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Now, however, Molko is back in the bubble. That's the place where he can end up onstage with one of his teenage idols--the Pixies' Frank Black--in front of 18,000 people in Paris, singing "Where Is My Mind?" while the entire spectacle is being filmed for a forthcoming DVD. Or in a studio in New York, with David Bowie in the vocal booth singing one of Molko's songs ("Without You I'm Nothing") and Bowie's legendary producer Tony Visconti at the controls. It's a different kind of human exchange. Takes some time to get used to.
"You're always a little nervous because these people are a) legends and b) have had a real influence on you," Molko says. "But you've got to say to yourself, you know, 'Everybody takes a shit.' That kind of thing. You just have to calm yourself down a little bit about it. And then with time, you relax. You see the human side."
It helps that Molko and his fellow boys in the bubble, Olsdal and Hewitt, are well acquainted with their respective human sides. They've made it through to the other side together, permanently bonding them to one another, transforming them into something more than merely a band.
"We're a family, albeit a very, very dysfunctional one," Molko says with a laugh. "We've achieved so much together, and we respect each other for that. We love each other for that. And we need each other. We need each other to survive. It's very important. Our friendship and our respect for each other is a great, great part of what Placebo is about. I'd hate for it to ever become like Guns 'N Roses or the Police, traveling in separate tour buses. Certain people not turning up for soundcheck and stuff like that. Because even God has to soundcheck."
Sounds like someone is growing up.