Brian Molko, Taratata, 05th June 2009, translation (Placebo interview, press)
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Placebo Songs commented
by Brian, Steve and Stefan
| Brian Molko, Taratata, 05th June 2009 |
Placebo at Taratata : Streaming
(Brian Molko's French is sometimes a bit awkward, sorry...)
(Interview in French : here)
[For What It's Worth]
[Battle For The Sun]
Nagui: It is a great honor and a great pleasure to have you back in Taratata Placebo.
Brian: Thank you, thank you very much.
Summary of Placebo's career through the covers they had done.
"But in fact Brian, is there a song that you dream to cover, if you do, can you sing it a capella now ?"
Brian sings the chorus of Total Eclipse Of The Heart.
Nagui: How do you work you and Stefan? Do you work each on your own? Does each one do demos to try and surprise the other?
Brian: kind of both, we write in the rehearsal room together, but we often write separately in tour bus or at home and we send each other things via e-mail these days.
Nagui: Do you sometimes don't agree on some covers? I understand that Stefan wanted to cover Daddy Cool from Boney M?
Brian: No it was for our forther drummer's daughter, as a birthday present.
Nagui: Daddy Cool?
Brian: hum hum...
Nagui: Ok, but you still have covered this song ?
Brian: Yeah, yeah absolutely.
Nagui: Which is more similar to something disco than glam rock...
Brian: Of course but we are children of the 80's, we grew up with disco and the Gibson Brothers, Claude François etc.
Nagui: Alexandrie Alexandra?
Brian: Yeah, when I was a kid, in the living room, I used to do the Claudette's dance.
(Dancing and laughter)
Nagui: so there are references that are often used, there is someone who has been very important. We will do an interview a bit different, with music, so we will listen to songs and you will tell us what it brings back in your mind.
[Changes - David Bowie]
Nagui: What can you tell us about the impact of David Bowie on you?
Brian: Well, when you're a very young band in the 90's, it was 95 I think and before we had recorded our first album. David Bowie asked us to go on tour with him to open his gigs . And then it was amazing, because before that we were playing in halls for 300 people and then we were in front of thousands and thousands of people and learned a lot thank to that and a relationship was formed and we even did a single with him.
Nagui: Yes he really tried to help you get started.
So you said that David Bowie is someone who talks a lot, man to man.
Brian: He is a great storyteller.
Nagui: And what is it like to speak with him ?
Brian: He told us stories about Marc Bolan, Bowie has always been a very social person so he had known and he knows almost everyone, so you just have to mention someone and then he tells you something about him.
Nagui: And professionally you learned things from him, i.e. you learned that you have to free all possible and imaginable facets of your personality, because he plays with that , with his androgynous side even when creating characters like Ziggy and without really knowing if it is him who speaks or a character he has made up.
Brian: I think he taught me to never be afraid, really, to follow your ambition at 100% and to often do errors also, anything you do can't be 100% successful, but the important thing is to try and take risks.
Nagui: To let go in terms of look, because if there is an artist who has created looks and characters on each cover's graphic, what he did, including painting his nails, singing with boas around the neck wearing make up, did you drawn your inspiration from these? You said to yourself "I will play with this ambiguity, with the androgynous side"?
Brian: No it was not really Bowie who influenced me, that was when I started university in London and I had very long hair and everyone took me for a girl so I told myself "oh that's interesting".
Nagui: But they would take you for a girl with aggressiveness?
Brian: Not really, I was at a party, something like that, I got hit on by guys every 5 minutes, then "and what's your name?", "Brian", "NO?! ".
And then they run. (laughs)
Nagui: Ok they run.
[Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll - Ian Dury]
Nagui: The question is more, I want to say, on the title than on the artist, unless you have something to say about him in this case.
Brian: No, Ian Dury is not really a big musical influence.
Nagui: But then sex and drugs and rock'n'roll, that's three mouvances, three great expressions...
Brian: This is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Nagui: Maybe, I don't know, tell me what it brings back to you?
Nagui: For which one of the three?
Brian: Not the rock'n'roll I hope.
