"Placebo interview"

davidbowie.com, Sep'00


About the Day

When I read the news of a new Placebo album and tour, I was immediately excited at the thought of seeing this great young band again. Their first two albums had been a breath of fresh air and originality in an otherwise very compartmentalised music scene, and I had high hopes of more deep and thought-provoking lyrics accompanied by those trade mark, sing-song, wall-of-sound guitars and thundering rhythms.

“Be lovely to have an interview with the band for Bowienet” I thought, and then...........”Well....erm....I could always ask if maybe I could be considered to go along and talk to them. We could invite questions from the members and have a sort of real life version of a guest chat”. To cut a long story short, within a few weeks, I was the lucky recipient of an email telling me to go ahead and set it up, and shortly after that was told by the new media section of Virgin records that some time had been allotted for Bowienet for an interview with the band at an online day on 29th September, and would we like to film it?

Now I happen to know that my buddy Steph (Electric Blue) works for various television companies and is a dab hand with a TV camera. (Those of you who were at Roseland this year will remember her filming the fans ) She was meant to be working that day, but she managed to squeeze the day off from her boss, and soon we were making plans to meet up.

I did my homework on Placebo, reading as much of their current press as I could find, and pored over the questions which flowed into my inbox, trying to choose the ones which would be most likely to get a good response.

On the day of the interview I met up with Steph outside the venue. There we were, two people dripping with cameras and tripods, and silly grins ( or at least mine was silly......Steph had her professional head on.....ready to go to work.....but she WAS just as excited as me). We checked in at reception about 45 minutes before the time allotted....I wasn’t taking any chances....and were given some swanky visitor passes, and greeted by the lovely young lady who set it all up for me. MTV were waiting and AOL, and various other right-on music website journalists who all looked about 17.......lol. We were to be last, so that if our interview extended beyond our time slot, we wouldn’t have to rush away. Such had been the demand for time with Placebo, the boys had been split up, with some interviewers having time with Steve and Stefan, and others, time with Brian on his own. For us though, the three would be coming back together.

The interview was to take place in the office of one of Virgin record’s big bosses. When it was almost our turn, we were taken upstairs to set up our equipment in the outer office. The room was very attractive and obviously very busy, with backstage passes hanging from pin boards and much musical paraphernalia in evidence. I spotted a large and beautiful painting on the wall of the small corridor leading to the ante-room. I recognise that, I thought. “Who painted that one?” I enquired innocently. “That one’s by David Bowie” answered the secretary. It was one of his baggy-trouser, country gentlemen,with the nightmarish faces, and the signature looked like Bo 76. The secretary said it was a self portrait, offering the opinion that he must have been feeling a bit off-colour that day........lol.

The door to the left of us opened and in bounced Steve and Stefan, having finished with the previous journalist. We said hi, and chatted for a few moments, during which I could hear a very distinctive voice from within the dividing double doors, winding up his own interview.

The doors swung open, and we were invited to lug our equipment into the inner sanctum. As we gathered our things together, the unmistakable, resonant tones of Brian Molko could be heard serenading our entrance “Hello spaceboy, you’re sleepy now, your silhouette, is so stationary”...................

The film is in post production at the moment, so check back soon for the real video version of an interview which was funny in parts (they laughed at my jokes!), serious in parts (Brian came across as extraordinarily intelligent), and gave, I think, a real insight into the dynamics of this band ( they seem very happy in each other's company - no mean feat after all these years) and their thoughts and hopes for the future. I have transcribed one or two of their answers, to keep you going until then.

nnmaddox : What do you think of the internet?

Brian : The internet could be as revolutionary as the telephone............. There has to be somewhere...where the powers that be can't clamp down and censor. Its one of the last freedoms.

Bettina : If you had to choose a nickname for a chatroom, what would it be?

Steve : 'Captain Bordello'

Brian : I' ve been in as 'Secret Girl' and 'Jane Doe'. I know what David's is, but I better not tell.......

Spaceface : Has David heard your new album?

