The Star "Growing up in the public eye", Aug'13

Published: Saturday August 17, 2013

Drummer Steve Forrest, the youngest in rock band Placebo, says he is now equal to his bandmates.

He might be the newest and youngest member in British alternative rock band Placebo, but do not call drummer Steve Forrest, 26, the new guy.

The California native tells us that he now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with his band-mates – frontman Brian Molko, 40, and guitarist/bassist Stefan Olsdal, 39, who started the band in 1994.

Forrest joined the band in 2008.

“When I came in, I was very inexperienced and they really guided me. They were like my uncles who brought me up in this musical world and for that, I will always love them very dearly,” he said in a telephone interview from Berlin, where the band was on a promotional tour.

“But now, I feel that I’m a bit older and I’ve graduated to a point where we’re equals. And it feels really good. We have a really good vibe and we’re closer than ever.”

The trio will be in Singapore to perform at The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa on Aug 27, when they will be previewing songs from their seventh album, Loud Like Love, slated for release next month.

Forrest describes the album as having a “very eclectic mix” of songs.

“It goes from really upbeat, fist-pumping rock songs to very intimate and beautifully melancholic piano love-tragedy songs, and everything in between,” he said.

A single from the album, Too Many Friends, was released earlier this month, and the lyrics, written by Molko, take a stab at social media.

“It questions social network – is it actually bringing people together or is it separating us more and causing us to lose the human touch? Can somebody have too many friends on Facebook?” said the drummer.

He added that his Facebook page is personal, and only for friends and family. But he does have a public Twitter account which he uses to promote music from Placebo, his other band Planes, as well as bands and acts that he likes.

Born in what he describes as a “small town” in Modesto, California, he started singing and playing instruments such as the guitar at an early age. “When I was six or seven, I decided that I was going to dedicate my life to music.”

His former band, emo-ambient rockers Evaline, opened for Placebo in 2007. When Placebo fired drummer Steve Hewitt because of creative differences later that year, Forrest sent in a video-résumé and was flown to London. He jammed and hung out with Molko and Olsdal, and was announced as the new drummer the following year.

Joining Placebo when he was 21 changed his life, and he describes the past five-and-a-half years with the band as being “insane”.

Placebo were an established band when he joined, with five albums in the Top 20 charts in Britain and more than 10 million albums sold worldwide.

“I’ve grown up in Placebo and in the five-and-a-half years, you go through 20 years’ worth of experience.”

He remembers “bits and bobs” of his first gig in Singapore with the band in 2010, saying that he enjoyed playing for the fans there and is looking forward to coming back.

Now based in London, the bachelor keeps himself busy hosting a monthly radio show that plays classic rock ’n’ roll vinyl records, Oldies But Goldies With Steve Forrest, on online radio station K2K Radio.

He also sings and plays guitar for Planes, a quintet playing rootsy soul-rock, which he formed in 2011.

But make no mistake, his primary gig is still Placebo and he is proud of the fact that he played an active role in the creation of the new album – his second with the band.

“We do everything together. All three of us go into the studio and hash everything out. I think this record has a really great feel. You can hear it in the songs, you can tell that it was all written at the same time.” – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Placebo plays The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore on Aug 27.