Triple J, Rosie talks to Brian Molko, 15.06.2009

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Brian: I’m currently waking up very slowly

Presenter: it’s 11 AM Brian!

B: yeah, yeah.. it’s not a godly hour for a rock star!

P: yes, that’s exactly right. How is life for you at the moment, brian?

B: it’s hectic, it’s absolutely insane at the moment. It’s album release week, so it’s coming up from all directions.

P: congrats on the new baby, baby no 6, Battle for the sun. Are audience singing along to any of the new songs yet?

B: they are, yes, they are. You know how it goes, you do a few gigs, people film it on their mobiles, and then stick it up on youtube and people learn the songs in that way. It’s kinda good.

P: let’s talk about technology, I mean, you’re using technology in many ways at the moment, in fact, it seems that Steve, your drummer, is blogging. Why aren’t you, Brian, on your official website?

B: Oh, he’s from the different generation. (laughs) I remember the day before computers, you know. I remember the day when, you know, music came on vinyl, you know, that kinda thing. So, yeah, I’m old. he’s a young whipper-snapper, he’s techno-savvy.

P: but you burnt your rice today, is that true? You said that on twitter.

B: did I? I burnt my what today?

P: your rice.

B: okay, that’s kinda weird, let’s get this right, let’s get this straight, cause people are sending me emails about this. I don’t do anything that has the word ‘twit’ in it. Okay? So I don’t twitter. So, whoever is twittering under my name is an impostor.

P: there are a few fakes out there Brian.

B: ohhh, no, you’re kidding?

P: do you like rice?

B: I don’t mind that, I think it’s quite funny really, you know, I don’t actually… you know, I haven’t cooked rice in god knows how long.

P: neither have I.

B: it seems so much easier to just order It from the takeaway.

P: absolutely. Let’s get back to the album. You wrote a lot of the songs in Paris on the boat near the Eiffel tower. Are you living in Paris now?

B: no, no. in fact I wrote only two of the songs on the album in Paris. It’s true I was living on a riverboat. It was always one of my dreams to do that, so I did that for a little while. It was so bohemian and very romantic. But we’ve been doing some shows and some TV programs in Paris. I’m off too.. well, I leave my hotel room in 25 minutes and I fly to Finland for the festival. Yeah.

P: Paris is the city of love. Did you feel that there was a bit of love on the tracks you wrote in Paris?

B: most definitely. Yeah, yeah, most definitely. Absolutely.

P: what songs were these, Brian?

B: these were happy you’re gone and kings of medicine.

P: okay. What a beautiful CD. And you did enlist David Bottrill to produce the album who has 
worked on Tool and many other various amazing albums over the year. What was his brief, Brian?

B: well, um… we didn’t sorta give him a brief, really. What we did, we spend a lot of time working on the arrangements with him. So he flew over to London and hung out in our rehearsal room and we were playing a song, like this sort of thing we’d taken as far as we could and then we kind of deconstructed it and put it back together in a sort of more complex and sophisticated way, so he’s definitely responsible for the kind of structural complexity of the album.

P: can we talk about the backbone of arrangements? I love the arrangements on Never ending Why . I mean, can you talk about the backbones of the different tracks?

B: sure, sure, what’s you wanna know?

P: well, I love the percussion in never ending why.

B: okay. Well, you know, that was one of the tracks we kinda decided to use brass section on, you know, which is sort of new for us. I grew up listening to a lot of film music, you know , so it seems very obvious and natural for me to do that in a sort of aka Tina Turner review kinda style. So, you know, we kinda wanted to mix that with rock and as far as the percussion and drumming goes, you know, we’ve got this amazing Californian young whipper-snapper who’s just an animal behind the kit., so.. and his name is Steve Forrest.

P: how’s he settling in?

B: he’s good. It’s kinda like having your little brother in the band, you know. So we kind of .. we 
tease him and we play practical jokes on him and we try to freak him out as much as possible.

P: any initiations on tour on the road yet? To him?

