"Placebo battles for the light/sun"
De Limburger, May'09
Translation by sobesan
Nancy Boy died and drummer steve hewitt had to clear the field to prohibit the band from completely falling apart (exploding). The Placebo that closed the Pinkpop festival 3 years ago, is a different band than the one that is programmed for this years festival.
'I need a new face', insures Kitty Litter accompanied by vicious guitars, the opening song of Battle for the sun; the brand new 6th album of Placebo.
An album that shows a new sound. Pure glamrock, but in an industrial coat. Typical Placebo, but with a gratey, heavy lining due to producer Dave Bottrill (chosen on his work with the band Tool) and mixer Alan Moulder (My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails). "This is how an album should open" according to frontman Brian Molko (35), who is pleasurably ignoring the smoking ban that is also valid in Amsterdam 5-star hotels.
"Like a slap in the face, that makes you curious about what will come next"
Nancy Boy, the autobiographically character of Placebo's first hit single, which symbolized the androgynous, oversexed, wild & loose, young puppies that were Molko and bass player Stefan Olsdal, was cruelly dealt with at the previous album Meds from 2006.
On Battle for the Sun, that should be in shops by june 8th, they pull out all the stops: heavy guitar riffs (for what it's worth), bell chimes (the never ending why), horns (kings of medicine) and broad orchestra (Julien). But foremost, a for Placebo-principals unheard fresh optimism. "We wanted to do something that people did not expect of us" Musically but also regarding message: "something positive". "Now i can look at it from a distance, Meds was a bit of a bleek/pale record in which you'd find a lot of pain and hardly any hope. Now i wanted to make something with a lot of licht and neon. I believe in that, that is my state of mind at the moment. At the time i also believed in Meds, but you have to be alert/carefull that you don't lose yourself in the darkness."
Something hovered above the band like a thundercloud the past three years. Placebo was not doing well. As Friendship/Companionship were the ultimate motivation for Molko to play in a band, the trio found themselves in a situation where the relationships between the members became awkward/shifted the wrong way. "We became astranged from each other as people. What's the point of continuing to play in a band together when you don't appreciate each other's company anymore? When you don't respect each other anymore, than you seize to talk/communicate, and you lose the drive to be creative together."
Steve Hewitt, who joined the band as 2nd drummer in 1996, had to clear the field to prohibit that Placebo would completely explode/fall apart. "that was something that Stefan and I, as the constants of the band, the creatives, did not want to happen. We have invested too much in this band for such a thing. We had to find a way to be Placebo again without resentment. Because we believe above anything that there is still a future for Placebo. Besides...I can't drive a car, I don't know anything about computers, I would never be able to find a job."
Molke and Olsdal chose the best alternative; a new drummer who, besides being technically capable, was also at such an age that they could pull themselves up on his enthousiams...Enter Steve Forrest, a 22 year old american who'd opened for Placebo with is band Evaline
"Fully aware we chose for somebody who is experiencing everything for the first time. Somebody who did not enjoy the big success yet and thoroughly enjoys everything that comes with this profession. Stefan and me are both half way thirty and have been doing this for 15 years. After that long a period boredom is just around the corner. Steve keeps us young and fresh. To change and use an old proverb: You are only as old as how your new drummer is feeling."
Another big thing in Placebo's battle for enlightenment, was the choice, without a record deal, to finance the new album themselves and to have full artistic freedom. "The first few years we were with the Virgin label. But by the time our contract was ending, everybody that was there during our start up etc. had been fired. Besides that, the industry is so bad at the moment that people are only worried about their job. That is not a great motivation/environment to be creative."
With an album like Battle for the Sun, things cannot go wrong for Placebo, creative, heavy and larger than life, almost epic. "An album that will unfold perfectly in front of a large audience", thinks Molko. Pinkpop should be prepared. Placebo is flying high and their wings will not be melting for a long time. (ok this last bit is a bit weird, but i don't know the correct english counter proverb for this)