by Jayne Margetts
VISUALLY, they could be the bastard offspring of the Addams Family or distant cousins of a sinister sect who peddle their dark, grinding cadences and arid twang in the evangelical pulpit of the apocalypse. Yet in the gothic and sultry terrain of New Orleans, where they reside, they'd cause no more than a quick sidelong glance rather than shocked stares and cries of horror and disbelief.
Marilyn Manson with their raven locks, pasty pallor, garish tattoos and feral mannerisms are not the kind of motley freakshow pin-up boys that are likely to encourage close and intimate acquaintanceships, or candle-lit dinners in soft and warm surroundings. In fact, if Nine Inch Nails and Alice Cooper were to conceive a child then the motley and seedy Marilyn Manson would be that brat, spat out into the world kicking and screaming.
The American press has proclaimed them the voice of rebellion and youth. Salt Lake City banished them after they ripped up a Mormon Bible on stage, the Miami Police narrowly avoided arresting them for stripping to the bone and New Jersey security guards retreated from a stage front assault after they were hailed with a storm of spit.
Irresistable and undeniably confrontational, Marilyn Manson's industrial and mayhemic trashy stomp has bellowed from the four corners of the American continent and the youth of disillusioned America couldn't be happier.
There's the anguished ringmaster vocalist and songwriter Reverend Marilyn whose caustic voice is comparable to having steel wool scraped across your eardrums while gnarled bassist Twiggy Ramirez, deformed keyboard pyromaniac Madonna Wayne Gacy, corrosive guitarist Daisy Berkowitz and teutonic drummer Ginger Fish hammer out tainted and stained chordal angst that is omnipotent both live and on their debut album Portrait of An American Family and their apocalyptic tome and EP, the Trent Reznor produced Smells Like Children.
For Manson, who eagerly confesses to walking a tightrope between dreams, drugs and alternate realities, there is one facet of his artform that continues to obsess him: "I don't enjoy the recording process as much as I enjoy writing the songs," he explains from his studio in New Orleans, where he is putting the finishing touches to his new album Anti-Christ Superstar.
"I've been experimenting more with songwriting. I mean, initially I wrote in an almost journalistic fashion because I would record things that I see and write about, instances that happened to me. But then I started paying more attention to my dreams and getting so much more out of the things that happen when you're mind isn't concentrating and tapping into your subconscious," he continues.
"It has come to a point, for me, in the last year where I have been trying to induce those kinds of situations where I would use sleep-deprivation or experiment with different kinds of chemicals, just trying to induce dreams and to tap into parts of my mind that I wouldn't normally be able to."
The anarchic frontman rolls his eyes and concludes, "My dreams have changed radically. You become very aware and at the same time you become de-sensitised. It's a weird place to go and I've definitely found it to be an alternate reality that sometimes is more enjoyable."
Regardless of his own eccentricity Manson and his ghoulish entourage have seen themselves soar into the spotlight with their dark and powerful adaptation of the Eurythmics Sweet Dreams and are currently reaping both the rewards and the criticism for their EP Smells Like Children.
They strut with feline prowess and drip swanky, hoary sleaze with Diary Of A Dope Fiend, then screech their unholy pain through shards of industrial fallout and metallic, demented tendrils on Kiddie Grinder amid lyrical explorations into tabloid television, talk shows, drug abuse, sexual deviancy and rebellion.
"We've had a strange reaction to this EP," Manson concedes. "It was kinda confusing because some people had only heard Sweet Dreams which was much more acceptable for most listeners than some of the other songs on the EP, and it was almost a deliberate scheme on my part to use Sweet Dreams to expose people to what Marilyn Manson is really about.
"By releasing a song like Sweet Dreams it tricks people into buying an EP and then they're stuck with dealing with my kind of world. So Smells Like Children was a study in abuse and I wanted to take the subject of abuse and I thought Sweet Dreams was the ultimate anthem," he says.
"I liked the way the lyrics looked at relationships. Then I took songs from our first record that dealt with different types of abuse and we had some re-mixes done of them and then we put it all together. It seems to make sense to me, and I hope people will get something out of it."
Ask Manson if he thinks many people have a problem confronting their own fears and darkness and he chides, "Yes. People are always pointing out who the devil is, who the bad guy is and those are the exact people who can't cope with the fact that who they're really talking about is themselves.
"That's why fear is such a popular subject for me to use and I do, because I'm interested in what people are afraid of, and I like to show them what they are so afraid of so that they come face to face with it. When I'm afraid that's exactly what I do."
Not content to merely realise and deal with his own fears, Reverend Marilyn Manson and his sonic family will soon be delivering a soundtrack to your personal and hellish nightmares and it will probably have the lyrical, fetid breath of Nostradamus' frightening predictions and the fury and frenzy of a religious sermon.
Manson agrees: "It discusses the end of all things as I see it. I'm dealing with my dreams and visions I've had in the past year, the ones I had as a kid and the ones that I will continue to have. It deals with the political climate in America and its hypocracy. It deals with my disdain for Christianity. It kinda lays it on the line and says that there's more important things to worry about beside racism, sexism and whose running for president," he sniffs.
"It's about the end of the world and how we are to embrace that or interpret that when it happens. What I've done is very ritualistically studied for many years a lot of old documents in Hebrew, Tablistic form, within modern technology,it's binary codes and interesting superstitions and combined them all together to make a musical ritual, that really, in my eyes, brings about the apocalypse ..."