THE RED CARPET GRAVE
In 2005, you mentioned Tim writing around 20 songs. Was earlier material scrapped altogether as by-products of false-starts, or has much of it survived from the initial 20-or-so recorded tracks in the 11 which eventually became the album? Is the dildo still slapping a leather sofa on the album somewhere, for instance? Will those other tracks ever see the light of day?
As a matter of fact that song does exist and I had a hard time narrowing the record down to eleven songs, but I was in a position where I had some new, unbelievably strong inspiration and fire lit under me to really focus my point and what I wanted to say as a person and as an artist into music. I felt like it would really be diluted by putting it into too many places. The songs that are on the record are the songs that were decided upon as focal points for me and I did not make any attempts to complete what was created musically on any of the songs. I was in the process of where for the year that I struggled to get to the point where I could actually write again and could actually get through what was wrong with me mentally and personally. I was unable to really come to a point of completion that I would consider any of the other things that we were working on finished or even "songs" that are defined by having music and lyrics and vocals. The music that Tim and I were creating still exists and still could exist, but it's always hard to go back when you're making things. I had to really decide on cutting away the weaker parts in my life personally and artistically. It's a hard sacrifice because there is music that could have been completed and could exist as b-sides or soundtrack songs. The songs that still remain and were in the incubation process I think deserve to be more than that. There is more music; another album's worth. I don't think it's something that I would avoid now the way I would have in the past. In the past I've created things that are centered so much around a theme that I've carved for myself to work around. This record revolves more around my transformation as a person and not thinking so much about the bigger, conscious picture. It's letting the unconscious picture be the focus, which is essentially unfocused. There are two songs that could have made their way onto the record that I think are enough to base more music around at the very least.
Based on what has been seen of the new album's imagery and the sound of the songs we've heard thus far, it seems that EAT ME, DRINK ME is not entirely built on the same foundation as the Celebritarian movement you discussed last year. What events and ideas shaped the new album and how does it tie in with Celebritarianism, if at all?
I think that it's me realizing that the person who needed to hear the philosophy or the drive of what I wanted Celebritarianism to be was me more than anyone else. I didn't realize that I was trying to put my frustrations and my personal life and my mind into art, into cinema, instead of into music because I didn't realize I was running from myself.
A song like The Red Carpet Grave I think became the point where I suddenly defined to myself that I was in a problem personally and emotionally that was everything I was trying to project into an art movement. Celebritarianism faltered as an ideal for me last year. This record happened instead. In a sense, this record is the best artistic thing that I could offer to represent Celebritarian ideology. It's about proving that the idea of fame, the idea of artist, has to have something to really offer in a world where it's been stripped from any of its power or mystery. Anyone can have fame, so it has no value. Anyone can have notoriety, anyone can say what they want. People have mixed empowerment with entitlement. The fact that you can say whatever you like about anyone in any situation with the internet or the way the world has changed with reality television. It's not a license to entitlement. It doesn't mean that everyone has to listen to what you say. It's easy to be affected.
If I spent my everyday life like I had many years ago reading people's opinions about what I do, it would affect me greatly as an artist – whether it was a criticism or adulation. I'm not saying just because print media is something that's more qualified necessarily doesn't mean I listen to that more than something on the internet. I had to realize that I was crippled ultimately as a person and as an artist. I had started to separate the two in a way that I never realized and never wanted to. I can now objectively look back at marriage and falling prey to this convention. I was expected to be "normal" in the sense that people define normal.
I was expected to not work to justify my dedication to someone else. I was expected to show my love in a way that I didn't know at the time is impossible for me. I know now that isn't really the way I can show it the best. If I want to say I love somebody, I should be able to show that. I don't think there's any stronger way to show that than writing a song or painting a picture. I realized that's my way of expressing who I am. I came close to being artistically and as a person, dead. That's what made me realize that I had to look at the rest of the world and people's opinion on my art in a different way.
I'm not afraid to read what people say or don't want to know. I just feel that is really the death of art when you allow people and the pressure of people's expectations or demands to change what you do artistically. It's the difference between being a waiter and being a chef. If you're giving people what they ask for versus giving people what you know they want. It's a big difference.
I see now that I was unable to do that in my personal life. I wasn't able to make the one person I thought I was dedicated to for the rest of my life be affected by anything I did artistically. I didn't realize that it was as tied to my complete personality. I needed to go back to being me. I realized that I like being a rock star and I like being a singer. I hadn't lived up to my capabilities. I feel almost to the point of shame or embarrassment that I was that close to giving up what I know now that I can do the best. I can bring all of the things that I bring into cinema and painting into music.
