Brian Molko

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"Molko" redirects here. For the 16th-century Jewish Messiah claimant, see Solomon Molcho.
Brian Molko
Brian Molko in the European Parliament.jpg
Brian Molko performing at the European Parliament in Brussels in 2010.
Background information
Born (1972-12-10) 10 December 1972 (age 43)
Brussels, Belgium
Origin Dundee, Scotland
Genres Alternative rock, Post Punk
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, actor
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, harmonica, saxophone, percussion, drums
Years active 1994–present
Labels EMI, Virgin, Hut, Caroline, PIAS (current)
Associated acts Placebo, David Bowie, Michael Stipe
Notable instruments
Fender Jaguar
Gibson SG
Fender Telecaster Thinline
Gretsch Duo Jet
Fender Cyclone
Fender Toronado
Gibson Les Paul Custom

Brian Molko (born 10 December 1972) is a Scottish-Belgian musician, songwriter, lead vocalist, and guitarist of the band Placebo. He is known in particular for his distinctive nasal, high-pitched vocals, androgynous appearance, and unique guitar style and tuning.

Early life[edit]

Molko was born in Brussels, Belgium to an American father of French-Italian heritage[1] and a Scottish Catholic mother. Molko has only one older brother, 10 years his senior, named Stuart Molko.[2] Molko's family moved frequently during his childhood, growing up in Dundee, Liberia, Lebanon, and Belgium, where they eventually settled for quite a long time in the village of Longeau, just near to the border with Luxembourg, where the young Brian spent a lot of his childhood.[3] Brian Molko has referred to a period spent in his mother's home town of Dundee, Scotland, as "where I grew up".[4]

While Molko was brought up in a strict household that disapproved of artistic expression (his father wanted him to become a banker), he rebelled by assuming an androgynous image, wearing nail polish, lipstick, and eyeliner, and listening to punk music. Molko initially attended the European School of Luxembourg but had to leave due to excessive bullying;[5] he later attended the American International School of Luxembourg (AISL)[6] and went on to study drama at Goldsmiths College in London.[7]


Placebo @ Steel Blue Oval (1 3 2010) (4416151559).jpg

Molko and Stefan Olsdal had both attended AISL (though they were never friends);[8] when Molko moved to London, he ran into Olsdal at South Kensington tube station and invited him to one of his gigs in a club, which he played with Steve Hewitt in a group called Ashtray Heart.[8]

Along with Hewitt and Olsdal, he had a role in the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine,[9] for which Placebo performed the T. Rex song "20th Century Boy". He played Malcolms, a singer of the fictional glam rock band, The Flaming Creatures, who resembled the early Alice Cooper band.

During Placebo's live performances, Brian has played a number of instruments: guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, harmonica and saxophone.


Molko has been open about his use of recreational drugs; in a 1997 interview with New York Doll, he admitted at one point that heroin was "probably the only drug on this planet I haven't tried".[10] However, he later admitted to using heroin as well.[11] The band holds that the drug references within their music reflect the nature of current times, and the removal of such references would deteriorate the meaningfulness of their work.[12][13][14] In a 2010 interview Molko said that the band had stopped using drugs.[15]

Personal life[edit]

In October 2005 Molko announced that his then-partner, photographer Helena Berg had given birth to a boy, Cody. In June 2009, he stated in an interview that he was a "single father."[16] Molko is openly bisexual.[17]

In December 2012, Molko received an Honorary Fellowship from Goldsmiths College, University of London.[18]


He has performed, as a guest vocalist and with other artists on Placebo's records, on tracks by:

He also wrote the English lyrics to "Pink Water 3", a song by Indochine from the album Alice & June, released in 2005.[citation needed] Molko was friends with David Bowie, with whom he sang on Placebo's "Without You I'm Nothing"[19] and the "20th Century Boy" cover live.


