Chicago Music Guide "Interview with Brian Molko", Sep'07

by Alex Felten

Saturday September 1, the Projekt Revolution Tour presented by Linkin Park took to Tinley Park at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater. The lineup included Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Him and Placebo. I was fortunate enough to get backstage and have a sit-down with Placebo's Front man, Brian Molko. The humble, soft spoken Englishman welcomed me on to their bus and told me bit about what it has been like for the boys on their world tour and being first timers on an outdoor style tour like Projekt Revolution: backstage, the bands, the crowds and a whole lot of traveling.

CMG: How have you been enjoying the tour so far?

Molko: Look, we've been on the road for 18 months (lighting a Marlboro Lite). We've got two shows left of our world tour. So, We're eager to go home and take six months off.

CMG: Do you guys do a lot of these outdoor venue style tours?

Molko: We do a lot of festivals in Europe. This was our first, you know, this style of tour in the U.S. Coachella was our first [U.S. outdoor festival].

CMG: How do you like all the traveling involved in these kinds of tours?

Molko: I like arriving. (laughs) We have an 18 hour drive to Denver tonight, for example.

CMG: Do you get a chance, when you are off stage, to walk around in the crowds and see and hear the other bands?

Molko: Yeah, um, bits and pieces. Mindless Self Indulgence just started and I was hoping to go see them.

CMG: Yeah, me to.

Molko: Oh you too? Great.

CMG: So they [MSI] have been a highlight for you. Anyone else you've enjoyed watching or just hanging out back stage with?

Molko: Yeah, you know there's been a real sense of camaraderie back stage with this whole thing. You know, bands just cruising and mingling. It's been really good.

CMG: There's a lot of different music on this tour, some post hardcore, emo rock, electronic, even some hip hop jumping around in there. How do you feel Placebo fits into the mix here?

Molko: I'm not sure really. I know when we first started the tour the set was completely different. And we were quite, had a lot of bravado and you know, thought we could just waltz on in our French designer shirts and kind of play our particular brand of European melancholia, and we realized pretty damn quickly that Linkin Park and My Chem. fans, at 5 o'clock in the after noon, don't wish to be wooed. They want to be slapped across the face. So we had to change things around and find a bunch of songs that did exactly that. So we are show casing the more sort of punk side of our repertoire.

CMG: So have you been able to play your newer material or have you had to go back and bring out some of the earlier stuff?

Molko: We've had to go back and play 'Pure Morning' and 'Nancy Boy'. We haven't even rehearsed it or played it in three years. And then there's 'Pure Morning' which was like our biggest hit about ten years ago in the U.S. Then there's stuff from the new album, 'Taste in Men' which we kind of feel is our most Linkin Park-esque song. 'Every Me' which is well known in the U.S., it was on the Cruel Intentions thing. 'Running Up That Hill' which was a big hit digitally thanks to The O.C., went down like a lead balloon. So, it went down pretty damn quickly and as a single here. So we're not even playing the single here. That's fine. We're here to raise awareness about the band and not market a particular single. This is the end of the world tour for us. It's become about exposure in the U.S. Fair enough.

CMG: Have you had a chance to see Julien K? I know they're a bit more electronic.

Molko: Yeah. In fact today, you know, Brian, the singer was asked to be best man in his brother's wedding. So Chester from Linkin Park is doing the whole Julien K set. Yeah, he's been doing like the last song [of the set] and that's been good for us 'cause it pulls more people in.

CMG: With that in mind, do you feel that you guys have been getting a pretty good response from the crowds?

Molko: It's been pretty good considering, you know.

CMG: Did you see a difference when you started changing your line up a bit?

Molko: Absolutely, yeah. When we turned the set around there was a really big difference. It took about three or four gigs to find the right songs.

CMG: Yeah, it's a bit more 'hard-core' out here. It doesn't seem like your European fans as quite as aggressive.

Molko: You know what, I think you have to be flexible. If you're not flexible then, you know, people will just shut off after a while. It's good for a band as old as us and as successful as us, in different parts of the world, to still be faced with the challenge of being flexible and being faced with the challenge of playing songs that we wouldn't normally chose to play, because we feel we've moved on. So it's certainly challenging, is the best way to describe this whole experience for us.

CMG: Well it's good to still push your boundaries a bit and see what you can do.

Molko: Absolutely because when you've been in a band for ten years and when you achieve success and notoriety around the globe, you know, it's very easy to get sort of complacent. And this kind of situation pulls you out of your bravado and your complacency. You have to walk the line in a way. So for us, we've had to kind of simplify everything and make it as punk rock as possible. It's kind of refreshing as well.

CMG: Oh yeah. And you guys have been around longer than most of these bands, over ten years now, do you find that that has an impact on you as far as touring?

Molko: There are certain aspects of it that you can't get as easily excited about. There are certain
aspects that, since you've been faced with them so often, they become instantly more frustrating. But I think the magic of it is discovering new things the whole time through so, I think this has been a really, really, good way to end an 18 month world tour. It makes you reevaluate a great deal of things.

CMG: So on the whole, you would say that it's been a pretty good time on the road, playing and hanging out with all these different bands?

Molko: Yeah, yeah, it's been fun.

CMG: They are [the bands] kind of a different crowd.

Molko: Yeah and they're all good people and Linkin Park are very approachable and they even approach you. There's been no big egos or anything like that floating around. It's been like a summer camp kind of vibe, really. We have our little 'chill out' area set up outside [Placebo Gazebo] and it's become very important for us as well. It's been like our little hang out back stage where the bands and crews can come hang out. It's been a really good come together environment for people.

CMG: Well thanks a lot Brian. I know you wanna get out there and see MSI [Mindless Self Indulgence].

Molko: Yeah, and so do you. Let's catch that show.

I was able to catch Placebo's 5:00 performance and they rocked it. As mentioned, they only played a few of their new tracks including 'Meds' and 'Taste In Men' (Placebo's most Linkin Park-esque song). But they did bring it back to their punk roots with 'Pure Morning' and 'Nancy Boy'. And they did play Every Me (Cruel Intensions) with enough crowd participation to keep that particular single afloat for while longer.