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Placebo with host David Bowie
Chat Transcription - 29/3/99

This Event was produced by SonicNet and hosted on Yahoo! Chat


David Bowie: We're ready to start.

(Reading)... David, please get an opening statement from the band. (Finished reading).

Well, before I go to the opening statement I am of course David Bowie, and I'm going to be the host of this chat. This chat is presented by SonicNet in association with Virgin Records. We're being hosted by Yahoo! We're doing a video broadcast of this chat, it's going to be produced by Globix Streaming Media Group, and it's being streamed by Broadcast.com. I'd like to introduce everyone from Placebo. First on my immediate right is...

Brian Molko: My name is Brian... Brian Molko. I sing, play guitar, sometimes bass. And I'm just the general prima donna of the band.

David Bowie: And to his right is the extremely virile...

Stefan Olsdal: Stefan... I play a lot of bass, bit of guitar and keyboards. And I am the Viking from Vulcan. (laughter).

David Bowie: And to his far right, a coochie-looking guy, whose birthday it just was, and who's received a wonderful guitar from the rest of the band I'm green with envy.

Steve Hewitt: Steve... I play drums, percussion, and just generally keep everybody else in line.

David Bowie: I'm going to take a lot of questions from out-there-world. Opening question is going to be: Hi Brian, I would like to know about the music that influenced you as a teenager.

Brian Molko: As a teenager I remember around the age of thirteen becoming quite obsessed with Jello Biafra and The Dead Kennedys. They were a perfect avenue for me to stream all of my teenage angst into. So there was a bit of American post-punk in there. Around the age of 16 I kind of discovered Sonic Youth, which changed a lot. Mr. Bowie of course, and the Stooges, Iggy. Also a very big discovery for me, and an important one, was the first PJ Harvey album. The emotional depth and the confessional quality of the songwriting had a very strong impression on me.

David Bowie: Did you find, any of you, that when you moved from your teenage years to your twenties, that the actual need and reason for music in your life changed? Or has it always maintained the same value for you?

Stefan Olsdal: Well, I moved from a serious rock and heavy metal stage in my teenage years guess that's the power of loud guitars and sort of heavy beats, it's a way for your teenage frustrations to come out.

David Bowie: Is it because one feels very impotent as a teenager?

Stefan Olsdal: Yeah, yeah. I think you feel it on the outside, you feel the extreme guys in sort of leather, and sweaty, with the long hair, just sort of turning everything up to 10.

David Bowie: Did you like bands that bled for their music?

Stefan Olsdal: No, it was a bit more contained than that, more melodic, I guess.

Brian Molko: I think as a teenager you feel a great deal of alienation, because you're this kind of ball of hormones and you feel like you're a young adult trapped in a kids body, and everybody's still treating you like a kid. Music sort of becomes a means of escape, really, and I guess the difference between that is that music has become a means of expression.

David Bowie: Does it also seem that, when you're a teenager, that the rest of the world has all the answers and that all that oneself has is all questions? And that sort of drives us at the outside, because you feel kind of insecure that you don't know all the answers so you start making up your own answers?

Steve Hewitt: Yeah, I think so. I mean, from your teenages into your twenties you start looking for more identification within yourself. You start looking at music and looking for music that makes you feel you know

David Bowie: I think that before the Second World War well, maybe earlier, maybe up to the First World War, there was no such thing as being a teenager, you'd go from being a boy to being a man. I wonder what happened to those years that we call thirteen to, like, twenty-one? I wonder what people felt like at that time, when they had no recognisable categories to pop into?

Brian Molko: They used to get married a lot earlier, go off to sea a great deal earlier.

David Bowie: Damn right!

Brian Molko: Conceiving a great deal earlier. People put it down to James Dean a lot, don't they? They say that he was the first teenager, the first rebel. Which is an interesting concept.

David Bowie: People like Baudelaire also, in another era. They were the first kind of dreamy teens, in a way. Poetic and romantic.

Brian Molko: The ones who refused to grow up.

David Bowie: The ones who refused, point blank, anything.

Stefan Olsdal: I think a lot of the kids started working a lot earlier, in the family businesses for example. Like my grandparents were farmers, and in that situation when you were thirteen you were put to work, you were an extra hand supporting the family, basically. With the pressure of that, I think you were expected to work at manual labour a lot earlier.

