Marilyn Manson's Message To The Masses
Their band is a bizarre dichotomy bringing together disparate elements of American culture in a way that frightens some and excites others. It suits them to a T. They are misfits: Twiggy Ramirez (bass), Madonna Wayne Gacy (keyboards, etc), Ginger Fish (drums), Zim Zum (guitar) and the one they call Manson. Together they are one.
Their music epitomizes the bottled up rage of a confused generation. Their message, designed to promote thought in the strong, inherently strikes fear in the meek (none of whom, if they get their way, will inherit the earth).
Their story is neither a nightmare nor is it a fairy tale. It's not as simple as The Beauty And The Beast. Because, you see, with Marilyn Manson, the Beauty is the Beast.
Antichrist Superstar is the next chapter in their continuing saga, the culmination of years of blood, sweat and various other bodily fluids. It deals with shades of light and dark, but it goes far beyond black and white. Under the watchful eye of the one they call Trent, this Manson brood have crafted an album that demands to be reckoned with.
Marilyn Manson's controversial road show returns to Cleveland this Saturday, April 26, at the CSU Convention Center. So without further ado...
As the tour has unfolded, city after city, you've been continually harangued by religious zealots and political heroes trying to stop you from playing. Do you find it amusing or annoying?
"After a while, I start to feel sorry for these right-wing Christians and political groups. They seem so concerned, but it seems like all of their efforts go to waste, because most of the time, they just end up promoting the shows more. And they have not yet succeeded in cancelling or preventing a show from happening, so... I start to feel a little bit of sympathy somewhere deep in the bottom of my cold heart."
Are you ever concerned for your safety? Some people take that stuff pretty seriously...
"I don't take them lightly, because I think these people have the potential to be dangerous. I think that a lot of the things I'm saying go to prove my point of the hypocrisy of some of these groups. Each time I come to a city, they prove my point with the way they behave.
If these people truly believed in the values that they try to promote... I think, I remember reading "Love Thy Neighbour"... somewhere in The Bible... I think they should be inviting me to appear rather than making bomb threats and attacking me outside of my hotel."
You would think they'd adopt an 'Ignore it and it'll eventually go away' kind of stance, given their failures.
"It becomes a flattery in me because it acknowledges the fact that they see what I'm doing to be something that is powerful and something that is making a difference, and they fear it. It's just unfortunate that their fear is all based on ignorance, because there's a lot of rumours and things that surround the band that these people create that are completely untrue."
None of which has obscured the fact that Marilyn Manson have created an intensively extreme rock album in Antichrist Superstar.
"This is everything that I've always wanted to do. It just took several stepping stones to get to it. I think the timing was not only right for the band, but for music. It's very appropriate for the time that it came out. Music tends to become very much a product in this era that we're in - It's non-personal and it doesn't have a lot of personality, I find. So it needed something that was really bigger than life and unapologetic."
It's a throw back in that sense. Everything's been so commercial and formatted for so long...
"A lot of people don't realize that there's some people who go to extremes with their music that are just as extreme as what I say and do. That it doesn't translate to an audience that's worth saying it to. You can only preach to the converted so much. And then there's people that have music that is fairly commercial and has no real soul or any kind of artistic value to it.
What I've always wanted to do was find the happy medium and create powerful music that says something to a lot of people. Then it actually makes a difference. I think to not do that is to sell out. For me, to become part of the mainstream is the most subversive thing that I can do."
You said something recently... in a Penthouse interview to the effect that, You're a lot bigger than Satan, because a lot more people believe in you than him.
"So many people are caught up in the misinterpretation and the hysteria of things that Satanism and their misconceptions of devil worship and things that surround what I do. I was alluding to the Lennon thing when I said that, but it does hold true, because not only has God lost the power in this world but so has Satan. People have really lost their appreciation for the taboo, and the power behind the archetype of that character has had its day.
I remember when I was a kid, there was a real fear for both God and Satan. And when you grow up and you realize that these are just two parts of your personality, it's easy to lose the power behind that. But for me, I've just grown to appreciate it more and respect the light and dark sides to my personality."
The last time Marilyn Manson played Cleveland, it was around the time the political conventions were going on. It struck me that onstage, you had more of a connection with your party, so to speak, than did any of the presidential candidates.
"A lot of that really plays into what Antichrist Superstar was about when we were writing the record. It was not only about growing up and transforming into a Nietzsche-esque superman, someone who believes in himself and doesn't need conventions of God and politics to feel strong about himself. What happens when you accept that role is that you become not only an Antichrist but a superstar and the power is part of you.
I've looked at comparisons to not only someone like Bill Clinton but someone like Julius Caesar. All these things are just very extreme. There's a totalitarian element to rock and roll. There is a fascist element to religion. There is a showbiz element to politics. They're all very interestingly interconnected.
That's a main part of the show. My transformation into Antichrist Superstar has a very cynical look at how all those things come together."
At that moment in the show when you're standing behind the podium, and the audience is hanging on your every word - that's got to be a very empowering feeling.
"It's strange for me because there's an irony there. I'm not only in charge of that sermon, but I'm mocking that power. It's a role paradox. It's something that even on a day-to-day basis, it's interesting for me to really see people's reactions.
I think that's part of the conclusion to Antichrist Superstar, as an album and as my life, to see where that goes. I'm holding in my hand the power to either be an optimist and point these people in a direction that encourages them to express themselves as individuals and to make the world a more intelligent place, or to give up hope on a world that I feel doesn't believe in itself, or me, for that matter and just would rather see it all destroyed.
That's really the kind of question that I think everybody will be faced with as they listen to the record, if they really think about it and apply it to their lives. Even on a short-term basis. The world, the apocalypse - they're all just metaphors for the transformation that you can make in your own life."
You seem to have found a kindred spirit in Floria Sigismondi, with whom you did the videos for Superstar.
"When we met we had a lot of similar tastes in cinema. When we collaborated on The Beautiful People, it kind of spawned a whole style that became not only ours, but hers. It was great working with her. I'm not sure what the future holds, whether we'll do another video with her or not. I don't like to stagnate and remain with one thing for too long. But it's been great working with her."
It's interesting, but not really surprising, that you've struck up a friendship with Howard Stern. You two seem to find yourselves in a lot of similar situations.
When I saw his movie, I related to it so much. I could even imagine myself doing what he does, because in spite of some of the blackness of what I do musically, I tend to have a similar sense of humor as him.
"Even musically compared to what he does with comedy, I do and say things that a lot of people are afraid to do and say, and therefore it makes it so appealing.
Just talking to him, I think we're definitely working with similar motivations. The reasons why we do what we do are really similar."
There's that old adage that begins, 'be careful of what you wish for...' As you're accomplishing the things you've envisioned, is that becoming a reality in your life?
"It is. I've even predicted my own, I guess, complications. The last thing you hear on the album is the cold, emotionless voice of the computer saying, "When all your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed".
I think that's something that everybody's faced with. It's when you really have to either stand up to it and accept the challenges, or fall victim to it. It's yet to be seen where my life takes me."