recent CD of Circa Survive - is going to be their productor.

The result was their sixth album, Battle For The Sun, a CD with a positive view and bright colours which differs so much from their past records. But for them is not as simple as it seems to be.

After Battle For The Sun had released, they received critics from all the world and also UK that regarded them as " fresh, renoved and ready for enfrent the world". For better or worst, the change that Placebo experimented resulted in a lot of scrunity. However, a year after the relase of the disc, they revealed against the publications that, according to them, rated they work less than it was deserved.

" That annoys me a bit, being honest. Is as if it were only one song which exploded in the way of 5 albums, which is actually a true shit. Also they say that Battle For The Sun has a masive and dramatic change, as if we suddenly turned from a country band into a tecno one. And that's not true"

And despite the fact that Oldsal admited in an interview from Rolling Stone that their latest work were without doubt more encouraging than Meds and that their idea for Battle For The Sun was to do " something more light and optimistic"; Brian Molko denied any tipe of comparison with their past. 

"Every album we made was different from the previous one because we don't work with a formule, you know?. We write songs in a less darker way and suddenly all the world got crazy, they think we became Hippies from one day to another. What really annoys me is that they consider our work rather simple, when it's actually very very complex", said. " I'm sorry, I didn't give an interview for a long time", told us laughting at his own defensive answer.

The night of the concert, Placebo have been working in their tour for one year, the one which made them visited Japan, Australia and Latinoamerica. At the moment of the interview, two weeks had been passed from their last meeting with a reporter in Tailandia. And the tour is going to lead them to Buenos Aires in the LA 445 flight which is to arrive at Argentina the 10th of April. Brazil, with four presentantions, Peru and Colombia will received them later.

His justification to such a big change is the age. Molko assumed that his emotional feelings are not the same that when he wrote the songs of Without You I'm Nothing. Everything is based in what one feels at a certain moment of ours lives, which it seems to be, a more happy one. Or at least one less darker.

"You make songs, work with them and write what touchs you deeply. It's not as sending cohets to the space. What it's interesting is that as you are writing the songs, you discover what it's happening inside of you, and it's not the same at the age of 22 that at 37. The emotional center changes", explain the vocalist.

As an independient film, Battle For The Sun was made completely with money from the band, far from home and with their instruments as decisive elements of composition. Their left from Emi in the year 2008, opened an endless range of creative possibilities and the ability for taking decisions which permmited Battle For The Sun being presented as 100% Placebo copyright.

Entering into the world of downloads - on December last year they launched iTunes Live: London Festival '09, a live album which was only available in the Steve Jobs store -, Placebo used the tools that internet gives for keeping them young and actualized. The first single of the sixth album, For What It's Worth, was listened by 100.000 people in one day only. And proud of their achievements, they are happy for having that " Ample freedom" they'd always dreamed of.

" Now we can make decisions in five minutes, whereas before it could took us 5 weeks having to pass through 50 proffesionals and their opinions. And for the moment we reached the proffesional number 49, we had been forgotten. Today, we can take the control of the process. The issues are simpler and we like it more", explain the vocalist, touching his black hair at the same time he opens his Marlboro Light.

Less than 2 minutes before jumping into the stage, the band left the dressroom wearing the colors of Ying Yang. Molko, with a black shirt and white trousers, leaded the group as they were entering into the Movistar Arena court.

The stage, which is in the middle of the court, hided behind an anxious audience who has been waiting for more than half an hour since Lucybell made its appearance. Being guided by some lights which lited the floor, they stared at the stairs before presenting themselves to the fans for more than one hour.

The five members of the band were waiting for the sign, as Brian Molko was smoking a shared cigarrete. They received the sign and divided for entering into the stage, Molko and Forrest in the right and Oldsal in the left. The lights turns off. The screams begins.