Beat Magazine, Jul'99

28th July 1999

Love them or hate them, there's no ignoring Placebo. Their album Without You I'm Nothing has been hailed as one of the albums of the year. When they pranced through Melbourne only months ago on their first Australian visit, Placebo's influence had spread much further then just the music - the first 58 rows at their gigs were packed with folks who had taken on the Placebo image, especially that of front man Brian Molko, to heart.

Placebo, explains drummer Steve Hewitt, were surprised to see that such fandom had found its way down to Australia. "We were all shocked. I always get the fear of like 'nobody's going to turn up, and nobody's ever head of us, blah blah blah', and by the time you get down there the tours sold out and you think, 'fuckin' hell, how did that happen?'" wonders Steve, and laughs his magnificent, erupting laugh. " And then you see six million Brian Molko clones and you think, 'fuck·..' (Laughs) The most amazing thing was, the shows weren't all ages shows, and we did signings as well, and there's like 400 people turn up at the signings each day in the record stores, but none of 'em could come to the gig because they're all too young."

He laughs. "So its just kind of like 'flippin' eck', you know, 'its actually bigger then we think'. But it is weird seeing all that thing, but that's all Brian's doing, really, nothing to do with me (laughs) I might try and start up that alternative side of Placebo fans, and go for my Barry White image, you know, white suits and· mullets!" Steve laughs again. "It'd be worth a try."

"We had a fantastic time there when we were down there last time," says Steve of their Melbourne jaunt.

What hijinks did you get up to? "I think I was out every night, made about twenty five mates," laughs Steve, "and just went for it! A three-day bender, with two shows in between, it was brilliant. Brilliant! I've got friends down there as well - Conway Savage and Mick Harvey from the Bad Seeds, played with them over the years, known 'em for quite a while, but I thought I should try and check 'em out when I went down, and they were in town, so sort of hangin' out with them for a bit, that was good."

This time, Placebo return to tour with silverchair, a pairing Steve describes as "a cracking bill." "It's all just the process of trying to build the band profile worldwide," he explains. " I mean, its gonna be our second tour of Australia in a year· which I think's pretty good. And we did two nights in Melbourne at the Prince of Wales, we'd never been there before, we thought: pretty impressive. So now we've made that awareness, and we've done that building block, we can come back with silverchair; its another nice step, going out in the 5-6 thousand seaters with another band, absolutely perfect. So next time we come back maybe we could do three thousand seaters on our own, you know what I mean? It's all just building it and building really."

As their recent European tour testified, there are some places where Placebo have built it up about as big as can be. They've moved up the bill at festivals featuring the likes of Blur, Hole and Massive Attack, and it's now rare that they have to play in the sunshine. Does Steve think they' lose some of that Placebo magic playing at 4 o'clock in the afternoon? "Well, it isn't the same playing in broad daylight. I was just talking to 3D from Massive the other day at T in the Park in Scotland and that's one of the earliest we were one; I think it was like us and then, who was it? James, and somebody else and then Massive, and I was talking to Rob (3D) and he was goin' like, 'I can't do this! Massive can't play in the sunshine! I mean, how'm I meant to be miserable with the sun in my eyes?'" Steve erupts. " Its like, 'yeah, I know man, but you gotta do it sometimes.'"

What of their American tour, completed before Placebo visited Australia earlier in the year, was that tolerable? "The band were doin' fine, the band were getting' on fine. We had to keep away from some psycho American fans, cos they seem to lose it and get more depraved then anywhere else, which isn't surprising, because it's America, it's just when you see it first hand it's a bit scary. But apart from that, nah, we geld tight with it and kept it on a level. But I do remember flying from LA to New Zealand, and as soon as we hit New Zealand and

Australia, just the difference in people - we actually found ourselves coming off the plane into our hotels and meeting the record companies, and they're going 'hi mate, how are ya?"(Says Steve, trying out an Australasian accent). "And you're sort of going (starts yelling angrily) 'I'M FINE!! AND WHAT WE STILL.. ER.. you're all really mellow·' and your actually uptight, and you think 'fucking hell, is that what America's done to me? Shit!' So you actually find yourself on an Australian tour winding down and relaxin' a bit; it was like, 'Yeah! This is what its about, this is cool' But at the time obviously, you didn't actually see yourself getting a bit wound up from the American thing. You just go along with it and just fit in with it and just keep going', and I s'pose you must adapt and change to your environment, so you just don't see it really. I used to have theories about we could live in America, but definitely not now. It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.