When you paint a picture, it's very cut and dry. Someone can say "I like it" or "I don't like it"—art is that simple. With music and entertainment, a lot of the time it's based on "Well, I like it, but I don't like him" or "I like him, but I don't like this." I had always used music, in a strange way, to define myself as a person, but I had done it as an armor or barrier. This record really defines me as a person because I had just let things out that normally I didn't know were supposed to go into songwriting.
In as much detail as you're comfortable with, could you describe the events of Christmas of last year? Specifically, what exactly took place from 6:00 to 6:19 that morning as is referenced in If I Was Your Vampire?
Honestly, I think that the song details it the best, but to be specific… The stories that have been told in fractures throughout the media about knives against the heart and things of that nature – are all true, but they're true in a different sense. Christmas Eve was a very different experience for me. I had a makeshift Christmas tree – and I'm not one for holidays to begin with. There were no Christmas presents under the tree. I myself was unable to even go out of the house. I didn't leave the house from the middle of November until after my birthday in January.
Christmas became a little bit more like one of those really sappy movies where people show their emotional side for Christmas presents. I had to break into pieces my concept of family which is what I feel holidays are all about. My parents had driven cross-country from Ohio to be with me, but they hadn't arrived yet at Christmas. My relationship had dissolved. To be specific, my cats, which to me were like children beyond what most would understand. I'm not a person that is able to relate in a lot of ways to any living creature, but my cats were something I was very attached to and maybe the only people that weren't able to judge me because they can't speak.
6am is when I got the phone call that I knew – without getting specific – I got the phone call that was kind of the final breaking point in my marriage. I was faced with the concept that I would never see my cats again and dealing with the emotional break between someone you've been with for such a long time. Ultimately, I did get Lily back. To this day, I just want to say that I never changed my feelings about Dita. I refuse to hate or blame her for any of the things that she said to me personally. Forget about what's in the press. The reality of the situation is the polar opposite. Relationships are always like that. Everyone should know that there will always be two sides to something.
I've been unwilling to go to the press. I refused to respond when I received divorce papers on my birthday, which was a little difficult. The way that I react, the way that I operate with the media, and the way that my temper and personality is defined… I think it should say a lot to her and should say a lot in general about how I felt about the relationship. I did not use my greatest attempt to try to destroy her, retaliate, or say anything mean because that's not how I felt.
I think that it's a casualty of a misunderstanding about personalities. I assumed that somebody else was more like me than they really were. It doesn't mean that two people love each other any less. It just means that it's easy to project ideas onto other people and it's not anywhere as simple as me deciding I liked somebody more than her. I literally, if you did the math, was alone more in the year I was married than in the seven years that I knew her. I technically was alone, by myself, for more than half of the marriage. It was something that I was unprepared to be.
If I believed in psychiatry, I think I would be best defined as a borderline personality. I don't believe in psychiatry, but psychology is something I spent most of last year studying when I was writing about Lewis Carroll. It's a sad situation that I don't have an answer for, but maybe I should be thankful. If I wasn't forced to be alone, I would not have faced the fact that I was running away from my own personality and fears.
I was forced to redefine myself. That's why it goes without saying, it's beyond the cliché or melodrama when I say that this record saved me. I'm not the type of person that's going to complain about a past relationship and "this is my statement about it." It was never a statement about anything. This record was me writing to find a way to redefine myself. It's about me rising from the fire that is my life now and it's not me complaining. I'm not a complainer. I got to the point where I had that fearlessness that I assumed I already had in music. I proved to the world that I can't be destroyed, but I found that I could be destroyed in a simple way that vampire mythology has illustrated. The human heart, emotions, those are my weaknesses.
Being me is like anybody. That's the hard part. Making art is the way you deal with it. I've always chosen to make art in the hardest way. I've always avoided the obvious and things that fit best. I picked things that fit me right this time. Living is the hard part. Not to complain about it; that's for anyone. I've created something that made me stronger. I've gone through the transformations that I talked about on Holy Wood more than I realized I needed to on this record.
I met with Jodorowsky in Paris and he read my tarot again. He also identifies with cannibal symbolism and he said to me this record was me trying to be human. It was the opposite of the Christ metaphor where a man became a symbol that people devoured symbolically. I am a symbol that has no human definition that decided to become human by getting married and had no way to define myself. This record became my ascension instead of my fall. He said angels and devils are the same essentially. He told me that this record was the philosopher's stone, which I believe to be true. This is the result of the alchemy that I didn't realize I had to accomplish. This isn't choosing it as a theme; it's living it. You probably need to be blind to these concepts to really accomplish them.