B: we kinda convinced him for an entire day that his hotel room was haunted. We got keys and moved his furniture around and packed the suitcase, left messages on his phone and all that kinda stuff. He was really freaking out. But it’s just so easy, we couldn’t stop ourselves. There’s a few other things but that’s probably the longest one.

P: when did the penny drop for Steve that were no ghosts in his hotel room? What country was this hotel in?

B: this was in France and I kinda had to tell him at around midnight but we let him believe it for good eight hours. Poor boy went as white as a sheet, really. It was quite incredible.

P: so does he trust you again, Brian?

B: Of course.

P: he’s a man that ahs a quite a number of tattoos, does that mean that you might be getting one of those?

B: no, the wonderful thing about his ink is that it means that I never have to get any.

P: all right, so he’s done it all for you.

B: exactly.

P: has he taught you anything?

B: well, you know, he’s kind of .. you know the old thing is that you’re only as old as the way you feel? Well, you know when you’re konda as old as the drummer in your band, he kinda teaches you to be young again. To be less serious and kinda snap out of all of this a little bit and you know, to kinda lighten up a bit when you’re a bit too serious sometimes, you know. He’s intense, a bit of an intense guy.

P: maybe he’ll really get to twitter the real Brian Molko.

B: no, like I said, I never do anything that has the word ‘twit’ in it .

P: okay, fair enough, BFTS, is that a climate changing theme in that song?

B: no, no, I wish it was actually, I’m a bit of an environmentalist myself, but no, it’s more a bit sort of about fighting for change, and you know sometimes that means difficult decision making process, how it has to be done or sacrifices have to be made and it’s often a struggle to sort of become who you believe you should be, especially when you’re stuck somewhere. It’s kind of what the song is about.

P: what would be your favourite song on the album BFTS?

B: I really like Speak in tongues.

P: why is that?

B: cause it starts off sounding like cocktail hour at the lunatic asylum and …

P: do they have cocktail hour at the lunatic asylums?

B: in mine, they do. In my mind, in the ones that I invented (laughs) .

P: they need a hairdresser there for you as well , you have great hair.

B: absolutely. Yeah. And a steam-room. And a hot tub. And don’t think most lunatic asylums have it, anyway it starts off like a cocktail hours at the loony bin and sort of metamorphisizes into massive, sort of arena filling rock song, with a really positive message like, we can build a new tomorrow, today. I hope people will find it inspiring, you know.

P: a lot of your past albums seemed a little darker, you sounds very happy in this album and that’s quite inspiring. Is there a change in your life?

B: there’s nothing drastic, you know. When we make a record we usually what forms the characteristics of the new record is its predecessor in terms of what we do not want to do. And I think with a little bit of distance, myself and Stef felt that Meds , BTFS’s predecessor, was a very bleak record . it was extremely well executed and very powerful and very emotionally powerful but it was a bit..bleak. it didn’t really offer a listener a great deal of hope. And this time round we wanted to do something … so we reacted against that and we wanted to do something that was a bit more colourful, I think, and a bit more inspirational this time around.

P: it’s really a good thing considering different things happening around the world right now.

B: well, you know, we have a tendency to sort of make music in a vacuum really. It’s not really about politics or about the economy or anything it’s about. You know, personal politics, you know, politics of the small people, not really sort of … in a journey. More than anything.

P: would like to stick around for a couple of more minutes, I just wanna play FWIW and then I’m gonna ask you if you’re going to come to Australia.

B: okay.

P: from the new album BFTS, FWIW Placebo’s frontman Brian Molko joins me live from Paris. So what, would you say to your fans who listen to your album back to back and back again?

B: (laughs) Get a life! (laughs)

P: C’mon, they’re all listening now, they love you.

B: I couldn’t resist, I’m sorry. Thank you for listening to my personal raising of a madness, you know. Thank you for giving some kind of importance to my inner thoughts.

P: you played in a Buddhist temple in Cambodia last year, and you were the first band ever. How did that come about?

