domingo, 26 de enero de 2014

Double Je - Interview with Brian Molko - France 2003 -

This is an interview of Brian by Bernard Pivot in the French tv show « Double Je » which can be translated as “Double Me” but phonetically you can also understand “Double-Dealing” (“Double Jeu”)(isn’t it perfect for Brian??!!).
Bernard Pivot was used to interview some authors and philosophers but from January 2002 to December 2005, he decided to interview strangers who embraced the French culture. In those circumstances he interviewed Brian.
Here we are, back in 2003!

Bernard Pivot: If someone had told me I would be interviewing the singer and guitarist of the band Placebo, I wouldn’t have believed it, and neither would you! Well, I did it! In Bordeaux[South of France], the day of their last gig of their French tour. Brian Molko, that’s his name, and by just saying his name I can hear the cries of love and enthusiasm of his public, Brian Molko is probably the only Anglo American rock singer to speak French. Here is Brian Molko.

“””Bernard Pivot (to fans!): 8 hours waiting for just 1h30 of the show, do you think it’s worth it?
fans: yes yesyesyesyes !!!!!!!
A young man: You have to feel moved when you hear him singing in French.
A girl: his personality, the music… Everything!!””””

Brian: Well, I live in England, and English people always make fun on Scottish’s mouth!! I do not feel neither American nor British, but if you force me to find patriotism, I would say I’m Scottish, yeah!

Bernard Pivot: While the war in Iraq, wouldn’t have you preferred to be Belgian, Luxembourger or French, rather than …?

Brian:When I saw the pictures of how they moved the prisoners, who were allegedly terrorist (Taliban in America) from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay, This Concentration camp. I was disgusted, really, really disgusted then I started to think about  giving away my American passport. And this “thing” with Iraq happened. I was against war in Iraq! So I told myself: “If you return your passport, then you’re losing your voice, you’ll not be allowed to say anything.” If this passport means that it is still my country, even if I’ve never lived there, I’m still allowed to say things against the American government.

Bernard Pivot : But when you’re travelling, when you’re going through customs, aren’t you tempted to give your new album rather than your passport?

Brian: [he laughs]Oh, just as Oscar Wilde when he went to the U.S, he was asked “Do you have anything to declare?” and he answered “I have nothing to declare except my genius!” That’s it? Yes? Hum… It’s easier for me when we’re going to the U.S., because I give my American passport, so I go through directly, while the others spend almost one hour in customs!!

Bernard Pivot: Imean, your real passport is your music!

Brian: Yes that’s true!

Bernard Pivot: So is it possible for rock and roll to be Pakistani, Russian, Japanese? A rock which would not use the English language?

Brian: Yes, it does exist! But it does not sell, unfortunately. Not as much as English speaking music.

Bernard Pivot: Have you been tempted to write rock songs in French?

Brian: My French writing is not so great. Even at school it wasn’t great. Reading is ok. But for me it’s not natural to write in French, so…

Bernard Pivot: Yes, but imagine…

Brian: We’ve done translations. We had one called “Burger Queen” that we have translated into French. These days we’re working on a French version of one song of the album [Protègemoi] and if it works, we’ll make a single out of it.

Bernard Pivot: But this contestation. It becomes industry, money…

Brian: Yes, that’s a pity it becomes industry, trades, money… more and more and more… And that’s when accountants start to become the record companies’ directors!

Bernard Pivot: Isn’t Placebo, by its own, part of the incredible American growth, by means of language, music and money?

Brian: We are successful in England. We’re a cult group in the U.S., but it’s really in Europe where we are huge. And that’s interesting. It is in countries like France, Germany, and the Mediterranean countries that we are most successful.

Bernard Pivot: Oh, you are deviating a bit!!

Brian: That’s because you’re asking some deep questions!

Bernard Pivot: I suppose English is your mother tongue. You lived in Luxemburg during the most important part of your childhood I think…

Brian: Yes, yes. Since I was 3 until I was 17 years old. And then I moved to London.

Bernard Pivot: So Did you learn French in high school?

Brian: I started to learn French at 6. Of course I grew up with the French tv, I grew up with your tv show, with Apostrophes (literary French tv show presented by Bernard Pivot from 1975 to 1990), with “Les enfants du Rock(it could be translated “Kids of Rock”, French tv show from 1982 to 1988). But also the French cinema, the Belgian tv, the French tv, I didn’t watch German tv so much because I studied French at school so I didn’t understand German. And what’s interesting in Luxemburg is that the Luxembourgish language was still a dialect until 1981! Then it became the official language. Before that the official languages used to be French and German. And that’s what we were learning at school. You used to learn Luxembourgish languagein the street! But now they teach the 3 of them.

Bernard Pivot: How many languages did your parents speak?

Brian: My father spoke French. In fact, he still speaks French, English, Italian and Arabic.

Bernard Pivot: Arabic?

Brian: Yes, becausehe was born in Egypt, and as a financier he made a lot of business with…

Bernard Pivot: He also spoke another international language: the money language.

Brian: Yes, but I think as soon as I became a teenager, it was made really clear that I would not follow his footsteps!

