Placebo interview, May'03

by Chris Heath

Placebo's new album 'Sleeping With Ghosts' has already been hailed as a return to form and the first single 'The Bitter End' was a deserved hit back in March. With the album's next single 'This Picture' out on June 16, we caught up with the trio - Brian, Steve and Stefan - recently for a brief chat about the live comeback and working with famed producer Jim Abbiss.

Part 1: On the Astoria comeback show:

Steve Hewitt: "It was our third gig we were really pleased with it. It was good to play the new material and just get back on stage again, it's been ages"

On the reaction to the new songs:

SH: "They went down surprisingly well and everyone was singing along to them...which is a bit worrying."

On putting the instrumental track 'Bulletproof Cupid' on start of the album:

Brian Molko: "There's an element of 'we're back, we rock'. This is not our acoustic album. We didn't want it to interrupt the flow so we stuck it on the beginning. "It pulls people into the record, first you get this sonic slap on the face and they're waiting for the vocals to start and they don't. So it sets up this feeling of intrigue. Musically it's completely different and the listener doesn't know where the album's going. You have to delve into it to figure it out."

Part 2 On the impact of Jim Abbiss:

SH: "Jim changed a lot of things. It was hugely inactive between the four of us - we came to two different points and ended up at a new point. I don't know if there was any less or more. It was just a perfect collaboration really."

On retaining their rock sound:

BM: "It could have been a lot of things. You do wonder where it was going to end up if you're open to lots of possibilities and you're open to surprises. Due to Jim's pedigree with more electronics bands, it could have ended up like Kraftwerk. It's still uniquely Placebo and it still rocks really hard and we didn't let our identity get sucked up by a producer. Whatever growth we are going through was organic as opposed to making calculated stylistic changes in your career like Radiohead or Bowie. You find the way you used to write songs a bit limited, just three people in a room with bass, drums and guitar. You want to spread your wings songwriting-wise and experiment more. Use a lot of different instruments and bits of technology that are fun. It's basically feeling around in the dark." 

SH: "Jim brought ways of seeing music and listening differently. He became a fourth member of the band to share ideas with. Not always perfectly obviously, there was creative friction but that's good."