"A Proper Nancy Boy"
Melody Maker, Jan'97
Placebo have been talking to The Maker about their strongest and most exuberantly sexual single yet.
Fresh from a convincing showing in our end-of-year polls and on the eve of a New York appearance at Madison Square Garden as support to David Bowie at his 50th birthday celebrations, Placebo have confirmed that they release the single, a re-recorded version of “Nancy Boy”, on Elevator, via Hut, on January 20.
From a band whose androgynous lead singer Brian Molko is a strong focal point for their sexually ambiguous lyrics, “Nancy Boy” is the boldest statement yet. “It’s not your run-of-the-mill, boy-meets-girl song,” Molko admits.
“Sonically, we tried to capture a kind of drug-induced sexual rush; it’s got a rising car sound which was meant to kind of reproduce the first rushes of E, and it’s obvious that the character in the song is kind of drug-crazed at that moment. There are times in your life where you are so off your head that all you really want to do is fuck.”
“It’s a celebration and a slag of that behaviour at the same time. It doesn’t promote promiscuity but it doesn’t judge it either.”
Molko continued: “It pokes fun at very macho, classic phrases - ‘I’d fuck her with a paper bad over my head’; ’Don’t look at the mantelpiece when you’re poking the fire,’ et cetera. And like with the words queer and fag, when you appropriate it for yourself, it starts to get attached with your own power. So that line about ‘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, twisted beauty, perverse beauty. I guess it’s sating you can be ugly and be an amazing lay; it doesn’t really matter.”
The song also “criticises 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’re in a milieu where it’s cool, but they haven’t actually felt the desire themselves. In the song, I’m questioning people’s reasons for sleeping with people 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’s very real. I have had confusing and contradicting emotions since I have awakened sexually, and it’s something that I have come to terns with and that I have manage to live with in a very positive way. I have never been a homophobic person and one of the reasons I stopped going to church, because my mother used to take me to church a lot, was because of the church’s attitude to homosexuality.”
Perhaps even more controversial that “Nancy Boy” is a caustic B-side titled “Slackerbitch”. With it’s chorus, “Slackerbitch, fag-hag, whore”, it is, Molko admits, “quite horrible… an exploration into somebody’s misogyny; this man in the song feels very threatened by women, But at the same time, it’s very heartfelt. It’s angry and nasty and insulting and completely politically incorrect. I’m not afraid to say I’ve felt some of those things. It walks a very fine line, and it’s dangerous. I decided that I have to be responsible as the person who wrote those lyrics. I know that it describes a genuine emotion.”
“Interestingly enough, before it was released I played it to a lot of women, without saying anything, to see if they would construe it as being misogynist. The only people who found it offensive were men,”
“I think the point a lot of people would miss is that you’re not supposed to like the guy in the song. He’s a fool.”
Placebo’s forthcoming appearance at Bowie’s Save The Children fund-raiser on January 9 is a source of pride. “ I’m not nervous yet, though I’m sure I will be,” said Molko. “But you know, we’re one record down and we’re already hitting Madison Square Garden. That’s not bad!”
Along with their own set, Placebo will join other guests such as Sonic Youth and Foo Fighters in covering a favourite Bowie track, “I think we’re going to do ‘Andy Warhol’ from ‘Hunky Dory’ - it’s always been one of my favourites. I also figured that it would be obscure enough that he wouldn’t do it. it’s an amazing thing to be asked to do, but Bowie’s been incredibly supportive and he’s a big fan and he’s a lovely charming man.”