David Bowie: Here's an odd question do you feel that you missed out on something by not having experienced a war, not having gone through a war as serving military? But you probably were in the military, weren't you, Stefan?

Stefan Olsdal: No, I wasn't. I escaped.

David Bowie: But just the experience itself, do you think maybe it's an element of a male human's life that's not fully explored unless it's taken part in? There's one thing that we're very good at, which is hostility.

Steve Hewitt: Yeah. As a teenager, when I was growing up, you feel that from past generations. You know, "we were in the war, and you should feel yourself very lucky that you didn't have to go through it." Which is a good thing it's not something that anybody should have to go through, war. I think the generation gaps now getting wider, because there are less and less wars now. But there's definitely a pressure from past generations, and it's hard to realise and embrace your heritage if you've never been anywhere near that.

David Bowie: Do you think the need to shock is a kind of a mutation of that aggression, that sort of is channelled in another way?

Brian Molko: Well, perhaps it's the enemy within instead, it's the enemy inside, you know?

David Bowie: Ooooh!

Brian Molko: It's the enemy within your own society as opposed to the one that's overseas. Perhaps that's where a provocative desire and a confrontational desire comes from.

David Bowie: Here someone asks, "with your initial image, were you attempting to shock people and make them sit up and take notice, or were you just being yourselves?"

Brian Molko: Well, we've gotten more extreme as the time goes on, as the years go on. I think it happens with most bands the more you tour, the more you feel like a freak, and the more it comes out in the way you look.

David Bowie: Anyone that stands out in front of five thousand people is a freak. (laughter). I think it shows bucket-loads of dysfunctionalism.

Brian Molko: The image kind of grew, it evolved. I think it was always inside of us, it wasn't a calculated sort of marketing move. We were lucky that we were able to express this identity, this side of ourselves, in our job and in our art. We're very lucky to be able to marry work with the love of our art anyway, and very lucky that we don't work in banks and that we can wear make-up whenever we please. And lucky that we can be adored and reviled for it.

Steve Hewitt: And be completely in control of touring as well, and have this space and situation where there's a complete amount of freedom why, we could do anything that we wanted to do. I think because of that there's a raise in the creativity, in any situation, and it manifests it becomes, it could become, uncontrollable.

Stefan Olsdal: And I think that in the music scene you don't want to just see a show, with guys who walk in off the street in jeans and t-shirt, you want to be taken to another dimension, this other world with someone that stands ten feet taller than you as an audience.

Brian Molko: An alternative reality, yeah. It's kind of like being placed on a pedestal, you know? I guess there is a kind of tradition that we do come from, you know, or that we're following through to, its the Velvets and Lou Reed, Iggy, and yourself. That ambiguity, but also that power. That ambiguity married with rock 'n' roll.

David Bowie: One tends to think it counters the Catholic church, but I think that rock has a lot to do with Shamanism, with the idea of ritual and slightly neater clothing, and congregation in an audience, and performers being the priest element. It's very tribal, and I think it goes back to the earliest dawn of man's need to bond together and find a mutual spirit.

Brian Molko: It's your preparation for the presentation of your identity, of your collective identity, to strangers. It's a very powerful position to be in, to be on stage, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you're in constant control of it, you know, which can be very exciting.

David Bowie: We have another question "Do you write all your songs from an autobiographical standpoint?" I think there's always been the question in rock music of if a song is autobiographical for an artists by virtue of being his song. You write from, maybe, autobiographical bases, but it has fanciful connotations, does that mean you lose your integrity by not writing from your own personal point of view? Aren't you really just making things up?

Brian Molko: No! Otherwise what you would be doing is essentially putting your diary on to tape, its kinda like believe lyrics are meant to be heard and not read, you know? It's about context, and I think all art is autobiographical in one way or another, but lyrics you have to compress, you have to slow, you have to compress things into a smaller space so that it has meaning and isn't waffling.

David Bowie: Why is it that certain groups of people, including the artist, find it important that more than ten people know what they think? It's not enough for them to say "that car has been parked outside number forty-six all week long," they need to stand up in front of 20,000 people and sing "that car has been parked in front of number forty-six all week long!" (laughter).

Brian Molko: It's a pathological desire to lay yourself naked.

David Bowie: It's very pathological, isn't it? What drives the artist to do this very asocial thing?

Brian Molko: It's the only thing that the artist can do to be happy, to not be miserable, to not be depressed.

