something for the masses
aug 99

A gift from the god of music rendered put Placebo on the musical map. So says singer Brian Molko.
You'd expect Placebo to have an eye on writing another "Pure Morning" as their imagined future of music, considering it was that song which elevated them from UK indie Next Big Things to successful international touring artists, and which saved them from being forever labelled as a band more based in androgyny than good rock & roll.

But as lead singer and songwriter Brian Molko indicates, the last minute creation of the song which eventually became the lead track for the Without You I'm Nothing album was the one per cent inspiration which followed the four years' perspiration.

"It was completely spontaneous." he says. "It was a gift from the God of Music, who descended from the skies and said 'Here boys, you've been working really hard, have a hit.'"

For the moment they're busy riding this one out. It's taken them around the world, where the hangovers they installed partying with Brit backpacker mates could excuse the band's flagrant wearing of shades indoors.

Arranged around a plush hotel entertainment area, the band are non-plussed at the specifics of touring (sick of media workload, they're glad they at least have a roadie who can forget their signatures). But they're all too aware that the immediate future holds... more of this. This August they're touring with silverchair across Australia, anything but the well trodden boards of home stages. With a fast gathering fanbase and the new satisfaction of playing to punters who are beginning to sing along to songs other than the hit sinbgle, Placebo are finally dragging someunderstanding from the US market.

"The UK is a very small place," says Molko. "We feel we have bigger fish to fry..." And where do the Americans, presumably thrown by the band's blend of Euro quasi-Goth nihilism and poppy Sonic Youth-style guitaring, place the newcomers?

"They place us in the bargain bin," he laughs. "We're still very much underdogs there. There's still a cult status simply because we refuse to release cover versions as singles, and take a shortcut to the Top 10, like Limp Bizkit and Orgy. And Lavish as well."

This dig at their previous Autralian touring partners' carbon copy cover of "Homosapien" hints at the band's wishes for the future of music.

In a world of workmanlike average guitar/tech/pop bands, Placebo would love to find some halfway decent competition. "Stereophonics [the hype in the UK at the time] are so proletarian in their approach, and that seems to be a real working class ethic. It's not very inspirational," says Molko. "Apart from [Glaswegians] Mogwai and Idlewild, there's not a lot going on."

Well may they throw down the gauntlet. Not only has Without You I'm Nothing demonstrated itself to be a chart contender, but the band's rock exploits, the inspiration of the sex, drugs and rock & roll lyricism of the album, have also been tempered in favour of a more manageable work ethic.

"Responsibilities have increased greatly," Molko explains. "You have so much on your plate that it gets really difficult to keep up that level of hedonism. So, you get a bit older and you get into the work aspect of things more. Doing your job better, as opposed to slobbering all over it."


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