When you’re bouncing back, you live for the next ricochet. Having poured all of his confusion and frustration over being removed unexpectedly from the drum stool of Placebo in 2007 into the eponymous 2010 debut album of his own project, Love Amongst Ruin, Steve Hewitt ended the promotional tour full of creative fire.
He follows up with his sophomore release, Lose Your Way, out June 30 on Ancient B. Lose Your Way is an album from an artist over the hump; head high to the future and all engines gunning. The title track is a dark, confident slab of rock noir at its finest (“I can’t believe you killed the word of beauty,” Steve wails like a suave rock Dave Gahan), “Menace Ballad” brings a swarm of psychedelic intrigue to a track that will win over fans of experimental post-rock and “Modern War Song” takes an ethereal, ominous overview of Western imperialism that builds to a cataclysmic climax. It’s an album that embraces finely wrought atmospheres and artfully coiled emotion on the lush Cure melancholy and loss of “Oh God”, “Watch Myself” and “Paper Tigers”– it’ll be no surprise to find The Cure’s Perry Bamonte on live bass duties come the tour.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Hewitt to discuss the effort. This is what he told us.
When did you begin writing the material for Lose Your Way?
I started writing songs for Lose Your Way in 2011/2012. We had finished touring the first album so to me it’s just an automatic thing to get started on the next ideas for what would become the next album.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
I think the hardest song was “Menace Ballad.” I struggled to find the vocal melody for a long time yet without that part it could never make sense as a piece of music.
It was probably the only time I required help and as it turned out I had a friend in Bath, where we were recording, called Nick Walker. He’s a great singer and writer and because he was around I wasted no time in asking him if he could help give me direction with the troublesome vocal melody. Nick took away a ruff of the track and spent an evening just him and a bottle of red, next day he gave me a red tainted ruff recording of a vocal melody which I took and never moved from.
When Nick heard the finished version of “Menace Ballad,” he said “I didn’t think you would actually use the whole thing.” But it was perfect and it’s now an ode to Nick Walker. He’s a good friend with a band from Bath called The Heavy who he’s also helped out. The Heavy are great guys and I believe are doing well in the States. I’m sure you’ve heard of them.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
I don’t know really, all the songs except “Menace Ballad” with the vocal melody were pretty much in good shape as far as arrangements were concerned. But I suppose, even though “Lose Your Way” was there with all the parts, that was the one which became the most different and expanded from its initial demo.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
This time there were no guests. I would have liked there to be, but as we got deeper into the sessions obviously it was the last things on our minds.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
Dan Austin produced the record. He is a long time fiend of Paul Corkett (the best engineer in the world), and it was Paul who suggested we do one track just to see how things might work out. So I agreed to try it, and we went for “Lose Your Way.”
As soon as we started, myself, Donald Ross Skinner and Dan hit a creative flow to the point of extreme proportions. It was so immediate, we just had so many ideas which we all agreed on all the time, it was extraordinary!
We spent three days on the track which included tracking the already written part to adding new ideas, new arrangements which all reshaped how the vocals and lyrics would fall. So I was re-writing on the spot brand new choruses and immediately recording them whilst working out the melody. Very exciting stuff.
Dan had been working with Gil Norton as a team for a while. Gil is famous for many great records from The Pixies, Foo Fighters, etc. and Dan already had his own CV of success, but I do believe he will be a huge name for music in the future. His presence in the studio and how quick and accurate he works is something else. He’s a massive music fan and he continues to explore the constant movement of new music. Check him out!
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
I wouldn’t say concept. I would never make a concept album… but I would say the main thing that the first record allowed me to do was channel all that I was feeling after being ousted from Placebo. That record was the perfect platform to enable me to do that.
So approaching writing for the second record, I was excited to be able to broach other subjects to write about which in turn are probably more positive yet still asking yourself questions. I think the album is more of a soundscape and there are many different situations to it rather than having any kind of constant.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
No we haven’t played any of these songs live yet, but the thought of doing so is an exciting prospect. I really just want to gauge peoples reaction to the record first and then see if it would be possible for us to then go out and perform live. I’m just starting to get the live band together so hopefully…
(Visit Love Amongst Ruin here: http://loveamongstruin.com/.)