Nothing on this record is a theme; it's not anything I picked to talk about. It's what was right for me, what I needed to say. When I go back – the record is still so new to me – I look at it and I realize certain lines I that I say – I realize now how obvious they are to me now than they were when I wrote them. I truly allowed the unconscious part of my mind to dominate the conscious part of my mind and it worked in a way that I've never experienced before.
At a French Press Conference this year you said you weren't sure what would happen with the short movie you made. Will this possibly become a website exclusive much like the (s)AINT DVD or might it be released along with the record as Doppelherz was with The Golden Age Of Grotesque?
I honestly don't know what they're going to allow it to be released with. What was released on the website was what I was allowed to release given the restrictions of the people involved. I think everyone knows who was involved. I'm not unsatisfied by it in any way. People who are lazy enough to assume that it was meant to be shocking and then will say "Oh, this isn't shocking," are the same type of people that complain about their partner when they masturbate.
It was very specifically meant to be romantic in a way that I thought is exactly what I wanted to express. I thought it was a very different approach than I've taken before in music videos. I had written a full feature-length concept that I tried to condense into what I would not now consider a short film as much as it is a music video. There was material to create a short film, but I didn't feel that it had a place where it could function.
I was able for the most part to do whatever I wanted even though I've pissed off a lot of people. I believe that Evan - and this is by my demand and choice - was paid more than any actress in the history of music videos. I thought that she and only she could be in that role and deserved it. I felt that in the tradition of Salvador Dali and his demands for doing what he wanted for a million dollars a day, I felt I needed to continue that tradition. With that being said, what I have is something I'm quite pleased with as a music video with a bit more of a "to be continued" element.
I think it should be known that this isn't as simple as "it's a fantasy world." This isn't how Evan Rachel Wood or myself are in real life so much. In a sense it is, but we're trying to portray something that is, for me, a personal statement. Considering everything that people have said, what they expect, and what they think of the record. It's not meant to be an act of revenge against a previous relationship. It's not meant to be some kind of exploitation of a current relationship. I find it very silly that people think I've forced her to wear heart-shaped glasses. She wore the heart-shaped glasses and that's when I wrote the song. They were always hers to begin with.
It doesn't mean that the record is some silly, obsessive ode to one person. In a sense, there's every bit of that, but the record is meant to be my way of finally figuring out how to communicate with people by simply realizing that if you can make one person feel something - something I realized I was unable to do - that's the heart of any art. I started to hate myself and I didn't understand why. I didn't understand why I was unable to create things. I began to seek out different ways of creating. I came to realize it was a circumstantial mistake. It wasn't something I would blame on anybody. It was something that happens to everybody in life when you misunderstand a situation. I always thought opposites attract. I've never been interested in people that are like me. I'm still not, but I didn't realize that I had often sought out people that were so unlike me that maybe who I am essentially was something that was more of a concept and wasn't what they really liked.
When I was in a position where I started to not like, or feel like people who liked me were some sort of stigma. I started to realize "Why should I be ashamed or embarrassed by fans or of people that are my friends?" It was a complicated time. If you had asked me a year ago, I wouldn't have been able to tell you.
I think people are making too of a big deal about the comments I made in the MTV interview. The guy asked me "So, can I ask you a personal question?-Were you close to suicide?" Really, though, when have I not been close to suicide? I said very honestly that it was worse than that. It's different. I was essentially empty and I needed to fill the void by making music again.
I did, however write on the same day as If I Was Your Vampire, a completely out-of-the-blue full, complete script for what I then called EAT ME, DRINK ME and it's something maybe one percent hinted at aesthetically in what I did with the video. I didn't think I suddenly want to compromise something that was so immediate and strong. Potentially it may be perceived as daring or shocking or whatever people want to say. I really liked it, and I'm still going to make it. I don't know exactly under what circumstances, but I will not compromise anything. I'm willing to finance it myself, and I will. I'm really pleased with the fact that releasing a video on your website has such strong impact. It's the same impact I wanted a few years ago to do things. It starts to give an artistic ability that goes beyond the YouTube-MySpace concept that you can create a revolution with your low-budget art, or your expensive art, whatever you want to do. I have a new format that allows me to not have to compromise to people that don't understand what the world really wants. It enables me to be more creative.