David Bowie: Do you think he'd be better off locked up?

Brian Molko: Umm... No. (laughter). Every society that has tried to be historically fascistic in any way, like Stalinism or Nazism, has tried to squash their art first thing.

David Bowie: Democracy has had a pretty fair whack at it itself.

Brian Molko: Art's one of the most important forces in the world, and its quite shameful that still, in England in particular and in America, people still lack an education, that the first thing that gets axed is the art. Creating a nation of bankers.

David Bowie: Outside of the writing, do you guys involve yourselves in art?

Stefan Olsdal: There hasn't been much time for it we've been very busy. We've worked on films.

Brian Molko: A film which you particularly dislike. (laughter).

David Bowie: What's that, "Shakespeare In Love"? (laughter). "The David Bowie Story", isn't it?

Brian Molko: Yes, "The Velvet Goldmine". And we've done a bit of modelling, here and there. Modeling for Gucci.

David Bowie: You know, it wasn't that I disliked the film, it's just that I thought it wasn't terribly successful. The only bits that I liked in "Velvet Goldmine" were the gay bits. I thought they were really very well done and you really felt the heart of the director. But I thought the rest of the film wasn't very good. It felt very early-80's to me.

Stefan Olsdal: The thing for us as well, we didn't grow up during that time, so we weren't part of it. As young people, we didn't experience that era, and we don't really know what to compare it to.

David Bowie: I think that anybody who has lived through one era, and then looks at somebody from another period altogether, is going to be substantially touching the wrong keys, is bound to be just sort of out-of-sync. I think it produces this surreal idea of what it might have been like. It's a bit like the Jane Austen England books that you see on television, you get this incredibly parochial, pastoral world which was in fact probably a lot dirtier, smellier, more evil okay, SaintMarkHall asks: "Do you feel like you're part of the England invasion into the US?"

Brian Molko: No.

Steve Hewitt: Absolutely not.

Brian Molko: No. The important thing to realise about this band is that it is comprised of three nationalities American, Swedish, and British. We've never felt particularly British we're based in London, but its because we kind of fell there. There's always been a kind of cosmopolitan world view to what we do. I think bands that have comprised of several nationalities take Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, for example, or the Jimi Hendrix Experience it brings so much to the melting pot, culturally, it makes you culturally un-xenophobic as an artist. It's not the same as a group of four or five kids who grew up together in the same suburb in the North of England it's a very different point of view. So we don't feel like we're part of any English or British invasion we're far too international for that.

David Bowie: Agreed. SpacegirlBianca asks: "How did you become involved as the opening band for David at his birthday concert?"

Brian Molko: Aha!

David Bowie: Well, SpacegirlBianca, we actually go back a lot longer than that, don't we, guys!

Stefan Olsdal: We do!

Brian Molko: Would you like to explain how?

David Bowie: No, you tell the story. But I'll say that I spotted them, I thought they were a really terrific band. And Virgin let me have their very earliest things, including the song "Nancy Boy". I thought, That's a terrific song for a bunch of jacks to sing, I think they'll probably be huge!' (laughter). And we got together, and we were working together what year?

(Chorus): Ninety Six.

David Bowie: Ninety Six.

Stefan Olsdal: The "Outside" tour.

Brian Molko: We went from playing to three hundred people, maximum, in England, to thousands of people with you in Europe.

David Bowie: Yeah. From three hundred to well over four or five hundred some nights.

Brian Molko: Well over eight thousand, I think. (laughter). And you got hold of some of our demos, I think we had started touring with you before we had even started recording the first album.

David Bowie: And I kept on at them like a dog with a bone, excuse the pun, to put out "Nancy Boy", which of course became a very good song. All of their songs, of course, are very good. I think their songs are much better now.

Brian Molko: Well thank you.

David Bowie: But it's very consistent, isn't it, it's been a consistent relationship. I mean, it's not been steps and starts, I think we've brought together quite a lot.

Brian Molko: We toured "Outside" with you and most of "Earthling".

David Bowie: Yeah, it's been great, it's been a very good relationship, I've enjoyed it a lot. Watching them grow hopefully I shall watch them grow into old age as well. Because I'm never going to die. (laughter). Anyway, we have another question, from PunkInPink: "What do you think of Marilyn Manson? You seem to have little things in common, but you also seem to deserve a bit more respect."

