Nylon "As Loud As Love", Jul'13

17 July 2013 / radar

It's been way too long since we last had Placebo here in Singapore. Okay, it might really be only three years, but their live concert here on 27 August couldn't come any sooner. And we're also counting down the days to the release of their seventh studio album, Loud Like Love. While the remaining weeks and days tick by, we thankfully got a chance to have a chat with drummer Steve Forrest to keep us going during the wait. Here, he speaks to us about the new album, the "Placebo sound", and his mad love for Blink 182.

Where are you right now?

Steve: I'm in Berlin. Me, Brian and Stefan are here doing some promo.

Placebo last performed in Singapore in 2010. What's going to be different this time round?

We'll be playing lots of material from the new album, hopefully. We haven't set the setlist yet, but this next gig in Singapore will be before the album comes out, so we'll be playing a few songs from the new record, but obviously not the entire thing yet. So we'll be playing some new material from there, and trying to mix up some of the old songs that we haven't played in a long time. We really want to make it special because it's been so long since we've been to Singapore, and because the last time we were there, we got so much love from people. We're still sorting out the visuals and all that, but it'll be different from the last time and hopefully people will enjoy the new material.

Tell us more about the theme and inspiration behind "Loud Like Love". What can we expect in this album?

I think the recurring theme in it is love. And it's love from all different directions and all different aspects – it's not just a bunch of "I love you baby" songs. It's a very eclectic mix of sounds and moments that are happening on this record, and we put a lot of blood sweat and tears into it, and we all feel that it's the best thing that this band's ever done. Be prepared for something very new and very big.

The first single off the new album, "Too Many Friends", has lyrics that speak of having too many friends on social media that don't really help one feel less alone in real life. Is this theme of loneliness a recurring one in the rest of the album?

No, not really. I personally think that too many friends is not disgusting. The song raises the question of whether these new social network sites are actually bringing people closer together, which is what they originally said they were doing. Or, are they in fact making people more distant from each other? Are they taking that human touch out of the equation? For the rest of the record, Brian is very honest in his lyrics, so it deals with many aspects of love and relationships, both real and fictional. You'll have to hear it to know what I'm talking about.

Was the production process for this album any different from that of the previous ones?

Yeah! It took us the better part of the year to put it together, because we were also touring in the middle of recording so we kind of had to keep starting and stopping. So that was unique, because normally we go in and write and record it all in one chunk – this album was not this way. We weren't really planning on making a record, it just sort of happened. We recorded the songs for the B3 EP, it came out, and we enjoyed ourselves with Adam Noble, the producer, so much that we figured, why not?

The production process for this was quite unique in the sense that we all really challenged ourselves and each other, both as musicians and people. And for me personally, it was the most fun that I've ever had making a record. I suppose the starting and stopping was actually more annoying to me at the time, but looking back at it now and seeing the result, I'm quite happy that it happened that way. But the most fun for me was because of Adam Noble, and we were experimenting a lot with stuff that I've never done: playing with electronics and loops and stuff like that, playing next to a lot of electronic stuff with acoustic drums, all was very fun for me, yet difficult and painful at times. But it was a fun experience, and I think the general vibe of how we all worked in the studio was a really good one.

Has the band's sound changed in any way since "Battle For The Sun"?

The band's been playing with loops in the past few records but for this one, we brought in the iPad, for example. And in this album we recorded in a studio that hadn't changed since the '70s, so you kind of get this mix of old instruments next to the iPad and all these sort of wacky sounds and stuff that we've been coming up with. It's extremely intimate at times, but it doesn't lose itself from the rock-y side of things and everything in between. As far as the sound being different, I think each album is a reaction to the one prior to it. So we hope to go above and beyond what we did last time, but I think there's still a red thread that runs through all Placebo records that lets you know that it's definitely a Placebo track. I can't really describe how it's different, I guess you'll have to hear it for yourself.

Over the years, Placebo's music has been described as being alt-rock, glam rock, and even Britpop. How would you describe your music as of right now?

I suppose I'll have to describe our sound as "technicolour". It's alternative rock, there's also melancholic and orchestral bits… I suppose we've come out of those genres now, and I think over the years we've popped in and out of sounds, but I think now we're at a very comfortable stage and we've hopped out of that genre and into something new that I can't really describe. We've kind of come up with our own sound – that's what we sound like. We sound like us now. That's the best way I can think to describe it. It's a unique blend of all our favourite types of music that we get influenced by, and it comes out in the way that we do it.

From your Twitter account, we can see that you're an Interpol fan. One of your fans wants to know, which are your top 5 favourite Interpol songs?

Oooooooh, okay, I'm ready for this one. I even have my Interpol songs open right now. It has to start with "Evil", naturally. "Obstacle 2", "NYC", "The New", "Take You On A Cruise". If I'm honest, it's very hard to pick a top 5.

Besides Interpol, what other music and bands are you into?

I really listen to everything, I try to listen to as wide a range of music as I can. I buy music just about every day. At the moment, what I'm listening to is a lot of Beach House, and the new Sigur Rós record has been blowing my mind, absolutely. The new Daft Punk record, I can't get enough of it. I think the new Vampire Weekend record's really good too.

I listen to a lot of old music, as you have to study everything that was before as well to understand everything that's going on now. I'm always trying to find something new that's going to tickle my tastes. Some of my all-time favourite bands are The Walkmen, I love The Walkmen, Death Cab For Cutie… These are bands that every record I just love. Radiohead has really touched me over the years. You know, if I'm honest, for nostalgia's sake Blink 182 used to be my favourite band of all time. I still own all the records, and just recently I started listening to all of them. I still absolutely love those records and relate to them so much, so even though I was a bit shy to admit it because maybe it's not too cool to like Blink 182, I do love them. If you were growing up in California in the '90s, then they were your pop-punk band. And every kid in California, especially if you were a drummer, loved Blink 182.

Are the musical preferences of the other members very different from yours, and how does that come into play when you're making music together?

We all have very similar tastes in music, but we also all like different things. It's a sort of common ground that we do find ourselves on, with bands and artists that we all enjoy. Stefan is very knowledgeable on a lot of classical music, he's really great with all the composers and stuff like that, which is something I don't know too much about. Brian as well, he's got a really good knowledge of the '80s pop stuff, and they can obviously go into much greater detail. But I think when we get together, the dynamics that are created because of this, between the three of us, we listen to just about everything that's ever been made. All three of us are big musicheads. We love, love, love music. When we come in to write, we have all these different influences from these three different tool belts that I think is a really great thing to have. It makes us so that we're constantly inspired and getting ideas from it. You have to listen to music, I think, to make music.

Is there anything you want to tell your fans in Singapore ahead of your concert here?

Well, I hope that they all come out to the show, and all the Singaporeans enjoy the new record, and we all hope that you guys can come out when we play and hang out with us. It's been a while, we must have a reunion!

Placebo performs live in Singapore on 27 Aug, 8pm at The Coliseum at Hard Rock Hotel Singapore.