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  Placebo
L to R: Brian Molko (vocals, guitar, bass), Steven Hewitt (drums),
Stefan Olsdal (bass, guitar, keys)


Interview with Brian Molko of Placebo by Gabriella

Placebo are alive and well. No deaths from overdose have occurred. Nor have most of the other rumors our brothers and sisters in the press would have us believe. In fact, the band has emerged with a third album, Black Market Music. Frontman Brian Moloko may have shortened his hair and taken to black clothing in lieu of feathers, outrageous jewelry, and brightly colored duds, but he remains as androgynous as ever, never forgetting to bat his eyelashes on the appropriate occassion. Some divas of the silver screen could learn a trick or two from saucy Brian.

NYROCK:

Where does Black Market Music fit in with your previous work?

BRIAN:

At the end so far, it's the third album. But seriously, I think it's the album we always wanted to make. I think without exaggerating even the tiniest bit, we love it and we've never been so happy with an album. Our debut was fast and rough, punk pop, Without You I'm Nothing showed our melancholy, depressed side and Black Market shows a perfect combination of both sides. It's also the first album where we were really involved with the producing and not afraid to do what we wanted to do. It takes time until you're ready for it. When you start out you're too young and naive, you fall in traps or end in dead-end streets because some producer tells you what to do and how to do it. This time we felt we're ready and strong enough to really get involved and do exactly what we wanted to do.

NYROCK:

I don't know; I think the first track "Taste In Men" gives a wrong impression of the album. Are you worried that people might get the wrong idea?

BRIAN:

We just love to put people on the wrong track, one of our specialties. If people just listen to "Taste In Men," they get the completely wrong impression of what the album is like, and it serves them right. Listen to the whole thing, get a taste of it. I never liked people who just listen to the opener or a single track and then decide if they like the album or not. Don't nibble; take a huge bite! But we're not pussying out on our third record, definitely not, not a chance.

NYROCK:

You changed producers and worked with Paul Corkett this time....

BRIAN:

  Brian Molko of Placebo
That's true, yes. I don't want to mock Steve [Osborne, producer of the previous album], he's killer when it comes to dance grooves, which is one of the reasons why we wanted to work with him in the first place. We always liked to introduce electronic elements into rock, but it just didn't spark enough. It didn't spark the way we wanted it to spark. I think where our debut was under produced, Without You I'm Nothing was overproduced, not grossly overproduced but still overproduced. None of the albums sounded phat enough for our taste. They were all good albums and we're still proud of them, but they just weren't exactly what we wanted them to be, exactly what we imagined.

NYROCK:

I quite liked both albums. What didn't you care for about Without You?

BRIAN:

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with it. I wanted it to sound really phat but if I look back now, I think Without You has too many slow songs for a second album. But what the hell, that's how we felt during that phase, we were in a slow mood.

NYROCK:

I like the new album, but it is harder to get into than the previous albums. Do you think the fans will accept it?

BRIAN:

I don't know; I think there's always somebody who'll be really pissed off no matter what we do. Even if it's just the critics. I think even if I would stop wearing makeup tomorrow some people would be pissed off. But back to the album, I think it has all the ingredients to satisfy people who liked both albums, no matter if they preferred the first or the second one.

NYROCK:

Since you mentioned makeup, how much makeup do you wear in your private life? How much of the rather flamboyant musician is you and how much is just there for show?

BRIAN:

I do wear makeup in my private life. I think the person you see on stage is essentially the same person I am off stage. On stage, I'm the same person I am in my everyday life. It's just a slightly more exciting version of the normal me, a little bit more colorful, more extroverted than I usually am. It's not a mask I put on for performances. I love being a freak. It's great!

NYROCK:

Let's go back a few years, your part in Velvet Goldmine gained you a lot of criticism in the British press....

BRIAN:

I guess getting criticized in the British press isn't really something extraordinary, but truth be told, now that I look back on it, it wasn't the smartest idea ever. I think we looked really stupid. But so what? It's called acting. It's not real, and acting really doesn't have anything to do with real life.

NYROCK:

Your mentor and fan, David Bowie is not only a musician, but an actor. What does he think of it?

BRIAN:

Oh God, he hates the flick. He really loathes Velvet Goldmine. Let's put it this way, Velvet Goldmine is a subject Placebo and Bowie, errrr, hardly discuss. We just avoid talking about it.

NYROCK:

Kerrang called you the country's last great rock star. Quite a label. How does it feel to be the last great rock star?

BRIAN:

The last of its kind, almost extinct? Don't expect me to go off and procreate, make a few little rock stars. To be honest, it's really flattering, but don't expect me to take it too seriously. I think it has to be taken with a grain of salt. I think if I would try to behave like the last great rock star – sounds a bit like the last dinosaur – I'd turn into a complete asshole instead of just being the semi-asshole I often am. So I better not believe what the rags write about me, especially because recently another mag described me as "paranoid and delusional to the point of mental illness." So I guess the line between being paranoid and being a rock star is smaller than one would expect.

NYROCK:

Thinking back, you made some quotes about leaving a track of blood and sperm behind. That doesn't sound quite healthy to me. Could be a personal preference....

BRIAN:

I know, that quote is sticking to me like chewing gum to a shoe. Notice I'm acting quite grown up. I didn't say dog shit. But honestly, I was young; I was crazy; I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist and due to my own naivete, ignorance and stupidity, I mutated into some sort of comic figure. I had a real identity crisis. [grins] One of my many crises.

NYROCK:

You had a little run in with Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit. Seems to be a habit with him. Now what did you guys do to deserve the honor of being insulted by diva Fred?

BRIAN:

Oh, that's a long story. I'll try to make it short. It all happened at the New York K-Rock life show and, personally, I think it's quite a funny story and Durst is a complete psycho who fancies himself too much.

Anyway, Kid Rock was supposed to open for us and this, well, Fred Durst was presenting, as some sort of conferencer or something. Unfortunately, nobody told us. Also, nobody bothered telling us that Kid Rock picked up two strippers along the way, and that he had his rapping midget Joe C and pony with him on stage. It was unbelievable. Even the pony had its own dressing room. Honestly, we thought they were taking the piss. I mean who wants to go on stage after a rapping dwarf, something with hooves and a couple of strippers – especially in front of a bunch of homophobic Americans? Then Durst strolled on stage to announce out, really made a great entrance and our tour manager lost it and yelled, "Who the fuck are you?" Poor Freddy didn't find it particularly funny and after our gig he freaked out completely. He started yelling and insulted us in front of everybody, the psycho. From there on it somehow escalated a bit, ha ha.

April 2001

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