The Gospel According To... Satan!
THE DEVIL INSIDE
Self-styled 'Antichrist Superstar', Church Of Satan member, arch exponent of black magic - MARILYN MANSON is your man when it comes to all things evil. Time, then, to join him for a walk on the dark side...
The Blindman's Ball in Stuttgart, Germany and Marilyn Manson are bludgeoning their way to the end of a truly chaotic festival set. Clearly unhappy with the onstage sound, Mr Manson has responded by destroying everything he can get his hands on. Even in broad daylight the band are mesmerising and menacing, the sunlight making them look ill and out of place.
An hour later, and after mutterings from Manson's security people that he is in a foul mood and doesn't want to do an interview, Kerrang! is lead into a large, brightly lit dressing room. Sitting in a corner, shirtless, Marilyn Manson is genuinely startling in the flesh: his chest a maze of scars, that eye the dominant feature on his poker-thing face.
He is polite and articulate, but makes little attempt to be either 'charming' or 'disarming', as he is so often described in interviews. That said, after we're done he says how much he enjoyed the interview, offers drugs (which are not forthcoming), and signs off with "I like you".
But now, we'd like to strip away all the sensationalism to find out what the self-styled 'Antichrist Superstar', and member of the Church Of Satan, really thinks about good, evil and the chap named Lucifer...
What was your first introduction to religion?
"It was through Christian school. Which I go into in great depth in the autobiography I've just written. So I'll only touch upon it here, because I'd prefer people read it in my book. That way, I make money instead of you guys.
I was told for many years that if I wasn't 'saved' then I'd be going to Hell, and that the end of the world was coming. I was terrified for many years. But when the end of the world didn't come, I got pissed off and decided that some day I'd have some sort of revenge. Making Antichrist Superstar was one way of doing that - destroying the idea of god in people's minds"
When did you first start to question what you were being taught?
"The Christian idea of god always seemed illogical to me. I believed in the supernatural and the forces of nature. The idea of worshipping a god who punishes you for doing something wrong sounded really lame to me, so I always sought out other ideas.
I high school, I started reading Darwin, Freud and Nietzsche to find other answers. I also read The Satanic Bible, and I really didn't understand it at the time, but it seemed like a great thing to carry around to piss off your friends and teachers. Later, when I was in my early 20s, I read it again and it made sense to me. In how it expressed the idea of god and Satan being two elements of man - not actual deities or personalities, but something that everybody has inside them. That - and the idea of magic being achieving things you couldn't normally achieve either through your appearance, personality or art - that made a lot of sense to me."
What was your first contact with the Church Of Satan?
"I had tried to meet (the Church's founder) Anton LaVey earlier in my life. But it happened when he contacted me and we got together at his home, which is always referred to as the Church Of Satan, and we had several long hours of conversation and became friends. We kept in contact over the years, and my membership is more a representation of our friendship. We don't agree on everything and he doesn't like rock music, but he does appreciate the power I've obtained through rock music, I consider him a peer and an equal, not someone I follow or worship."
There do seem to be some fascist undertones in Satanism though...
"There can be, depending on how open-minded you are about it. I think Satanism is more elitist - the idea that nobody is created equal and it's only intelligence that separates people. It doesn't judge people by their race, sex or social standing, it's just a matter of what you have to offer the world. That's how I judge my friends; I respect people who are creative."
You've said that there were elements of ritual in your gigs. Isn't that true of any good live music?
"There's definitely ritual in music, it just depends if artists are smart enough to use it or not. Anything from a sporting event to a totalitarian rally to a rock concert has a lot of energy, which can be either chaotic or focused. When you focus it, it has a lot of power. A lot of people have learned to do that over the years for evil purposes, whether it be Julius Caesar, Stalin or Hitler. Others - whether it be me, Madonna or Elvis Presley - have used it for positive things."
Would you agree that good and evil are just a question of morals, of what is and isn't acceptable within any particular culture?
"It's not even morals, it's popular opinion. If several million people believe The Bible to be true, then it's considered reality. But if several million people decide that Antichrist Superstar is true, then that becomes reality. That's why becoming a pop band is so essential for me, because popular opinion really makes my message real."
Isn't it also to do with the winners of wars writing history? The original Beelzebub was a Philistine god who kept flies at bay. But because the Hebrews won, they turned him into a devil.
"Well, I've always identified with the character of Lucifer, because to me it was an individual and a hero. He wanted to be god and he got kicked out of Heaven and made his own rules. If the other side had written The Bible, then Lucifer would've been the saviour for us. So it's about perspectives. I don't consider what I do to be wrong or evil: I try to do things that I think will set people free. In the process, some people have to be afraid or suffer, because that's the only way you can ever accomplish anything great in life.
I grew up feeling like I could never in no matter how hard I tried. One day, I realised that I didn't want to fit in - I could make my own standards and live by them. That's what I try to tell people - don't be afraid to say what's on your mind, and if it pisses someone off that's too bad. If you make everybody happy, you're an idiot."
Why do you think rock musicians are attracted to the darker side?
"Bevause the darker element is in everything, and some people are more willing to acknowledge it than others. It's strange for me, because I live in a different world to most people. They come up to me and say, 'Why is your performance so violent, dark and hateful?', and to me it's not. To me, it's very normal. At times, I feel like I'm beyond other people's experience - like I've been through things they'll never go through."
Is this Joe Public you're referring to, or people in general?
