I first interviewed Placebo in June 1996 -- the week before they released their eponymous debut album.Placebo were right on the cusp of their big breakthrough and there was a real buzz going around about the boys. Mainly about their tiny androgyne singer, Brian Molko.
In retrospect, that first interview with Placebo was hilarious. No one had suspected, then, that the band's gangling bleached-bomb bombshell bassist Stefan Olsdal was gay.And when he came out in Melody Maker last summer it sent out one of those gentle shockwaves that made me remember just why I love this thing called pop.Brian Molko's father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become a banker, but the Placebo frontman was determined to carve out a career in music instead.Ahead of the band's gig next week, he tells Simon Fallaha why a desk job wasn't for him. But the distinctly passionate drive and soul of lead singer Brian Molko's high-pitched vocals, regularly accompanied by memorable opening guitar riffs, painfully prominent drum beats and bitterly provocative lyrics, transcends the mere idea of "pleasing everyone".I've written before about how all this reminded me of what happened with Suede's drummer, Simon Gilbert, a few years earlier -- with all the press attention focused on an alluringly ambiguous front man, no one bothers to ask about the rest of the group.
I recently played back the tape of our first encounter and was shocked to discover that I actually asked Stefan a few queer questions. Maybe it was just because I love seeing straight boys squirm.
At some of their early live shows, people stared at the make-up on his face, laughed at his long black hair and just weren't sure if he was a boy or a girl ("It's a boy!
" joked the headline on their first NME front cover).
It all came up to that point when his mother saw Brian as a faithful priest in her dreams.
But they all crashed down with the beginning of puberty.
Born in Brussels in 1972 to an American father and a Scottish mother, his father's career saw Brian frequently move around through his childhood, from Dundee to Liberia to Lebanon to Belgium.