The Straits Times "Basking in sunshine", Mar'10


The last time British rock trio Placebo played here in 2006, frontman Brian Molko says they hurt a few models.

The band were performing on a catwalk runway for a Singapore Fashion Festival event.

'I remember those models bumping into our guitars while we're trying to play and I felt sorry for them because that's got to hurt. They don't have a lot of meat on their bones to start out with,' he tells Life! in a telephone interview.

The androgynous singer and his two bandmates, bassist/guitarist Stefan Olsdal and new drummer Steve Forrest, will be back for a proper gig at Fort Canning Park on Thursday to promote their sixth and latest album, Battle For The Sun.

He is looking forward to coming back here as he says the band's Asian stops have always been interesting.

For example, their first gig in China in 2006.

He recounts: 'It felt like a riot was going to start in the audience. They were trying to get closer and closer to the stage and the security was done by the military and they were pushing them back and there were fights breaking out between the fans and the military.'

When Life! spoke to the 37-year-old singer last month, he was in his hotel room in Jakarta and the band had just played their first show there the night before.

'For the very first time ever, we had ladies in the audience rocking out wearing headscarves, and they knew all the lyrics and they were jumping up and down. It was super cool to see.'

Formed in 1994, the band released their eponymous debut in 1996 at the height of the Britpop era in Britain.

They stood out with their glam rock and Molko's androgynous image and, over the course of six albums, developed a strong following throughout Europe as well as Asia, selling more than 10 million albums.

Molko says the tunes off their new album, released last year, have a more optimistic outlook compared to their emotionally darker past works.

'We're most definitely happier now than we were. This is more of a record about stepping out of darkness and into the light and hope.

'I am in a healthier place, so much of my past was tied up in a lot of pain and everybody wants to find some kind of balance and peace of mind.'

He is bisexual and has a four-year-old son with a former partner.

He says of fatherhood: 'Well, it's just a very positive force in my life. I think that it is very good for a human being to have somebody in their life that they care about more than themselves.'

Making music is all he knows, he says, and admits to not being able to do anything else.

'I'm virtually unemployable. I can't drive so I can't be a taxi driver. I can't work in an office because I'm not good with computers. I don't really have any other skills.'

He adds Placebo have lasted much longer than their 1990s Brit cohorts because they have never bothered to follow musical trends and 'got used to being unfashionable very early on'.

While describing their upcoming set, the frontman could not help but compare themselves to one of their contemporaries from the 1990s British scene.

'We're not the type of band that Oasis used to be, just show up, stand there like they don't care and then go off again.

'We find that disrespectful so we try to put 100 per cent of our energy into the show. It's going to be an energetic and passionate show which, hopefully, will move the crowd emotionally.'