Brian Molko, Les Inrockuptibles, 26th May 2009 (Placebo interview, press)
| PLACEBO WORDZ |
Placebo Songs commented
by Brian, Steve and Stefan
| Brian Molko, Les Inrockuptibles, 26th May 2009 |
Placebo had almost disappeared. In a black hole with no bottom, where they were pushed by the routine of excesses and abuses at the time of Meds. An album more comatose than medicinal with wich the band - and a part of its public- came close to the overdose: unable to try out new ideas, bruised by its lifestyle, the never-ending touring, and calamitous internal relationships, Placebo had almost thrown in the towel. But this band that he started as an emergency exit to a dreary life was too important to Brian Molko to let it run.
In its corner, the trio rebuilt itself, has rediscovered the simple joy of playing, life without drugs or alcohol, a career without a major-compagny to harry them. A new label, indy this time, new drummer, new vim, new cravings: it's a Brian Molko quite enthousiastic and relieved to walk away from those dark years, who received us at home in London.
Interview without stonewalling.
The new album begins with these words: "I need a change of skin."
Brian Molko – There really is a feeling of rebirth. After Meds we were at the end of our contract with our major, it forced us to ask ourselves the question: what future do we imagine for Placebo? It was time for a big cleaning, we were not happy anymore in this band. If we had not taken the bull by the horns, we would have kept the band in survival for several years before an inevitable decline. I have not sacrificed everything for fifteen years to let the band dying away. When an angle in a triangle collapses, it jeopardizes the entire balance. We were growing apart from each others, it was affecting the creativity. Instead of standing together like at our beginnings, Stefan and I huddled in our corner, by survival instinct, Placebo, instead of being a band, became a brand, a simple brand: I was in the compromise, without any sincerity, I had the impression I was going to work with colleagues less and less close to me. It was a travesty of democracy.
When did you feel that Placebo was declining?
Brian Molko – During the recording of Meds ... We left the studio without pride, disunited, washed out. But there was a tour to achieve, then we marched to the front lines, as if nothing had happened. I hoped it would heal the wounds: it bruised them. For two years on the road, I really felt alone. I had no choice but to continue - I know nothing else, it's my destiny, my only value ...
With Stefan, we decided to get our band back, its spirit, the innocence it had when we were composing, in 1994 in a city housing ... We could no longer continue in this cynicism. Even on stage we were pretending, it was not "us against the rest of the world" anymore.
Specifically, the problem was your drummer, Steven Hewitt, with whom you had personal and musical differences. Did you set this in person?
Brian Molko – At the end of the tour we couldn't even look each other in the eye ... he was ... unpredictable, I was scared of his reaction, emotionally and even physically. So I told him by email, and then our manager officially announced him that he was no longer part of the band. That was two years ago, we haven't spoke again. Since then we have recruited another Steven on drums. His youth, his hunger, his optimism of a young Californian has been crucial for us. He had tattooed "Open Minded" on his knuckles, but not for fun. We needed him to get us out of our thirties-crisis to make us kids again.
Have you changed even your recording's patterns?
Brian Molko – While recording the new album, we forced ourselves to stay as far away as possible from rock, we were only listening to classical music, or the Fleet Foxes and Sigur Ros. It was important to live in a full void, quit our habits, temptations - that's why we left London for Canada. This was in reaction to Meds, to its black, claustrophobic, hopeless side - and also to its context of debauchery. I was dreaming of an album more positive, more colorful, in Technicolor rather than black and white coarse-grained ... We felt a real relief when we finished Battle For The Sun, we had surprised ourselves, got rid of our inhibitions ... We needed to challenge ourselves. We came back from the brink.
Before recording this new album, had you fallen into a routine?
Brian Molko – Since we started, fifteen years ago, there has never really been a break, a routine settled itself: writing, recording an album, then two years of touring, and then six months of idleness ... There the gap has been even longer since we had little desire to turn our music to a Major compagny, we wanted to fund all and do it all by ourselves. So the recording in Toronto of Battle For the Sun has been a real pleasure, without the marketing manager on our back to ask if we had a single in the works ... Even our manager didn't knew what we were doing. She was receiving invoices - brass and strings recordings - and was worried about what was going on ...
Are you eager to return to the stage?