"Joe Public, that lowest common denominator. I think anyone who has a sense of open-mindedness can relate to a lot of what I say, because it boils down to isolation and the feeling of not being able to fit in. Some people don't ever deserve to understand, but those people are necessary. If I was to say that I don't want right wing Christians to exist it would be senseless, because I can't exist without them. They're the ones I need to piss off the most. To me, they're a lower form of human intelligence, people who haven't evolved to the next level.
I'm talking here about American fundamentalist Christianity. Because what Christianity started out as wasn't anything more than what we saw at the show today. It was one person getting up and saying what he felt, and a lot of people going, 'Yeah, I feel that too'. Jesus was the first rock star, the first sex symbol and the first icon, and someone decided to make a religion out of it to manipulate other people. Just like a record company does with me."
Satan is cooler than god. Discuss.
"Well, the character of Satan is more realistic. Sin is man. The idea of tryiing to be like god is impossible for anybody to attain. No matter how great you are, you're always going to feel hatred or lust or greed. You can't tell me that some preacher's never had a hard-on. So, he's going to hell? That's a silly concept, and it makes people guilty and controlled and miserable.
If there wasn't Christianity, there wouldn't be Satan. Christianity invented Satan, because repression breeds perversion. When I was growing up, my parents were very open-minded. They let me watch 18-rated movies, buy whatever records I wanted and look at Playboy, and I think I'm much healthier for it. The more you tell someone not to do something, the more they're going to want to do it. You can't pick sides. You can't say one thing is worse than another. How can I say Charles Manson is worse than my father who killed people in Vietnam? It's all the same, it's all bullshit."
When does someone's behaviour become unacceptable?
"You just have to have a personal code. A lot of people probably assume that I have no values, but I do. If anything, I'm rather conservative. I try not to judge people for what they look like. I like to get to know somebody before I form an opinion on them. I think that's almost liberal. I'm not a malicious person. But the golden rule is, 'Do unto others as they do unto you'. You always have to assume that people are generally bad by nature."
What do you perceive magic to be, and what do you think you can achieve through it?
"I don't think there's anything I want that I can't have, and that's the bottom line. Whether it takes a day or a year, I get what I want. It's up to you whether you want to call that magic or determination, but it's a matter of will power and self-belief. It's not belief in god, or any supernatural power other than your own. I think everybody has that ability, but mankind is too busy playing with computers and watching TV to tap into their own power. Why fuck with virtual reality when you can have super-reality in your own life?"
Do you think curses work?
"I think so. I think Karma's a pussy's way of looking at energy. I've seen people that I've been in love with and thought, 'I can have this person', and I did. And I've seen people who I've disliked and I've seen them suffer for it. If you believe something enough, then it's real. I could believe I was a rabbit all day long and I'd be a rabbit."
Charles Manson has always said that he still believes he's living in the desert, not a prison cell.
"I think Manson had a lot of intelligent ways of looking at things. Maybe he went wrong at some point and expressed himself in the wrong way, but I think he started off on the right track. Everybody becomes a product of their own personal likes and dislikes. Someone like Hitler disliked his father, so he wanted to take it out on an entire race of people.
Once you start being controlled by your own personal feelings, that's when you could become an evil person. But I've tried my hardest to stay true to what I think. I mean, when I was growing up I didn't like my dad and he was a furniture salesman, but I don't want to go out and kill all furniture salesmen. I just want to be a better person, and I want other people to be better people. I want people to be strong; I'm sick of living with weak people.
But with great power comes responsibility. If you're going to have the power to control other people, then you have to be responsible and act accordingly. For instance, if you had the power to read someone's mind, you'd have to deal with what you see intelligently. That's why the only faith I have is in other life, like angels and aliens. There's something there to be looked at, because so many cultures and so many people can't habe the same visions without there being something out there.
Mans is still at the learning stage, and mankind is so arrogant to think that he's the highest form of evolution on earth. There's so much of the brain that we still don't use, and that's all I ever try to do - go to the next level. There is something to be said about drugs being able to open your mind up to the possibilities of the next level."
Do you think that what you see in hallucinations is really there?
"I don't think there's any such thing as hallucinations. Dreams are just another dimension of reality. This could be a hallucination. I may wake up tomorrow and be 12 years old, sitting on my bed wishing I was a rock star."
Do you believe in ghosts?
"There's a lot of things that can't be explained. Maybe ghosts are misperceived angels."
Do you own a Bible?
"Actually, we've got a Bible in the other room. We've just finished snorting drugs off it."
What if the Christians are right?
"In some ways they are right, I think. In some ways I am the very thing they've been afraid of for so many years, and it's only going to get worse for them. Like you said before, history is written by winners and Christians are soon to be the losers. Science has disproved that the Christian god exists, but it has proved that another god exists and that's man's intelligence. We're at the point of re-growth and the Christians are a lot like the dinosaurs - about to become extinct."
Did you sell your soul to the Devil for fame and fortune?
"No, he sold his to me."
THE TOP TEN
Marilyn Manson On The Man Upstairs' Commandments...
There is only one god.
Thou shalt not worship false idols.
"Who, The Prodigy?"
Thou shalt not take god's name in vain.
"What is god's name, exactly?"
Thou shall observe the Sabbath.
"I observed them on the Ozz-Fest."
Thou shall obey your mother and father.
"Until you discover either sex, drugs or rock 'n' roll music. At that point, why bother?"
Thou shall not kill.
"I believe in the law of the jungle. Besides, man by nature will always destroy himself."
Thou shall not commit adultery.
"Does that mean becoming an adult?"
Thou shall not steal.
"Who, The Prodigy?"
Thou shall not lie.
"Unless you're great at it."
Thou shall not covet thy neighbour's wife or goods.
"What about his wife's goods?"