DailyMirror.co.uk "Well, Hello Duckies", Mar'06

March 3, 2006

Placebo are quack with a new album, but want fans to quit throwing ducks 

PLACEBO'S achievements in the 10 years since Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal met by chance at a London tube station have been considerable. With drummer Steve Hewitt, they have sold five million albums, got a greatest hits album under their belt, and have had duets with stars such as David Bowie, The Cure's Robert Smith and Marilyn Manson. 

They've survived drug binges and seen many of their peers fall by the wayside. But their new album Meds shows them at the top of their game, boasting dark and lusty rock with brooding atmospheres and melodic class. Sitting in their South London rehearsal space, Stefan and Brian ponder why they have lasted the course. 

"I'd like to think it's because, like Radiohead, we've always existed to the left of what's going on in the mainstream and operated on our planet," says 33-year-old Brian. 

"It's been a continual process of burning bridges," adds Stefan, 31. 

"We're pretty unemployable otherwise. This is all we have," says Brian. 

The new Placebo songs haven't lost their edge and feature S&M relationships, junkies overdosing and, on the title track, a psychopath forgetting to take their medication. Molko may be the prince of psychosexual intrigue, but two years ago, at his last UK performance, following a comment on a radio interview, he found himself showered with rubber ducks. 

"I have a collection now, but I'd like to ask, through The Ticket, that fans please stop throwing rubber ducks onstage," he says. 
"It can be very off-putting." 

A self confessed bisexual, Molko recently became a father. Although he prefers to keep details of his partner Helena Berg and five-month-old son Cody private, fatherhood has had a positive effect. 

"It's the most incredible thing that's ever happened to me," he admits. 

"I was at the birth and it was like being slapped in the face - by God probably. It was the most intense experience I could imagine. But there's only one line about it on the album, on the song One Of A Kind where it goes, 'Out of the womb and into the void'." 

"That's a positive little line. A cheery welcome to the world," laughs Stefan. 

Is monogamy something that Brian now values? 

"Well, it's an interesting concept," he smiles. 

"There's a gaping chasm between the morality and the biological reality." 

Writing songs for Meds - effectively the start of the second stage of Placebo's career - was a challenge. 

"I came to the realisation that a lot of my lyric writing in the past had been quite gimmicky and I didn't want to use gimmicks anymore," says Molko. 
"In the studio there was a little office space I could go to with some red wine and write the words. Steve and Stefan are quite happy to let me be the interpreter of a collective emotion. 

"The music is very dark so that we don’t have to be that way in our everyday lives. Our lives can be filled with laughter and be lighter because we put that all into our music. You have disturbing emotions within you, but if you can make something positive out of them, it's an important and valuable thing." 

Michael Stipe is the latest addition to Placebo's cast of famous collaborators. The American star recorded his part, for the adultery duet Broken Promise, when REM were in London to play Live8. 

"I think he was attracted to it because it was very different from anything REM have put out," admits Brian. 

"Michael was great. We thought he'd be in and out of the studio very quickly, but he hung around all day, making sure everything was just right." 
While admitting that the new album was often recorded in a party mood, Molko says his days of hard-core hedonism are in the past. 

"At college I had some acid trips where it really felt like I was going to die," he admits. 

"Trips that wouldn't stop. You'd find yourself hugging a tree in Greenwich Park - it's not something to be taken lightly." 

These days, he says complete sobriety is a goal he is working towards. 

"I just think when you have been anaesthetising yourself for over a decade it's probably time to experience something else," he says. 

"It's hard to be completely temperate on tour, but the older you get the more necessary it is to calm down. Your body speaks to you. And being a father too... Well, as the French say, you have to put a little water in your wine because you have something greater than you to live for." 

The single Because I Want You is out Monday. Meds is released on March 10.