It's early afternoon on a beautiful Saturday. Feeling the remnants of Friday night's drinking spree, you walk along Fifth Avenue in lovely New York City, smiling couples out walking their dogs, laughing babies in the arms of their mothers, and friends having brunch. You feel good, all is well with the world. You come upon the infamous Palace, one of the most ornate hotels in all of the world. While standing outside of the breathtaking structure, you spy the rich and powerful trotting in to and fro - making money, closing deals and no doubt, ruining more than a few lives. A tad uncomfortable you venture into the hotel - a little apprehensive about what's awaiting you.
The lobby is just as embellished as you might expect - and the people just as snooty. It is in the elevator which speeds you to one of the upper floors that you begin to feel the faint strains of some dark pathos, the gold and blood-red velvet walls seem to be closing in, bringing you to a near panic. Relief washes over you as the elevator doors slide open, but the solace lasts for just a moment.
As you step into the elongated hallway that will lead you to your destination, you notice that the walls are covered in the same bloody tapestry, the dim, faintly orange lighting only adding to the frightening panorama. Taking a deep breath, you pad down the hallway, your feet seeming to drag in the plush crimson carpeting.
As you come upon the room you seek (not room '666, but it might as well be) and push the buzzer, you have a sense of great foreboding - you quickly scold yourself for being such a ninny - what could hurt you here? It is Twiggy, the bassist of Marilyn Manson that answers, peeking his multi-colored thread-head through the door. You squeak your authorization and he stands for a moment, motionless. Then, unsmiling, he opens the door wide and pads back into the room.
Standing there for a moment the thought slowly sinks into your stunned consciousness that Twiggy is wearing a pair of fuzzy pink Doctor Dentins - the pajamas that small children wear. Twiggy, however, is far removed from the innocence of childhood, but has, apparently, given his permission to enter the room.
It is also apparent that the members of Marilyn Manson are not overjoyed to be speaking to the dreaded press about their new EP, Smells Like Children. Suddenly the world of smiling couples seems a thousand years away...
Upon entering the chamber your introductions are not met with friendliness. In fact, the two members of the band that are present are barely congenial. Twiggy, an aforementioned Doctor Dentins, lays on the mattress behind you, silently staring at a muted TV.
Mr. Manson sits cross-legged on the bed before you, black jeans cut-off at the knee, shirtless - the wounds on his battered torso glaring in the relative bright light of day - and sunglasses hiding his demented azure eyes. One can only be thankful that you are not faced with the other members of the band as well: Madonna Wayne Gacy, Daisy Berkowitz, Ginger Fish. 10 strange eyes staring at you in the same manner that the current 4 are might be a bit much for the nerves. Your trembling fingers move to the power button your tape player...
You've been touring pretty much continuously since Portrait Of An American Family was released, is that right?
"We've been touring for the last two years with just a break to record Smells Like Children. I prefer to be on the road than to be just sitting somewhere. Touring is the only thing that makes us feel alive."
As opposed to just living in your home state, Florida?
"As opposed to living anywhere. I think that not being on tour - unless we're in the studio - just feels like being dead. If I got an apartment I'd have to be an adult. I just prefer to be homeless."
Why the decision to put out an EP before the album?
"We haven't recorded the album yet and we wanted to give the people something to keep them busy. There are songs that we've been playing on tour the last couple of years which people wanted to hear recorded. We were in New Orleans recording for four months, the things that we experienced in the spectrum of sex and drugs all came out on Smells Like Children."
It's interesting that you decided to remix a couple of songs several times...
"We sent the songs to some people - we wanted to get their interpretations".
Did you have anything to do with the remixing at all?
"No. We just chose the people that did the remixes."
Can you tell us what to expect on your next album, Antichrist Superstar?
"It's the end of music as we know it. If the things that are said on the record are true. I don't think that we have anything to look forward to. It's the soundtrack to the end of the world."
So basically, it's not really that, er, happy?
"Well, it could be happy, depending on what you want."
Is it a celebration of the end?
"In some ways, yeah. In some ways it's realizing the whole world is what you make it and if you want to destroy it, that's easy to do. You can do it with just one bullet."
What about the music?
"I don't want to give too much away, but it's different from what might be expected."
When is it out?
And what of your appearance on Phil Donahue, I thought that you hated talk shows?
"For the irony I think that I made things come full circle, with talk shows being such an influence with us. I felt that it was acceptable for us to end up on one."