In recent interviews, you've said you first approached Evan Rachel Wood about appearing in Phantasmagoria and that her appearance at your doorstep was the catalyst for Heart-Shaped Glasses, yet little is known about your first meeting. Can you comment at all on this?
I'm not going to deny or avoid questions about my relationship with her. I just feel that there are certain things about our current relationship - whatever that may be to the world - may be very different to us. I met her by sheer, strange coincidence. I hadn't been really leaving the house. I had no real desire to do much of anything. We met and we talked about movies and I was very surprised that she liked a lot of the things that I like. A couple weeks later we met at a Radiohead concert. It was maybe one of a handful of friends that I was able to have or maintain the ability to be around. That's how our friendship began. She was somebody who, in the very rare occasion, had the same taste in a lot of the same movies as me and not just in a deep, philosophical Ingmar Bergman, Roman Polanski sense. It was something as simple as her mentioning that she thought the director's commentary to Showgirls was ridiculous and hilarious, and that takes a specific sense of humor. The movie has a certain irony in my life.
Early on in the process of creating your new album you mentioned that if someone wanted to play on a track and was the "right" person, then their contribution would be welcomed. How did the openness of this approach ultimately lead you to writing and recording almost exclusively with Tim Skold?
I think what I came into was a real collaboration for the very first time. I've always been in the position where I felt and had been perceived as very controlling. That might be accurate in a sense, because I've never really been able to get someone to express musically what I'm trying to do lyrically and vocally.
The door was open for any sort of creativity. There were things that Ginger did. There were things that Tim orchestrated sometimes when I wasn't there physically, but my ideas were present in his mind. It's interesting to me that I can still hear the record and without the prejudice. Someone who makes movies can't watch a movie without seeing the way it's made. In a similar sense, it's hard for me to listen to music sometimes without knowing right away how they recorded the high-hat, or what sound is on the vocals.
I suppose the easiest way to explain, but not to simplify in any way, the guitar work that Tim does melodically and the creative end of his songwriting is what I would imagine doing if I played guitar. I can play instruments to an extent, but I was able to hear musical ideas from him and for the first time in my life it was something that I didn't suddenly want to suggest changes to. From a songwriting standpoint, changes had to be made of course and our collaboration had to exist. I didn't have to tell Tim how to be Tim. I've never been in the position with a guitar player – especially with John 5 – where you could attach an emotion to a melody.
I think objectively it may be as simple as the fact that Tim was around me the most last year. I think that he may have just written music that reflected what he saw me going through. This music is what really hit me when I heard it because he had no idea of the extent of what my emotional confusion was at the time. He had no idea of everything I was going through, because I don't have that kind of relationship with him. We're very close, we're best friends, but we don't talk about stuff like that for some reason. It's just not the kind friendship we have. Tim was the one who said to me one day, simple as, "Well, why don't you write a song about this?" because I had told him one day about all of these things that were fucking with me. Ironically, I'm hearing Just a Car Crash Away in the background - they're rehearsing. I think that was his song. Car Crash Away was really the first song I completed.
By no means were the lyrics thrown together on the moment. The lyrics were made into "songs of the moment," but the way I keep my ideas together is so erratic that it's often upsetting or defeating to me. I keep track of what I say in as many as thirty notebooks at a time. I had to spread all of my notebooks out and I'm flipping through them with one candle in front of me. I was lying on the floor with my microphone, came across a line and I'm suddenly having to piece together all of these different ideas. Some of them could have been as old as ten years ago, others could be right there at that moment, but they were never put together as an idea or as a sentiment. I probably sang Car Crash twice and the recording that's on the record is probably the second time.
We had a different approach to this album. Tim wanted to get across – I don't think he wanted to prove himself so much, but I think part of him wanted to prove that he could be a guitar player that people did not imagine, and he truly is. Nobody expected him to play the guitar that he played on this record. I did. I've always known. I've known him and know what he's capable of. This was in some ways the record I wanted to make before, but the circumstances weren't right until now. Car Crash, to me, is already heartbreaking just to hear the music of it. When I sang it, it was more or less improv'd. If I wanted to reproduce it live, I could study it, but I think the emotion of it is more important.
I didn't want to make a point of, "I'm trying to show I'm a great singer," or "I'm trying to show I've got emotions, so I'm going to leave it as the first take." I just simply heard it and thought "Well, there's not really anything to change about it. Why should we rethink it?" As opposed to some of the songs on the rest of the record, this has one vocal on it. There are background vocals at the end, but the lead vocal is one track. This is something I've done before, but this was me not being able to reproduce it identically as trying to match it as a second vocal. That became the way we wanted to make this record.
