Brian Molko

"Molko" redirects here. For the 16th-century Jewish Messiah claimant, see Solomon Molcho.
Brian Molko

Brian Molko performing at the European Parliament in Brussels in 2010.
Background information
Born (1972-12-10) 10 December 1972
Brussels, Belgium
Origin Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
Genres Alternative rock, post-punk
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, actor
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, harmonica, saxophone, percussion, drums
Years active 1992–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 British musician and songwriter who is 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

Molko was born in Brussels, Belgium to an American father of French-Italian heritage[1] and a British mother of Scottish Catholic descent. He has an older brother named Stuart.[2] Molko's family moved frequently during his childhood; the family lived in Dundee, Liberia, Lebanon and Belgium, where they eventually settled in the village of Longeau near the border with Luxembourg, where Molko attended the American International School of Luxembourg (AISL).[3]

Although 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. He initially attended the European School of Luxembourg (ESL), but left due to excessive bullying.[4] He attended the American International School of Luxembourg (AISL)[5] before studying drama at Goldsmiths College in London.[6]


Although Molko and Placebo co-founder Stefan Olsdal had both attended the American International School of Luxembourg (AISL), they had not been friends.[7] When Molko was living in London, he ran into Olsdal at South Kensington tube station and invited him to one of his gigs which he played with Steve Hewitt in a group called Ashtray Heart.[7]

Along with Hewitt and Olsdal, Molko had a role in the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine,[8] for which Placebo performed the T. Rex song "20th Century Boy". He played Malcolm, a singer of the fictional glam rock band, "The Flaming Creatures", who resembled the early Alice Cooper band.

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

Personal life

In September 2005 Molko announced that his then-partner, photographer Helena Berg had given birth to a boy, Cody.

Molko is openly bisexual.[9]

In December 2012 Molko received an Honorary Fellowship from Goldsmiths College, University of London.[10]


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

Molko wrote the English lyrics to "Pink Water 3", a song by Indochine from the album Alice & June, released in 2005.

Molko was friendly with David Bowie; Bowie sang on Placebo's "Without You I'm Nothing"[11] and on 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.[12]

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"). 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.[13]




  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. "FHM interview with Brian Molko". FHM/PlaceboWorld. Archived from the original on 25 January 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  5. "Role Reversal". Sessions. May 2012. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  6. "The Boy Can't Help It". Guitarist/PlaceboWorld. Archived from the original on 19 January 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  7. 1 2 "Brian Molko's biography". Archived from the original on 25 July 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
  8. "Velvet Goldmine (1998) – Full cast and crew". IMDB. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  9. West, Dave. "Molko: I wish I kept quiet on sexuality". Digital Spy. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  10. "Brian Molko receives Honorary Fellowship at Goldsmiths". 19 December 2012.
  11. "Placebo with David Bowie Chat Transcript – 29/3/99". Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  12. " "Brian Molko interview", Nov'97". Placebo Russia. Marshall Amps. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  13. "Orange Amps Signs Over 110 New Endorsees". Ultimate Guitar.
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