Was it the experience that you thought it would be?
"It was a lot more boring than we expected. We expected the crowd to hate us more, we tried our best. The problem is that people are basically very stupid and they don't really have anything very valuable to say, so I didn't try to say anything either... I just tried to piss them off as much as possible."
About your stage act. Is it an act?
"I don't know. What's an act? This could be an act right now. If anything were an act, I wouldn't know how to justify it because I'm the one that's doing it. I'm the one that has to go home at the end of the night and get stitches, or vomit all night and take hard drugs to stay alive. So I don't know, if that's an act, I guess I'm acting."
Well, it's an American dream to be a rock star, isn't it?
"Well, it's either that or a serial killer... there is not much difference between the two, they both get you to the same place in society."
True. If you were a serial killer who would you kill?
"I'd kill journalists."
"With a gun."
Aww, that's too easy...
"Yeah, but it's classic. It's a very respectable form of murder."
But chances are - if you were a mass murderer, you wouldn't have that many journalists around you, unless you were already in prison...
"Well, I've got enough journalists around me now to become a mass murderer - then once I got caught, I'd have even more - if you want to look at it that way."
Do you try to be shocking?
"I tend to forget what's shocking and what's not. I've become desensitized to the way I look to other people. I don't think about the way other people view what I do. I don't necessarily realize what's shocking and what's not. I do look for a reaction in people, I do feed off of people. I don't think that I set out to shock them, but if that's what they're looking for, that's what I sense, and that's what I give."
You do a lot of audience baiting when you're on stage... do you hate or do you love them?
"I feel a lot of emotions for them... at the same time, I wouldn't say that I dislike them at all. Sometimes I have to get them riled up, so I may call them a few names. I don't think that anyone should take it personally, unless they deserve it."
Marilyn Manson is getting a lot of attention without much airplay or MTV support. Why do you think that is?
"For years people have cried and complained and feared and called upon something like Marilyn Manson to exist. Now that we're here, they can't really have enough of it. They love to feel their fear, their lust, their hate, everything that makes them feel like an animal."
And then why does MTV deny you?
"Because we're not a safe product, we're not easy to swallow. They play us, just not very often. I think that they are very afraid of us. We're not safe sex, we're not safe anything. We're not free your mind, we're not just say no to drugs. We're a bomb that has been dropped on America; they'll have to deal with us, eventually..."
Who are your fans?
"They're all different types of people; young, old. I think that the thing I see most in them is a creativity, they're trying to express their individuality."
How do they feel about your music?
"A lot of people said that we have changed their lives. Our music seems to have a great effect on people, it helps them see things a little bit differently. I find that very flattering. It makes me feel as if I've made a little bit of a difference here and there."
Do you want to make a difference?
"I want people to want a difference."
Do you want to be the person initiating them wanting a difference?
"I want to be the person that is responsible for making that difference and destroying it at the same time."
"I want it all then I want to wreck it when I get it."
"Because it deserves to be destroyed."
Then why have it in the first place?
"Because I'm selfish."
Where did you get this view of the world?
"Just my experiences growing up. Going to a Christian school and being told everyday that it was the end of the world and that the Antichrist was coming and The Tribulation and The Rapture and that you had to worry whether or not you were going to be left behind. I lived in fear for so many years, then I finally decided that it just wasn't going to happen. Then, later on I decided that I was going to be the one to make it happen - I think that I've grown to become the things that tormented me as a child. That has a vengeance."
How does it feel?
"It feels right."
How does this translate into your music and performance?
"That's where all the emotion goes. Any feeling that I might have on any day: hate or love or anything in-between, performing a show or writing a song is the outlet I have that keeps it from turning into something else. I put all those emotions down so that they're not in me anymore."
Does that actually get rid of them?
"For the time being. You find something to hate, you get rid of it and you find something new to hate. Same thing works for love and for greed..."
But after a show do you ever just want to run out into the street and start killing people?
"No, because it's gone. I put it out there. It's very ritualistic."
But the audience looks as if they're about to go on a killing spree!
"Because I drain myself and at the same time they're filling themselves, and they're stuck with it when they leave."
So, that's why you tour constantly...
"Yeah, because, if I didn't have that outlet, there is no telling what could happen."
You'd be killing journalists.
"That might not be such a bad thing..."
"Don't worry, it's nothing personal."