Dazed & Confused, Mar'97
Placebo have shot into international consciouness, like uninvited saboteurs
With their first single of 1997, "Nancy Boy". A goth-glam-punk hybrid, succinctly lacerated by sweltering hooks "Nancy Boy" has enough debauched intentions to give the Prodigy a fright. The allure of the androgynous and unlikely sex god Brian Molko is steeped in the destructive potential of his character. Follow him and he’ll take you wherever his addictive obssesions go. His statements are inflamed with intelligence, without the fear of inhibition. He opens up and lets everyone look into his decentred world, where old thruths and modern views don’t gel with his experience. Loneliness is remedied by the subliminal bliss of any available narcotics. Coke, LSD, booze, E’s, speed, the original Nancy Boy cherishes the delights of losing it and alipping into a void. One should always be aware that there’s a performer inside ex-Goldsmiths drama student Brian Molko. When he speaks his voice sounds like a dehydrated crack in the Nevada desert: it is higher than a squeak, a pitch usually set aside for aliens. Every statement contains a story pronounced drama.
D&C: At times your lyrics seem like a brutalised diary, with numerous personalities fighting it out between themselves to have their voices heard.
BM: yeah, what you’re basically being subjected to is my own confusion and emotional fickleness, and my inability to tie things down into one area. It’s an inability to think in black and white. Most of the time I’m waiting for a flash from the subconscious, perhaps a phrase or word that will come and fit. I can’t write a song that in some way doesn’t really totally come from me. At the same time I can’t sit down and say, "I’m going to write a song about this today."
D&C: How much is that to do with an upbringing characterised by constant change, as you’ve spent a lot of time in different countries?
BM: Well, that may have something to do with it, but a lot of it has to do with my parents, who were very different from each other and, more often than not, were at odds with each other and at each other’s necks. My brother was ten years older than me and had left home, so I had quite a lonely upbringing and my parents were constantly trying to pull me in completely different directions - to be like them. It forced me to say, "Fuck You: I’m gonna forge my own identity."
D&C: You’ve said it’s quite frightening when your dreams come true. Do you think your dreams are going to materialise in ’97?
BM: I really think so, I think that "Nancy Boy" will take us over the edge. We’ve been taking it gradually over the space of a year. We didn’t want to do a Kula Shaker and just appear, because I think that is something that really shortens your shelf-life. Longevity is somathing that we really aspire to.
D&C: "Nancy Boy" has been re-recorded and released. It’s a lot more intense.
BM: It’s trying to capture that certain point of an evening, or a certain point of intoxication when all you can do, or want to do, is fuck. It’s a celebration, but it also pokes fun at drug-induced promiscuity and that experimantation for experimantation’s sake. I’ve also been called ‘Nancy Boy’ a thousand times, so it’s about me as well.
D&C: Does your stage persona overlap with daily life?
BM: What being in a band allows you to do is take elements of your personality and push them forward and exaggerate them a little for dramatic effect. And, you know, who I’m on stage, is very much what the
freedom of the stage allows me to become. It allows you to to blossom. You can shove it in people’s faces on stage and be loved for it. It’s more connected than a lot of cynical and jaded people would think. A lot of people would definitely think that this is a big marketing tool. It’s not. It’s very much who I am.
D&C: How do you feel about being considered as some sort of androgynous sex god?
BM: I find it really flattering, but at the same time it puts a smile on my face because I was the kid who didn’t have a girlfriend and couldn’tget laid throughout the first year of college. I figured that if this took off, I was creating a situation where I could be attractive to men and women at the same time. I think that is a very end-of-the-millennium kind of thing, as these boundaries never meant anything to me, and to be promoting that is fantastic. Because, in essence, it will promote a certain kind of freedom and tolerance. Rock’n’roll and punk were always meant to be sexy. Nobody startsa band without wanting to be sexy, and maybe it will backfire, but you make your bed and you lie in it. It’s cool.
D&C: Does your sexual ambiguity lead you on to bisexuality and a freedom to take what’s on offer?
BM: Exactly, I guess it’s really that way forward. I’ve never believed in the compartmentalisation of desire, y’know? I’ve learned to understand myself and my own desires better than I did a few years ago. I think it is really repressive not to stop yourself from feeling things, because these are the things at one point or another in our lives we all have felt, or at least have questioned ourselves. I see no reason to give yourself a headfuck over it.
D&C: You’re the antithesis of lad culture.
BM: Yeah, that’s right. There’s a fantastic T-shirt by the Manics that says, "All rock’n’roll is homosexual". And like, from the days of Little Richard to David Bowie, there has always been an undercurrent. I think one of the things we are saying is that there is no reason to be frightened, and there’s also no reason to close the doors that you haven’t opened yet. It’s an anti-repression thing.
D&C: You don’t appear to have any inhibitions, and it’s refreshing to hear a singer put their self on the line. Aren’t you worried that you may be torn apart for being so open?
BM: I don’t see any reason why I should be coy about it. It’s very much about what the music is about. For me, rock’n’roll and punk were always meant to be dangerous and, to me, it’s like a last taboo.
D&C: It strikes me you wouldn’t cope too well in everyday life.
BM: What do you mean?
D&C: Well, going shoping, for example.
BM: I find myself going down to the shops for nail polish and I haven’t had a shave for a couple of days, so I look very strange, and people look at me bizzarely…