Androgynous trio Placebo influenced many current artists
arriving fashionably late is still better than not attending at all. Just ask Placebo.
Since 1994 on, the London-based, androgynous alt-rock trio of Brian Molko, Stefan Olsdal and Steve Hewitt have been fist-pumping million-plus sellers all over the planet (Black Market Music 2000, Sleeping With Ghosts 2003), selling out sizable venues such as The Bercy and Wembley Arena. They’ve placed in the Top 10 in twenty different countries, appeared on movie soundtracks (Velvet Goldmine, Cruel Intentions), partnered up with David Bowie and the Cure’s Robert Smith, and been named as a key inspiration by AFI, Panic! At The Disco and My Chemical Romance, who recently congratulated the band for winning a U.K. Kerrang! Award.
"It makes us feel quite amazing actually," drummer Hewitt says of the adulation from the current chart-toppers. "It’s impressive. At the same time it has been a long time, so you lose a grip on how long you’ve been around so you don’t expect to be influencing bands like that. But when we think about it, we say, ‘It’s very possible, because we’ve been around forever.’"
And yet for all of their steady-growth triumphs, Placebo has been relatively off the radar in the U.S. and Canada thus far, retaining a small but fiercely loyal fan base. But with the 2006 release of their greatest hits compilation Once More With Feeling (both on CD and DVD) and a U.S. release of their latest European hit Meds, their cult-like status, after all this time, may be in for a change.
"The reasons why, I’m not sure. It could be our own doing," Hewitt says of the stateside attention. "We feel like we’ve run at the door and never made a dent, you know? America loves its homegrown talent as, so there’s tough competition as well. There is an American sound, which is very tough to penetrate, I feel…I would say that it used to be a band for outsiders, but not anymore. It’s gotten too big.
"Or maybe there are a hell of a lot more outsiders out there."