Rock Magazine "Brian Molko interview", Dec'05

During the 3 next months, ROCK MAG is gonna disclose the progress of the Fifth Placebo album destined for February 2006. For this first meeting, Brian Molko called us from London. Stefan Osdal and Steve Hewitt will do the same on December and January.

The last time we spoke together, in June 2004, you said you’ve just begun the composing of your 5th album. What has happened then?
Many things. We started writing near Cannes in France, then, we wrote the major part of the album in 6 weeks, but it was last year and of course, it has evolved. Ideas go on! We met in London, almost 3 months ago, with Dimitri Tikovoi whom we worked on « Runninig up that Hill » and « The Ballad of Melody Nelson » , which were on the cover album. We wanted to work with him for a long time. For some reasons: we were born the same day, the same year…

You’re also friend and you’ve worked with Trash Palace…
Yes. And we wanted to work with someone of our generation, we didn’t want to work with someone that could have been our father, like many famous producers with whom our label tried to make us work with. We thought that it would be more interesting to work with someone of our age. When we began this album, no one was more than 35! The atmosphere was different and i think it’s one of the reasons that made things move. The recording took 8 weeks, ans that’s very quick for us.

Were your previous album recording on a longuer period?
Yes, for example, for Black Market Music, it took 9 months! (laughs) So, yes, it’s really differrent. For this new album, the process was immediate. We went to the studio with electronic ideas, with hip hop influences, but what was finally recorded is completely different! I dunno what happenned, but we immediately started with simplicity… Instead of doing something very cerebral, we did something instantaneous. A return to Placebo’s roots.

On your official website, Dimitri said he tried to «put danger in your music». To remake a «first album»…
Yes, that’s right, and we followed this way. What I find interesting on that album is that it is really immediate. It’s the songs themselves, the writing that shines, more than « gimmicks » or things like that. The majority of songs were made with just drums, bass, two guitars and a piano. That leaves lots of room for writing.

With what Dimitri said, i thought you’ll go in a more experimentale way like «English Summer Rain» or «Something Rotten». Finally, it won’t be like that…
No, the major part of the album is more like «The Bitter End» or like some songs of the first album.

To come back to Dimitri, isn’t it hard to work with a friend as a producer?
Yes, it it! We had an argument the first week, the kind of « Why do you treat me this way? I’m your friend! » But after the first week, it became very easy. Since the clash was ended, we take the roles established between producer and atrists, then it become really easy becuse no one is afraid of hurt the ego of the other. We know each other rather well and finally, we didn’t stop making jokes with each other. It creates an atmosphere of camaraderie… Very democratic! And i think it has also contribuated to the speed of this recording. We’re all going to meet (on the 21st October) before beginning the sound mixingon Monday. We’re gonna mix with Flood, that worked with Depech Mode on Violator, or also with the Smashing Pumpkins and PJ Harvey, artists we adore and influences us.

What are the Cds you listened to during the composing and the recording of this album?
Things like Anthony and The Johnsons or others that are not really rock’n roll. But music we listen to during the composing of an album has no influence on what we do. We carry on trying to make albums staying in our bubble, to make the purest and the more instinctive music.

So, the recording is ended?
Yes, for the moment we have about 15 songs, but we’re still in studio, adjusting some little details and trying ideas that could be B-sides. We never know what’s gonna happen, because Pure Mornig and even Twenty Years were thought to be B-sides so… And i think we are going to try new ideas during the sound mixing.

It never ends??
Yes, why, should it end? (laughs)

This album has been entirely recording in London, is it important to record near your home?
Yes, since « Without You I’m Nothing » we’ve always record in London. The town and the urban life are very important for us. And we’re in our element, it’s easier!

On the official website, you said it was hard for you to write lyrics again. How did it come finally?
I think that i’m in a period of changes, of transformations with lyrics, i didn’t want to repeat the same things and maybe i was in a position of comfort. It’s with Dimitri that i manages to break this situation, rediscover something, a danger or an anger, but something fresh, something that is not a cliché, that is not an inferior version of the angst and the frustration that existed on our firsts albums. When you grow old, it becomes harder, i think, to write lyrics… I still speak about addiction and confusion, but differently, i hope.

How does the wrinting of one of your songs happen? What do you begin with?
There’re no rules in fact. We try to stay very open. When it’s me that make the song, I can begin with a voice melody, when it’s Stefan, it more with a guitar, and when it’s Steve, it’s with drums. We can also begin with a piano line that Stef or me find accidentally, It’s often accidental.

Bill Lloyd and Xavior Roide came with you on the last tour, did they take part in this album or are you still a trio in studio?
No, it’s still a trio. The creative triangle of Steve, Stefan and Brian. But there’re 2 duets on that album. There’re 2 collaborations with americans singers, but it’s all I can say for the moment. Mystery must be keep! (laugh)

Could it be with Queen Of the Stone Age? Or with PJ Harvey, with whom you say you wanted to work with?
No! (laughs) But you’ll be surpised, i think!

By speaking about duets, i’ve recently listened to Pink Water that you made with Indochine on their new album, i liked it…
Thank you. It’s a song i’m proud of. I wrote it in my hotel room in Bangkok, when i spent time in Thailand.

Are you going to do things with Indochine on your Tour… A live duet for the 666 that organises Indochine for example?
No idea! We did that song for us, for our own pleasure, because we adore each other and to have the opportunity to work together. Many people have asked us to know if we were going to work together. We just had to find the good context, the reason to do it, and there was this song. We didn’t want to please the others, but we wented to please us!

Are there any provided concerts?
There’s a concert in Bangkok for the moment, a festival with the Whites Stripes… We’ll probably perform 1 or 2 news songs!