Interview by Kevan Roberts
RESIDENT EVIL.-..And so America continues to crumble as th country's sickest band take their ultra-vile "Antichrist Superstar" tour to the masses. Kevan Roberts joins MARILYN MANSON on the road in Minneapolis, and suddenly understands why everyone wants to kill their singer...
SEX, MURDER, mutilation, pornography...all the worlds evils drawn together and spat out in one filthy, sick, fucked-up American band. This is Marilyn Manson, and they're about to touch you in a a way that you've never been molested before...
Some just want the fame and fortune. Others want to write the perfect album. Many are on a mission to save the world. Not Marilyn Manson. The spindly frontman of the world's most depraved band just wants to destroy it.
"With this record we wanted to bring about the apocalypse," says Mr Manson the man, a wicked glint in his heavily blacked out eye.
Well, you've got to have goals, haven't you? IN MINNEAPOLIS, USA, there is a bus driver still under therapy, feverishly reliving the fateful day he came face to face with Mr Marilyn Manson. His 30 passengers still have nightmares.
Picture this: It's rush hour, downtown, and the bus driver is piloting his single-decker out of the city, taking his fares back to their peaceful homes in the suburbs after another gruelling day in the rat-race.
Then from off another bus parked at the side of the street, out steps a vision to stop the bus drivers pulse. Apainfully thin, sickly-coloured creature of indeterminate sex, wrapped in claret bondage clothing and a fur coat, walks towards the oncoming traffic. All along the street, pedestrians' heads turn. So too do all the motorists'-including the bus driver's. He stares straight at the whites of the corpse-like figure's dispassionate eyes. And all the colour drains from the bus driver's face.
The passengers look up from their evening papers and are struck similarly open-mouthed and incredulous. The driver doesn't see the red light. Neither do the passengers.
What happens next is a cacophony of car horns, of "Fuck you's" and raised middle fingers. Marilyn Manson chuckles. No cars crash, no one is hurt, and everyone goes home shaken, but not stirred.
Hello, Minneapolis. One hell of an entrance.
JUST WHEN America thought it had seen it all, out spat Marilyn Manson. To say he's shocking the nation is-so far-a little extreme. But he's already started to piss-off all the right people. Like the Mormon forefathers in Utah who offered his band $10,000 NOT to play (he did anyway, ripping pages from the Mormon Bible intoning,"They love me, they love me not"). Or the Florida police, who have arrested him several times for his onstage conduct.
But this was all before Marilyn Manson delivered his masterplan. The controversy that was sparked off by previous LPs "Portrait Of An American Family" and the fetid "Smells Like Children" are small potatoes, cartoon horror compared to the moral indignation that will come with the deliberately inflammatory "Antichrist Superstar" LP, which has debuted at the Number Three slot in the US charts.
Now the Manson Family tour bus has started its recruitment drive around the States. Expect placard waving, Bible thumping, record burnings and lynchings. Expect arrests, controversy, and outraged parents bleating on about how "Jimmy used to be such a nice young boy". Best of all, expect them in the UK soon.
"IT ALL started when I wasa kid," Manson explains, reclining on a couch in the back of his suprisingly clean tour-bus."I was so afraid of the apocalypse, and the Anti-Christ mythology was something that completely terrified me. I worried constantly about what was going to happen to me. I also went to a private Christian school, which didn't help matters.
"As I got older, as a payback to the people that terrified me when I was a kid, I decided that I was going to be the one to bring about the end of their world-though not necessarily my own. The idea behind "Antichrist Superstar" is probably as old as the band itself. The Antichrist isn't so much a person as it is everyone's increasing, collective disbelief in God."
"And it's just a matter of each time someone plays the record, hopefully it will trigger them to take one step further from Christianity and one step further to believing in themselves and having a strong will."
"And for Christians, that IS the Armageddon...but you know, for the rest of the world it might just be a fresh beginning."
So this is your revenge on the world?
"Yeah, I see it happening," he laughs (which for someone of so pale a face he does remarkably often). "And I even see it in the way these people probably hate the way their kids dress or the fact that they buy my records. But I never specifically sit down and think up new ways to piss them off. Anyway, I'm sure my just being alive pisses them off enough as it is."
THE STAGE-HAND at the Minneapolis' First Avenue Nightclub-where the Git Formerly Known As Prince got his start and filmed "Purple Rain"-is understandably nervous.
"I heard a report Manson was going to kill himself onstage tonight. Is it true?"
The workman seems more concerned that he might have to work late to clear up the mess rather than for the wellbeing of Mr Manson. He is assured that nothing of the sort was going to happen, leading on to the subject that Manson has now been forced to hire an ex-Whitehouse Bodyguard as he needs round the clock protection from his FANS. Only the other night a girl tried to stub a cigarette out in his eyes.
MARILYN MANSON's bandmates are usually no more safe than their skinny leader. In fact, they're probably at more risk than Manson himself-as they have to share a stage with the wild explosive frontman. Previous drummer Sara Lee Lucas quit the band after Manson set both him and his kit alight onstage. Replacement Ginger Fish was rushed to hospital a few weeks ago after being lamped by Mansons mike-stand. And keyboard player Madonna Wayne Gacy nearly died whe he was struck with a flying mike. "He almost bled to death," offers Manson, matter-of-factly, "It hit an artery and nearly killed him.
"It does get violent up ther," he ponders. "Mostly I hurt myself in the heat of the moment. I cant feel it."
