Love Amongst Ruin released their brilliant second album “LOSE YOUR WAY” in June, it received 9/10 from XS Noize. Mark Millar recently caught up with front man and former Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt for a chat.
Hi Steve, what have you been up to recently?
Steve Hewitt: I’ve been at my home studio doing loads of production working with a female songwriter called DéDé who’s with the same publisher, I’ve been asked to write and produce for her, as well as working on other peoples stuff.
You must be pleased with the positive reaction that the new album is getting.
Steve Hewitt: It’s been amazing, I’m really chuffed it’s been quite overwhelming, especially in America, it’s gone off the hook there. We had a number one in Germany; all the reviews have been superb. It’s been a long time coming, I sort of became the British Dave Grohl for a while working with everybody else (laughs).
Is that why there were five years between this album and your debut album?
Steve Hewitt: Yeah, you get it done and then other work comes in. I worked with Six By Seven for a year. Time is just flying in and before I knew it three years had passed and I thought “Shit! I better get this out.” Since I left Placebo it’s nice to be versatile and have the freedom to go off and do other things and have a musical career, I really enjoy it. It’s nice to work with different styles of music and different people. It’s quite addictive I suppose.
How did the experience of recording ‘Lose Your Way’ differ from recording your debut album?
Steve Hewitt: We did them both in the same studio at Moles in Bath, obviously doing the first record felt like quite a steep mountain to climb seeing if I could do it on my own. It was obviously a cathartic thing; I had to get a lot of shit off my chest. The second album was different because I was much more confident. I taught myself more lessons and I knew what I was doing, it felt much easier I was more confident, the songs were better as well.
I broke it down so it was just Donald Ross Skinner, Dan Austin and I. I didn’t take a whole band in it was just ourselves, we kept it quite minimal. That way there are fewer people to make decisions, it becomes a quicker process, and enjoyable. Working with Dan was a massive eye-opener because he works really quickly, there’s not much time to hang around which keeps the momentum.
So it definitely wasn’t the difficult second album?
Steve Hewitt: Not at all, if anything it was the complete opposite, it felt like it was meant to be, it felt easy and it felt right. I love being in the studio anyway, it felt very comfortable there. It’s an enjoyable experience the more we can get in and sculpt an album. I think if you’re in the studio and your struggling, you shouldn’t be in there you should come out and rethink, it all seemed to flow really well.
You released an acoustic version of your debut album; do you think you will do the same with this one?
Steve Hewitt: Possibly, I hadn’t really thought about it actually. We did the acoustic version of my debut in a day in a studio in Sussex, it was a nice exercise, but yeah it might be good. Those things come about when you’re doing radio sessions and you start breaking the songs down to acoustics so you can see how they work. It would be nice to do something like that to keep the tradition going, we should look into it. I think a lot of the songs on this album would work that way.
‘Modern War Song’ is a great track on the album, I’m sure a lot of soldiers could relate to the song. It’s good to hear someone writing from that perspective.
Steve Hewitt: It’s more of a modern-day occurrence than ever before, it’s become part of everyone’s life. There is always a war somewhere, unfortunately. When you see discussions or reasons why these wars are happening, it’s always from the politician’s point of view. It’s a difficult job for the people who are on the front line; nobody seems to take their point of view. It seemed logical to me to write a song from a soldier’s point of view asking the politicians ‘What the fuck is going on?’ I find it quite revolting the way soldiers are treated when their service finishes after signing up and fighting for their country, it’s unbelievable.
When you were playing the drums in Placebo did you ever get the urge to be a frontman?
Steve Hewitt: I had been 25 years behind a drum kit when I was ejected, it was probably time to test myself and try something new, it was a challenge. I thought about writing songs and getting someone else to sing them or co-writing, I didn’t know whether I would find that easy trying to get my view across, I sort of fell into it.
Do you feel more comfortable now as a frontman?