Brian : I had an email from David. To paraphrase, it said : "Jolly good album, chaps. Go to the top of the class!" (said in an excellent British accent!)

Spud : What direction do you see music going in the near future?

Steve : If anything, they are trying to push the 80's back. Mullets are coming back.

Spaceface : I take it you won't be getting one then? (laughing)

Steve : I don't think so. (laughing)

Glitter : Are you going to be touring in the USA?

Brian : Nothing is cemented just yet.....but the twelve to eighteen month world tour will take in America.

Spidey : Do you think Napster is a friend or a foe to the music industry?

Brian : A foe to the music industry - totally......... Its a gross misconception that artists all live in the gutter - that we're all Van Gogh. If you are not prepared to support artists by buying their music, they won't be able to make music anymore. Simple Fact.

Spaceface : Can I ask you to say Hi to David and the Bowienet members?

Brian : ( smiling and waving) Hello Spaceboy!

Steve : (smiling and waving) How are you sir?

Brian : Hope you are not feeling too sleepy with the new baby. Congratulations and lots of love. Lots of love to all the Bowienet members. Thank you for all your support.

Stefan : (smiling and waving and looking so fine....) Hopefully see you soon.

We made our way awkwardly into the interview room, and plonked down the cameras. Brian was laughing and saying, jokingly, "What's this?? I expected it to be David himself coming to interview me." Have you ever felt like a very poor substitute?...lol. The room was full of very expensive sofa's and the coffee table in front of us was loaded with sandwiches and drinks of every sort. I sat down across from Brian and then Steve and Stefan came and sat on his other side. They looked like schoolboys, all squashed together...lol. They had had a hard few weeks, with round after round of interviews, so I was hoping that ours would be a bit of light relief.

We chatted for a few moments while Steph set up the camera, mainly about Placebo's website. I had been in their chatroom the night before, trying to discover whether the band had any 'sailor' type chat nicknames. The chatters were very funny......"Not someone ELSE doing research for an interview? I have spoken to about 44 journalists preparing for interviews with Placebo in the past few weeks!" said one of them.......lol. The room was full of buzz and anticipation for the new album and tour, just like ours often is. We touched on their own degree of interest in the internet, and I realised that we had started into the interview, as that was one of the early questions on the list.

You can see for yourselves, on the video, how things went after that, but we warmed up as we went along, giggling over the fun questions, and frowning over the serious ones. Brian had an opinion on every subject and I was glad I had done my homework, as I felt that he wouldn't have suffered a fool gladly. Although he is extremely attractive, there is also a vulnerability about him, which there is almost bound to be with a songwriter who has laid his soul open through his songs in the way that Brian has done, and who has had his whole personal life and personality finely examined in the music press for several years. Steve was a cheeky, laddish, regular bloke, who took the mickey out of my Northern English accent, and was very obviously used to charming the ladies. Stefan was very shy and quiet, although we did get one or two responses out of him, and some lovely smiles. The three of them certainly seemed to be the best of mates. Steve patted Brian's knee protectively at one point, and they all stuck together and supported each other's views. They considered the questions carefully, and gave some very thoughtful answers. For certain, Brian was the complete opposite, in reality, to the persona which has been projected on him by some sections of the media.

When the interview was over, I gave them a copy of Live and Well, which they seemed genuinely delighted to accept. There was a bit of tussling over who was going to own it, with Brian clutching it to his chest and saying "It was given to me!" I think they will really enjoy listening to it, as they supported David on parts of the tour which it represents. I wonder what memories it evokes? They were also very keen to come into Bowienet and have a look around, which Eric has now arranged for them. If you spot anyone with a 'placebo' nickname, it could well be one of the band! They are hoping to spend quite a bit of time online to fill in the dead time on tour.

While Steph and I were packing away the cameras, the lads were getting ready to go off and do a VirtueTV webcast for which around 2,900 questions had been submitted. I hope they didn't have to answer them all! Off they went, with many smiles and goodbyes, and we said our own goodbyes to the girls who had been looking after us, and decamped to a restaurant in Paddington to stuff pasta and dissect the day.

Source: davidbowie