Tim did not want to record the instruments in the way we have done at times in the past, where you're chopping apart every single note and perfecting everything. Things people see as flaws were left in intentionally. I got some initial complaints about my vocals from the people I don't think understand what is special about music at the record company. They had said "The vocals are too distorted," or "It's too noisy." I said "Tell that to John Lennon." I'm not going to clean it up.
We fired the first mixer after one day on this album, and I think he's a great mixer. It's the guy who mixed Mechanical Animals, Tom Lord-Alge. I'm not saying in a derogatory way that I fired him. He just wasn't right for the record. I thought of Sean Beavan right away because I noticed Sean is more artistic because he's a musician and he would understand. What we recorded does not vary much from what appears on the album. He did his best to make it sound as good as it could and as good as it does. He didn't try to rethink how it should be. All of the nuances, all of the details of it, were part of the recording process.
Can you comment on Pogo's absence from any recent news or appearances? Is he still in the band at this point?
It's a strange circumstance. We've been in a weird position as friends, knowing each other for so long. I haven't spoken to him in quite some time. Essentially he has a lot of personal issues that I don't necessarily understand or can define. It's not my place to. For the time being, Chris Vrenna, who played drums for us when Ginger was injured and is also a keyboardist, is going to be coming on the tour. I'm really happy with Chris. We've been friends for a long time since he had helped me on our very first record. It's a really strong music unit right now. As far as what happens with the permanency of the band, I can't say right now. Some people might make an easy deduction that I've simply become a solo act. That's as easy as saying I've always been a solo act. It's Marilyn Manson. I embrace and work with the people that are around me with as much respect, admiration, and collaboration as it warrants. This is a really strong unit. We're all friends and we all want to make this as enjoyable as it really should be. This is a real wake up call for me. I want to perform, and I really can't wait to perform these songs. I really like listening to this record. I've never really listened to my albums before, never really had a reason to. This record to me makes me feel as much as some of the records that I had listened to on such a regular basis like Diamond Dogs or Purple Rain. It wasn't my intention to try and mimic them or make a tribute, it's just that those records represent some sort of really strong despair and romance that I didn't know I was capable of until it happened.
What can be expected from your live performances this time around? Can you share some of your visions for the theatrical front?
That was a big part of today. Like I said before, when I knew that If I Was Your Vampire would be the first song on the record, I knew it would also be the first song live. To me it's very, unbelievably strong. I think if I feel that way, I think the audience would feel that way. I'm not simply being self-indulgent in the way that bands want to play only new songs. I don't like going to a concert and hearing only the new record. That's kind of the disappointing part of any band. I think a really strong moment will be Just a Car Crash Away. I'm working with the production designer that worked on the Diamond Dogs tour and my very close friend Rudy who is a magician and has worked with me in the past. The approach on this tour is something I've always worked towards. It's not finding the theatrical elements that have always been an important part of the record as distractions – as things that really work with the music. I think it's a very, dare I say, musical show, but not in the way that I would find boring. There will be a good piece of the new record, a lot of Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood. We will definitely play something from Portrait and The Golden Age of Grotesque, I won't leave those out. There's something here and there of every album. I'm not going to play every goddamn song I played on the greatest hits tour. This tour will start a certain way and by the time we get to America with Slayer, it will be more elaborate. There's always a limit with festivals as to what you're capable of accomplishing. I'm working for the first time with my ideal situation theatrically. It will be as big of an undertaking as Mechanical Animals was and perhaps a little more. It won't be the same type of undertaking, it will just be something way over the top in a way that doesn't need to make up for or simply enhance the music. I think there's a great moment when you find songs like Red Carpet Grave and Dope Show and Mutilation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery, when these songs play off each other, it really starts to make my life into a TV mini-series in a silly way.
You've encapsulated many of your tours with the release of live albums and DVDs. Are there any plans to do this for the upcoming tour?
There's no exact answer to that question. I'm happy that I'm finally in a situation where I can utilize all of the abundance of visual and musical ideas that you can't put everything into a record. Things you're not allowed to put in a record are things that don't suit a record. There will be a lot of supplemental materials that the website can complement the album with and other outlets like Quicktime and iTunes. Things that create the ability to communicate in the way that people like to communicate. It's not always going to be conventional. No musical artist benefits necessarily from making an album as much as a record company does. I benefit because it makes me happy and that's as simple as my life has really worked out to.
