"Placebo's mainman Molko gets the sharp end of the pencil"

Montrealmirror.com, Apr'01

26th April 2001

by Lorraine Carpenter

"I'd rather not do interviews, but I have to, and I'm no shrinking violet--I'm well educated and I'm opinionated. Sure, I can be pretentious sometimes, but give me a break, I'm in the public eye. It's difficult to stay on the ground the whole time." It's no wonder the British music press has massacred a man with that mouth, even if there is lipstick on it. Or perhaps the lipstick is the problem.

Along with Brian Molko's past adoption of Bowie-style androgyny and bisexuality--neither of which are currently en vogue with U.K. bands--he's American, he's nasal and he's not tall. The addition of a gut and facial hair could actually get him murdered on the streets of London. Image aside, Placebo's third album Black Market Music is brash and guitar-driven, with all the sex and drug references you'd expect. But one track features a rapper, and the lyrics have a sensitive, socially conscious side. That's a recipe for hate if I ever heard one, but the fans love it and Molko is hardened enough to take the punches. The Mirror spoke to the "sex dwarf" himself as he packed his bags for southern France.

Mirror: How do you feel about the rough ride the press has given you lately?

Brian Molko: They've got it in for me, you know. They've got it in for me, Courtney and Manson, so I think I'm in very good company. There's a company directive now that anything Placebo does and anything Brian Molko says is shit, and that's the NME. We don't speak anymore. Another British publication [Melody Maker] that slagged off "Taste in Men" when it came out doesn't exist anymore, so who's achieving longevity here?

M: The album is dedicated to Scott Piering. Who's he?

BM: He was a legendary record plugger in the U.K. who worked with us from the beginning of our career. Scott was always right; he was an incredibly smooth, incredibly talented individual. The day we were working on "Slave to the Wage" was the day we got the news that Scott had died--tobacco took him. It was terrible, tragic, but I kind of felt his presence in the studio... (becoming slightly weepy) Aw shit, I'm getting all tearful now on the telephone to you. Oh no, sorry, I'll have to sit down and have a cigarette. I miss him, you know.

Goth have mercy

M: Um, I heard that "Slave to the Wage" was remixed by Silverchair.

BM: Daniel [Johns] and electronic whiz Paul Mac have a project called I Can't Believe It's Not Rock. They do really leftfield remixes. We thought we were going to get something really hard and what we got was extremely beautiful. It's like a hymn, you know, Placebo goes to church. It reminds me of Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale" with hints of "Vienna" by Ultravox.

M: How did One Inch Punch's Justin Warfield end up on the album?

BM: We were introduced years ago because we were kindred spirits. When the idea came to use rap, Justin sprang to mind simply because of his approach. When he worked with Bomb the Bass on the song "Bug Powder Dust," he was rapping about William Burroughs. On the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack he's rapping about Shakespeare. This is not a guy who raps about bitches and hos and getting people down on my D, which is not the kind of hip hop we're into. We're into Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One and Public Enemy, big time.

M: There seems to be a strong goth contingent in your fanbase. Where does that come from?

BM: To me, goth means Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim. I never listened to that shit. Joy Division is one of my favourite bands, certainly, but I never considered them goth. Perhaps it's because we're exploring the darker side of the human soul, the darker side of human emotions. And at the beginning I had long black hair and wore black eyeliner and had nail polish on, so immediately we got tagged goth-core. Then when we did Velvet Goldmine everybody went, "Ha! You're a glam band now," and it's like, "No, no, listen to the music, come on."

M: Goth and glam have converged on some level, Marilyn Manson being one example.

BM: A lot of the bands from those movements, they're like a triumph of style over substance, particularly glam. But the thing about Marilyn--who's a good friend of mine and whom I adore, he's a fiercely intelligent, fucking hugely talented individual is that he's taking America on with his music and he's criticizing American culture. It reminds me very much of Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys, who I was a big fan of as a teenager. The world needs Marilyn Manson, you know. The world doesn't need Fred Durst.