Brian Molko: Well, I think Marilyn Manson's thing is probably quite considerably larger than mine, considering his height, but you never know.

Stefan Olsdal: It's all about the hands, though?

David Bowie: Aren't the feet supposed to come into it somewhere along the line?

Stefan Olsdal: The nose, maybe?

Brian Molko: We know each other, we've hung out on a few occasions. He's quite a fascinating character.

David Bowie: Yes, I read that you went to a gig together!

Brian Molko: Yes, we went to the local Goth club in London to freak out the little Goths.

David Bowie: How funny! Were they indeed little?

Brian Molko: Oh Jesus were they freaked out.

David Bowie: They were both little and freaked out?

Brian Molko: Yeah it wasn't actually as debauched as everyone would like to believe, the time we spent together. He's an incredibly intelligent individual, he's taking on the moral majority of this country, which is a good thing, and he's also incredibly ruthless, which is why he's become so successful so quickly.

David Bowie: Do you feel that that's necessary?

Brian Molko: A certain amount of ruthlessness is necessary.

David Bowie: How do you define ruthlessness? What would you stop at?

Brian Molko: Ruthlessness has a lot to do with protection, I think, you have to be above it all. You have to stop people from fucking with you, because they will at every chance they get. You have to preserve the unity in our case it's a triangle you have to preserve that.

David Bowie: Would you beat up a competitive band?

Stefan Olsdal: We don't get physical.

Brian Molko: No.

David Bowie: Would you blackmail a television producer to get on the show?

Brian Molko: No.

Stefan Olsdal: Not now.

David Bowie: You're not very ruthless, are you? Well. (laughter).

Brian Molko: No, we are not. (laughter).

David Bowie: Another question, "is David going to join Placebo onstage tonight?" Well, as they're most decidedly not separated, there's no need for me to join them. However, I might go and sing with them you never know.

Steve Hewitt: You never know.

Brian Molko: You never know what might happen!

David Bowie: You never know, do you?

Brian Molko: No, no.

David Bowie: Well, this thing's run out of questions, so I'll keep on with mine. Do you actually have the chance anymore to go and see bands? I mean, because I kinda know what it's like once you get on the road, it's very difficult to get out of that world and see what's happening anywhere. After this show and the next it's straight to the bus or the plane.

Brian Molko: Neubauten was the last one.

Stefan Olsdal: They were fantastic.

David Bowie: They are, aren't they?

Steve Hewitt: We saw a gig of theirs in America at the end of December, and they were amazing.

Stefan Olsdal: I think tomorrow we're going to see Les Paul play in town.

David Bowie: Les Paul? Are you a fan? At Fat Tuesdays, isn't it? I saw that listed.

Brian Molko: We managed to see Chaka Khan in Chicago, which was superb.

David Bowie: Les Paul's amazing, he sells his cassettes at the door.

Stefan Olsdal: Can you get them signed?

David Bowie: Yes! He's so generous with his time.

Stefan Olsdal: How old is he?

David Bowie: Oh, he's way into his 70's. He is something else, he's absolutely fabulous. And going in to watch him play at the club is like looking into a Who's Who of guitar players, you cannot believe most nights. Because they know he might give up playing altogether very shortly, so it's always packed with an extraordinary amount of people who are very well-known.

Brian Molko: There are plans to go and see, at Wembley Arena, Little Richard.

David Bowie: Oh, yes!

Brian Molko: It might be the last time that he plays England, so can't miss that.

David Bowie: It was so depressing when he put all that mirror stuff on in the 60's I mean, why did he feel that was necessary?

Brian Molko: He was fantastic. He was a black man wearing make-up, screwing white girls and white boys. In a time when that was unforgivable.

David Bowie: There was a quasi-drag queen working in the same town that he came from - anybody out there know the name? See if you can get online and tell me that Richard took a lot of the stuff from, even the singing. And he openly admits it. I think it's kind of a tradition with these kinds of artists. Did you know he was born on Christmas Day?

Stefan Olsdal: Really?

David Bowie: Another question "Any Smiths influence? Your cover of Big Mouth on the tribute album is fantastic."

Steve Hewitt: Yeah, Smiths influence, definitely. We still listen to them now. I remember discovering The Smiths when "How Soon Is Now" came out, it blew me away.

