Tab Interview: Steve Hewitt
Love Amongst Ruin’s front man, and former drummer of Placebo Steve Hewitt talks to TABATHA LEGGETT.
Forget Robbie’s decision to rejoin Take That, there’s a far more modest comeback kid in town. Steve Hewitt, former drummer and songwriter of Placebo, is fronting a new rock band: Love Amongst Ruin. Having achieved over one million album sales in the UK and over ten million album sales worldwide with Placebo, Hewitt’s move was certainly courageous. His new band have a darker and more introspective feel, and their new album was described by Kerrang! as: ‘a collection of songs that deliver a harder rock kick than his former outfit (Placebo) albeit one tempered with bright melodies and a sinuous, Queens of the Stone Age – style groove.’ In Steve’s own words, they’re ‘a rock band; not heavy metal and certainly not emo.’
The Tab caught up with Steve Hewitt after his appearance at Sonisphere to chat about life post-Placebo.
Tabatha Leggett: When you left Placebo, did you plan on starting another band?
Steve Hewitt: Yes, I always imagined being in another band. I never thought the end of Placebo was the end of my music career. But, equally I never imagined myself being the lead singer of a band.
TL: How did you find the transition from drummer to lead singer?
SH: Bizarre, really bizarre. The new band started off as a really small project, and since then it’s just snowballed. I spent 20 years behind a drumkit, and I never imagined myself doing anything else. This was never meant to be. But then, life’s a funny thing. I’m still getting used to fronting the band; I’m still learning.
TL: How’s the reaction to Love Amongst Ruin been? Have you kept any Placebo fans?
SH: Of course. I sold 15 million records with Placebo, so I was bound to keep some fans. The reaction’s been very mixed. I’ve lost some fans, and kept others.
TL: What was Sonisphere like? Did you get the chance to see many other bands there?
SH: Sonisphere is a rock festival: traditional grunge rock. And it was our first festival together, so it was nerve-wracking. What struck me as really strange was that there were so many old bands there. I saw Pendulum, who were great. I also saw The Cult. To be honest, they looked fat and weird. It was like watching my dad sing and dance. I jut thought: turn it in, lads, you look silly.
TL: You’ve obviously had an extensive career, having played in bands like Placebo, K-Class, Breed and The Boo Radleys. What have been your personal highs and lows?
SH: I’ve been lucky in that my career has consisted mostly of highs. I’ve performed with great artists such as Robert Smith and David Bowie. I guess the lows would have to include gruelling 18 month tours with up to 8 months away from home.
TL: Did you always know you wanted to be a rock star?
SH: Yes, always. Since I was 11 I’ve known that I wanted to be a drummer in a rock band. I guess I was lucky to figure out my goal in life so young. I’ve got friends now who are in their mid 30s, and they don’t know what they want to do with their lives. I’ve always known.
TL: How did Love Amongst Ruin come together?
SH: After leaving Placebo, I was in the studio for a year and a half writing the album. Once I finished the record, I had to get a band together. I didn’t have the time or energy to audition people, so I hand-picked my band from the selection of excellent musicians that I know. And we’re a great mix of people. We have younger members like Steve Hove and Laurie Ross who are in their 20s, and then we’ve got older members who are in their 40s.
TL: How did you name your band?
SH: Love Amongst Ruin was the name of the album. We spent weeks trying to think of a name for the band, but couldn’t do it. In the end, my manager gave me a deadline, and I thought: fuck it let’s just call ourselves Love Amongst Ruin.
TL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
SH: Hopefully still together, on our third or fourth record. I want to bring music to the masses; make music that’s accessible. We’re heavier than Placebo, and I think there’s an audience for that.
TL: Musically, who inspires you?
SH: Robert Smith and Jimmy Hendrix. To be honest, I tend to make music in a vacuum. I think of a drumbeat or a lyric and take it from there. I don’t listen to a lot of modern music. Except Radiohead. I love Radiohead. They’re one of the best bands in the country. Just fantastic. And hugely underrated.
TL: You obviously attracted a lot of press attention when you left Placebo. Do you read your press and how does it affect you?
SH: I don’t read it. I stopped about 10 years ago, because it’s just so counterproductive. At the end of the day, a review is one person’s opinion, and we shouldn’t analyse stuff like that too much.
Talking to Steve was interesting. He spoke about his life in such an apathetic and nonchalant way that you wouldn’t guess how successful he’s been. Perhaps success isn’t important to him. It struck me that, for Steve, it’s all about the music. And as long as he’s making music, everything’s okay.
Love Amongst Ruin’s self titled album was released on 13th September.