Nagui: No joke, you have much spoken, much communicated in interviews, and you said recently in an interview "it was perhaps too much". But you talked a lot about your sexual preferences within the band, you also talked a lot about drugs while playing rock'n'roll. Are you really sorry to have spoken about it too much, because it was all that remained?
Brian: A little bit, because people have stopped talking about music and we became the band formed by drunk drag queens.
Nagui: No, it was not what I mean, there was a hetero, there was a bi and there was a homo, meaning that there were the three sexual trends represented within the band, it's what I read in all the interviews, it emerged as this , like, alright we have placed the three in the same...
Brian: That was something more political, we really wanted... to promote tolerance and it was more a political act I think, not something to get promotion.
Nagui: And it worked, because there are I think, some fans or other musicians who feel more at ease thanks to the coming out that you did, that made them feel better about themselves...
Brian: Yes, well I hope.
Nagui: If it enables that, that's something at least and open the minds a bit and tolerance.
On drugs there is a beautiful phrase that you said, telling that those who are against drugs should discard all of their rock'n'roll records.
Brian: Yeah, because the Beatles were so high they even let the singer, heu... the drummer sing.
Nagui: Yeah you have to be well high, ok you don't like Ringo Star, I got it.
But no joke, drugs matches strangely well with the world of rock'n'roll, it seems it is an obligation to take drugs when you're a rock star.
Brian: I think that this is not necessarily required, I think that it's something that is everywhere in society and we try to be like a mirror to society, then in our songs, we thought it was impossible not to talk about what it means to be an emotional animal here in the 20th century, because it's in the 20th century that we started, without mentionning this subject.
[Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana]
Nagui: So, depending on the time in the life of Brian Molko when you make him listen to this record, the comment is not always the same, ie at the beginning : Nirvana = No.
Brian: No, I was... when it was released, it was 91, I was at university, I was a snob from independent music and for me ...
Nagui: It was too commercial?
Brian: Absolutely yeah too commercial. So I didn't listened to it and I don't know, it's perhaps two or three years later, after the death of Kurt Cobain that I started to really enjoy their music.
Nagui: But you realize that many artists can listen to Placebo and say "Placebo is commercial"?
Brian: Absolutely, absolutely.
Nagui: And then?
Brian: So, pffff, in two-three years after my death, they will find me good enough.
Nagui: Yes that's right, you should always wait for the afterlife.
But you still want to be among the best bands in the world? There is no snob side.
Brian: But we're already the best band in the world.
Nagui: Excuse me excuse me, I didn't read all my files, that's why...
Brian: you have to do better research Nagui...
Nagui: yeah yeah I should improve my work.
So there are many Anglo-Saxon artists. You speak french very well, multiple origins are flowing in your blood, that's what make the richness of your culture and in addition you love the French culture, you love to read in French and there was a gig, a French gig held in Luxembourg, it's perhaps the first gig you attended and which give you the desire to go on stage and make music.
Brian: It was more the desire to be on TV, because it was in Arlon just across the border with Luxembourg, where I lived, I was 11 years, there was a Téléphone gig and my brother brought me and it was filmed by the Luxembourg television and then six months later I saw myself on TV, I thought oh wow.
"Hey! What a nice mug!"
Nagui: You were happy to be on TV...
Nagui: That's crazy, is that the gig in question ?
(The gig where we can see Brian is aired. A DVD of the concert is waiting for him in his dressing room, Brian is in ecstasy)
[Wouldn't It Be Good]
Nagui: A record resolutely more turned toward the light and the sun, we can say it's much less obscure in terms of lyrics and mood, more colorful.
Brian: Well, I hope, because it was our aim. With Placebo, each album is a reaction against the last and Meds was a record really very, very dark, very claustrophobic, quite suffocating, it was like looking the personal suffering of those characters that exist in these songs into the microscope. And this time we wanted to do something more optimistic and much more colorful and something much more heavy and Wide Screen.
Nagui: Even if... it doesn't disappoint but surprise a little the public or your fans who tend to see things in a dark, obscure way?