Brian Molko: I don't think there's a particular Sonic influence, but I think there's a kind of lyrical one Morrissey was also very confessional.

Stefan Olsdal: What was it like to tour with them? I mean, without Morrissey.

David Bowie: I wouldn't know! (laughter) I was terribly disappointed, I really wanted him to complete that tour. Morrissey started work with me a couple years ago, whenever it was two, three years ago? He did a couple of shows, then got ill, and we never saw him again, which is a shame. I really admire him very much.

Brian Molko: So there is an influence, yeah. The Smiths were often a soundtrack to every rainy teenage afternoon. I grew up in Luxembourg, where it rains quite a bit he even wrote a song about Luxembourg.

David Bowie: Oh, Sable's back again Sable writes: "Do you remember your fans after your shows?"

Yes we do! (Chorus).

Brian Molko: We try to sign as many autographs as possible, get as many photographs as possible, but we're only human, and sometimes we're tired and sometimes we have important people that we care about on tour.

David Bowie: Let's have their names, then! (laughter).

Stefan Olsdal: They leave lasting impressions on you, though. (laughter). Kansas springs to mind.

David Bowie: Kansas leaves a lasting impression on everyone.

Brian Molko: Lawrence, Kansas.

David Bowie: Lawrence, Kansas. Nice chap. Used to play fiddle behind John Lee Hooker.

Brian Molko: It was after William Burroughs had died, so naturally I had to talk for a while about Burroughs on stage. It was an emotional moment. But, you know, "Without You I'm Nothing" can be seen on three levels, I think. It's us, the band, talking to ourselves; its me talking to certain people in my past; it's also us talking to our fans.

David Bowie: "Without You I'm Nothing" is Placebo's new album, and it's on Virgin, available at all reputable corner stores. Rush out and buy your copy now. Burroughs, I was privy to a meeting of the minds one night at his place, called The Bunker, on the Bowery many years ago must have been the early 70's. And Terry Southern came over for the evening with a doctor's case full of every conceivable drug that you can think of and poured them out onto the table. And he and William were like two crazed 12-year-old (Burroughs voice:) "Hey, I haven't seen one of these in years!" (laughter) It was fabulous!

Steve Hewitt: Did you indulge, eh?

David Bowie: No, I just watched. Well no, I just watched. PeeWee47_15 asks: "Has you, David Bowie, has any effect on the band members?" You'll notice, if you're a discerning listener, you'll notice I've never actually pulled them up to this, because I'm quite liberal about the way that my music's used one of my songs that they've used probably more than any other, and rewritten it or appropriated or whatever, is "Laughing Gnome". It's not something that I'm particularly happy about (laughter) I'd quite like you to move on now, you know, there's a lot of other songs. I think that if you listen to "Pure Morning" you'll hear "Laughing Gnome", I think it's somewhere during the second verse. It's very disorienting for me, as you can imagine.

Steve Hewitt: Have you ever heard that?

Stefan Olsdal: I've never heard that song!

David Bowie: We actually have someone here, folks, who's never heard "Laughing Gnome!" (laughter).

Brian Molko: Bravo! (laughter).

David Bowie: Your life has probably had three or four years added to it!

Brian Molko: I remember telling you, David, that I actually stole a lyric from you. Have you found it yet?

David Bowie: Well, I heard something that may have had a passing resemblance to a certain wanking line.

Brian Molko: No, I stole the phrase 'valuable friends' from "Ashes to Ashes".

David Bowie: Very few borrow, plenty do steal. (laughter). From I_Am_A_Placebo: "Brian, how did you meet Stefan?" Worthwhile question.

Brian Molko: Stefan and I went to school together at the American International School of Luxembourg. A small country stuck between Belgium, Germany, and France. We were never friends, we had different social circles, and we were very different heights.

David Bowie: Of the social circles? (laughter).

Brian Molko: No, physically, and we still do. We never mixed, in the whole sort of eight years we went to school together we probably spoke eight words.

David Bowie: Oil and water, eh, oil and water?

Brian Molko: It was strange. Life can be like that sometimes. You end with the people that you think would be the least likely to end up with, forging lifelong relationships with. When we met again in London, by accident, I'd finished drama school and Stefan was studying music, and when we finally went for a drink we found out that we had a lot more in common than we ever could think.

David Bowie: And that's when you switched roles, you studied music and Stefan studied drama. (laughter).

