With a thirteen year history that takes in five studio albums, ten million album sales, breakdowns, clean ups and the dizzy swell of global success, Placebo are set to return with their first new album since the release of Meds in 2006. The new album, titled Battle For The Sun, will be released on June 9, 2009 on Vagrant Records in the US and Canada.
Recorded over three months by producer Dave Bottrill (chosen by the band largely because of his work with Tool) in his Toronto studio and mixed in London by My Bloody Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails supremo Alan Moulder, Placebo's sixth album is a startling, alive, vital and boundary-vaulting record that marks a whole new era for a band that were in need of a change.
Upon completion of the Meds tour that took in stadium appearances in Chile, Mexico, Brazil, France and Germany, personal relationships within the band had become strained leading to an emotional split with Steve Hewitt, their drummer since 1996. Having made four albums that have sold over a million copies each (1998's Without You I'm Nothing, 2000's Black Market Music, 2003's Sleeping With Ghosts and Meds in 2006) and circled the globe together countless times, it was understandably an emotional split. Hewitt was replaced by 22-year old Californian Steve Forrest, who the band first spotted playing with one of their US support bands Evaline in 2006. "We were looking for somebody whose enthusiasm could rub off on us," explains Brian. "Someone who would experience all of these things that we'd already experienced for the first time and for their excitement to raise us up out of our jadedness and make us into kids again."
Musically refreshed by their new line-up, the band also set about changing their business surroundings. When their contract with Virgin Records expired, Placebo were reluctant to throw themselves back into the major label machine. They grasped the opportunity of complete artistic freedom by self-funding the recording of Battle for The Sun. They then took the brave and uncompromising step to secure licensing and distribution agreements for the record with a number of smaller labels in each territory - beginning with a distribution deal with PIAS for Europe - so as to own the record themselves.
"We've made a record about choosing life, about choosing to live, about stepping out of the darkness and into the light," explains Brian. "Not necessarily turning your back on the darkness because it's there, it's essential; it's a part of who you are, but more about the choice of standing in the sunlight instead."
"I'm very optimistic about the future," concludes Brian. "I'm in a positive frame of mind and a good head space. It's very exciting. There's a lot of life in the old dog just yet."
It's par for the course for Placebo in choosing the least likely track of the album for a single and making it the debut single. Chances are it sounds like little else on the record. They always do this. Every time.
Same went for "The Bitter End" "Because I Want You" and to some degree, although its the most fitting for its album, "Pure Morning"
The self-titled one is sort of up in the air b/c while "Bruise Pristine" was the first technical single, it was generally ignored and lacked promotion when it came out. It was re-released again in 97 after the album took off. "Come Home" is generally looked at as the first, which also sounds very different from much of the record and as still an odd choice for a first single.
I love this band. They were stellar guys when they played Projekt Rev in 07 (I mainly attended for them because, at the time, them playing in the US was a rarity.) and they've never let me down.