Triple J "Brian Molko", Mar'04

19 March 2004

P: Triple J Breakfast, we’re joined by Brian Molko, from Placebo... Brian, when we’re doing this interview, it’s the day of your Sydney concert on your tour, that you’re going around... It’s about 1:30 in the afternoon, where does this put you in the preparation for a gig night? Do you start thinking about the gig during the day, or is it just, you know, half an hour before the gig? What’s the sort of preparation on a gig day?

Brian: I don’t really start thinking about the gig until we actually get to sound check... You know, if  we’re touring around Europe or something, in a tour bus... then you know, we’ll spend most of the day sleeping. We’ll probably get up around 3 and start sound checking around 4. Erm, on a day like this, you know, I chuckled to myself as I was on the beach this morning, you know, sunning myself... and swimming around in God’s swimming pool and thinking about how miserable and rainy it was in London. You know, so that’s kind of how I’ve prepared today’s gig, very very relaxed, you know, getting up early and getting some rays.

P: Well, we’ve been playing English Summer Rain... it’s the single we’ve been playing at the moment for your tour. If you were going to write a song about an Australian weather condition, rather than English Summer Rain, what would you call the song?

Brian: Oh God, I don’t know… Erm, “Sand in the vaseline”… How’s that one?

P: Nice… So you said about the sound check, do you go through the same sort of thing each night, or do you do different things before the gig? Do you actually have a structure?

Brian: Well… you kind of… because by nature what we do is very chaotic, and nomadic and we’re quite schizophrenic people, you know, you kind of crave a bit of a structure. You know, and erm, so what we normally do is sound check maybe for about 45 minutes and try and get an early dinner… because you can’t eat too close to show time, otherwise you feel heavy and you can still taste your dinner while you’re jumping around and trying to rock, you know. And then usually start having a couple of beers about two hours before the show, play some banging hip hop tunes and just try and get the energy levels up… take a lot of vitamins. 

P: People are going in the backstage at Placebo and they’re seeing these bowlful’s of pills… and it’s vitamin B1 and B2…

Brian: Exactly, yeah.

P: I always wondered this, how much does.. ‘cos I do stand up comedy and obviously, it’s very reliant on, you know, the audience… In a rock show, can it really make a big difference, between the audience being a good audience or a bad audience?

Brian: Absolutely. You know, it’s kind of… it’s like sex, you know. It makes a big difference, you know, both…

P: If you’ve got an audience?!?

Brian: No, not if you’ve got an audience, no!. It’s like, you know, if somebody… if the person who you’re in bed with is making as much effort as you, you know, there’s nothing worse than a plank… You know, if you’ve made all that effort, all the drinks you’ve bought, you know, all the witticisms and charm you’ve put on, you know, kind of thing… there’s nothing worse than somebody that just lays there and similarly… you know and similarly with an audience, you know, you need… you need feedback from them, you need to have an exchange of energy. You know.. All good art, whether it’s painting, you know, or live music, you know, the artist takes a step towards the viewer or the audience… and they have to take a step towards them as well, for it to be a certain synergy.

P: And your show is a lot like sex as in it’s good if it goes on for an hour and a half, and if people clap enough you do an encore…

Brian: Exactly.

P: Why don’t we play a song… erm, you’ve brought… you’re gonna play some music for us, it’s stuff that’s, something that’s tickling your fancy at the moment… Why don’t you tell us what the first song is?

Brian: Well, you know, it’s… a lot of these tunes are kind of inspired by the weather down here, you know, so I’ve chosen some very sunny tunes… And erm… Well there’s a new band called The Zutons, that I like a lot and their tune “Pressure Point” is kind of rocking my stereo right now…

P: Yeah, it’s a great song… We’ve been playing it a lot on the j’s… You’re listening to Triple J

Part 2

P: You’re listening to Triple J, we’re with Brian Molko from Placebo... Now, I want to talk to you about your covers, if I could, because they’re… we’ve been playing a couple of them on the station recently because you’ve put out the album that you’ve done that had a few of the covers that you’ve done over the years, and stuff like that. When you’re choosing a cover, do you go songs that you think you could make a bit different, do you go for bands that you really like, songs that you really like? Is there some sort of process when you think about that?