Brian Molko: So there you go. Steve he's known for ten years one of the first people he met when he moved out to London. He was in a band called Breathe, which I admired, and it was through a mutual friend, a girlfriend, that we met in a Burger King in Lewisham, in the south of London. (laughter). On Lewisham High Street.

David Bowie: I used to play in a club on top of a place in Lewisham quite a nice ballroom on top it.

Brian Molko: I have a question to ask you, David. I've been reading this thing about John Major's dad?

David Bowie: Yes! Isn't that bizarre! I put it up on my site, it was so weird!

Brian Molko: So what's the deal?

David Bowie: I know nothing about it! It's just incredible!

Brian Molko: Major Tom?

David Bowie: Yeah, I wonder what kind of synchronicity it is?

Brian Molko: Shall we explain it for the people who may not know? John Major's, the ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain, if you can actually call him that, his parents were circus performers and you're from South London.

David Bowie: Brixton.

Brian Molko: And he used to be called Tom Major, and he'd perform under Tom Major. Obviously, there's the famous Major Tom from "Space Oddity" and "Ashes To Ashes", so there's a wonderful little coincidence there.

David Bowie: And "Laughing Gnome", he used to wear a gnome outfit. (laughter). Maybe not when he was in power, but one of them used to wear a gnome outfit. I swear it.

Brian Molko: They were a circus family.

David Bowie: BananaGirl81 says: "If they weren't in Placebo, what would they be doing employment-wise today?" Steve?

Steve Hewitt: I'd probably be working for a racing-car team, Formula One racing-car team.

David Bowie: Yeah, right. Stefan?

Steve Hewitt: I'm serious.

Stefan Olsdal: He used to do it!

David Bowie: Really?

Steve Hewitt: I used to do it, but I gave it up to do rock and roll.

David Bowie: Wow. Much faster than what you're doing now, isn't it?

Steve Hewitt: Mmm-hmm. Much more satisfaction as well. Working for yourself.

David Bowie: I've been reading an article by a friend of mine who edits a magazine called Raygun, he's written a book which was illustrated by a first-class photographer and video maker called Doug Aiken, the book is called "I Am A Bullet". It explores the idea of speed throughout the 20th Century, and what a pivotal force it's been, how it's changed our outlook and way of life. Did you find that when you were driving at extreme speed that you would take in information far quicker, that in fact it seemed like you were finally going at the speed that your mind really goes at. Because I find that our mind goes so fast that we can't possibly physically carry out all that goes on in our heads.

Steve Hewitt: I think it's about conditioning if you're in a situation for a long period of time, whether you're driving or whether you're working with a team I wasn't driving, I was working with an engineer, tuning up engines and things like that.

David Bowie: You must have got in like on a Tuesday night when you'd had a few.

Steve Hewitt: Yeah, I got in a few times.

David Bowie: Like, "I'll take this sucker around the circuit".

Steve Hewitt: ...changed my underwear afterwards. (laughter). But yeah, totally.

David Bowie: The extraordinary thing they used as an example in the articles in this book, one of the speed champions who'd been putting his machine up to like three or four hundred miles and hour crashed, and he actually got out of the damned thing, which was absolutely unbelievable, and he talked about the last seven seconds or so of that flight. And when they played the playback of it, he'd talked for over an hour. So he had somehow assimilated seven seconds worth of experience and he was able to articulate that seven seconds over the course of one hour. The amount of information that he was taking in was formidable, quite beyond.

Brian Molko: I remember that when I was a child, I must have been about eight years old, I remember when I was hit by a car, crossing in front of a bus in Dundee Scotland, where my mother comes from. And I remember time slowing down.

David Bowie: Yes! I think we've all experienced that, there's been some emergency in one's life where at that point you almost become a calm and still force in this vortex of experience.

Brian Molko: I wonder if certain amphetamines actually create the illusion of what you were talking about earlier?

David Bowie: I've always found it wise to take speed before you're going to have an accident. (laughter). I_Am_A_Placebo: "How do you find the American audiences in comparison to the European audiences?"

Brian Molko: The Europeans wear fewer baseball caps. Full stop. In Europe, there are no baseball caps in Europe.

David Bowie: Is it because the Europeans have more hair, on the whole?

Steve Hewitt: It brings up an interesting point, actually if you didn't wear the baseball cap, you'd have more hair anyway.

