Projekt Revolution Tour 8/26/07 Hartford, CT 3:15 p.m.
Between sips of Red Bull and long drags on three (I counted) Marlboro Lights, Brian Molko, the lead singer of Placebo – the best of six main stage acts at Linkin Park’s 2007 Projekt Revolution tour — acted calm and cozy less than two hours before show time. I found Molko, once infamous for pushing the envelope with androgynous costumes and irreverent lyrics, surprisingly normal. He carried the conversation in much the same way he lead Placebo onstage: with an old soul’s mix of humor, maturity and impatience.
Scene&Heard: How did Placebo get to be one of six main stage acts at this year’s Projekt Revolution?
Brian Molko: We’re here because Linkin Park invited us. Chester [Bennington] and Mike [Shinoda] are fans of the band.
S&H: How would you describe the dynamic between all these different bands?
Molko: It’s a really good vibe backstage. Linkin Park are very approachable – not only are they approachable but they approach you. There are no big egos floating around – it’s great… I was kind of expecting there to be a lot of people running around backstage with bottles of Jack Daniels and ruby sluts hanging off their arms… But it’s been really cool. It hasn’t been that rock-and-roll cliché. Which I’m really happy about, because I’m not a particularly big fan – not a fan at all – of that rock-and-roll cliché.
(More after the jump)
S&H: What do you mean exactly by “rock-and-roll cliché”?
Molko: The cliché of the troubled songwriter who wakes up in the morning, kicks the groupies out of his bed, shoots heroin into his eye and starts screaming poetry to the moon. We’ve been signed since 1996 so, you know, we’ve done our fair share of all of that nonsense.
S&H: And you’ve grown out of it?
Molko: Oh Abso-Fucking-Lutely. Yeah. The thing is, that rock-and-roll lifestyle is real hard work and it’s just not worth it. The consequences are not worth it at all.
S&H: The consequences on…?
Molko: Your life… and your music, your creativity, your sanity, your ability to function on a day to day basis. It ruins you. I don’t know if you’ve seen the video for meds, [but] that’s what we were trying to get across in that video: That everybody thinks that this rock-and-roll lifestyle is something to aspire to when, in fact, it’s something very dangerous and soul-destroying.
S&H: What’s the significance of the title of your newest recorded album, “Meds”? How does the title tie all the songs together?
Molko: It’s called “Meds” because we couldn’t think of anything else to call it. We try not to place undue emphasis on one song in the album, but [the title] seemed to fit. The record itself is about addiction and anesthesia . When [bassist Stefan Olsdal and I] were writing it, I realized that was the theme that was starting to emerge. When a theme starts to emerge, instinctively, you notice it…and then you start to follow it.
S&H: Do you mean “addiction and anesthesia” in reference to drugs, or does “Meds” go beyond that?
Molko: [Addiction and anesthesia extends to] other people, for example, or love, or God, or whatever you use to get through the day. Whether they be prescribed by a doctor or preached at you from a pulpit… whether it’s obsessional love, or lack thereof.
S&H: Projekt Revolution has taken you across the United States, starting on the West Coast and then making your way up. What have you seen change from venue to venue, and do you play the same songs at each gig?
Molko: Well, we started this tour with a lot of bravado because we’d spent 18 months touring the world, preaching to the choir. We walked out on stage in Seattle dressed in our French designer clothing, like we would in Europe, played our melancholic songs and then went down like a complete lead balloon. We had to really rethink it. It took us about four gigs to find the right set [of songs]. I think we realized that at 5 p.m. in the afternoon Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance fans didn’t want to be wooed with melancholia; they wanted to be slapped across the face with noisy guitars. So we’re doing a very kind of punk rock show featuring songs we haven’t played in years, such as “Pure Morning” and “Nancy Boy.”
S&H: Really? I thought you vowed not to play those particular songs again.
Molko: We don’t play them anymore. They were exhumed. But, it adds to the challenge: How do you play with sincerity a song that you have made a choice to never play again? And because you’re in a particular situation, you have to be flexible and not be precious.
S&H: You mentioned that Projekt Revolution audiences don’t want to hear melancholia? Is melancholy music what Placebo makes now, as opposed to before?
Molko: I think a lot of songs on all of our albums are a bit melancholic, [although] they have their upbeat moments. Some of our songs are musically upbeat, but lyrically melancholic. As a songwriter, I’ve always explored my own melancholia in order to understand it… I try to do something creative and positive with it so I can externalize it and have some… catharsis. I try to live my life in a very positive way filled with light and laughter, and that requires a very positive frame of mind… I don’t think I could have this positive frame of mind without having this outlet for all the emotions within me which I find difficult. Our music is often melancholic and dark so our lives don’t have to be.
S&H: Placebo’s music has been featured on the soundtracks for both the movie “Cruel Intentions” and the television series “The O.C.” Do you think that allowed your band to reach a wider audience?
Molko: America’s a difficult market for bands who aren’t American and for bands who don’t live in America. There’s just so many bands here! In a way, a band like us who’s out of London [and has] had the cult following in the U.S. – when it’s offered these opportunities, such as ‘Cruel Intentions,’ ‘The O.C.’ and Projekt Revolution, they’re too good to turn down.
S&H: Placebo has been around for well over ten years now. Do you ever think about your influence on younger bands, particularly those performing at Projekt Revolution?
Molko: I don’t think about it because I have an extremely strong desire never to become Billy Corgan and to walk around thinking that way – to go around thinking, “That’s me, that’s me, that’s my look, I influenced that person, that’s my song just rearranged that’s … It just turns you into an asshole, an asshole that believes his own bullshit. So I just don’t want to think about it. I want to keep my feet on the ground.”
Listen to Placebo at http://www.myspace.com/placebo
Buy the new record on iTunes