The Malay Mail "Point of no return", Mar'10

March 23rd, 2010


After overcoming personal hardship, Placebo is back on track, more courageous than ever.


Arriving in Malaysia on March 14 via a flight from Taiwan for a Placebo showcase in Malaysia, the first question that lead vocalist Brian Molko (with his sunglasses on) asked us was “What day is it?” Tuesday, we replied.

“Well, it’s that way with bands, every morning is a Monday morning and every night is a Saturday night.”

Well, did you eat or do anything interesting during your trip to Asia?

“I had raw horse meat in Japan, which I quite enjoyed. I was offered snake’s blood in Taiwan, but I chickened out.”

Hmm. We figured Molko to be the fearless one who takes everything in stride.

As we continued bombarding Molko with questions within the seven minutes of given time, we found out that he’s not that scary a person that we made him out to be.

He was almost zen-like during the interview, relaxed and smiling. But one trait he does keep is that he speaks his mind and isn’t afraid to tell you how Oasis failed as a band.

So, you spent two days in Malaysia. Seen anything interesting?

We went to the Twin Towers on Monday. But no one told us it was closed.

Ah, that's quite a shame.

Yeah, but we can still say we’ve been to the towers. (pause) Outside the towers.

Haha. At least that's something. It’s your first time in Malaysia and you’ve there instead.

We’re not like most international bands, actually.

And when performers do come to Malaysia, it’s obvious sometimes that they don’t really put much effort in giving all their on stage.

I don’t know if that’s particular to the performance in Malaysia, but I think you would find that that’s the way a lot of bands are wherever they go. I think for a lot of big International bands, they take the audience for granted, but we don’t.

Bands like Flaming Lips and Metallica don’t. It’s very important in Placebo’s opinion to put as much as you can into a performance because what we’re trying to do is to provide some sort of transcendental experience to the audience for that period of time that we’re on stage.

It resuscitates great effort and a great deal of putting yourself into the performance. It’s respectful to do so. That’s what we set out to do.

Although it’s more difficult some days than others, depending on what you are feeling. The worst offenders have since split, which in my opinion, is Oasis.

Whenever you saw them live, it was so obvious that they didn’t want to be there.

So does that mean you promise a really good time for the Malaysian audience on your performance night?

Well, you can never promise anything. That’s the intention.

Would you be smashing a guitar tonight?

My guitars are far too precious to treat them that way.

We read that your latest album Battle of the Sun was produced in a state where you and fellow band member Stefan Olsdal quit drugs and alcohol. What caused you guys to do so?

Let me put it this way — I have a theory about drugs and alcohol. There is a limited amount that a human being

is able to consume in a course of a lifetime.

Some people are sensible and consume the amount that’s able to stretch a lifetime. Some people who are not so sensible, like me and Stefan, consume that limited amount in a period of about 10 years.

There comes a point that it doesn’t do anything for you that isn’t negative. In fact, it destroys your life and you lose everything.

Then one has to either surrender to that, which most people do, which begins the inevitable descent to nothingness and emptiness.

Or one takes the courageous step to try and rebuild one's life in a more positive way, which was what Stefan and I decided to do. It was one life choice and a major philosophical influence on the record.

What will your next album be like? Will it be out anytime soon?

You know, I have no idea.

So, it’s a go-with-the-flow thing?

I’ve recently learnt that go with the flow is a great way to live your life, you know, especially when you start to change a new lifestyle. It’s about sort of giving control to the universe or whatever force that exists.

But there will be another record and every record is different. It will not be the same as Battle for the Sun, that’s for sure.

But it will still maintain Placebo’s sound?

Well, yeah. But what is that? That is the question we always ask ourselves. What enables us the freedom to do almost anything we like, in terms of orchestration and arrangement?

If you told me 10 years ago that we’d make an album with a brass section on it, which we did for Battle for the Sun, I’d told you it was impossible.

However, 10 years later, we’re making a record with saxophones, trumpets, piccolo trumpets and flutes on it.

Why cage yourself in terms of what your sound is supposed to be?

Did he immediately get into your sound or did he spend some time adjusting?

I think he’s still adjusting. It’s a big deal for him. We’re such a monster and such a well-oiled machine, really.

He was kind of plucked from complete obscurity and thrown into the limelight. It’s a lot for him to process and I think he’s doing very well.

Do you guys guide him like big brothers?

Yeah, absolutely. But we’re also like big brothers, taking advantage of his naiveté and gullibility, playing tricks on him all the time.

Share some stories about it?

Once in Paris, we managed to convince him that his hotel room was haunted by the ghost of little children. He’s easily spooked.

And that involved getting a key made, and going into his room, moving furniture around, turning the painting upside down, writing letters in French and slipping it under his door, and being there when he discovers them. It was a well-orchestrated prank that went on for three days. We can continue to do that.

We kept him convinced that he had been terrorised by an evil Santa Claus for over a year.

Do you see yourself coming back to Malaysia?

I see ourselves coming back to Malaysia, most definitely. If the gig goes well tonight and people don’t pelt us with rotten tomatoes, then we will be back.


The Concert

Brian Molko kept true to his word about playing tricks on drummer Steve Forrest.

Right at the end of the concert, Molko gave Forrest a great big push into the crowd and the next thing you know, he was buried under the hands and cameras of the audience.

While not much talking was done, Placebo delivered a great performance for the night as the crowd sang along to nearly every song performed.

There were times when Molko and guitarist Stefan Olsdal went near the audience, teasing them at close proximity as those at the front desperately reached out to touch their idols.

Once or twice, you can see a smile spring up Molko’s face as he looked at the excited mass of people.

The crowd was kept pumping the whole night as there was hardly any break between songs.

While Molko shined with his distinctive vocals, Olsdal was not far behind in lighting up the stage when it came to his guitar solos.

One and a half hours of Placebo was definitely not enough for the crowd. If only there was more time.



Source: mmail