Brian Molko: Yeah.

David Bowie: AlbanyHendrix asks: "David, do you feel that rock is dead?" Mick Rock is very, very well. He lives in New York and is still taking photographs. He's with a fine eighteen-year old, even though he's had multiple bypass surgery. "Is Placebo one of the new bands that will lead rock into" where?

(Chorus): The new millennium!

David Bowie: I thought we were going to get through this chat without having to say that damned word. But no, here it is! Yeah, I certainly feel that Placebo are one of the major important bands of the moment, as yet just breaking, just touching the cusp of fame in the States, but I'm sure that they'll be all over your radio any day now!

Brian Molko: Who else do you think is up-and-coming and important?

David Bowie: Well, it's significant 'where', isn't it? It's diversified so much, especially from America to Europe, apart from soul and hip-hop, which has practically become a form across both continents. Underneath that there's so much diversity that I think.

David Bowie: I think there's probably still a lot of grounds to be taken by the so-called rave bands from Europe, there's a lot more room for Chemical Brothers and Goldie if he doesn't end up in the cinema all the time. Because he's just got the new Bond movie as the villain. So I think we might lose him to the cinema.

Brian Molko: We hardly listen to rock anymore. We play it every day, we find we listen to the Aphex Twin a lot, we listen to Talvin Singh, Joy, DJ Shadow a great deal.

David Bowie: Grooverider's cool, I like his stuff.

Brian Molko: It's very interesting for us, to try and assimilate that. It's very different than when we were teenagers, trying to assimilate all the rock and guitar music, and now it's a second stage for us, assimilating things into our music that don't necessarily have a place, which is something that you've always done.

David Bowie: I hope Squeaky, if you're out there, realise that Placebo are Aphex Twin fans. She'll know what I mean. "Do you try to keep up with the technology by that I mean encoding your video or audio for the www?" So there you are.

Brian Molko: It's something that we haven't done, but could be happening quite soon. It's the way forward.

David Bowie: How do you feel about MP3 of your songs being available for free download all over the world?

Brian Molko: Well, it's a money thing, isn't it? (laughter). I don't know.

Stefan Olsdal: To buy a CD is to actually have this physical finished art piece, with its inlay card and everything, I think you feel more like you own it. An MP3 is just downloading.

David Bowie: Are you suggesting that people should go out to the record shops and actually buy the albums, rather than getting them for free?

Brian Molko: Yes! (laughter). What do you think?

David Bowie: I think that NancyBoy wants to ask you a question! "Steve, you cite funk and hip-hop as your influences for your fast-style drumming. Any one musician in particular?"

Steve Hewitt: Funk and hip-hop, yeah, totally. Favorite? It's a big question yeah, probably Chuck D and Sly Stone.

David Bowie: Chuck D rules.

Steve Hewitt: He and Sly Stone are the first people that come to mind.

David Bowie: I was trying to think of the song that Sly had years ago, "Making Me Feel Myself Again?".

Brian Molko: "Thank You For Letting Me Feel Myself Again".

David Bowie: That's right! Sorry. (laughter).

Brian Molko: A good one as well is "If I Could Do It All Again I Wouldn't Change The Skin I'm In". I feel that more and more every day.

Steve Hewitt: That's good, that's a good one.

Stefan Olsdal: It's Steve that sort of brought the funk to the punk.

Brian Molko: In the band, yeah.

David Bowie: Say that, loud and proud. (laughter).

Stefan Olsdal: Steve brought the funk to the punk!' (laughter).

David Bowie: Making it funky punk! "Placebo, any chance of you working with Unkle in the future?"

Brian Molko: Ummm.

Steve Hewitt: You nearly did, didn't you, Brian?

Brian Molko: Yeah, James and I went out drinking several times and got rather pissed there was talk of working together, but he was making the album while we were making ours, so nothing ever pulled off. However, I think that he could maybe be remixing something for us in the future.

David Bowie: Okay, I think we've got maybe a chance for five more questions, guys?

CreamyJesus asks: "Was it a personal choice not to work with Brad Wood on your latest album?"

(Chorus): Yes.

Brian Molko: Yes, certainly. At the time we worked with Brad we were novices, very inexperienced.

Stefan Olsdal: He taught us a lot.

