Mon April 12 at RKCNDY
TWO WEEKS AGO, PLACEBO'S AMERICAN PRESS agent accepted my offer of a date.
It happened like this: we were chatting on the phone, talking about Placebo's delirious, turbulent music--the way their first, self-titled album rings with the vigor and sexual thrust of youth, while their second, Without You I'm Nothing, is much more of a post-coital comedown, all bruised silences and echoing stairwells. The way they assail the familiar boundaries of genre and gender with an energy and.... All right, we weren't. Actually, we were joking about Billy Corgan and the fatuous slaphead's continuous descent into self-loathing hell, and giving Marilyn Manson props for his one-man campaign to bring some glamour and humor back to rock--but we could've been. Okay?
She was wanting to know why Brian Molko (Placebo's wickedly androgynous, diminutive singer) seemed so excited at the news that The Stranger wanted to interview him. Did he know something she didn't--like, does The Stranger have some cachet among promiscuous London-based musical trios? So our talk drifted to sex parties in late-night New York, snatched snogs in Glasgow in front of crowds of salivating fans, phone calls at five a.m. where your girlfriend is offering to punch the U.K.'s most famous gender-bender out, Bowie's 50th birthday party (where he invited the Placebo boys up onstage), and drunken romps everywhere....
I told the Virgin PR how Placebo were initially distrustful of my love for their rampant, libidinous, slightly gothic rock--they were well familiar with my hatred for most forms of pretension and art school-fueled music, and didn't quite see where they fit into my world. I replied that any band who could write a prurient three-minute spurt of unbridled lust like "Nancy Boy," corrupting a whole generation of teenagers in the process, was fine in my book. Also, in concert Placebo are excellent--it's enthralling, the way they thrive on confusion, innuendo, and glorious red noise like all the finest post-Pixies guitar-led bands. Furthermore, Stefan (bass) could tell a mean anecdote about electricity pylons, and Steve (drums) is sexier than Jock McSex's Extremely Sexy Elder Sister, Muriel Sex McSex. And he has the abrasiveness to match.
The Virgin PR mentioned she'd never seen The Stranger. I told her to check out our website (www.thestranger.com, Internet fans!), read my column, and let me know what she thought. Good, bad--it didn't bother me. Two hours later, I got an e-mail entitled "You Remind Me Of My Ex," and it read as follows:
Good talking to you today on the phone--I wish I could say the same about reading your piece. You remind me of my ex-boyfriend--miserable and opinionated, a lonely combination. I broke up with him because he was always miserable and had the sex drive of a eunuch....
So of course I wrote her straight back: "Hey! He sounds just like me! Wanna date?"
So of course she wrote back: Sure. Let's go.
One problem: she's in L.A., I'm in Seattle, and I'm leaving town for good shortly. Whatever.
Anyhow... Placebo. Damn fine band. Entertaining, cruel, witty, full of the splendor of rock 'n' roll and the downside of hedonism. Guitars that can cut veins, drums that pound a rhythm to your brain. You might've heard their college hit, "Pure Morning"--which, according to Brian Molko, is "basically one big chorus, one big hook--relentless and driving. It's simple. That's why it's gone down well over here. That, and the fact that we're not culturally xenophobic helps too."
I eventually spoke to Brian on the phone: an extended conversation so full of gossip about old friends and salacious past times as to be mostly unrepeatable. He did pass on this one gem to Placebo's Seattle fans, though... .
"I had a dream last night which I think was caused by seeing this film Sphere with Sharon Stone and Dustin Hoffman. I was dreaming that me and the band had crashed on a deserted planet somewhere, and the Aphex Twin were the soundtrack. It was all to do with my fear of flying, 'cause I had a fear of asphyxiation and didn't want to leave the planet. What does it mean? Probably that I'm quite insecure in myself."