On the 21st September 2007 Steve Hewitt parted ways with Placebo, the band of which he’d been the drummer, co-songwriter and rock’n’roll lifeblood since 1996.
After two and a half years spent channelling his energy into a very personal album he now returns as the rejuvenated front man of Love Amongst Ruin, a multi-faceted hard rock band.
Recruiting his brother Nick on guitar and Donald Ross Skinner as co-producer and guitarist, LAR decamped to Bath Moles studio for two four-week recording sessions over the summer of 2008. Here they produced their self-titled debut album, featuring first single ‘Love Song’.
Love Amongst Ruin have also just announced a national tour for October / November.
GigJunkie recently caught up with Steve Hewitt to pick his brain about life after Placebo and the new musical vocation he's embarking on with Love Amongst Ruin.
GigJunkie: How does it feel to come back into the music circuit as a front man? Have you long desired to take on the role as lead vocalist?
Steve: I actually never had any aspirations to be a singer before this. My first love was always drumming. But, when I suddenly found myself out of Placebo I realised that there was actually an opportunity for me to do something different. It feels very different but at the same time very good. In one sense you are a lot more exposed in that role, but in another you can really build a bond with the audience. It's very exhilarating.
GigJunkie: What can you tell us about the recording process of ‘Love Song’?
Steve: When I decided that I was going to climb out of the brandy bottle and go back to music ‘Love Song’ was the first song I wrote. I don't play keyboards and I had never sung lead before so I 'obviously' wrote a piano ballad with four part harmony, just to see what I was capable of. When it was finished I asked my wife to go upstairs, into the studio, and listen to it. I couldn't even be in the room with her. She came down in tears so I took that as a good sign. Finally when we recorded it at Moles I asked my daughter Emily to help with the backing-vocals. It's very special to me that the song is for my wife and Emily sings on it as well.
GigJunkie: What is inspiring you to write new material?
Steve: Mostly betrayal and failed relationships. Most of the songs on this album deal with those issues. It was unavoidable and quite necessary, I needed to address those feelings and start the process of healing, recovery and eventually moving on.
GigJunkie: Other than writing/recording this album, what else did you get up to in these past few years during your time out from Placebo?
Steve: After 12 years of the continuous cycle of writing, recording, touring, repeat I took some time for myself and my family. I got married, had a baby and tried to catch up with people that I hadn't seen as much as I would like because of my previous schedule.
GigJunkie: Are you looking forward to the tour you’ve got scheduled for the upcoming months? Have you missed life on the road?
Steve: Enormously and for two major reasons. First and foremost I want to get these songs out in front of people. Secondly I want to introduce the band to the joys of life on the road, half this band have never toured like this before, I'm sure that we are going to have some great experiences.
GigJunkie: Tell us about the other members of Love Amongst Ruin. Did you handpick them yourself? What are their musical backgrounds and previous band experience?
Steve: Everyone in the band was either a friend of mine or recommended by a friend of mine. You could have spent months auditioning strangers and you wouldn't have found this many amazingly talented people. Keith York (drummer), I have known for many years, we used to teach drums together a long, long time ago. Most recently he has worked with Ladytron and The Orb. Donald Ross Skinner (guitar) I met at a Blurt gig some years ago. I recognized him immediately from his work with Julian Cope, we've been friends ever since. Steve Hove (guitar) was recommended by my sound engineer, Paul Corkett. Laurie Ross (keyboards & cello) worked at the pub opposite the studio that I recorded the album at, he was well known to lot of people in the studio. Teresa Morini (bass) came highly recommended by a mutual friend. Teresa, Hove & Laurie have all been in a fair few bands but this might be the first one you have heard of.
GigJunkie: Are you confident Keith York can match up to your drumming expertise?
Steve: He wouldn't be in the band if he couldn't.
GigJunkie: Did you find it difficult to form a new band from scratch after spending a decade in the same, tight knit band or was it a liberating, natural thing?
Steve: It was very liberating. I had the opportunity to just select the best possible people and I took full advantage of that.
GigJunkie: With Love Amongst Ruin you’ve doubled the amount of band members to Placebo. Is playing in a six piece more stimulating and versatile for you now?
Steve: Well Placebo was already touring as a four to six piece band for many years. But here in LAR having six people in the studio, especially six people of this calibre, is going to make for a very interesting time when we start recording the new album.
GigJunkie: What important lessons that you learnt from being in Placebo have you brought forth into your new band?
Steve: The biggest lesson that I learned (which I don't think the others understand to this day) is that it's all about the team. The band, the crew, the management structure, everyone has to pull together. It's a large scale collaborative effort, there are no stars, we are all in this together.
GigJunkie: What fears, concerns or challenges do you have surrounding this new musical vocation of yours?
Steve: Fewer and fewer every day. We've been on tour for a few days now and the audience reception is better every night, the band are tighter every night and we're all having a great time.
GigJunkie: Any final comments for your fans?
Steve: For the old fans, thanks for keeping the faith. For the new fans - 'welcome to the dark side'.
Tickets to see LOVE AMONGST RUIN are on sale NOW – click here to buy your tickets!
29th – The Joiners, Southampton
30th – The Relentless Garage, London
31st – The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton
2nd – The Cathouse, Glasgow
3rd – Clu8b Academy, Manchester
4th – The Cockpit 3, Leeds
5th – Rock City, Nottingham
7th – Stiff Kitten, Belfast
8th – Academy 2, Dublin