In the past, he's slashed himself with bottles-the only aspect of his career he says his mum disapproves of. She was supposedley in the audience when he gave a blow-job to one of the Nine Inch Nails during a concert.
He's been arrested for his onstage conduct on several occasions, and has had his life saved by a baseball-bat swinging Glenn Danzig after being set on by security staff at one venue.
And he and bassist Twiggy Ramirez once smoked Human Bones. Really.
"We were having a party in our hotel room and there was a bunch of people there who thought they were so hip. Me and Twiggyhad real human bones that we'd...liberated from a gravein New Orleans-they stick out of the ground all over the place because of the swamps."
"Anyway, we convinced these fools that they really would be hip if they'd smoke these bones with us. The result? They made my eyes red, gave me a headache and made me throw up."
Remember, kids-just say no.
THE SEEDS for Marilyn Manson were sown in 1990 when Manson-then plain Brian Warner-decided music was the way to make an impression on the world.
"I had lots of different ideas but no real way to express them, and I decided that music would be the way to make them last forever."
And the name?
"Marilyn Manson was something that I used to what I was writing because of the dichotomy between beauty and ugliness. It perfectly described my intentions."
And those of the rest of the band too-all of whom, until recent addition Zim Zum, have been named after beautiful women and serial killers. "Since then, we've been through various phases," Manson continues. "We've been more extreme, we've been less extreme. But we've always been different..."
So too has their crowd. On the one hand , you've got the usual suspects-alternative music fans in band T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. Let's call them-just for the sake of argument-the "normal" people. Then ther's the tribe of misfits that Manson would refer to as the Beautiful People. Some who are so caught up in the bands style, in Mansons image, that they could give him a run for his money in the "I just stepped out of a grave" stakes. They're young too. For this all-ages show, there's a curfew of 9.30 pm-apparently in Minneapolis all unaccompanied minors must be off the city streets by 10 pm.
It's a ruse that's helped cut down on violence and gang trouble in the city centre. But what it means tonight is at least a couple of hours before the doors of the venue open, ther's a serpent-like line outside, featuring blue mohawks, cross-dressers and just some of the strangest folk you've ever clapped eyes on. This mad queue snakes its way through a downtown street, scaring the commuters and making the beggars keep a respectable distance away.
BUT IT isn't just an image thing. There's also the small matter of Marilyn Manson's subject matter to contend with. First take a look at the T-shirts. "Kill Yoursely, You're Already Dead", "The Time Is Close, It Is Quite Near, Our Antichrist Is Almost Here", This Is Your World In Which We Grow-And We Will Grow To Hate You" and the succinct "The Lord Is A Shepherd". Not so much slogans, as Marilyn Manson's declarations of intent. Next, check out the lyrics to "Antichrist..." for a slingshot of sin and pestilence not seen since... "The Bible", actually.
Manson explains: "What I decided to do is accept the role of the fallen angel-but more importantly, what I'm trying to say is that if you hear a story from a different point of view, then perhaps you might see that the Devil is not necessarily the bad guy."
Well, the Devil does seem pretty, er, satanic?
"But what if "The Bible" told the story from Lucifers point of view instead, and that God was really the bad guy? What if we've been misled all these years?"
Do you believe The Bible?
"No. It's interesting and has a lot of important values and things like that in it, but the way people use it is where the problems lie."
So where do you draw the line personally in your morality? We've all heard about what you will do, but what wouldn't you do?
"The most outrageous thing I could imagine ever doing is putting on a pair of jeans and going to the shopping mall for my lunch. That would be pretty gross."
Talking of clothes, what's that fur jacket you're wearing made of?
"It's real rabbit fur. Someone gave it to me. That's another thing I hate-political correctness-it's just Christian morality disguised. The other day, this girl gave me a hard time about wearing this coat, called me an asshole for 30 minutes, then asked for tickets to the show. That, to me, illustrates how commited these people are to their little causes."
"ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR" isn't just the title of Marilyn Mansons new album, it's his new persona and the title of the accompanying concept concert-almost a goth opera, if you can imagine such a thing. The set's made to look like a destroyed church, featuring an organ as the centrepiece. There's a backdrop of stained glass with angels that come forward and retract. Manson himself has a podium from which he starts what is effectively the second act-following his transformation into Antichrist Superstar.
That's how the set normally looks; tonight, most of it's been left behind because the venue is not big enough to accomodate it. But the theatrical element is still in full effect. With his gruesome-looking cronies alongside him, Manson takes the stage in a flesh-coloured corset, G-string, ripped body-length stocking, knee-length boots and "Bladerunner"-style make-up. Not the kind of outfit that will ever be described as "fetching". Half-way through, as the theme switches to the Antichrist Superstar's arrival, he pops off for a brief costume change, returning in a black suit, red shirt and tie. Now rather than the fallen angel, he's looking like Jack Nicholson as The Joker.
Within a couple of songs, the suit has been discarded and we're back to the body-stocking. And Manson, still grinning like a maniac, is now covered in blood. Scarlet-stained material hangs from his arms; from a distance he looks like he's covered in entrails. He's singing "Man That You Fear", and ther's 1,500 people, many of whom should be back at home in the arms of their parents in less than half-an-hour - screaming "Manson, Manson" at the top of their lungs.
It's big, it's sick, it's gross, it's foul... and i'ts absolutely fucking rivetting.
With authorities and moral crusaders standing in their way, the band's December tour may be the only chance Britain ever gets to sample Marilyn Manson's seductive charms. Abandon faith, all ye who enter here...