Placebo Continue to Push Boundaries With ‘Loud Like Love’
By Laura Ferreiro
For nearly two decades, Placebo have been pushing boundaries with their gender-bending personas and dark, satirical poetry. The polarizing British rockers have alienated many while captivating countless others (including famous fan David Bowie), and have amassed a passionate and loyal fanbase that has stuck by them as the band weathered many personal and professional challenges.
Now Placebo – frontman Brian Molko, bassist/guitarist Stefan Olsdal, and drummer Steven Forrest – are about to release their latest album, Loud Like Love, on September 17, and embark on their first U.S. tour in six years. Molko says they're eager to return to the States and are ready for a fresh start across the pond. "We were hoping to start again and start a new story in the U.S.," says the enigmatic singer.
Why did they stay away so long? "It was very difficult for many years to get the support of our previous major label [Virgin/EMI] in terms of promotion and commitment from them," Molko explains. "For a long time they didn't really know what to do with us. So we had to fund the tours ourselves and we lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because we weren't getting a lot of support. Often the gigs weren't very well-publicized. We tried really hard and put a lot of money into touring the United States, but it's hard to do without the support of a label."
Now that the band is on the Universal Music Enterprises label, things have changed for the better. "It's good to be back and have the support of our label helping us out to come out there and believe in us," he said. "We know that our fans haven't gone away. We're quite eager. We'd like to make up for a bit of lost time."
The new album offers the perfect jumping-off point for Placebo's Stateside return. "We think we've made our most honest, direct, and vulnerable album to date," Molko says. "It's a byproduct of becoming very comfortable with who we are. I think we spent a lot of the past 20 years experimenting and trying to stretch our sound in lots of different directions. Each album has a different tone to it. This album brings all of that together. It showcases what we do best, which is emotional music that's very human and fragile. It's not necessarily about bombast, although there are powerful moments. But it's very much about tenderness."
Loud Like Love tackles several ambitious themes, not the least of which is the conundrum technology presents, and whether virtual social networks bring people closer together or cause alienation and push us further apart. On the song, "Too Many Friends," Molko sings: "I’ve got too many friends, too many people/That I'll never meet/And I'll never be there for."
In the song, Molko explores his mixed feelings around technology and social media, and why he's wary of the addictive nature of social networking. "I'm quite fascinated with technology," he confesses. "I don't social network – I have a hard enough time keeping up with friends in the physical world. I'm also very aware of the addictive nature of the relationship and the infinite possibilities that present themselves. I'm asking [in the song], is that real or is that an illusion? As someone who's had addictions in the past, it may not be the healthiest thing for me to do. I see all the possibilities."