Brian Molko: The songwriting had taken a step up, and the production values had to take a step up as well. When we worked with Brad we were interested in just trying to get a snapshot of where we were at as a band we wanted the record to sound like the band was playing in your room. Kind of Albini-Brad Wood production. But with Steve Osborne we wanted a mix of technology and rock music. More machines. We used a lot of toy instruments with Brad; with Steve Osborne we used a lot of very, very expensive toys as instruments. It's all about taking one step one as a band no disrespect to Brad, he's still a very good friend of ours.

David Bowie: And now he's running a very successful toy shop in North London. (laughter).

Brian Molko: Running a very good studio in Chicago, actually.

David Bowie: He sold the toy shop, then?

Brian Molko: (Laughter). Yeah.

David Bowie: Brian Eno used to talk about making decisions I was always quite fascinated by the idea of having decisions made for you. He had this thing going when we were working in Berlin he'd take out a map of Berlin, then take out the amount of spare change that he had in his pockets, then take out a pair of compasses, and he'd make a circle around where we were that was directed by how far out spare change would let us go on the subway. Then he'd pick out novelty points on the circumference of that circle and take the subway to those points, and spend the rest of the day there and see what happened. And he'd do a lot of things quite like that. So the decisions were sort of made for me. I did that once and I ended up with Tin Machine. (laughter). I never did it again. "Placebo, do you consider Bowie to be your mentor or friend?"

(Chorus): Our friend.

David Bowie: Of course I'd like to think that you think of me as a friend.

Brian Molko: As a very good friend.

David Bowie: I love how you rush to affirm that. (laughter). "Being from the UK", but they aren't all from the UK, that's the thing, " - you might not be aware how difficult it is to get UK acts to break through to the US. How did you arrive " How did you get here, I think he's asking?

(Chorus): By plane! (laughter).

David Bowie: I presume he's talking about actual work permits and things? I think that at some level most bands have to make sure that there's another American band reciprocating back over in Europe before they can come in? It can't work like that? Can't really help you with that one! SilverRocket asks: "Are you thinking of doing anything more to your official web site, and what do you think of the unofficial web sites?"

Brian Molko: The unofficial web sites are brilliant!

David Bowie: They really are, aren't they?

Brian Molko: They were up and running before our official one was any good. We don't spend enough time on it.

Steve Hewitt: I wonder if this is going to be on it, what we're doing right now?

Brian Molko: Brick Shithouse, Plastic Venus, Ashtray Hearts, Placebo.co.uk are the unofficial ones and they're all worth checking out. We keep in touch with the people responsible for them, give them quite a few tidbits, which is fun. You have an official one, which is kind of corporate, and then you have the unofficial ones.

David Bowie: I'm of exactly the same mind. I have the official one, BowieNet, and I think it's a great exercise, but I'm in awe of so many of the fan sites, I think they're quite remarkable, and I depend on them a lot for information about what I'm doing! That's a rather embarrassing and humiliating position to be in! This is going to be our last question listen guys, this has been really enjoyable today.

Brian Molko: It's been a lot of fun.

David Bowie: Any of you that want to come down and see the show tonight forget it, it's sold out! (laughter). But you guys are working here again tomorrow night, so buy, beg or borrow a ticket. Though it's probably sold out again tomorrow night, but you can always try. Sable333: "What direction do you see your music going?"

Brian Molko: Ummm... (laughter). We used to be South East London, we're kind of a bit more West London now.

Steve Hewitt: A bit of North in there.

David Bowie: A lot more French poets going to be worming their way in there, a lot more existentialism. It's gonna get very Left Bank.

Brian Molko: The stuff we're writing is very melodic, we didn't want to repeat ourselves. That's why "Pure Morning" was the first single people were expecting an album full of "Nancy Boys", and we weren't prepared to give that to them. It would've bored us shuttles. "Pure Morning" was the last thing that we did for the album, and it was the first time we used things like loops. The new album probably won't be packed full of loops, but it's very emotional and probably the most melodic dynamic stuff we've ever written.

David Bowie: I must say, I like your penchant for poignant romanticism. I really like that a lot, because I'm big on that sort of stuff. I have to wind down now!

Brian Molko: Thank you, David!

David Bowie: Thank you very much, everyone!


1999 SonicNet/Yahoo!


David Bowie Wonderworld: Chat Transcriptions Top BowieWonderworld Chat Room
Created: April 1999 © Paul Kinder Last Updated: 7/4/99