BOYZ "The Placebo Efect", Apr'06


With their androgynous frontman, tales of debauchery and songs of secual ambiguity, Placebo set themselves apart from your average modern-day rock band from day one. A decade into their career and with a new album, Meds, on the way, frontman Brian Molko talks to Lou Durham about fame, flamboyancy and fatherhood... 

- So, five albums in - do you think this is your best yet? 

- Yes, I do 

- Do you always feel like that when you release an album? 

- Usually, yeah. I think they've been improving over the years. I mean, everyone's got their favourites, but I do think they have been improving. 

- Do you listen back to your earlier albums much? 

- No, never. It's just too painful, like going back and reading teenage poetry. The thing you've got to understand is that the artist's relationship with their own work is usually quite skewed. When they look back on their past output they usually see mistakes and naivete, as opposed to a fan looking back retrospectively and remembering the special moment in their lives when they heard these songs. 

- Was it a conscious decision to make this album more accessible? 

- well, actually, I think this is probably our darkest, most tortured record. But I think there's a freshness and an immediacy and a directness about it sonically that probably makes it a bit more accessible. I think in the past we've kind of been wilfully obscured or purposefully oblique in our approach, and now we've stripped everything down and returned to the core or the essence of this band, which is a tight, urgent rock band. 

- Did you ever think the band would get as big as it is? 

- No, I never thought it wouldgo beyond cult status. For me, the pinnacle of success was to play Brixton Academy, and I think I would have been satisfied with that. 

- Do you ever wish you could go back to the days when you had that kind of aspiration? 

- No, it's good where we are because you get a chance to touch more people's lives and you're allowed to keep going, and that's the best thing. When it's the only thing that you know you can do very, very well it becomes extremely precious to you. Myself and Steve, we're virtually unemployable, we're not very computer-literate, so we have to make this work! And for as long as possible! 

- Do you ever worry about any accusations of selling out or becoming too populist? 

- No, I really don't, because I've bever compromised my artistic integrity to get anywhere. Throughout our career we've made music in a vacuum, unaware of trends, which is why I think we've survived. 

- The music press often seems to attack you on quite a personal level. Does that kind of thing affects you? 

- It used to, but I just don't bother reading it now. I think I'm pretty much an easy target. I also had a very, very big mouth in the early days. It's my own fault really (laughs), I'm trying to do as little talking as possible now. 

- People love a bit of controversy though. 

- Yeah, but there's nothing particularly controversial about me. 

- Do you think fame has changed you at all? 

- It made me intensely more private, adn definitely much more of a recluse. 

- It must be hard to be private and in the spotlight at the same time. 

- You know, I feel a little bit like that terrible band Shampoo. They go to Japan and they're rock stars, they come back to Plumstead or whatever and they can just go to the shop and buy a pint of milk. There are very defined limited for me. 

- So you don't get hassle from people on the streets? 

- Not in London, I take the Tube. I really don't think I get recognised, which suits me fine. 

- Would you dress as flamboyantly as you do if you weren't in a rock band? 

- I think I'd have to find another outlet for it. It might have manifested itself in a more kitsch way. Perhaps I would have been more of a drag queen. I was able to create my own look in a rock band, and that felt like a lot of fun. 

- Have you ever received any abuse for the way you look? 

- Oh, in the early days, yeah. In places like Middlesbrough, guys in the front row wearing shirts that obviously their mothers had pressed for them and screaming abuse at you and you just think, "Why have you bothered to buy a ticket to the show?" (laughs). But hell, I think that definitely comes with the territory. 

- Do you have a comeback to that? 

- You think to yourself, "Is that the best you can do?" And some times you say it. 

- And try not to get a bottle thrown at you. 

- Yeah, exactly. 

- So how did you get Michael Stipe involved in the track 'Broken Promises'? 

- Micheal's been a friend of ours since '98, and he's somebody whose work we admire. when it came to thinking about who to perform this song with, we bumped into Michael and it occured to us that this duet about adultery would have much more gravitas and so much more impact if it was two men with somewhat fluid sexuality. 

- Did your record company have any concerns, or do they give you a free rein? 

- None whatsoever, they were excited about having such a big star on the record. I think we've been through the dark period and we've come out the other side and things seems to be swinging in our favour now. 

- Are you in a relationship at the moment? 

- I have a kid, he's six month old. 

- How does it feel to be a father? 

- My life has never been filled with so much unconditional love. It's absolutely beautiful. 

- Do you feel the need to calm things down a bit now? 

- Obviously when such a life-changing event happens to you, you become concerned about being around a lot longer, you want to see your kids grow up. 

- Do you feel you have to set a responsible example? 

- Absolutely. It's the only time in my life where I would ever feel that way. 

- So are you now in a commited heterosexual relationship? 

- Well, let's put it this way, bisexual people have children, too! (laughs). But I think we've been gossipy enough for now, don't you?