Rock Mag "Meds Addiction", Mar'06

Translation by moondarri

It’s been four months since Rock Mag gave you the chance to learn more about Meds, Placebo’s fifth studio album. Now, at the time of the release, [13th March], Brian Molko, Stefan Olsdal and Steve Hewitt present their new album themselves… a pill to take without moderation.

Meds: 2’54

Brian – The original version of meds was very different to the one that was recorded. I wrote it during my time in India, like with Song to Say Goodbye. Meds talks about a loss of self, not recognising yourself. You feel lost, desperate and you don’t know what you’re thinking anymore, what you’re really feeling. It’s a very perturbing sensation, for me or anyone else, and I wanted to express that. I’m glad it’s the opening track of the album. It’s the first time that a Placebo record opens with an acoustic intro.

RM – An intro that sounds like Every You Every Me.

Bri – There’s a connection, yes. Stefan wrote Every You Every Me and I wrote Meds. The guy inspires me!

RM – VV from the Kills features on this piece. How did that come about?

Bri – I’ve known Jamie [Hotel] for 16 years. When we wrote Meds, we thought that a feminine voice would be a good idea. It was then that Dimitri suggested Alison. Her voice is a real turn-on, like Viagra. She’s from another world. When we sat down in the studio to hear her do the vocals, all the guys got hard-ons. The Kills are an incredible group. We’ve seen Jamie in a lot of bands, and we even played with some of them… but The Kills!… They’re a musical triumph. One of the best modern rock bands.

Stef – We went to see his trio, Scarfo, before we started Placebo. We were already hooked at the time.

Bri – We saw Jamie play, and Steve too, when he was in Breed.

Stef – That’s when we thought, we can do that too!

RM – What’s your favourite track from The Kills?

All – Fried My Little Brain!

Steve – I prefer The Kills to The White Stripes.

Bri – Yeah, me too.

Steve [to Bri] – Remember the squat? It was amazing…

Bri – Totally. With Steve, in Germany, we were in this squat, to see The Kills. At one point we looked at each other and said, "fuck! It’s like the Velvet [Underground]! It was incredible. As a musician, you go to a lot of concerts. You have a crtical eye and you’re often disappointed. This time, it was more like, "This is why we do rock music. This is the real stuff."

Steve – Pure rock.

Bri – Andy Warhol would be proud.

Infra – Red: 3’14

Bri – It’s a song about revenge. Many tracks on the album talk about alcohol and where it takes you when you drink it in excess. When you drink, you often feel very angry towards those who manipulated you in your life. Then you develop this desire of revenge that Infra-Red talks about. On this track I was very inspired by the early Bob Dylan. I imitate him in places. [Sings] "Theeeere’s gonna beeee an aaaaccideeeent!" [Laughs] It might be our second single.

Drag: 3’20

Bri – At one moment in my life I stopped writing on the guitar to try to improve my piano skills. I was always rather bad at it, but Drag was born that way. I had just fallen in love and wanted to write a song about feeling inferior to someone. When you fall in love, you see the other person above you. "I’ll always be in your shadow, you’re wonderful…" You think that the person you love is perfect and you just feel like a piece of shit on their shoe. It’s also the only Placebo track that mentions the Seine! The working title was ‘Across the Seine’.

Space Monkey: 3’15

Bri – Steve? I know how you feel about this one…

Steve – It’s a modern classic. [Laughs] Space Monkey was one of the things we wrote at the start of Sleeping With Ghosts. We decided to drop the guitars and become Kraftwerk. We had an electric drumkit and keyboards.

Bri – On Sleeping With Ghosts. We wanted to leave the guitars. For this album, it’s the opposite – fuck Kraftwerk, we’re going back to rock!

Steve – And so, we’d been working for about three days, and on the fourth, the management turns up and says, "so, what have you got?" We explained that we’d just started, we were still at the stage where we were just messing around and that they’d come too early. They asked us to play something anyway. So we did Space Monkey for them. At that point, they asked us what the hell we were doing. We answered that they shouldn’t have got here so fucking early.

Bri – In London, Dimitri was doing these bike sessions. One time, we took the bike from him, put it in the studio with a bin, the foot of a keyboard and some bits of metal. Steve played on it for three hours. At the end of it, we had our Space Monkey. The guy isn’t a drummer, he’s a cyclist! Afterwards, we added a real orchestra on it. They came to the studio, they played and we filmed them.

Follow the Cops Back Home: 4’39

Bri – This track was inspired by Iceland. The first time we went there, it was summer, during the 24 hours of sunshine. We calculated that 3% of the population came to our gig, despite it being a very small concert. Nobody lives out there. While we were driving through the countryside to see the volcanoes and the geysers, we didn’t see a single cop. It was so weird! You wonder what people do over there. And two weeks ago I met Sigur Ros. Those guys are 25 and already have got 7-year-old kids. Seeing that, I said, "are you crazy? Is there really so little to do in Iceland?" They replied "yeah, that’s why we get drunk and fuck." This trip to Iceland inspired us, made us think about what you do when you live in a place like Luxembourg or Iceland where there’s nothing to do. Most of the time, you just go looking for trouble. In the end, this track, like many others on the album, talks about alcohol. You get completely wasted in a bar, you fall on another guy who’s equally pissed, you decide he’s your new best friend and straight away, you go and do stupid things. This particular stupid thing is to follow the cops back home and rob their houses. After having listened to this, if some guy thinks it’s a good idea, then he deserves to get caught. It’s the stupidest thing you could do.

