Boyz, Sep'00

by Andrew Lawson

Heard the one about the gay man, the straight man and the bisexual?

Well they're called Placebo, and they've got a reputation for being pretentious, obnoxious and downright short-arsed. Andrew Lawson discovers they're... um actually rather nice boys really.

What have you been up to for the last two years?

Brian- A 13 month tour across 6 continents, broken bones, hospitalisation. Very rock'n'roll.

Steve- We were gagging to get in the studio after all that touring and playing 'Pure Morning'.

Brian- We became a bit like spinal tap toward the end of it.

Tell us more.

Brian- Me and Stefan were just outdoing each other with rock histrionics. Feet on the monitors and all of that stuff.

Stefan- Falling over offstage and being picked up.

Steve- The only one thing we didn't do was walk on stage in the wrong place and go 'Hello Cleveland!'

Brian- It became so routine that we were able to jump into the crowd and keep on playing.

Stefan- Until your balls got grabbed...

How did you deal with the tedium?

Stefan- We turned the tour bus into the disco bus.

Brian- Yeah, we installed disco lamps and had parties after each show, playing The Bee Gee's and Barry White.

As if...

Brian- Its true! We've even bought our own on-tour kareoke machine.

Stefan- We're going to take a ping-pong table with us this time too.

Brian- Kareoke and ping-pong: these are our new interests!

Tell us about this new album, Black Market Music.

Brian- It revisits the no-holds-barred punk pop element of the first album, and the more melancholic side of Without You I'm Nothing

Is 'pop' a label you're cool with?

Steve- Nah, I always wanted to be a rock star, not a pop star. There's a difference.

Brian- I'd like it called rock'n'roll. Pop is steps, Britney and Kylie. It's a teenage baby with breast implants going straight to number one. We tend to steer clear of plastic surgery, hence 'rock'!

Steve- We're keeping it ugly.

So, what surprises have you got up your sleeves?

Stefan- There's rapping on this album, which I don't think any placebo fan would expect.

Brian- Yeah, when the word first got out, I think our fans freaked and thought we were going to turn into Limp Bizkit. God forbid.

Any favourite on the album?

Brian- 'Peeping Tom', because I always wanted to be Elton John, and on that song I get to sit behind a piano and sing.

Is it a white piano?

Steve- It will be.

Brian- I'll have to spray it white.

Stefan- You haven't got the backstreet boys around you either.

It's love or hate with you. Do you give a monkeys what people think?

Brian- Indifference is the killer, so it's positive to get an extreme reaction, but sometimes it's difficult not to take it personally. As a normal human being that lives, breathes and shits like everybody else, it's wierd to think that thousands of people have formed an opinion about you without having met you.

Stefan- That's the hardest thing.

Brian- if you started dwelling on that, it'd drive you insane. The majority of people who've formed a negative opinion of us haven't even met us. Or they've met us in an extremely drunk and obnoxious situation. Most people who've spent quality time with us go away thinking that at least we are alright.

And the press have savaged you.

Steve- Yeah, we didn't even get out of the traps.

Brian- It's particularly British, this desire to put everybody in their place. You're not allowed to be confident...

Steve- You're not allowed to be successful, you're not allowed to have money...

Brian- You're not allowed to acknowledge the fact that you're talented, 'cause oooh, that's over-stepping the line.

So, are you victims of the press, or have you just worked it?

Steve- Anyone who sees stuff in the press thinks 'Aha,

Placebo are back', so it's brilliant.

Brian- Yeah, they're back and they're opening their big fucking mouths once more!

Steve- It's 'Oh, those wankers are back', but at least they know you're back!

And what about Daphne and Celeste's charming comment that you were 'ugly in the realm of the beast'?

Brian- It's not even worth wasting oxygen on. You can't be attractive to everybody. We certainly don't find Daphne and Celeste very attractive. Put it this way, I don't think there'll be any drunken snogs backstage at the Reading festival this year.

Do you think people still find you subversive?

Brian- I never thought what we did was that weird or ground-breaking or shocking. It's incredibly difficult to be subversive these days.

But the dynamic of a gay man, a straight man and a bisexual man in a band together still confuses people, doesn't it?

Brian- That's what makes us interesting. We're three different personalities with different sexualities, and we're best friends, so what you get is an extremely interesting melting pot of emotions. If it confuses people then it's fine. That's fun. Confusion is sex.

Stefan- And there's just no competition when we're out on the pull.

Steve- It makes everyone's life easier.

Bisexuality's the tricky one, because it's either seen as trying to cover all bases, or a soft version of being gay.

Brian- Yeah, or you're really straight and you're only doing it to get pussy. That's another accusation that's been levelled at me.

Would you sleep with you?

Brian- No! I'd be an nightmare!

Do you think gay audiences care about indie music?

Stefan- Just because you're gay, I don't think you have to be a scene queen or a club babe, or a muscle mary. It's good that it's opened up, club-wise. We've definitely got more gay people in the audience now.

Steve- I wish we had more gay people in the audience: they're better dancers.

Brian- We're encouraging people to be individual and to be proud and at ease with themselves. We try to make the so-called perverts that inhibit our crazy little world sympathetic, simply because I don't think that all people are all bad, no matter what they may be guilty of.

You've already gone there on sexuality, drug use and promiscuity; is anything sacred?

Steve- Mum.

Brian- Mum? Does your mum read Boyz? (thinks) Or does your Dad?