BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Greg Laswell’s Visceral Cover of Placebo’s ‘Without You I’m Nothing

Image by Chad Calhoun


For all their extravagant debauchery and blistering, metallic smack addiction fables, Placebo were often at their most viscerally piercing when Brian Molko dauntlessly threw open the window to the dark night of the soul lurking always beneath it all.

The same might be said for enigmatic LA troubadour Greg Laswell, who has at last closed the circle by recording a cover of the aforementioned’s gut-wrenching classic “Without You I’m Nothing,” which BlackBook premieres here. He strips it of any sonic ostentation, as if attempting to tame the emotional turbulence at its heart – and it ends up a more pensive, haunted meditation on the paralyzing loneliness, fear and isolation Molko had so deftly first articulated. Yet the new version’s soaring strings cannot help but send a decisive chill.



“I love songs that end with a repetitive statement,” explains Laswell of the dramatic recitation of the title that closes the track. “When a song settles on a line – because it seemingly can’t say anything better than what is being said – and it repeats over and over again, I’m in. And I thought, ‘I’m going to add a sad orchestra behind it and cry-sing.’”

The track is taken from Laswell’s up-and-coming album Covers 2, which features his stirring interpretations of songs by the likes of Depeche Mode, PJ Harvey and Peter Gabriel, as well. He’ll also launch a 20-date North American tour September 9, which includes a stop at NYC’s (le) Poisson Rouge October 1.

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