Placebo discuss the impact of David Bowie’s death and progress on ‘career-suicide’ new album

Buy Tickets

"He was a friend, a mentor and a raconteur"

Placebo have spoken out about the impact of losing ‘friend and mentor’ David Bowie, and how it has shaped progress on their new album – which they say will be a dramatic departure for the band.

The band, who are currently auctioning off ‘iconic items‘ ahead of the UK leg of their 20th anniversary tour, spoke to NME about the impact of their recent greatest hits album and the experience of re-introducing older songs into their setlist.

“This is very much the most commercial tour that we’ve ever done in terms of what songs we’re playing,” frontman Brian Molko told NME. “Our last single ‘Jesus Son’ and the Talk Talk cover ‘Life Is What You Make It’ are possibly two of the most commercial tracks that we’ve ever done. What we have a tendency to do it react allergically against what we’ve just done, so it’s highly likely that the next thing we do will be something akin to career suicide.”

Molko continued: “I’ve started writing it already. The only thing that I really can say about any new material is that I’d really like to write something that reflects all the pain and frustration and tragedy that we as a species are experiencing today. That’s in the back of mind, very much so for the next album.”

While their eighth studio album was still taking shape, Molko revealed that the most aspect of the record was completely changing his creative process. This time, he’ll be using the ‘cut-up’ technique, as made famous by the late, great David Bowie.

“Basically, what I’ve done is thrown all the methods that I’ve used in the past out of the window,” Molko told NME. “I’m trying all new techniques when it comes to songwriting. For example, I’m writing a song on post-its at the moment which is very cut and paste and in the style of Bowie and William Burroughs. Another technique I’m using for some of the songs is to start with the title first and work backwards, I’ve never done that before. I’m just trying to keep myself interested and stimulated by changing the process. People often ask me what my inspiration is and the answer is actually quite boring: it’s the process, it’s discipline, it’s writing regularly.

“I’m deconstructing my songwriting process and reconstructing it in a totally different way for the next record. There could be some serious surprises.”

Bowie once described Placebo as ‘the future’. As well as inviting them on tour, the band also recorded the seminal title track from 1998’s ‘Without You I’m Nothing’ together and performed a duet at the BRIT Awards.

Asked if his death had influenced him lyrically on the new record, Molko told NME: “I don’t know if it’s inspired the material directly, but certainly I’ve had a lot of time to meditate on a lot of what David said to me during the five or six years that we toured with him and I was in his orbit. He was my friend and my mentor. He gave me a lot of advice. I’m meditating more on how he was quite a sage and quite a raconteur as well.

“I recently read an article about what he said to James Murphy about how he helped him make the decision to reform LCD Soundsystem. David asked James ‘does being in the band feel uncomfortable’ and he went ‘yeah’, and David wrote ‘good, it should feel uncomfortable’.

Molko added: “He said a lot of things like that to me. His presence is still there for me in the form of a sage and mentor.”

  • Check back at NME soon for more of our exclusive Placebo interview

Placebo tour dates

The band’s upcoming UK and Ireland 20th anniversary tour dates are below. Tickets are available here.

October
Saturday 7 – Edinburgh Usher Hall 
Sunday 8 – Dundee Caird Hall 
Tuesday 10 – Doncaster Dome 
Wednesday 11 – Manchester Albert Hall
Friday 13 – Reading Rivermead 
Saturday 14 – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena 
Monday 16 – Portsmouth Guildhall 
Tuesday 17 – Swindon Oasis 
Friday 20 – Plymouth Pavilions 
Saturday 21 – Wolverhampton Civic Hall 
Monday 23 – London O2 Brixton Academy 
Tuesday 24 – London O2 Brixton Academy