"Interview with Brian Molko"
Brian Molko, PLACEBO's indecently asexual singer, laughs. "I just enjoy fucking with people's heads." He says. For the first half of our gigs, there's normally some guy convinced I'm a girl, and a pretty cute one at that. As the gig continues, it begins to dawn on him that I'm a bloke, and suddenly he has to ask himself some serious questions. Ha ha!"
Crickey! Reason enough why Placebo should shine in a year that's already responsible for the drab-rock resurrection of the execrable Ocean Colour Scene.
Formed in 1995 by itinerant American Molko, after a chance meeting with childhood friend Stefan Olsdal (bass) at Kensington tube station, Placebo proceeded to muck around with "art-rock" for several months, before completing their line-up with another Swede - Robert Schultzberg (drums). Five frenzied, punk-driven gigs later, and London's attention had been well and truly sewn up. These guys were strange. Goths even?
"People are so lazy, aren't they? People just saw that I dyed my hair black , wore black nail varnish and heard that element of darkness about what we do, but - hey - it's nothing to do with sleeping with corpses!"
There is, however, a ferociously bleak side Placebo's lyrical concerns. Take a line from the cheerfully corrosive "Teenage Angst": Since I was born, I started to decay..."
"Well, that was something my mother said to me," explains Brian. "She was talking about ageing, wrinkling, skin drying up and stuff. This was when I was about 14. She said that as soon as you pop out of the womb you start to deteriorate. I actually found her words quite disturbing but, y'know, she's a religious kind of person."
Er, right. With that sort of upbringing, no wonder Placebo have turned out a little on the unusual side. Apart from an androgynous singer, a sackful of killer lines and some seriously messed-up pop songs, there's also The Voice. Unlike anything else you'll have heard this year, Molko's high-pitched rasp is the final, distinctive twist to Placebo's sound. Think Tim Buckley, think Janis Joplin, think bloody hell, that makes a change.
"Well, I've actually grown sick and tired of people saying I've got some helium-soaked drawl," says Brian indignantly. "Some guy recently said: 'Brian's helium bleat is starting to get extremely irritating, if only because he sounds like Ethel from EastEnders.' I mean, Christ! But having said that, I've made a conscious decision to sing properly on this album."
Ah yes, according to Brian, the band's soon-to-be-released self titled album will confound people's expectations. "It doesn't just sound like when we play live." he explains. "It's the kind of record that you'll pick up in six months' time and still find bits that you haven't heard before."
The only remaining question is this: are the kids ready for an album of sexually twisted pop thrills courtesy of a gorgeously bleak, multi-cultural trio?
"Oh, believe me, they can take it." deadpans Brian.