Former Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt launched his solo endeavor, Love Amongst Ruin, with a self-titled album in 2010, three years after regretfully departing the alternative rock band. The project’s impetus was to give him an outlet to channel his emotions after unexpectedly leaving Placebo, but now that Hewitt has come to terms with the situation, he’s not abandoning his new band. Instead, he’s forging ahead with sophomore album Lose Your Way (due June 30 on Ancient B), and Billboard has the exclusive premiere of the video for its track “Modern War Song,” an introspective quasi-ballad propelled by Hewitt’s soft voice and reverberating guitars.
Hewitt describes the song as “a cinematic war cry for help, robust with musical textures and melody. [It’s] full of tension and despair, but with a dreamlike quality to it and with a sad but hopefully poignant message.” Watch the track below:
He says the inspiration for the track came to him as an idea. “We seemed to be in an ever-growing time of wars which were involving the U.K. and the USA. Even though our soldiers were being sent to war, it seemed to me their role was more about trying to maintain peace rather than anything else,” he tells Billboard.
“Though these soldiers would have to engage in battle, it must have been, to a certain extent, a confusing situation for them, never really knowing what war they were fighting and why. I know we know now that it’s hard to see exactly what’s been achieved from all of this. So the inspiration is taken from a soldier’s point of view, looking and asking the politicians, ‘What are we here for, and why are we here?’ And ultimately, ‘Where are the said politicians to explain?’”
The video treatment, which Hewitt wrote, focuses on a soldier smoking, drinking tea spiked with liquor and ruminating over photos of a woman and child. The Eni Brandner-directed clip is intercut with scenes of troops in the field and close-ups of the soldier fidgeting with what seems to be anxiety. Hewitt explains that one of the messages he was trying to convey was “the invisible scars” military personnel have “that people don’t see and which don’t heal so fast.”
“It’s unbelievable these days that we don’t recognize the mental effects of war which a soldier must carry around with him or her for the rest of their lives, the things they must have seen and can’t erase,” observes Hewett. “Things we could not even imagine, never mind deal with, and after two world wars people seem to just think that they’ll be OK. And it’s even worse when they have been sent into a war which nobody seems to know the reason for, and then if they’re lucky enough to return, will that politician in a suit care about what they have been put through by their decisions?”
Hewitt reteamed with Brandner — who handled the video for the album’s title track — since he found it easy to communicate “visual artistic ideas with her.”
“We are very much on the same page, and this allows us to be very creative,” he says. “Even though I came up with the concept for the ‘Modern War Song’ video, I knew that I could look forward to Eni’s translation of my idea and at the same time allow her to add and expand the idea and make it her own. Creative heaven, man.”