Bernard Pivot: In your first album, you speak about your teenage rebellions. Against whom or against what was it?

Brian: Probably against my family, against religion, because my childhood was pretty religious…

Bernard Pivot: Conformism?

Brian: Homophobia. Well, I wrote this album while I was unemployed, in London, after university. It was also born from depression. It was an exorcism.

Bernard Pivot: the rebellious young man you used to be at 15 or 16 years old, you must have been unbearable!

Brian: I was so erratic. And yes, I had a lot of energy. I was such “cassecul” [he wants to say he was a ball breaker! But in French you don’t say “cassecul “(breaking ass” ) but “cassecouilles” (ball breaker)]

Bernard Pivot: Cassecul??We say In French …

Brian: Cassecouilles!!

Bernard Pivot: You already were in a fragile state and you didn’t have a lot of money.

Brian: When I was in university, I worked for a month during the summer. I did “shredding”. I took the documents and put them into the shredder! After 2 days in, I was wandering - what can I put into the shredder today? Because yesterday I put some plastic…- This was not a good experience at all for me. It disgusted me so much that I masturbated the entire time. I would lock myself in the toilets saying, “really, really, I hate this!!!!”.

Bernard Pivot: Your sexuality, since you’re talking about it, is a double-deal, because you are bisexual.

Brian: The best of the 2 worlds I’d say!

Bernard Pivot: Do you know what Woody Allen said? “The one who has the biggest chances to go home with someone on Saturday night is a bisexual!”

Brian: I didn’t know that one!! My favorite is “The 2 things you can control in life are art and masturbation, 2 topics on which I’m an expert!”

Bernard Pivot: Why did you named the band Placebo?

Brian: Hum… We haven’t really thought about it! It’s been much more the sound of it! I think it’s important to have a name that 40.000 people can shout out altogether! PLA-CE-BO ! PLA-CE-BO ! It works!

Bernard Pivot: but a placebo is a pill which is unnecessary, which is neutral.  And your music, your lyrics are about anything but neutrality and indifference …

Brian: In fact, when you search for a band name, you’re searching for a genius name! And you almost never find it! So when you have tried several names you think about which one is the best and this one remained. But then we started to think about it, when people started asking questions like this one, we thought about the deceptive side, medical side. But when we were 20, it just sounded good to the ear.

Bernard Pivot: it was just music?

Brian: Yes it’s a musical word!

Bernard Pivot: And that’s it?

Brian: Yes. And it became something else by making interviews!!

Bernard Pivot: Do you consider yourself a committed composer- author?

Brian: Yes, more and more, yes!!

Bernard Pivot: And will you be even more in the future?

Brian: I hope so, yes!

Bernard Pivot: Does it mean you want to change the world? A little bit… You want to influence the world a bit?

Brian: I don’t think music can change the world but if we can change some ideas in one person or more.  We contribute to…   
Bernard Pivot: But changing 2 or 3 people’s minds or ideas it is actually to change the world a bit.

Brian: Yes, it’s the beginning. And we hope they will communicate with other people, that there will be an exchange of ideas after our gigs. And maybe their minds will change too.

Bernard Pivot: Aren’t you disappointed, as other artists are, not only singers but authors, intellectuals, who want to change the world and then realize the world is changing but not the way they wanted?

Brian: I feel we’re like dinosaurs. Earth will be here after us! Particularly if we continue to use our world as a big trash can. Mother Nature is not going to accept that for long! We’ll just be dinosaurs. And the World will keep on turning without us, without humans. Because in our unbelievable arrogance, we’re unable to think there’s life on another planet! It’s so arrogant! Of course there’s life on other planets! “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it!”

Bernard Pivot: And do you think one day we’ll listen to Placebo on another planet? And by people who will not be human?

Brian: Yes, why not? Yes, there must be other civilizations watching us. Seeing this primitive planet, they’re laughing at us! “Look at the humans, what a bunch of assholes!” and “Moreover, listen to this crap music they play!! Placebo? What’s that??!!”

Bernard Pivot: Is there any difference between the French audience and the English audience?

Brian: Oh yes, a big difference.

Bernard Pivot: Which one?

Brian: Well, the emotion, passion.  The English audience is shyer than the French one. But from the beginning, there have always been a love story between us and the French audience. I think there is romanticism in what we do, not a sentimental romanticism, which comes from traditions, it comes from people like Baudelaire for example. And you’ve got this literary tradition, here in France that English people do not really have. You’ve got Verlaine, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, The surrealists; you’ve had Sartre and Camus, people like that! The English have Oscar Wilde anyway but it’s not quite the same!

Bernard Pivot: Do you mean the French audience is more romantic, more emotional?

Brian: They are different, probably more relaxed, and they have a different sensibility.

Bernard Pivot: Thank you Brian!

Brian: Thank you Bernard! It was great!

Bernard Pivot: We’ll be glad to see Brian Molko again in September for an exceptional gig in Paris Bercy.

Credits: Pinterest; PlaceboGalleryNet, PlaceboFansWorldWide, James Sharrock

A Special Thank You to: Bénédicte Convert for the translation into English and to Diana E.T.F. for her helping hand. Design and documantation SusanneCk