Brian: Well there’s usually, you’ve usually decided in the back of your mind… You know, “One day we’re gonna cover this”, you know, for example one day we will end up covering “Total eclipse of the heart” by Bonnie Tyler, you know, that’s like an example of a total challenge, you know. Erm, so if usually you have a few ideas and they’re always there and by the time you get into the studio to do a b-side session, or you get asked to do a cover for a film or something, and then you go “well ok, let’s try that one… or let’s try that one” you know. Covers are done for fun, and so if you start working on them and they don’t work, you just kind of give it up… you know. Some you stay quite faithful to the original blueprint, ‘cos that’s like the only way that you can do it…

P: Do you worry about, say like when you’ve covering a band like The Pixies, do you worry, that you know, that a band like that has such a loyal following, that your people will be.. that people don’t sort of want those songs covered?

Brian: Well too bad, man!. You know, I mean sort of… if you get a bee in the bonnet about that, you know, I think that you should really get a life. You know, if people like Limp Bizkit can get away covering… doing all of these dodgy covers, you know, then we can do a pretty faithful rendition of Where is my mind? and if you don’t like it, you know, then don’t come to the show.

P: Are you fans of theirs?

Brian: Oh, they got me through college. Yeah… We’re doing some shows with them in Germany this year, so we’re very happy about that.

P: Is it one of those things that when you were a teenager with them getting through the thing…  and you sort of think, the idea of playing with a band that was so important to you back then… can you imagine… could you have even imagined that then?

Brian: Absolutely not. And we did some shows in Europe with Frank Black and the Catholics opening for us, and erm, in fact it’s immortalised in our live dvd that’s coming out, and we actually took to the stage with Frank Black to do Where is my mind?, so that’s like the biggest vindication possible… so you’re just kind of like “Screw you, I’m on stage with Frank Black!”. Yeah. It’s like, “I don’t care what you think about me man, you know, look at me now!”

P: Well, let’s play another song…

Brian: Sure

P: What’s the song that you’re going to play for us?

Brian: This is the new hip hop that’s come out, it’s by Dangermouse. And this track’s called “Get a pop life”.

P: You’re listening to Triple J… 

Part 3

P: We’re with Brian Molko from Placebo... Brian, that song we were talking about before, that song about The Pixies reformation, where do you see… how long could Placebo be together as a band?

Brian: Well, erm, I mean I’d like to do ten albums… and hope that you know, that the music remains vital for.. erm, we’ve done four so far, so for another six… at least. That’s kind of an ambition of mine. And then we’ll see after that… You know, so another six albums, that’s maybe for another twelve years or thirteen years, so we’ll see from there…

P: Do you see yourself as the sort of person… do you see yourself like getting to a stage and going “I’m not going to play music anymore” or do you see yourself as one of those people who could be like, erm, Tony Bennet and he’s still making music, you know, when he’s 80 years old?

Brian: I don’t know… I think a lot of it is gonna depend and rely on sort of how thin I’m able to stay… and erm, how long I can keep my hair!. You know. Those are two very important factors.

P: You wouldn’t do it with a big fat pot belly and like a pony tail only at the back and bald at the top?

Brian: No… I wouldn’t do it James Taylor style… Definitely not, no.

P: How fat would you have to be to stop? Do you have a weight limit or do you have like a pair of pants that you couldn’t get into, something like that?

Brian: I don’t know, I think… you know, if I have to stop wearing sort of girls boot cut jeans, and I have to start wearing men’s slacks… then I’ll worry about it. You know… and braces maybe. You know.

P: Is there also a sign with either a style of music that you play or something that you end up doing… is there a line? Do you say “okay, the minute we’re asked to play this sort of thing, we stop” or is there signs that you can look for?

Brian: Well, there’s something we always call the Zeppelin curtain, you know, we’re really huge Zeppelin fans… but you know, like erm, but the darkness across the Zeppelin curtain far too far… you know what I mean… you know, so we would never cross the curtain that much, you know… Every now and again, we sort of peek through the Zeppelin curtain, you know, but then take a few steps back… Erm, so you know, that’s kind of a line that we draw…