LA Gay "Meds for Pleasure, Meds for Pain", Oct'06

by Aaron Monty

Placebo’s out bassist, Stefan Olsdal, on their L.A. appearance—and his love of transvestites 

For over 10 years, Placebo has been selling out shows around the world with a dark blend of electronica and androgyny-rock. Their newest album, Meds, is a return to a more traditional, bare rock sound. At the start of a European leg of their world tour, lead singer Brian Molko took ill with tonsillitis, and Placebo had to reluctantly cancel a few tour dates. This gave us a chance to chat with their bassist Stefan Olsdal, who just happens to have a weakness for a great pair of heels. 

FRONTIERS: Do you know how many hits your MySpace page has? 

STEFAN OLSDAL: Oh, it’s a lot, yeah. It kind of took us by surprise, and a lot of it is from fans from the States. It’s actually one of the reasons we decided to come back and tour the States. We love the personalized messages from fans. It’s a phenomenon, that whole thing, and it’s amazing how it has just taken off. 

F: In the U.S., what cities do you like to play the most? 

S: We like playing in the Bible Belt, actually. When we played there the first time, it was actually kind of interesting because we felt we were going to get queer bashed. That was a period when we were wearing dresses, but I think there was so much repression there that the crowd had a chance to release it, you know? We had some amazing times there and met some pretty interesting people. But apart from that, we always have good gigs in Chicago and L.A. There are a lot of Mexicans in L.A. that come to our shows. 

F: Have you ever played the Greek before? 

S: No, not yet. We’re excited about it. 

F: Do you consider Placebo to be icons in the gay world? 

S: I don’t know. I guess that’s for the gay world to decide. We’ve never tried to hide anything. As far as the lyrics to our songs are concerned, they’re not gender- or sexuality-specific. We lower the topic of sexuality quite a lot, but also the topics of love, pain, and revenge. We’re not Scissor Sisters, though. The drummer is cute. 

F: Tell me about Hotel Persona. 

S: It’s my side project that I’m doing with another guy who just happens to be gay. We’ve done some remixes and one of them is of [a song by] She Wants Revenge, who are touring with us. And we also DJ quite a lot. 

F: Are you going to be DJing anywhere in the US? 

S: It’s pretty hectic, the schedule that we have. It’s a lot of traveling and a lot of shows and not a lot of days off, so I don’t know. If I have the energy, I’d like to. 

F: What kind of music are you playing when you DJ? 

S: Well, I did “Filthy Gorgeous,” Scissor Sisters. I did a lot of Depeche Mode remixes, P.J. Harvey, Soulwax, Vitalic. 

F: What song did Hotel Persona remix for She Wants Revenge? 

S: “Tear You Apart.” 

F: Is that your favorite She Wants Revenge song? 

S: Well, it was the one that they asked me to do, and I was like, cool, yeah, I like it. We’ve known Justin for a long time. We used to be on the same label in the U.K. He raps on one of our tracks on Black Market Music as well. We’ve been in touch and we’re friends, and that’s how this whole tour came about. 

F: What do you think of Bloc Party? 

S: They did a remix for us. Well, they wanted to so we let them. I think they’re cool, you know. Out of a lot of the bands that have come out lately, they are one of the better ones. Do you think he’s gay, the singer? 

F: What are you going to dress as for Halloween? 

S: It’s coming up, isn’t it? I’m going to go to this amazing transvestite shop in Boystown in Chicago and get some really good heels. There is a cross-dresser inside of me and he needs an outing as often as he can—a raving drag queen. I’ve got the legs for it.