March issue #7
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 offering them recording contracts, David Bowie wants them for a
supporting slot on his tour and they release a top three UK single with
Androgynous lead singer Brian Molko starts acting like the ultimate rock
star (much to the delight of the forever drama-hungry UK press) and the
band Placebo are well on their way to success. Two years on 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 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 Englishmen 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 American schoo 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 American but he's 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 very unexpectedly. It was Brian
and my first band and 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 come out at the time it was out. The casting
director for Velvet Goldmine fell in love with the press and offered us
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 About Us". This album's sort of a bit more melancholic as well.
It reflects a lot our lives 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 heart
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
I hear you're coming to Australia is this true?
Yeah. We're going to be there in the spring time (April-May). We'll be
touring and doing promotional stuff as well because we've never been there