Rip It Up "Lovely Noises", Oct'13

While Loud Like Love marks album number seven for stalwart English rock band Placebo, it only marks album number two for drummer Steven Forrest. Forrest speaks with Rip It Up about joining the band in 2008.

Now assuming the position of the band’s third drummer, after both Robert Schultzberg and Steve Hewitt were dismissed by core members Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal, Forrest is surprisingly comfortable in his position. Perhaps the key to Forrest’s con dence is that he wasn’t intimidated about joining Placebo because he didn’t know who they were.

“I’d never heard of Placebo,” Forrest admits.

“My manager showed me a music video on my way to the gig and I recognised the song from Cruel Intentions, because I used to watch that all the time...although I guess everyone did in the ‘90s.”

Forrest, who was the drummer for ambient rock band Evaline before joining Placebo, reiterates that this ignorance acted as an advantage.

“I think it was better that I didn’t come in as a fan because the transition was more organic. I wasn’t a fan who wanted to join Placebo, but a musician who wanted to play their music. I knew they were a big band but I didn’t know how big. Even after I joined and we recorded Battle For The Sun, it wasn’t until we went on the world tour after that I realised the immensity of the world I just stepped into. I lost my fucking mind when I realised how much there was to take on. And I was only 21 at the time.”

This means that Forrest was only eight years old when Molko and Olsdal first formed Placebo in 1994. Rest assured the 14-year age gap between Forrest and his bandmates doesn’t raise too many concerns.

“We don’t notice the age difference at all. It’s quite funny because I am quite young and they look quite young. We don’t take ourselves seriously. We have a lot of fun together, and musically when we sit down we click like we’ve been playing together for 30 years.”

Forrest backs up this claim with the story of his first session as a part of Placebo.

“The first time we sat down to play music they showed me a demo of a guitar line for Kitty Litter and I listened to it twice and then sat down at the kit and said, ‘So should we try it?’ They couldn’t believe it but I said that we needed to jam to get to know each other. The first time we played Kitty Litter that’s exactly how we wrote and recorded it.”

Not being a fan has meant that Forrest had to learn Placebo’s extensive back catalogue; he methodically memorised every track o Placebo’s previous five albums in two months. What really impressed his band mates was that he didn’t just learn them, but he changed them in order to bring a new flavour.

“That whole process made me a fan of Placebo. Not just discovering them but also making them your own. I love the back catalogue more than Brian and Stef do. They have a funny relationship with the old songs, which is totally understandable, but for me, I fucking dig it.”

Forrest also digs the new stuff Placebo are making, including new album Loud Like Love (although Drag off Meds is his favourite song).

While Placebo have always had a strong social commentary through their songs, with drugs and sexuality common themes on key singles such as Special K, Meds, Pure Morning and Nancy Boy, Loud Like Love’s track Too Many Friends criticises the futility of internet friends and social media. This demonstrates that Placebo is forever changing and adapting with the world they live in by commenting on technology that didn’t exist when the band started. This helps explain Placebo’s now less controversial image, toning down the overt, androgynous, industrial goth-glam they were once renowned for.

“There’s no need for them [Molko and Osdal] to act out anymore. There was an era of wearing dresses and lipstick with the attitude and all that shit and that’s great. They’re much more honest with themselves and there’s a loving family between the three of us. There are hugs and smiles and making jokes and taking the piss out of each other. We’re like three best friends, so that kind of over-the-top-ness doesn’t need to exist today.”