"Interview with Brian & Steve"

Vox Online, 2001

VOX: How did you guys come together as a band? Any dark secrets not in the band bio?

Brian Molko: In some crack house in LA, didn't we...?

Steve Hewitt: About six years ago and we're still here.

VOX: You guys were touring with Stabbing Westward, last we saw you. What have you guys been doing since? Where have you been? Did you delay the release of the new record?

Steve: There's been no delay - We've spent 14 months touring since our last record. And we went straight to the studio and wrote Black Market Music in 3 months, spent 3 months recording it, then 3 months mixing it. Then we took a week off then started touring again. That was last July in Japan. Just nine months recording the album then back again.

VOX: It's been a couple years since you've been here in LA.

Steve: Reason for that was touring commitments for the rest the world. So we decided on holding off on the release of the album 'til until we could be here. It made sense.

VOX: I thought it might have something to do with the rock-rap obsession America's been having of late?

Steve: Not really.

Brian: No, you know sometimes the truth is very simple.

VOX: Where did the album title, Black Market Music, come from?

Brian: In an industry, kind of an artistic scene where so much negativity is being promoted by massive corporations and so much disposability being promoted by multinational corporations, so much emptiness and not very much positivity is being pushed and marketed kinda heavily. It is almost as if music that is honest, passionate, truthful that says something about the human condition is marginalized. In a culture... a culture where music is homogenized, that often happens. Perhaps it's something you have to buy under the counter and perhaps forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge.

VOX: Is America ready for this?

Brian: I don't see why not, really. We built it over a space of 3 albums in Europe. I guess we have more of a presence there. I think the reactions that we're getting for this record have been the most positive that they have ever been for our music. It's seems like less of a struggle this time around. I think the people are ready and more receptive towards it. It's a better record so... it's less schizophrenic. It's more cohesive.

VOX: Has your writing matured?

Brian: No, it's a better record. It has more of a cohesive identity, better production, doesn't drag like Without You did. It, it's the most accomplished, the most immediate and the angriest record we've done. The songs are better. We're just getting better at what we do.

VOX: Let's talk about the songs. Tell me about "Commercial For Levi."

Brian: It's about friendship and bad lifestyle choices. When you make bad lifestyle choices it's very important to have friends who grab you by the scruff of the neck and say "I love you, but you're not going to be around much longer if you continue the way you are going."

VOX: It's a true story?

Brian: Most of them are.

VOX: Obviously, "Taste In Men" can have many connotations...

Brian: That's what I find strange. People say that a great deal. But it's a fallacy really. It can be applicable to anybody and it's a very universal song. It's just 'You dumped me, come back.' That's all it is. It doesn't matter who you are. It's happened to all of us.

VOX: How about "Slave To The Wage"?

Brian: It's a song about chasing your dreams. It's kinda like the Robert Frost poem, "The Road Less Traveled." It's basically saying, promoting individuality and saying that you don't have to follow society's rules in order to become a personal success. It often involves a bit of risk taking and courage. But we're certainly living proof of the fact that these decisions that we made when we were very young, we're living proof embodied that the road less traveled can be incredibly fruitful, if you stay true to yourself, if you have the desire to be an individual, if you have the desire and the courage to chase your dreams. If you want to work at a bank, and that gives you a hard-on, then go work for a bank. Or, if you want to be an artist and that gives you a hard-on, be an artist. Don't feel that you have to work at a bank. And if you're prepared to make sacrifices and take risks, if you're lucky, if your karma is good, then these things will payoff in the end. Which I think it's a positive message really.

VOX: How about "Special K" - there's the obvious drug allusion... it's the hot new news item.

Brian: It's been around for awhile and I wouldn't recommend that to anyone. But it's not about that. It's comparing the rush with falling head over heels in love or being infatuated with someone and coming upon controlled substances of any kind. The moral of the story is what comes up must come down.

VOX: You guys listen to a lot of music - what excites you?

Steve: It's a broad spectrum. Lots of things. On tour at the moment there's lots of dance music. We enjoy Peaches...

Brian: Peaches & Gonzales, Ladytron, Add (N) to (X)... a lot of electronic stuff and then old-school stuff, old Nick Cave, Scott Walker, and stuff like that. Not very much guitar music, the first Queens of the Stone Age record, At The Drive-In. Quality guitar music.

VOX: Brian, you've been a big Peaches supporter.

Brian: Gonzales and Peaches are amazing.

Steve: Really amazing.

Brian: They're crazy geniuses! They are truly inspiring. Similarly, At The Drive-In restore your faith in rock and roll. These artists restore your faith in eccentricity and risk taking and empowerment. It's very, very refreshing.

VOX: Placebo seems to have always been about risk taking. Was it hard the first time to come to America?

Brian: It was more difficult beforehand. It took awhile for people to get their hands around it and find out what was going on. It comes from a different cultural standpoint. Neither of us is seeped in British culture and it's not seeped in American culture either. There is a great mixture of cultures in what we do simply coming from the fact that we come from different places. That's what makes it quite interesting. That's what makes it complex and sophisticated. Sometimes it takes a bit more time for the confusion to recede and for understanding to come forward. We've always been interested in longevity.

VOX: Is there a difference between Europeans crowds and American crowds?

Brian: Just less backward baseball hats. [Laughter] But you know, there's something about the music we make that seems to appeal to the lunatic fringe or the people that feel they're square pegs

fitting into round holes or they're outsiders. There's a convention of outcasts we kinda feel where ever we go at the gigs. I think our audiences are very good and respectful to each other, which is positive.

VOX: What has changed in the live show - any evolutional changes?

Steve: We are able to do more stuff around Europe 'cause we are close to home and we are able to afford to truck stuff around. But when we come to America, it's basically down to live rock band and good light show. But in Europe we've been doing visuals.

VOX: Any other changes for you guys?

Brian: Too many to mention, really. It continues to be for us an emotional roller coaster and completely schizophrenic. And that is aggravated by what we do for a living. The more you get used to it the stranger things become. It's weird.

VOX: What should people expect from you guys live now?

Brian: Passion onstage and hopefully an emotional connection. That's what we set out to do, otherwise there's no point really. It has to mean something.

Source: voxonline