"Life's a drag"

Backbeat, Mar'97

Brian Molko is a strange character. Deeply introspective at times, and also shockingly honest, the American behind the make-up is described by his fellow band members as a 'confused girl', with an androgynous sexuality that is echoed in Placebo's music.

The product of an American father and a Scottish mother living comfortably in Luxembourg, Molko was a child who went to a private American school where he failed dismally at sport and was frequently labelled 'faggot'. A pretty usual adolescence for someone like Brian, who just isn't the kind of person to fit neatly into the way other people want to do things, until at the age of 18 he said goodbye to Luxembourg and went to London's Goldsmiths College - also attended by the likes of Damon, Alex and Graham from Blur, the Velvets' John Cale, and art terrorist Damien Hirst, among others. Now life began to get weird, because it was here that Placebo were first formed.

Signing to Hut in January last year, Placebo have since released the wonderfully twisted debut album Placebo and a brace of singles that includes, of course, their biggest hit to date Nancy Boy, which hit the top ten last month.

As you might expect, Nancy Boy is something of a camp classic. And anyone who saw them on Top Of The Pops will know just how hedonistic the band - and in particular Brian Molko - can be, getting away with the outrageous lyrics which make Nancy Boy their boldest statement yet.

"It's not your run-of-the-mill boy-meets-girl song," admits Molko.

"Sonically we tried to capture a sort of drug-induced sexual rush. It's got a rising car sound which was meant to reproduce the first rushes of E, and it's obvious that the character is drug-crazed and sex-crazed at that moment. There are times in your life that you are really so far off your head that all you want to do is f*ck."

"It's a celebration and a slag of that kind of behaviour at the same time. It doesn't promote promiscuity but it doesn't judge it either. It pokes fun at classic macho phrases - 'I'd f*ck her with a paper bag on my head', 'don't look at the mantelpiece while you're poking the fire', et cetera. And words like queer and fag. When you appropriate them for yourself, they start to get attached with your own power.

"'Eyeholes in a paper bag, greatest lay I ever had' - it's just saying that the drag queen in the song is probably very ugly but is attempting to reach some kind of beauty. I guess it's saying that you can be ugly and be an amazing lay; that it doesn't really matter."

The song also has a dig at "people who think it's fashionable to be gay - guys who think that because 'some of my best friends are gay' that they are going to try it out because they are in a milieu where it's cool, but they haven't actually had the desire themselves. In the song, I'm questioning people's reasons for sleeping with someone of the same sex. In the same way that heroin is very hip today, being bisexual seems to be very chic."

"My sexuality is very fluid but it is very real. I have had very confusing and contradicting emotions since I awakened sexually, and it's something that I have come to terms with in a very positive way."

If Nancy Boy is seen as controversial then the whole album together is lyrically, in Molko's own words, "quite horrible".

He continues: "It's an exploration into somebody's misogyny yet heartfelt. It's angry, nasty, insulting and completely politically incorrect."

Great stuff!