Brian: uh ... well (silence, then sigh).
Nagui: it's a risk, you agree?
Brian: OK, maybe, it's very possible, but I won't censor myself artistically because of that.
Nagui: I understood, but in some of your gigs, I usually come across boys and girls wearing black make up, with a lock of hair falling over their face and thinking that life is rotten and that it is going wrong instead of girls in string with red wigs, saying "Yeahhhhh carpe diem"!
Brian: So what kind of music do you have to do to get girls like that at your gigs? Tell me?
Nagui: You must play Brazilian music!
Brian: Ok, so the next album will be samba!
Nagui: But I provoque you a bit here on purpose, because I am against cliché but...
Brian: We both know that life is not rotten, that life makes sense and if we can talk to people who believe that this is the case and listen to us, I think it's something very positive.
Nagui: Optimistic. Ok.
And then we can feel the one who gave life and who also tell himself that things must go better. When you give life, it is also for a more shining future.
Brian: Absolutely, we must choose life.
[The Never Ending Why]
Nagui: The Never Ending Why, the endless question, the question that comes back steadily. Then of course there is a positive side, but we must fight to get this light and something positive, so it's not as simple as that.
Brian: I would say that maybe the battle is the most important thing and to have the desire to fight.
Nagui: So what is this song about? Some chaos? A sort of knight who is fighting with his mate just to get through and uh ...
Brian: No I think this song is about... we all want answers, but if we spend our whole lives seeking answers, you don't live your life and it's perhaps better to not seek all the answers, because there are questions that will never be answered.
Nagui: What is important for you, to get something, ie get the happiness or the road to happiness?
Brian: The road, the experience, it's the journey, the journey itself is more important because it's where we learn most, as soon as you arrive, well...pof you're there, I don't know, you go to the pub (laughs), but it's the road wich is ...
Nagui: the road to happiness rather than happiness right?
Brian: I hope.
Nagui: So it's called Kitty Litter. How can we translate Kitty Litter?
Brian: It's the cat litter.
Nagui: That's right, I was afraid, because in fact this song and these lyrics are extremely sensual, nearly erotic...
Brian: it's a very libidinous song.
Nagui: And what does it have to do with the cat litter?
Brian: (with a big smile) Nothing
Nagui: I'm afraid of a wordplay...
Brian: But it's because (laughs) no no no no not at all, it's because I and Stefan began to write this song, I don't know, 14 or 15 years ago and we never finished it, there were no lyrics, and we had already called it Kitty Litter in 1994 because we thought it was funny and then it stuck.
Naguy: So what is it about? It's a love story?
Brian: No it's rather a story about...
Nagui: distance, parting?
Brian: Distance and parting and the need to see someone, and have an unstoppable desire...
Nagui: Instoppable right now...
Brian: Yeah, following this desire even when you are out of sight...
Naguy: Out of sight, out of mind...
Brian: Yeah a bit like that, yeah, but the character in this song feels, feels a bit guilty for this, but he can't help it.
Naguy: Ah the sex appeal, the sex appeal !!!
Naguy: It was Placebo's name before Placebo, you were named Ashtray Heart at the very beginning.
Brian: Yeah it was a song and it's a song by Captain Beefheart, and we drawn our inspiration from it for two weeks, the band was called Ahtray Heart for 2 or 3 weeks and then it became placebo after that.
But this song is .... It was never intended to be used for Placebo, I wrote it with two friends of mine, we write songs together for fun and this one ...
Naguy: But why didn't you want to use it?
Brian: Because, because of this connection to Ashtray Heart etc., we had written it, we would sell it to someone. And we wrote in Nicaragua, because there is Spanish in it Cenicero cenicero mi corazon, and I was the only smoker, I was on vacation in Nicaragua and I was always asking in every restaurant, in every coffee a cenicero cenicero . We had the demo for this song, we listened to it while driving across Nicaragua and it's how the song was written. And this is the first song which is on a Placebo album that I didn't write with Stefan.
Brian Molko, Taratata (french TV show), 05th June 2009
Source : France 4
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