Placebo’s Brian Molko on touring with ‘mentor’ David Bowie
PLACEBO say they have David Bowie to thank for helping them stick to their guns — and their guyliner.
The gender-bending Britpop giants recalled how, in the mid-’90s, they controversially wore make-up and nail polish on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops.
Frontman Brian Molko, 44, exclusively told Guilty Pleasures: ‘There were lots of complaints. People couldn’t figure out my gender.
‘I was surprised it was such a big deal. My reaction was, “This is the ’90s! What’s so shocking about a c**k in a frock?” There were no bands doing it at that time. Of course, Bowie and Lou Reed had done it in the ’70s but, at that time, we were the only ones cross-dressing and playing with androgyny as an aesthetic.
‘Our first album came out at the height of Britpop, so we stood out like a sore thumb. It was a political act. From day one, we wanted to challenge the homophobia we were witnessing in the music scene. That pushed us to be more outrageous.’
Bowie, who died last year, had plucked Placebo from a house share in London’s Deptford to take them on the road as his support act.
Molko said: ‘I was living on income support and housing benefit. The phone rang and my manager said, “Do you want to go on tour with David Bowie?” I said yes.’
Recalling an ‘extremely generous human being’, the Nancy Boy singer said of Bowie: ‘He became my friend and, to a greater degree, a mentor.
‘We spent five years touring with him as his support band. I learnt so much from our conversations, from seeing him perform every night; he was quite a sage and a raconteur.
‘He gave us “rock’n’roll life” hats. I remember him saying, “Whatever you do, never ever lose your spontaneity”.
‘He was very comfortable in his own skin. Very open and generous with his time. One couldn’t wish for a better apprenticeship.’
Meanwhile, Molko says he and bandmate Stefan Olsdal, 43, were lucky to come out on the other side of Britpop partying. He added: ‘I know people who are my age behaving like they did in the ’90s. I think that is a bit of a shame. I’m very much aware I am not 25 any more. My priorities have changed and I am happy about that.’
To mark 20 years in the game, Placebo are auctioning 300 items collected throughout their career for the charities Calm (Campaign Against Living Miserably) and The Mercy Centre children’s charity in Bangkok.
Author: Andrei Harmsworth