07 May 2013

Croydon Radio, Stephanie Darkes interview with Bill Lloyd

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Transcription by Laetitia

PLACEBO have been around for nearly two decades. Championed by David Bowie in the early days, their post-grunge androgynous style of alternative rock was a welcome injection of dark glamour for the Brit Pop scene. Stephanie Darkes spoke to 'the glue', bassist, techie, guitarist and the man behind the scenes from the early days, Croydon boy, Bill Lloyd.

S.D: You started working with Placebo as a techie. How did you get that gig?

B.L: It's a long story but I was playing with my Croydon band, Faith Over Reason, and we were supporting Jeff Buckley at the Edinburgh festival and Brian from Placebo happened to be in a play up there and we met him in a bar and our guitarist knew him and we got chatting with him and he asked me to send him some demo tapes and it started from there.

S.D: Did you meet Jeff Buckley then?

B.L: Oh yes. I used to drive him around when he first came to England, in the back of my van.

S.D: You refer to yourself as a 'Jack of all trades.' What does a day consist of now?

B.L: My main job now is studio work, so when they've recorded an album I'm in there with them full time, doing a bit of teching, some programming and a bit of playing. I guide the baselines and do some keyboard work. Before a tour I have to program everything for the studio for the live show, and then on tour I just play bass and keyboards. It's a full time job.

S.D: In the Placebo camp they call you the glue, what do they mean? You hold it all together?

B.L: Yeah, that kind of thing. I hope that's what they mean anyway!

S.D: In an interview in '98 Brian was asked by NME about the guy off-stage that played the guitar, which happened to be you. Why did you choose the low profile?

B.L: Well, I think the band wanted to be a three-piece, and they asked me to play and I probably didn't look quite as androgynous as them so I started playing off-stage. Then they said "this is silly, forget about it, come on stage". But I'm still in the background and I like it that way. I don't like to be at the front. It doesn't suit my demeanour.

S.D: Are you involved in the song-writing process?

B.L: Yeah, a little bit. I do the odd bass and keyboard bit. Not much but a bit of a trickle, nothing to do with lyrics.

S.D: You play live with the band a lot? Where was your favourite gig and why?

B.L: One in Athens and one in Istanbul that were part of the same weekend. They were just fantastic, the vibe and atmosphere round the shows and lovely time before and after the shows.

S.D: Are you doing any gigs this year?

B.L: We have a gig in Korea which is a bit scary. And one in Turkey again, we are doing a couple of festivals, end of October until December. We're going to do loads more next year.

S.D: Were you with the band when they supported Bowie in 1996?

B.L: I was, I wasn't playing unfortunately but I was there. The whole thing was his birthday party in Madison Square Gardens, it was pretty special. I've met him a couple of times; he did a lot of talking, he's quite a conversationalist. You don't get a word in edgeways basically.

S.D: You've been involved with the band since the start. What is your favourite Placebo album?

B.L: I've got three favourites. Without You I'm Nothing. I like the light and shade on that. Sleeping with Ghosts because I felt really involved in that one and I liked the tracks and the electronic edge. And the new one, it's fantastic. It's as good as those two.

S.D: Tell me a bit about the new album

B.L: We just finished it last week so it's very exciting. We did some live playbacks for the record company and management in the studio so I've been madly programming that recently. It went great. I think the tracks are going to be storming.

S.D: What's the release date?

B.L: I think it's September time and we have a single before.

S.D: What's your connection with Croydon?

B.L: Well I grew up there. I wasn't born there, but moved there when I was quite young. I was born at Mayday, but lived just outside and then lived there from a young age to my mid-twenties. I always go back and I have friends and family there.

S.D: Do you still love Croydon?

B.L: Yeah, I miss it. I've moved back south of the river, so I'm not too far away now.