You've said Phantasmagoria would probably be released in an unconventional way. Does this still stand or is a theater or DVD release not out of the question? Also, do you plan to release the soundtrack separately?
Some of the elements to that question are hard to define specifically, or to say right now. I would have been filming Phantasmagoria when I recorded this record. I am no doubt glad that things worked out the way they did. Otherwise I wouldn't have this record. I don't think I would have made as good of a movie as I will when I resume in October or November. The movie was not at all relying upon the time period that's created. This film can exist in any period where this record on the other hand needed to happen now for me as a person and as an artist. It also made me realize my capabilities. I started to redefine things. I learned a lot making the video for Heart-Shaped Glasses. I made a decision about a week and a half, maybe two weeks before we shot the video that I didn't want to make it in 3-D, that it would be forced to be too conventional thematically. The content would be censored and compromised. I didn't know the restriction because the stereoscopic camera is a very much un-pioneered technology. I didn't find out until the first day that you couldn't turn it upside down. The beginning of the video starts with a shot that orbited the bed essentially. This became problematic because I wasn't informed of the complications. I learned a lot filmmaking wise, what can and can't be done. I learned even more when we were in Berlin and had a day to do press. I shot material with Bobby, my close friend, for If I Was Your Vampire and Putting Holes in Happiness all in one day whereas it took several days to complete Heart-Shaped Glasses. I've realized that it's much simpler not to work with inflated crews. For Heart-Shaped Glasses we had two crews: mine and one that hated my guts. I won't discuss the complications of making that video except I can't understand why anyone would be offended by something I would do and would be asking me to do it in the first place. I wasn't trying to make something offensive. I guess I can't really make anything without making someone angry, and that makes me feel good inside.
Regarding the new album, how would you describe your role as far as shaping its overall sound? Were you involved primarily as a singer or co-producer, or was there more to it than that?
I was involved very much as a producer, but in a completely different way than in the past. I think in the past maybe I spent too much time getting people to do what Tim was very focused on doing without me asking. I find it strange that a lot of people - and I won't be very specific - this could be friends, or my band. People that feel it's a task to dress the way that they end up dressing when they're seen publicly. It's as if I'm forcing them to be a certain way. Everyone that's in my band now, for example, they dress that way because they like to. Shaping the sound was not something I had to force because Tim had really focused in on what I wanted initially and he elaborated on that without veering from my original vision. It was strange because Tim might be an undeserved complement to me, but he felt that when he did things when I wasn't with him musically he thought as if he was doing them with the intent that he knew what would suit me or what would really appeal to me. Maybe it's simply because I was in such an emotional wasteland. In a way I think that Tim was in some strange way scoring my life. That's what appealed to me. The more melodic guitar elements and the guitar solos were created at the time the vocals were created. Sometimes we would record vocals while he was playing guitar at the same time and I liked that a lot because they really complemented each other. I think on any great record I've liked in the past, guitar solos were never recorded as a gesture. Melodically, it should complement what the vocals are doing.
EAT ME, DRINK ME was written on a much more personal level than any of your previous albums. Did the ease and therapeutic nature of writing this record make you consider continuing this trend? Do you forsee a return to more the more 'socially aware' lyricism of past efforts?
I think I discovered that this is the greatest impact you can have artistically on a social or political level in the same way I was saying a couple years ago that being an artist is the only way to be religious or be political. I think I had not yet reached a point where I had the ability to define myself with what I create in a way that really accomplished that. I think I felt a little bit confused by the fact that so many people would come up to me and would be affected or "moved", take Bowling for Columbine, for example.
I've found that there are people out there that like a certain part of me, or this aesthetic that I do. There are people that like my paintings, or that want to make films with me. I understand that not everybody listens to the type of music I make. Sometimes I don't really listen to a lot of music that's like mine. Maybe that's why I make it. I didn't realize that I was not expressing myself in as direct or a powerful way. I wouldn't say honest or personal because a lot of people that define it that way will say "Oh, this record is more human." If anything, that makes me realize how inhuman I think of myself.
This record is still every bit as thought out and creative lyrically. I didn't just say "Roses are red, violets are blue" on it. I said things that are subject matter of every great movie, record, or romance. I addressed the staples of creativity. Even with horror films, vampires, butcher knives. These are things I'm not doing as a cliché. I'm doing it because these are things people have historically identified with. Cannibalism is in Christianity. These are things that make up what we as people shape their opinions around. I've realized as an artist you need to be able to take that and make it your own, more than trying your hardest to avoid the obvious.