Brian Molko – I need the public's feedback, its recognition. Here I am in doubt, the confusion, it kills me. I need to be on stage, financially, of course, but psychologically above all. This exhibitionism is as necessary for me as drinking and eating. Without the stage I could not be happy, accomplished.
You seem unable to stop when Placebo gives you a break, you record elsewhere, with others. Is that a headlong rush, a way to never rack your brains?
Brian Molko – I have to be constantly busy. Loneliness does not work for me, I can easily sink into total isolation. I was already like that as a kid, sidelined, alienated from others, even my family. I used to lock myself in my room, in Luxembourg, with my records and my guitar. It is very easy for me to relapse. I must fight against it: having too much time to think can be very harmful to me.
Can you readjust to everyday life after a tour?
Brian Molko – I avoid to go directly home, I still travel a bit, I go through stages of decompression. For two months, everything I do is sleep. All diseases that I managed to postpone for two years of touring then fall over me. I emerge from a bubble, I feel weak, absent, reluctant to do anything ... I'm there for nobody, I fade. On tour, every decision is taken by someone else, I become totally dependent and it eat me up to be so dependant, I would often like to cook, do my laundry ... When I come back home, I regain some skills, autonomy. Doing dishes and cleaning becomes a necessity.
Did this band come up to your expectations?
Brian Molko – Since I am 14-15 years, all the decisions I made in my life went in this direction: to find my way, by the theater, the cinema and then the music, to deny the working world. Blindly, I believed in my lucky star. I remember, when I was a kid, sitting on the toilet, answering imaginary interviews ... In my head, it was never question of "if I succeed? "... I cut all the bridges behind me for this dream. Living in my dreams, it was a form of protection. I felt totally divorced from society, I knew I could not find my place in it.
To be Placebo singer, did you have to create a character, forcing yourself?
Brian Molko – I had, it was my answer to success, I invented a character very confident, brash, yelling - that was an exaggeration of myself. A circus freak and a party freak... It is a way to stop feeling anything, to deceive my lack of confidence, the hate of myself... And also part company with a chronic depression that follows me since adolescence. Because if I could speak through songs, I was unable to do it everyday ... But I had to finally kill this character, to face it. It took place shortly after the recording of Meds, which was a veritable orgy of drugs and abuse - this was the way we draped ourselves in the veil of denial, refusing to see that Placebo was not doing well ... I was totally addicted to drugs and alcohol, I went to a clinic to heal (silence) ... Four days after I left the hospital, I went on tour. In solidarity, Stefan has also stopped to drink, it was the first time we were touring sober, it was terrifying ... After so many gigs being drunk or high, I realize how much I disespected the public. Today, all that I feel on stage is true, while until now all my emotions were distorted by what I was taking ... It exacerbated my discomfort: I was on stage, in front of dozens of people with my face on their T-shirt, who were screaming "I love you" while I hated myself. I wanted to shout to them : "You would not like me if you knew me ..." But whatever the mythology says, you sing better, you play better when you are sober ... During the recording of the new album , in the studio, I was both mentally and physically present (laughs) ...
You grew up in Belgium, Luxembourg, England, with an American father with French and Italian origins and a Scottish mother. Did you missed roots?
Brian Molko – At home I was torn: my mother was very religious, my father was a businessman, and both, for different reasons, didn't agree with my desire for an artistic career ... Since childhood I had to cut my own path with a machete, I knew there was nothing to wait from others, that one day I would show them they were wrong, that I had something ... It gave me the strength and determination to become myself. This uprooted side had with no doubt contributed to the fact that I feel nowhere at home. It had especially encouraged my solitude. I would have loved to belong to a culture, a family, a clique, but it was out of reach to me. That's why I started Placebo: as a substitute family. It is not just a band that's my raison d'être.
Once again the subject of drugs comes back on this album. Can you live without them?
Brian Molko – It's not hypochondria, I just have to take medications to heal my depression. For a long time as a teenager, I lived with this pain that had no name. I was 25 years when a doctor finally diagnosed my depression. It was a relief to know that I was sick, that it was not something that I was inflicting on myself, that I had no control over my emotions, my permanent sadness. The only positive side is that I have sought to overcome the pain with creativity, hoping to find a form of therapy. One can not imagine how it is a relief to finally know you are sick, not crazy.
Brian Molko, Les Inrockuptibles, 26th May 2009
Source : Les inrockuptibles
PLACEBO WORDZ HOME