When a drummer leaves a band, it's noticeable that he usually takes the beat and the soul of the music with him. This is exactly what happened when Steve Hewitt left Placebo. Gone were the black beats and dark rhythm that could either break or caress a heart. But not for long. Former drummer Steve, has now slipped into the frontman guise leading rock band Love Amongst Ruin. However, the concept of the band wasn't born with other musicians, but rather began as a solo project where Steve wrote all the music and lyrics himself without much input from others. The band's debut album chronicles the journey of someone reconciling with their anger and disillusion whilst attempting to move on past the feelings of betrayal and loneliness. With dark beats, aggressive guitars, and lyrics that read like personal journal notes, listening to the album is a one way road to the perilous darkness of the human soul. Songs like Away from Me, So Sad (Fade), and Alone shine in their ability to fully evoke the emotions of failed relationships and the emptiness it leaves behind along with the inevitable bruise of moving on without that presence in your life knowing that there's nothing you can do to change the situation that was imposed on you other than to carry on.
The album offers a myriad of emotions and styles, ending with the romantic ballad Love Song. Curiously enough, that was the first song written for the album and features Hewitt's daughter Emily as backup vocals. The music is relaxed, the piano rendering vibes that whatever bad situation he had befallen had been faced and overcome in the end, because as the band's name properly states, even amongst the ruins there was love all along. And that's what will always keep someone moving forward, no matter what hurdle is thrown at them.
It's inevitable to talk about your past as a drummer, and as such, I've always thought that the drummer is the soul of a band. I think that with your new band, Love Amongst Ruin we're able to fully see just how much of the sounds we heard in your works in the past belonged to you. This band has a very rock and roll essence to it with a dark twist. Do you think it'd still have that sound regardless or did your feelings about incidents that happened during that time frame helped nurture the sound and direction of the songs?
"Whatever I wrote it was certainly going to have a rock and roll essence, that's me, it's where I'm from. I've also, always, been on the 'dark side' but events in my life, just before I wrote this album, had thrown me into complete darkness. In some ways it's a wonder I didn't end up with one of those speed metal albums where the only word you understand is ROOOOAAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!"
The whole band, starting from the cd sleeves photography and music video has a very artistic feel to it, was that intentional or it just kind of worked out that way?
"The music came first and it was always going to be, and always will be, like that, it's my musical core - the sum of my influences and my own progression. The supporting artwork and videos had to emphasise that vibe. We spent weeks exchanging pictures and ideas by e-mail, cutting things out of magazines, looking through books at the library, surfing the internet and eventually coming up with some strong images that we thought represented the music, the band, the ethos of Love Amongst Ruin. I must say I'm very pleased with all of the visual aspects so far - and our new video is hands down the best yet."
You have some really excellent solid rock songs on the album. It's a very well done project that has been positively received by not just the press but even fans. Does that kind of lift the heavy burden you felt like you were carrying previously when things seemed bleak? Do you feel like the Phoenix metaphor applies to you?
"You say the nicest things. I'm very glad that you, and so many other people, believe in what we are doing. Our name Love Amongst Ruin is very much a statement on a par with the Phoenix metaphor. I'm very, very pleased that the album has been well received by the critics and the fans, it very gratifying. In many ways it does lift a burden, but, of course, that means the next album has to be even better because this is now the standard that we will be judged by. I'm sure that won't be a problem though, LAR is now a real band - and I can share the creative process with the other members now. I'm lucky enough to work with some brilliant and very talented people all of whom have different influences and passions, but we all meet up at this crossroads that is LAR and ROCK and that's where it gets really interesting."
I must say that I'm really impressed by the songs on the album, even on a vocals point of view because we were mostly used to seeing you in the background and now you're very much in front. What's the biggest challenge you had to initially face in this change of roles?
"Well, in addition to being at the back of the stage and behind a pretty big kit for so many years, I also play drums sitting very low behind the kit - so for years I only ever really saw the fans when I was going onto or coming off the stage. Suddenly, as the singer, they are all right there in front of you. Suddenly there are all these faces looking up at you - expecting to be entertained every night. Fortunately we are well up to the task and we keep winning them over."The band is now recording their second album. The approach this time will be different as there's a set formation with musicians Donald Ross Skinner on guitars and backup vocals, Keith York on drums, Laurie Ross the classically trained cellist, keyboardist, and also backup vocals, and Teresa Morini, the newest member of the formation playing bass, whilst Hewitt remains on lead vocals and guitar. With such an eclectic group of talented individuals, fans can only be assured that the end product will be nothing short of amazing. Catch them live throughout Europe this summer, as they're the response to any fan yearning for some bonafide rock. Love Amonst Ruin may just become Britain's next big export to swipe across the globe like a full force hurricane in all its fierce artistic beauty.