I've never been willing to embrace something like the vampire mythology. Even looking back now I realize how psychologically affected I was by something as simple as the quote in Vogue by my ex-wife that said "We didn't want it to be some kind of stupid vampire wedding." I didn't realize that that was the beginning of me thinking "Ok, well then I'm stupid" or "the people that like me are stupid." Who am I supposed to be, what am I supposed to do? It wasn't something I had to blame on someone. I was just in a situation that didn't fit me best. I mean, it's as simple as I fucking go to sleep when the sun comes up and I wake up when the sun goes down. I think historically Lucifer, Nosferatu, these are romantic characters. Sucking the life out of a beautiful young woman is not something that I invented. It's something that had to be finally identifying to me. Not to say I'm trying to make my life a promotional element for my career. It's quite the opposite.
My life became more of an inspiration to me than the rest of the world. I don't have any concern about politics or religion. I don't even need to comment on it anymore. I don't need to feel that I have a better explanation for who I am or what I did on this record. We're talking about this because we know each other, but I don't feel a need to try and explain what I made or why I made it. This record says it best. This record is about me, and I didn't realize that I had yet to make it.
With the new album being very guitar oriented, has there ever been thought as to adding a second guitarist to the live band in order to translate the songs with live performance instead of overdub backing tape?
The concept came up. Tim thinks musically in that way, while I think that I don't want to inhibit any creativity for something that already sounds great. For the most part when you listen to the record, it's recorded in most the same way that a one-guitar band would record it. There's not a lot of lead and rhythm guitar happening at the same time in an over-produced sense. There is to a certain degree and it's done in a way that I have and if I wanted to, I could play rhythm guitar.
In the same way there have been certain songs we've performed in the past, like The Golden Age of Grotesque where we had two basses. There's always a way to adapt it live. I think part of the process of the way we approach guitar was to not to do it as simply a gesture. It wasn't a recreation of my sound as a musician. The "Marilyn Manson sound" wasn't trying to take on a new transformation as much as it just did. I could have easily been annoyed and walked away from making music because there's a lot of histrionic guitar soloing on other bands' new albums that come out.
I felt like when I was listening to most stuff that I was simply impressed in a way that you would stand outside a guitar store and see someone playing Stairway to Heaven. That's fine, but I wasn't really blown away in the way that you hear a guitar solo like Pink Floyd or Mick Ronson; even the first couple Stooges records. It's music that's simply attached to the person's emotional concept of what you do with a guitar. Some of the stuff genuinely made me feel the way I felt when I watched and listened to Purple Rain. I was really impressed by Tim. I had a little bit of a smile, I have to admit, when he did the guitar solo on Evidence because it sounds dirty, and the song is dirty.
This record was created in a much less conventional way than some people might think when they hear it. I don't feel the need to describe all the details, because it takes away from the spirit of the record. It's much more of a rock n roll record, even more than Holy Wood was. When Holy Wood was recorded, it was essentially a live band assembled in the middle of a mansion. This record was recorded in a lot of different ways and in a lot of unconventional circumstances. It's rock n roll, but not for the sake of it. I wasn't trying to make something that sounded "rock n roll." I was trying to make something that really sounded real. I think that's what people identify with.
When you think about Ziggy Stardust; it's not the way it sounds or the instruments that are used. It's about the impact and being organic. The word "real" could be used, but that sounds so fake because real is just another version of some kind of fakeness. When you hear old records, there are a lot of things that are incorrect about them that gives it character. For me, as a person, I was realizing that there are a lot of things I've suddenly discovered I should not correct. They're not flaws. It's what makes me what I am. This is essentially what we did without some directive or theme when we made the record. We allowed the flaws to show. Instead of showing behind the scenes or the making of the video – that's not showing the flaws, that's just promoting it in a really uninteresting, demystifying way.
Making something that's just fucking raw is exactly the point in everyone's career that I've always admired. It's where they had an opportunity to really fuck up who they are, or really define who they are. I'd like to think that I've really defined who I am at this point.
What is the status of the numerous other film projects you've been attached to in the past few years? Rise will be released soon, of course, but where do other projects stand right now, such as King Shot and Abel/Cain with Alejandro Jodorowsky and your collaboration with Dean Valentine for the Edgar Allan Poe project?