B: well, we went out to Cambodia to support a charity that we were very much involved in and it was called MTV Exit. It was to raise awareness and hope for the contribute stop human trafficking worldwide in all of its forms. At any time, as we’re speaking about it now, there’s about 2.5 million people being trafficked , being kidnapped, you know, beaten into submission and you know, sold for working brothels or for working sweatshots round the planet. It’s a 21st century, we’re supposed to be living in a sort of civilized, enlightened world and slavery is meant to be something in the past and it’s actually still around today. So we flew to Cambodia to raise awareness for MTV Exit and to meet people up the who’d been rescued from human trafficking itself. It was a really really humbling experience for us and of course, you know, to play in front of the 12th century Buddhist temple and to be the first band to do it – it’s not to be sniffed at either. So it was a very very incredible experience for us.

P: did you walk away a different man?

B: I think so. I mean, these kind of things take you out of yourself and make you realize how small you are, how much suffering there is. And that really, to a little bit of compassion and a little of kindness and just take a little bit of time and every single way of this connection and make it different.

P: you have a pretty full tour schedule till December this year.. then of course you’re playing Reading and the Leads festival this august. Are you coming to Australia?

B: yes, we should be coming in summer. I was getting confused…

P: we’re in winter now. Summer will be…

B: ..sort of January, I suppose

P: correct. This si good.

B: that’s what we’re planning to head over.

P: you wouldn’t be going on the stage of the Big day out, would you?

B: I’ve absolutely no idea.

P: have you actually learned to drive yet?

B: no.

P: why not?

B: well, driving kinda scares me. I’m gonna have to learn it eventually but it really scares me, you know. It’s a metal box and there’s a bunch of other metal boxes around you and you can’t rust these people. Do you know what I mean?

P: do you trust the person that drives you around?

B: yeah. (laughs)

P: and what music are you listening to at the moment?

B: this is an amazing kid from Brooklyn, has just put his record out, his name is Arms and he’s put the record out which is called ‘Kids of flame’. It sounds like Sonic Youth being produced by Soul Spector. It ‘s actually quite wonderful. And he plays everything, he plays all the instruments himself. You gotta check it out, it’s out of this world.

P: triple Js are having a massive countdown pretty soon of the hottest songs of all time. Is that one that springs to mind that you’ve always loved?

B: oh… let’s see… I’m trying to go all the way back to like my childhood. I don’t know.

P: it’s a hard question, isn’t it?

B: it’s a hard one when it springs on someone like that. I’d probably say “Hey that’s no way to say goodbye” by Leonard Cohen.

P: oh good choice. Hey Brian, it’s lovely talking to you tonight, we look forward to seeing you in the summer here in Australia.

B: thank you, I look forward to being there

P: have a great time in Paris today. Are you going to go out and have a croissant?

B: probably not, I have to be off in a minute and fly to Finland. I’ve been here for 5 days so I’ve had many of croissants.

P: just before you go, when you actually tour your live shows, do you take with you a full string section and the full band?

B: well, we’ve got a whole new band which includes as I’ve said a new drummer, a new guitarist and a violinist.

P: this is Fiona.

B: this is Fiona Brice, yes, who’s been responsible for the strings arrangements on the past 2 albums and we’ve managed to blackmail her into touring with us.

P: is it good having a girl in a band?

B: it’s fantastic! It balances our testosterone. And it makes the men wipe the seat after they sprinkle when they tinkle on the tourbus.

P: does she give you any eyeliner tubes?

B: no. I give her eyeliner though.

P: yeah, I bet you do.

B: you know, give me a break (laughs)

P: have a fantastic day, thank you so much for your time, let’s here your Bright Lights of the album. Tell us a little about this

B: well, this is the sound of Placebo trying to write a pop song. So, this is when we actually sit down and say ‘let’s write a pop song’. What comes out.

P: thanks Brian

B: alright, thank you very much

P: have a good flight to Finland

B: thank you, bye-bye