CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF PRINT ISSUE #8, WHICH FEATURES THIS INTERVIEW WITH STEVE HEWITT OF PLACEBO IN ITS ENTIRETY!
WITH MODERN ROCK GODS LIKE ROBERT SMITH, MICHAEL STIPE, AND DAVID BOWIE COUNTING THEMSELVES AS FANS, PLACEBO SHOULD HAVE NO PROBLEM WINNING OVER THE WORLD. YET FOR SOME REASON, THE EUROPEAN-BASED BAND REMAINS ONE OF AMERICAíS BEST-KEPT SECRETS. THEYíVE ALREADY CEMENTED THEIR LEGEND WITH TEN YEARS WORTH OF ALBUMS, INCLUDING BLACK MARKET MUSIC, SLEEPING WITH GHOSTS, AND WITHOUT YOU IíM NOTHING. AND THIS YEAR BRINGS US THE EAGERLY ANTICIPATED MASTERPIECE MEDS. SURELY A BAND THIS GOOD CANNOT BE KEPT FROM AMERICAN EARS ANY LONGER, SO NIGHT WATCHMAN PLACED AN OVERSEAS CALL TO DRUMMER STEVE HEWITT.
Night Watchman: I was just recently turned on to your music this year. Iím wondering why people in America arenít going crazy for your music, and why Placebo isnít a household name yet.
Steve Hewitt: Ummm... you tell me, man. I really donít know. Weíve tried over the years. Weíve been going for ten years and done extensive tours of America, but it just doesnít... I donít know. We have a cult following. We manage 2,000 to 3,000 people a night, but it doesnít get any bigger than that.
NW: It seems like the band is huge almost everywhere else though.
SH: Yeah. South Americaís great, and the rest of the world is fantastic. Itís ever growing. Over the last couple of years it seems to have gotten worse for us. Blame it on Coldplay.
NW: I was reading a little about how producers Dimitri Tikovoi and Flood wanted to really strip the new album down and take the band back to the basics. What did that mean for you and how you approached the album?
SH: Yeah, thatís true. I suppose it meant more interaction compared to the last record, which was really recorded in snippets and pieced together in Pro Tools, which isnít really the way we work. Weíre really much more of a live band. It was kind of a blessing in disguise, really. It was the perfect way to work for me. This record was all very, very live. We ditched a lot of keyboards for more guitars and just tried to push the songs to the forefront a little more. We stripped down all the thrills and the gimmicks and the unnecessary layering, and we just kept it quite basic. But it ended up much more powerful, really. It also becomes easier to mix. (laughs) You can get much more space around the tracks, which is why it sounds so big, I think.
NW: Did you feel that you had been overproduced on the last few albums?
SH: No. I just think it was part of natural directions that you try and push your music in, I suppose in the name of experimentation. I think it just took someone like Dimitri. Heís a friend of the band, weíve known him for seven or eight years. Even though heís close to us, heís still sort of outside. He can see where we actually are at that point, whereas we probably wouldnít see or know where we are musically. He can just see where weíve been, so itís perfect for him to come into the fold and say, "Lets do this now because youíve been there and done that. Youíve pushed it as far as you can, so itís best to go in another direction." It was good in that respect.
NW: Placebo has been together for ten years now. What do you bring to the band to try to keep it fresh and make each album its own entity?
SH: I donít know. Weíve been together so long. Itís like a family these days-- a very dysfunctional one, but a family all the same. Weíre friends, we see each other more than we see anybody else. But I think itís just wanting to be a band and remain vital and not repeat yourself, so thatís the constant challenge. But I think once you get established to a certain extent, then you can start taking it out there a little bit, which we try to do. But itís just a case of trial and error, really.
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