Molko uses a variety of guitars. In the Sleeping With Ghosts era, he used Gibson SGs ("The Bitter End", "Every You Every Me", "Plasticine", "Black-Eyed", "Without You I'm Nothing", "Special K", "Bulletproof Cupid", "Soulmates/Sleeping With Ghosts", "Special Needs", "This Picture"), Fender Jaguars ("Allergic", "Nancy Boy", "Bionic", "Centrefolds"), a Fender Thinline Telecaster ("Taste in Men"), a Fender Jazzmaster ("Pure Morning"), and a Fender Bass VI ("Slave to the Wage"). For amplification he used a Marshall 6100LM.[20]

Through the Meds tour, he used Gretsch Duo Jets ("Infra-Red", "Because I Want You", "Song to Say Goodbye", "One of a Kind", "The Bitter End", "Running Up that Hill", "Special K"), Gibson SGs ("Special Needs", "Every You Every Me", "Black-Eyed", "Without You I'm Nothing"), a Fender Jaguar ("Drag", "Nancy Boy", "I Know"), a Fender Thinline Telecaster ("Twenty Years", "Taste in Men"), and a Gibson Chet Atkins SST ("Meds"). His amplifier was a Fender Twin Reverb.

In the Battle for the Sun tour, he still used Gretsch Duo Jets ("Devil in the Details", "Come Undone", "Follow The Cops Back Home"), a Gibson SG ("Bright Lights"), Fender Cyclone ("Ashtray Heart", "The Never-Ending Why", "Breathe Underwater", "Teenage Angst"), a Gibson Les Paul ("For What It's Worth", "Speak in Tongues", "Julien", "Meds"), a Fender Telecaster Thinline ("Kitty Litter"), and a Fender Toronado ("Battle for the Sun").[citation needed] His pedalboard consisted of a Boss TU-2 chromatic tuner, Electro Harmonix Holy Grail reverb, MXR Phase 90 phaser, two Electro Harmonix Hot Tubes distortion units, Boss DD-3 delay, MXR Distortion + booster, MG Monovibe chorus/vibrato, Electro Harmonix No. 1 Echo delay and a Radial Loopbone effect chain switcher.

In 2010, he signed an endorsement contract to use Orange amps.[21]




  1. ^ "Brians Molko". CNET Networks Entertainment. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "Brian Molko sends his regards to his brother Stuart". 19 September 2003. Retrieved 6 September 2009. 
  3. ^ "Extra info about Brian". 22 June 2009. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "NME interview with Placebo". NME/PlaceboWorld. Archived from the original on 15 April 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "FHM interview with Brian Molko". FHM/PlaceboWorld. Archived from the original on 25 January 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Role Reversal". Sessions. May 2012. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "The Boy Can't Help It". Guitarist/PlaceboWorld. Archived from the original on 19 January 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "Brian Molko's biography". Archived from the original on 25 July 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
  9. ^ "Velvet Goldmine (1998) – Full cast and crew". IMDB. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Kerrigan, "Kerrang Interview", New York Doll, archived from the original on 30 January 2008, retrieved 20 December 2006 
  11. ^ "I Thought I Was Good at Handling Pussy", Select Magazine, archived from the original on 24 March 2008, retrieved 15 April 2007 
  12. ^ "Funny Mexican Placebo Interview part 1". YouTube. 3 October 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Funny Mexican Placebo Interview part 2". YouTube. 3 October 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "Funny Mexican Placebo Interview part 3". YouTube. 3 October 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2009. 
  15. ^ "juice interview". Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  16. ^ "Placebo – Brian Molko interview at Gloria Theatre in Cologne 3rd of June 2009". Retrieved 4 September 2009. 
  17. ^ West, Dave. "Molko: I wish I kept quiet on sexuality". Digital Spy. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  18. ^ "Brian Molko receives Honorary Fellowship at Goldsmiths". 19 December 2012. 
  19. ^ "Placebo with David Bowie Chat Transcript – 29/3/99". Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  20. ^ " "Brian Molko interview", Nov'97". Placebo Russia. Marshall Amps. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  21. ^ "Orange Amps Signs Over 110 New Endorsees". Ultimate Guitar. 

External links[edit]