Recovery Magazine, Mar'99

PICTURE THIS: Three young guys get together in London and record a demo tape. The next thing you know record companies are beating down their doors and offering them recording contracts, David Bowie wants them for a supporting slot on his tour and they release a top three UK single with Nancy Boy. Androgynous lead singer Brian Molko starts acting like the ultimate rock star (mush to the delight of the forever drama-hungry UK press) and the band Placebo are well on their way to success. Two years later they've released a second album Without You I'm Nothing which features the hit Pure Morning and have also dabbled in acting with the glam flick, Velvet Goldmine. Recovery caught up with the bass player Stefan Olsdal as the band were rounding up a three-month tour of Europe and the US.

There is a Swede, an American and an Englishman in the band - an unusual combination. How did you guys come together?

We met in Luxembourg about ten years ago. That's where me and Brian went to school together. Our parents were in banking and with banking in the eighties - people congregated to Luxembourg, which is like a little Switzerland basically. We went to an American school together. We never spoke to each other. We were in completely different social circles. I bumped into him again by accident, about five years ago in London. He had a gig that weekend and I went down to see him and said, " We're going to start a band. You're amazing." He's an American but he has never actually lived in the States. He was born and brought up in Europe.

The English music press went pretty crazy for you guys when "Nancy Boy" came out. How was that time, what was it like?

It was a bit mad for us because it came so unexpectedly. It was Brain and my first band and we got signed pretty much as soon as we got our first demo tape together and we had twenty record companies after us and wanting to sign us. So we did a lot of growing up very quickly, especially in public as well. It all went a bit crazy for us and we were on a complete roller coaster. Our parts in Velvet Goldmine for example, would not have come about if Nancy Boy hadn't of come out at the time it was out. The casting director for Velvet Goldmine fell in love with the press and offered us the auditions so that's how we got our parts.

How do you define the sound on the new album?

Maybe there's some tinges of eighties in there. We grew up in the eighties and that's sort of the sound that we were used to. People have picked up a pop sensibility in there, you know, for example on You Don't Care Abut Us. This album's sort of a bit more melancholic as well. It reflects a lot of our lived on the road in the past year. As our professional lives took off our personal lives sort of crumbled. Our relationships were hard to keep up and a lot of the lyrics Brian wrote are about heartbreak basically.

So how is this album different to your self-titled debut?

I think we've matured. I think we wanted to put ourselves on more of a musical level. When Steve joined we wanted to write more complex songs and I think we wanted to do well, not make the mistakes that we did on the first album. The first album's very youthful, full of lustful energy basically. We didn't spend that much time on that album. We wrote it in the studio and we hadn't been a band for very long. It's a bit more schizophrenic as well.

I hear you're coming to Australia is this true?

Yeah. We're going to be there in the springtime [April-May]. We'll be touring and doing promotional stuff as well because we have never been there before.