It was Christmas 2006 when Marilyn Manson finally pulled himself out of the black hole he found himself in. Just months after marrying his wife, burlesque performer Dita Von Teese, he found himself overwhelmed by depression, claiming that he was beyond suicide, an unfeeling wreck who was up against a creative brick wall.
He said his wife wasn't supporting him, that she was trying to change him into somebody else. He said she couldn't understand what music he had made, that she no longer cared about what he did.
She, in the divorce papers she served him on December 29 last year, claimed he was drinking too much, that he was possibly going through a mid-life crisis. Worse perhaps, was that she was becoming increasingly worried by Manson's relationship with a new friend, 19-year-old actress Evan Rachel Wood. It was to her that Manson was playing the songs he was working on, a sounding board for his new, more personal music. It was her reaction to that music that let him know he was on the right path, the songs pulling him out from the waves of misery he was drowning in.
It was a healing process that has led to Manson's most personal record to date, EAT ME, DRINK ME. It's an album that has also stirred up controversy since its release in June, not only for the explicit video to the single Heart-Shaped Glasses which features Wood (now Manson's girlfriend) and the singer having sex on camera, but also for comments in which Manson claimed My Chemical Romance had ripped him off.
That’s not something he's talking about today though, as he puts his heart under the microscope for Kerrang!...
How much did being depressed influence the songs on EAT ME, DRINK ME?
"I didn't really pick themes because the record was written as a lot of things were happening in my life. I didn't have time to make songs about what was happening to me. I was in a strange mindset then. It was as though I was being consumed by another person. I just gave up all hope. What I hadn't realised, until now as I look back on it all, was that I didn't like being me. I started to associate being me with having faults that I was supposed to try and correct."
"Well, one was that I started to realise the mistake I had been making in my life. It was that I had been going to great creative efforts in the way I portray myself to the public. But I wasn't doing that in my everyday life. I was doing the opposite; I was becoming more human and real for strangers, rather than putting the excitement and drama that I enjoyed into everyday life. I realised that I was expected to separate my public persona from my private one. It left a void because my private side didn't have anything to represent itself."
So a lot of this record was the search for the real Brian Warner [Manson's real name], as opposed to Marilyn Manson?
"I think that's probably true. A lot of people have been asking if this record is Brian Warner versus Marilyn Manson. I have definitely made two individual symbols and I definitely started to live in that mindset. I knew there were things that were wrong about that. In the past I had separated myself too much from my art and it was killing both of us. It almost killed me personally and it killed my creativity. I had to go back to being myself."
Before you met Evan it sounds as though you were floundering.
"Yes, exactly. I was drowning. That's how I looked at it too. It wasn't until someone else jumped in the water with me and was willing to drown too, that I realised I didn't want to drown anymore. Evan was the person who was willing to die with me."
How did your friends take your new relationship?
"People that are close to me get defensive, I guess. They might say, 'Well, that girl is just some stupid fan'.
But someone who's a fan isn't stupid; someone who likes what you do is the most important thing. I started to get this split in my head where I started disliking people who liked me. I had to rediscover the feeling that I want people to like what I do. That's why I'm an artist. I'm trying to have an impact. Instead of building a wall and using it like armour, I made a record that I wanted people to really engage with. A record to seduce them."
Your previous records seemed to be looking at the bigger picture. This one is very focused on you, the smaller picture.
"Well, I became a bigger picture. Everything else washed away. I really didn't feel like I needed to have a concern for the rest of the world when I needed to construct a world for myself. I was lost - I needed to make a place for myself. The only thing I could do was to go inside and internalise everything."
Are you worried people will assume the album is all just about your divorce?
"It is about that bust essentially it's about me. I didn't write those songs about anyone else, I wrote about myself in songs addressed to other people. Sometimes those songs were supposed to be letters."
How much were you hurt by your split from your wife?
"I think I was trying to hit bottom so that I could emerge reborn. When I did that, I was told that I was handicapped by my own personality. I was told that I needed to recover from who I am. Why would I want to always be recovering? Why would I want to be someone who is always apologising for who I used to be - especially if I still want to be who I used to be? One of the more amusing statements from the divorce papers was the claim that I was having a mid-life crisis. That implies that I'd want to live on for as much as I've already lived! It pissed me off that someone would insinuate that. I think a lot of the statements in those papers came out of fear and a defence mechanism because other people don't understand why your life has changed. It's much easier to point a finger and say that the other person is wrong."
Are you happy now?
"Well, I don't want to die anymore. I got a tattoo right across my wrist to remind me of that. If I ever want to slash my wrists, I'll have to see that first. Also, I wouldn't want to ruin a perfectly good tattoo..."