Post Blue: 3’11

Bri – It’s about alcohol. [Laughs] No, seriously, it’s a song about dependence, loss of self, how one person can be your sole reason for existence. They become your escape, the answer to all your questions. We’ve always written love songs, but our lyrics are more twisted. We talk about impossible love, complicated love, destructive love. A love as destructive as drugs.

Because I Want You: 3’22

Bri - It’s our first single in the UK. I’d rather not say anything about it. You just need to listen to the lyrics – everything’s explained in them.

Blind: 4’01

Bri - It’s a song for the chicks.

Stef – I wrote it four years ago, like Post Blue, when we were recording our covers. The guitars are tuned in the same way on both tracks. At the time, we didn’t want to turn them into B-sides. We kept the original recording for this album, but with the vocals re-worked and extra over-dub.

Pierrot the Clown: 4’21

Bri – It’s a song about destructive relationships, violent relationships. After having written it, I realised that it could well have been about family relations as well as between lovers. A lot of songs – mainly Country – talk about women being hit by their husbands. In Pierrot the Clown, the target of the violence is a man. A vulnerable man, trapped in a violent and destructive relationship. The tile of the track stems from my obsession with clowns and a passion for the circus. At college, I’d thought about signing up to a school for clowns and becoming one…

Stef – [Teasingly] It’s what you do already!

Bri – [Laughs] But fortunately for everyone, I was accepted at university. When I was a kid, I’d go to the circus. It was a party, but one person, Pierrot, would always be sad. I always felt compassion for him. It’s also the role that Bowie plays in his video for Ashes to Ashes. It’s a very strong image for me, and I wanted to communicate how you can feel alone in a relationship, to the point where you can let yourself be beaten physically and morally by someone. Joyful, isn’t it?

Broken Promise: 4’10

Bri – We thought the idea of getting two guys to sing this song about adultery – me and Michael Stipe – was a good one. The result is something halfway between Erik Satie and Metallica. [Laughs] It’s fucking bizarre! It starts with the Satie piano, played by Stefan, then the loud guitars, then Satie, then the guitars… it’s crazy!

RM – What are your favourite R.E.M albums?

All – Green and Life’s Rich Pageant.

RM – And who would you love to work with in the future?

Stef – Beck?

Bri – Marianne Faithfull…

Steve – PJ Harvey, Nick Cave…

Bri – Chuck D! No, Kylie Minogue!

Steve – Sting?

Bri – No. Not Sting. Patti Smith!

Stef – Sophie Calle?

Bri – Oh yeah, why not?

One of a Kind: 3’20

Bri - Because I Want You was our most recent track. At the end of the recording, the label called us up at the studio and said to us, "write us more singles." We said "fuck you! Let’s get into the studio and write something with distortion at 100%". From that we got One of a Kind, and we don’t even know if it’ll come out as a single. It’s odd to sit in the studio to try and hatch a single. We didn’t want the track to be poppy, and in a way, we achieved that, it’s got this twisted vibration like The Pixies. It’s a song about having the impression that you don’t fit in the world. You know you have a place, but you feel like it’s not right for you. At the same time, you realise that you’re unique, and that there’s only one you.

In the Cold Light of Morning: 3’52

Bri – It’s a musical homage to Leonard Cohen. It’s about drugs, being completely fucked, a bit like Pure Morning. It’s 7 AM, everyone’s off to work and you’re just wandering the streets. You get home, look at yourself in the mirror and you think, "why am I like this? I promised myself never to do this again, yet here I am." You feel completely separated from the planet. The rest of the world is living, doing their work and you, you’ve been decadent and weak towards yourself. You’re not happy about it. And you look in the mirror and say to yourself, "I hate you, I can’t stand you anymore."

Song to Say Goodbye: 3’34

Bri – The theme of Song to Say Goodbye is keeping only the best aspects of your life. It’s the first track I wrote in India. I went over there for a lot of reasons, one of them being to try and change my style of life. I wanted to make myself understand that I couldn’t become a rock’n’roll cliché and that the world didn’t need another dead rockstar. It was written as a letter to myself.

Final Prescriptions:
First single for the UK, the video for Because I Want You was shot by Russel Thomas (who did the DVD, Soulmates Never Die, Live in Paris 2003) at Koko in Camden, London, in front of 400 fans for a 100% live atmosphere. After the takes, the band played a mini-gig for those who’d made the journey, some who’d come as far as the Netherlands or France. For the first time ever, the trio played four tracks from their new album (Meds, Drag, Song to Say Goodbye and One of a Kind) as well as The Bitter End and Nancy Boy. The video for the French single, Song to Say Goodbye, was done by Phillip Andre, and is based on the idea behind the film, I Am Sam, with a child whose role is reversed with his father’s, taking care of him, driving him around, and finally entrusting him to two nurses in a secluded care home. In parallel with the video, already played on television, the release of the album is supported by a SFR [French telephone company] campaign. The operator has been proposing, since the 27th of February, to its 3G customer, 10 episodes of a series called Inside Placebo, not only showing the making of the album, but also offering 5 acoustic version of tracks from Meds.

[Then etc. etc about French tour dates, the Canal + performance, the festivals, and the special features on the Meds DVD]