"The story behind San Remo"

Silver Rocket, 2001

Words by Stefan Olsdal

After 9 major cities in 7 countries over two continents in two weeks we could have done with a better start to the day in question. We'd prepared flying around doing endless promotion for the next single Special K, and were worn and talked out. Some days you wake up on the wrong side of bed, but this one did not seem to even wake up at all. It all seemed like a very strange and intense dream, a day which when looked back on doesn't feel like it happened

Our journey that had started in London on Valentines Day two weeks prior took us back there for a stop over from Toronto. Being plagued by foot and mouth disease and recently traumatized. by yet another train, we didn't want to hang around for too long. But of course the connecting flight to Nice was delayed. Not that delayed flights cause that much misery (pub anyone? shopping maybe?) but if anything, this was the domino that started the rest of the dominoes falling. We were grumpy from the overnight flight, and just wanted to get the day over with. We knew full well this was going to be the biggest and probably most " influential" TV performance of our careers so we held tight. It was going to be beamed out to 15 million Italian households (LIVE!) and as we were at the end of our tethers, with both the travelling and tiredness, this was definitely a scenario were anything could happen. And it did.

Arriving in Nice which had been glazed in sunshine for the last three weeks we were greeted by rain. We waited for our luggage by conveyor belt number 4 and for the first time since our American X-mas Radio tour of 98 where an airline sent all our gear to the wrong city, it didn't show up. Our entire lives were in those bags and we were going to be live on air in a couple of hours. The day was shaping up. What followed though was definitely a high light, a helicopter ride to Monaco. Steve and our punk rock legend tech Oggins' first time. Sweet, felt like kids in a video game.

Check in next to the Casino, this place reeks of money. Quick time clothes shopping, cause our clothes were dirty and smelly. In dire need of new cotton fibres, Rush rush. Scoffed a dry ham and cheese sandwich. Thrown into a van, windy roads to the Italian border, barely half an hour to San Remo. The Streets were lined like Regent Street with lit up guitars and treble clefs, this small village is brought to life by this Eurovision type festival. What the hell are we doing here?

Paparazzi awaiting our arrival, shades on, straight through only to be greeted by 10 flights of stairs. Huffed and puffed our way up into tiny dressing room number 322 and instantly cornered by mad Italian press and TV. Told record company we need our space to be respected. They say we must be rock n'roll, "do something crazy", "lick her face", " give her a snog with tongue". This is talking about Raffaella Carra, the host who's as big as Madonna here, and they were looking for us to do some live TV action. Create a scandal. Caked in make-up, lick her? Wrong. Tell us that and we'll do something else.

Chaotic run through with all the wrong hire gear and no-one knowing when or why we're playing. The cameras aren't even practising their angles. Waste of time. Mic stands so shit that they fall over when the even shittier stage shakes. Back up the 10 flights to be greeted by more intruding cameras, GET AWAY!!

We get our act together at a hotel nearby. Nearly fall asleep having makeup done. Put a call to Doctor Theatre, have a drink in the lobby filled with young boy/girl band looking contestants from tonight's show. Is this the Smash Hits awards or what?

Just before call time we zoom through the camera filled drive way and run up to gather ourselves. Bri gets told off smoking, by this time I'm getting so used to the fact of him getting told off smoking in non-smoking areas that I laugh. Jolted back the matter at hand some Italian nervous looking floor manager tells us something in Italian no one understands. He doesn't know if we're on now or later but he gets paid so he's got to look like he's working. Before everything had been properly arranged for us on stage, we're pushed on. The audience seated and dressed in formal eveningwear greets us enough enthusiasm.

Carra introduces us and we're off into Special K. Mime mode, give everyone a run for their money, as nothing on the show even remotely compares to what's being played through the speakers at the moment. Imagine us playing the interlude in the Eurovision before the votes are counted. Weird. As the last cymbal crash rings out, I see Brian with his guitar above his head launching towards the amp. I didn't get a real good look but the axe comes down heavy for a guy his size. A massacre labelled "Moby" gets pummelled to the floor. As I turn around Bri's run front stage striking the most scarily provocation stance I've ever seen him do. I put down my Les Paul and walked off. The hall's in a state of shock, not a single clap as we leaving stage. Time to exit the building. A commotion. Record company at loss for words. What happened, Carra stunned. I'm dubious. Security and cops milling all around, while cameras and reporters fall over each other trying to get to us. The Eggman pulls us into the safety of our van. Crazy day with too crazy a consequence.

Phone calls coming in from all angles. Placebo caused scandal at prestigious festival. No-one's sure how to act or comment. San Remo doesn't know what's hit it. Neither did the Marshall amp. (Get told later that Moby had to play with our equipment. He wasn't happy! Sorry, but not our problem. Hire company trying to pull fast one. Our gear, we do what we want, we pay for it.)

We're treated to a meal and a couple of bottles of wine. Record company disappear inconspicuously and we're were not wearing the proper attire. Bullshit. Snobbery like racism. "But you can have a drink in the lobby". Like saying leave your dog at the door. Bed exhausted. What a day. Time to go home. We came and did our thing. Try anything once and this time, one time was enough!! "Ci vediamo dopo!"