"Rock 'n' Kohl"

19, Jul'99

Placebo's singer Brian Molko and drummer Steve Hewitt reveal their seven deadly sins to our devils advocate, Anna-Louise Weatherley.

By the time I reach the pub where I'm to meet pop's latest and greatest gender-bender, I'm ten minutes late. I arrive stressed-out and apologetic. I'm greeted by the small but perfectly formed Brian Molko - a sex god who looks like he just fell from Planet Gorgeous. Bereft of his usual Rimmel-clad face, he looks relaxed, calm and happy, as does the cheeky, and not altogether unfanciable either, drummer boy, Steve Hewitt. Steve shakes my hand as if I'm an old friend from his home town, Manchester. The missing piece of this jigsaw is bassist Stefan Olsdal. Sadly, he's "assigned to other interviews". But I suppose two of the three isn't too bad.

With the G&Ts flowing, we get comfortable. It's the perfect setting in which to grill pop's prettiest punks on their vices. All saints they're not, but will they make it to heaven?

The wrath of Placebo

So, boys... Wrath. When was the last time either of you experienced blood-curling anger?

Steve: A couple of weeks back, when I had this argument with my ex-girlfriend, the mother of my child. It was very nearly a case of another telephone through the window.

Another telephone?

Steve: it used to happen a lot.

Brian: You and telephones don't get on - they have a tendency to take off!

Steve: We argue other our daughter.

So what did you do?

Steve: I shouted, I spat, I grew a big forked tail and horns. You really wouldn't want to have been there.

Brian: Most of the time, I just get really angry with myself - at my behaviour, my insensitivity, stupidity... When I blow up, it generally tends to be alcohol-induced and unnecessary.

When was the last time you got drunk and lairy then, Brian?

Brian: Probably for the whole of the last American tour.

Any major regrets?

Brian: I tend to take my anger out, on people in mischievious ways. I usually vent it on innocent people. You know, send plants to their hotel rooms, ashtrays to reception via the lift...

Very cheeky!

Brian: Well, I try to laugh at anger in some ways. I'm more difficult than angry. I certainly don't go around smacking people in the face. Sometimes, I wish I was really huge so I could beat the crap out of people who piss me of - but that's not positive. I spend all my time with you (points at Steve). When was the last time I was angry?

Steve: On tour. You had a go at me.

Why was that?

Brian: I was tired and emotional.

Steve: And I couldn't find the stash! (both laugh heartily at the memory)

Pride and prejudice.

Okay, let's go on pride.

Brian: It's more ego than anything else. Always being the center of attention can easily make you forget there's a group of other people who actually make it happen. If you forget that you go down that rocky road towards becoming a primadonna.

Steve: My ego's not as big as Brian's. But he has to really believe in himself, being the frontman.

Do you willingly say you're sorry if you think you're in the wrong?

Brian: Yeah, immediately. I rarely hold grudges, either. Performer are the pie-in-the-face people. Sometimes you go down like a lead balloon and that helps you to not have a false sense of pride.

Steve: I'll hang my gold discs on the wall, whereas Brian will keep his in a box. But I do that to remind me of what we've achieved and to keep going.

Brian: We never rest on our laurels.

Steve: I probably got more of a problem saying sorry than Brian has. I am from Manchester ! My dad's the same, a bit stubborn.

Brian: We always try not to let the sun go down on an argument

Lusty boys.

Right. Let's talk dirty. Lust. And don't spare any gories...

Steve: Lust...(dirty laugh)

Brian: The last time I really lusted after someone was, let me see, just this morning, actually.

Who was it?

Brian: Ummm...(very long pause). I have no idea what this person's name is, who they are o anything. They just happened to be in the same TV studio as me (earlier on the day of this interview, Placebo were rehearsing for TFI Friday alongside with Blondie and Lauryn Hill of Fugees fame).

Let me guess, it was Blondie?

Brian: You got me. It was Debbie Harry.

Steve: ...And Lauryn Hill

Brian: I'm very lustful. I'm in this fortunate, or unfortunate, position being bisexual in that I have twice as many people to lust over. So it can get hard on tour (ooh-er!). I don't think lust is a sin - people should have sex as much and in as many situations as possible. Then they'd be less uptight.

Do you often lust after people you can't have, then?

Brian: Absolutely! Being adored by thousands makes you want a challenge - sometimes it can be too easy.

Steve: I lust after someone just last night. She's a friend.

Brian: I lust after a lot of my friends - I think that's healthy. Though.

Green-eyed devils.

Envy is our next sin. When were you last green around the gills?

Steve: I get envious of musicians.

Brian: Yeah. I'm jealous of other people's achievements, especially if I hear someone I don't respect is collaborating with someone I do.

Like who?

Brian: Ian Brown. He did that new UNKLE single. I guess, for us, envy is a positive thing. It keeps us on our toes and ensures we don't get slack.

Okay, say we're having a torrid love affair (I can dream), we're in the pub and I start flirting with another guy. Wouldn't you be just a teensy-weensy bit jealous and pull me up on it?

Brian: No. Because I wouldn't want you to treat me like that, so I wouldn't treat you like that either.

Blimey. You're so virtuous! Does that halo ever sleep?

Brian: Yeah, we're meant to be the filthiest band in Britain, aren't we? Actually we're quite moralistic. Jealousy says more about you than the person you're directing it at.

Gluttons for punishment.

Gluttony, over-indulgence, greed... Guilty, boys?

Brian: Must it be food? I go too far with everything, especially if it removes you from reality. Bu I'm greedy with food, too. Glutony's like when you've got the munchies and you can't stop.

Steve: It's like beer and sex ! Or when you got out on a Friday and you don't get home until the Sunday.

Brian: It's not knowing where to stop, it's a form of release. On tour I was totally gluttonous with alcohol in an attempt to block out the fatigue.

Lounge lizards.

How about sloth, laziness...

Brian: Nope. We're never slothful.

Not ever?

Brian: Perhaps when I was on the dole for a year. The only reason to get out of bed was to cash y giro. Since starting the band I've never had time to slack. Looks like we're going to heaven, doesn't it?

Material girlie-boys.

Not quite, there's still avarice -material greed- the final sin...

Brian: Well, I'm guilty of it because I don't buy enough rounds in the pub!

Not that, "I'm just nipping to the loo" trick, surely?

Brian: I'm not that bad. I just keep quiet when people go, "whose round is it?". That said, I think I'm fairly generous really. And I don't have many possessions, my flat is quite spartan.

Steve: You've got to have a good stereo, loads of records and a car, just what everyone else has. But material possessions come and go.

Brian: You lose so many material posessions being on the road. You can't get too attached to stuff. And you have to remember that people must never becomes possessions. People are spheres intersecting (deep, maaan). You have to make sure that one sphere doesn't ever take over the other. Individuality is absolutely the most important thing.

Okay then, boys. You're at the gates of heaven. How do you plead?

Brian and Steve, gleefully, in union Guilty of lust!

Brian: It's difficult for us to have meaningful relationships with anyone, being on tour and doing what we do. It's a sacrifice. But it's definitely lust. Lust is what keeps us alive.