Steve Hewitt: Yeah, I get really nervous before I go on stage; the idea of it makes me nervous but once I’m there I can deal with it. I’m just developing parts of my musical character. I never thought in a million years that I would be singing in a band. I’ll just get on with it and try and do the best job I can.
Did you know you could sing?
Steve Hewitt: Yes, I co-wrote some of the lyrics with Brian (Molko) in Placebo and I always did backing vocals, I have always had a good pitch and musical ear, but to put that into practice and front a rock band never crossed my mind, and here we are! (Laughs)
What was your earliest musical memory?
Steve Hewitt: Probably going back to the 70s growing up it was always AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin obviously. I’ve got an older brother Nick who is 4 years older and I was always going through his record collection. My family loved music, my dad was a massive Buddy Holly fan. I remember being in the back of the car going on caravan holidays, we would be listening to The Bee Gees, Elton John, ELO and The Beatles, stuff that was around all the time. I probably know the words to every Elton John and Bee Gees songs because of those times (laughs) it was always very much rock, then when I got older I crossed over to The Smiths and The Cure, I am a massive fan of The Cure.
Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?
Steve Hewitt: I have been lucky enough to get my wish list; I’ve worked with Robert Smith, Michael Stipe, Frank Black and David Bowie. I would like to work with Tom Waits, I am a massive fan of his, I would love to meet him I think he is an amazing musician. I have toured with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds it would be great to do something with Nick. I think some of the earlier Bad Seeds records are some of the best ever, they could be phenomenal.
You have been a few bands over the years, has there been a moment that stands out?
Steve Hewitt: Probably when I was in K-Klass back in the day, I was doing programming for them and playing congas live at the Hacienda on New Year’s Eve 1989 going into 1990 and the place was going off! It was probably the last greatest movement in music that dance period when Ecstasy came in, at the same time I was in The Boo Radleys and I was in K-Klass, you couldn’t get 2 polar opposites (laughs). I was in a shoegazing band in Liverpool and in a dance band in Manchester, fucking mental! You could say I was a musical prostitute (laughs) that New Year’s Eve was just off the scale, I haven’t seen anything like that drug-fuelled madness since.
You spend a lot of time producing other bands do you get the same satisfaction as working on your own music?
Steve Hewitt: Absolutely! I have spent 25 years playing the drums and touring the world if I haven’t learned anything by now there’s something wrong, so it’s nice to work with up and coming artists along with already established artists. It’s nice to put my ideas and influences across. When you gel with someone it’s really satisfying, it feels like your keeping yourself contemporary at the same time. Music moves so quickly these days, there is no life to it at all, it’s so disposable, and you’ve got to keep moving with it. It’s nice to filter through your influences while learning from other artists.
What music are you enjoying at the moment?
The last good rock album was Royal Blood, I thought that sounded amazing, and a recent discovery is a band called LA Girls, I have heard a few tracks from them on 6 Music and they sound amazing, they are out there and quite spacey.
So what is next for Love Amongst Ruin?
We are going to be touring at the end of November; I have just got the band together with some top-class musicians who are great friends as well. I am really looking forward to taking the album out with a great bunch of lads who can really play. We are going to rehearse for the next few months and go out in November and start touring, we will be doing Europe than London, hopefully over to Ireland and then America in January-February.
The Lose Your Way Tour – Dates
24/11/15 – The Borderline, London, UK
26/11/15 – Rock Cafe, St. Pauli, Hamburg, Germany
27/11/15 – Kulturfabrik, Krefeld, Germany
29/11/15 – DAS BETT, Frankfurt, Germany
30/11/15 – Backstage München – Werk, Halle, Club, Werkstatt/Studio, Munich, Germany
02/12/15 – Chanel Zero, Ljubljana, Slovenia
03/12/15 – Vintage Industrial Bar, Zagreb, Croatia
04/12/15 – Lo Fi Club, Milan, Italy
07/12/15 – Privat Club, Berlin, Germany
09/12/15 – John Dee, Oslo, Norway
11/12/15 – BETA, Copenhagen, Denmark
13/12/15 – Underground Colognel, Germany