Têtu "Brian & Stefan Interview", Jul-Aug'13

Translation by sweetapples

Filed as a band that had nothing left to say, Placebo didn’t give us a hard-one anymore. Here comes LLL, an undreamt yet successful come-back record, overwhelming with its sheer fragility that opens up new and more ‘pop’ horizons. While their younger drummer was sleeping off a crazy Parisian night, Têtu met Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal for an straightforward interview – no varnish and stonewalling.

Têtu: if your career was a long striptease, with this new album, Placebo would finish with a hand at the front and one at the back?

Brian: (laughing) Our previous album, BFTS was a stadium album. It followed Meds, which was a very claustrophobic one and say…very narcoleptic (smiles). We always react to the mood of the previous one.
When we started working on LLL, one theme came up very quickly, the oldest theme in music: love. Not very close to Placebo, isn’t it? We had two possibilities: either we went against the surge or we fully embraced it and didn’t hide our own vulnerability.

Stef: even the title came up rapidly. When we were done with an album, we would say: ‘oh shit, what name are we going to give to that one?’ (laughters)

Têtu: LLL, the opening track is a very positive loving hymn but the album ends in sobs and alcohol with the beautiful song, Bosco. Does it reflect your lives?

Brian: I think these two songs underline how much we reject what we did in the past….

Têtu: no more rock’n’roll way of life?

Brian: you know, I’m a father now. My son is 7. It changes your views on life. It’s something that prevents you from behaving like a dickhead rock star. When you grow up in the public eye, you can very easily shut yourself up in a bubble and lose yourself. There was a time when I got lost, very often….

Têtu: in Too many Friends you sing: “my computer thinks I’m gay”. What do you hide on your computer to suggest such a thing?

Brian: one day my computer sent me targeted ads as if I were gay. I wondered : ‘what have I done? What kind of porno have I watched so my computer thinks I’m gay (laughs)’. In the meantime, I had friends who decided not to take any more new friends on social networks because they already had ‘too many friends’. How can you have too many friends?
It made me consider our relationship to modernity. Aren’t we losing the ability to communicate in real life? For instance, we know many guys who use Grindr. It’s weird because they can’t focus on you longer than 5 mn without checking their app!

Têtu: that song is your coming-out about being heterosexual?

Brian: (smiles) I don’t know if I’m really straight. I’m not a much more different man than the one I used to be. I haven’t been in a relationship for a long time, either with a man or a woman. So if I had to come out, that’d be as an abstinent!

Têtu: Do you mind if we say that Placebo is a queer band?

Brian: that’s fine with me! I’d rather that than be a macho band!

Stefan: if we have to be tagged, then yes. That’s a part of us. In the past, we’ve always been honest about our lifestyles and sexual orientations but we don’t get into a recording studio thinking ‘we’re a queer band so let’s play music for fags!

Têtu: Stefan, you’ve made your coming out at the very start of your career. Was it deeply needed?

Stefan: I thought it was a good thing to do. Nowadays, more artists acknowledge their homosexuality but at that time there were few homosexuals in music. I soon reckoned that if I could reveal who I was, then I’d have played my part in setting more tolerance. I’ve received a lot of mails from young gays who wanted to thank me. However, despite being successful, I’ve also suffered from a fair amount of intolerance…

Têtu: Placebo is very popular in Russia. Do you alter your behaviour when you play in not so tolerant countries?

Brian: No way! Though playing in Russia can be troublesome… But we’ve never been told: ‘you’re not allowed to play such and such songs”

Stefan: it’s a bit more risky when we perform in Indonesia or Muslim countries. Sometimes we’re warned about using some words; we’re told to avoid provocative clothes and any sexual intercourse on stage!” (laughters)

Têtu: it turns out that Placebo has managed to avoid the normality trap?

Brian: I think so! I just could have shown better taste and more sense when I chose my dresses! (laughs). I feel at ease with all this and I think we were right. Even more so nowadays with all those assholes who are demonstrating against gay wedding.

Stefan: exactly! The debate gets very close to the bone. It’s amazing to see that our society which pretends to be civilised and liberal, finally wallows in intolerance. It’s just blowing hot air!