On my radar: Brian Molko’s cultural highlights

Born in Brussels in 1972, Brian Molko is the frontman of alternative rock band Placebo. Co-founded with Stefan Olsdal, the band released their eponymous debut album, which included breakthrough single Nancy Boy, in 1996. Over the following years they became known for their androgynous style, hedonistic lyrics and Molko’s distinctive vocals, and in 1998 they appeared in Todd Haynes’s film Velvet Goldmine. Placebo have released seven albums to date, including Without You I’m Nothing and Meds. Their eighth album, Never Let Me Go, is released on So Recordings on 25 March; they tour the UK later this year.

1. Album

Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump (20th anniversary)

I love this record. When it was first released in 2000, it was the first alternative rock album I’d heard about our developing relationship with computers and technology. It’s fascinating to listen back now, because all the loneliness and disconnect we feel today, it’s all there already. When I listen to it, it’s like sadness is pouring out of the speakers like molasses or treacle. There are songs about trying to find someone you love on internet-controlled CCTV, or losing a friend in a commercial space travel accident. I can’t believe how prescient it was.

2. Book

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté

This is a really important book about addiction. Modern addiction treatment hasn’t really evolved much in the past 50 to 100 years – it’s pretty much a one-size-fits-all approach, from my experience – but this book feels like a real gamechanger. Dr Gabor Maté believes that most addiction is the result of unresolved and unprocessed trauma, usually from childhood, which continues to play out in our daily lives. So the question he feels we should be asking is not why the addiction; rather, why the pain? Because that’s basically what most addiction is about: it’s about feelings, and creating coping mechanisms to anaesthetise these feelings.

3. TV

Preacher (Amazon Prime/AMC)

Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga and Dominic Cooper in Preacher
‘Comically violent’: Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga and Dominic Cooper in Preacher. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

If you like your TV escapist and sacrilegious and sexy and comically violent, this is your show. God has left heaven and gone walkabout; meanwhile, the spirit of creation has broken free and is zooming around the Earth trying to find a suitable host, and assassin-type angels are trying to track it down. And that’s just the first episode. Ruth Negga and Joseph Gilgun get total career-defining roles in this series. It’s a modern Life of Brian on psychedelics – I’ve recently rewatched the whole thing and it’s just as thrilling the second time round.

4. Exhibition

Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer, V&A Dundee

This career retrospective pretty much gathered up all the footage from Michael Clark’s history. It wasn’t unlike a Bill Viola exhibition: there were these massive video screens that took you through his development, training and personality to show how he grew into being the choreographer that he became. My highlight was when he started to work with the legend that is Leigh Bowery, and the ballet he created for the Fall called I Am Curious, Orange. His work had been quite calm and contemplative up until then, and then he hit his punk period and it got really fun, really noisy.

5. Film

Children of Men (dir Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)

Michael Caine in Children of Men (2006
‘Absolutely hilarious’: Michael Caine in Children of Men (2006). Photograph: AA Film Archive/Alamy

This is set in a dystopian near-future in London. I rewatched it a few times, before and after Brexit kicked in, when I was making the decision to leave the UK. I felt so psychologically brutalised by what was going on that I could really relate to this film again. The police state vision of future England in this movie was slowly becoming a reality: heavily armed police patrols on the streets, refugees and immigrants locked up in camps. Julianne Moore and Clive Owen are excellent, but top prize goes to Michael Caine, who plays this long-haired hippy stoner – his performance is absolutely hilarious.

6. App

I hate memes, but I did see one recently of a hipster saying: “Oh man, I don’t listen to bands any more, they’re all on major labels. I only listen to birdsong.” And it made me think of me, because I don’t listen to much music, I’d often rather listen to birdsong. When I was in central London it became so noisy that I was using this app to drown out the construction noise and the sirens, to try and achieve some kind of peace. It’s meditative and contemplative.