I saw Jodorowsky, and the only thing that stands in our way of working together is the production of him being financed to create it. If I have to, I'll sell women's underwear – used underwear for that matter – on a street corner to finance the movie. I don't care. I have to work with him. Both he and I would ideally like to make Abel/Cain. King Shot was the project that was initially green-lit and was supposed to be moving forward, but his production was very elaborate and expensive.
I have since between the time it was announced and now have worked with Wild Bunch, who is financing Phantasmagoria. To me, they're the most daring and respectable film company that you could ever work with. Hopefully something's going to happen there. At the very least, when I go to Europe I'm going to give him a camera and I will film a video on the spot, I don't really care. I've gotten really into the idea of my own variation of cinema verite where I don't feel the need to transform into a different persona to relate to my music so much.
Essentially in this video and in the ironic acquisition of the new cover of SPIN that will be coming out – somehow after ten years of not being allowed in SPIN, I'm going to be on the cover. They asked me to do a picture with no makeup. I did it and I think it's the best cover I've ever done. I had the same approach when I made the video. It wasn't that I wanted to change or that I think I'm stripping away anything. It's just where I'm at and how I want to look. People put too much focus on trying to associate me with something that really has never been accurate. I could definitely try to define myself not as Marilyn Manson or Brian Warner, but on stage and off stage. It's really a simple fact that I had to come to terms with when I wasn't on stage for quite some time. Instead of trying to change who I am on stage, I need to bring the excitement of what I really like being and what I like doing into my personal life.
On the subject of past collaborators, what was it like meeting up with and hanging out with Twiggy again last year?
It was much more brief than some might imagine. I can't say I really had a chance to talk to him. I don't have any negative feelings about him, I can say that. I don't think we have anything so much in common anymore as friends. People's dream of him rejoining the band is just that. It's not going to happen. It's silly, like if you were to ask someone to get back together with their 7th grade girlfriend.
During the last interview you did with us, you mentioned "stumbling upon various documents that hinted at and led to all the elements that are contained within the Celebritarian ideal." Would you care to elaborate on the nature of those documents?
I don't know if that's really a focal point now because I hadn't realized that the record says so much. The things I was talking about had to do with what people have said in the past or how people have portrayed their role in my life. In this last year I'm going to simplify it by saying my marriage was not the only dramatic change I made in my life. I found that a lot of people were maybe taking advantage or taking opportunity of the fact that I was in a vulnerable position where I wasn't aware in a very traditional, cliché "behind the music" sense with what was going on in my life financially for example. This record for me is done in much the same way I started out. I am in the position where, for the most part I didn't have anything to lose making it. I didn't care that I was threatened. "If you don't change, I'll leave you," and I'm not just saying in my marriage, but with a lot of people in my life. A lot of people said "or else" to me, and I chose "or else." I don't think there's a need to really show the world what "or else" meant, but I think the results of "or else" is more important. I think there will probably be a time and a place for it, but I don't need it to define myself as a person where I might have thought out of anger I did when I told you that.
What ever happened with the solving of the codes and the opening of the gates on the official Manson website? Are they even relevant anymore? If not, what were your intentions and/or the planned end-result? Or, if you still expect them to be solved, what advice could you give to those fans who have been diligently working towards that end?
I'm very happy that the current website we launched in a greater part yesterday is something I've been involved with in every detail, collaborating with the person who created it. I think there was a greater understanding of what I wanted as an idea but somebody brought to the table their own creative element. I was really happy that the site looks nothing like what I would have said to create. For that reason, I liked it. The way that the site has been between the time I was musically active until now is really representative of the confusion and turmoil in life and the people who were trying to prey upon that. I'm not going to blame anyone that was involved with it. I'm not going to deny any of my involvement, but I don't think I was able to really have any sort of enjoyment in how my own website represented me personally until yesterday. I'm very glad to be back in charge of essentially how I communicate with a large number of people. I was trying to create a world where I could simply be defined by my statements and my ideas because I hadn't created this record yet. I had to really cut through a forest of assholes to get to the point I'm at now. I'm happy to put the past year behind me in so many ways, we'll leave it at that. I'm not going to say the codes are something that I was ignorant of, but I'll just say it developed into something that I did not approve necessarily, but that's only in the fact that I don't know what it developed into. I didn't know who I was for that period of time. I didn't mean that it had no value, it just means that people often mistake house-sitting for living in a house metaphorically.
You've mentioned recording most of your vocals while lying down on the floor, as well as singing to an in-studio audience. Aside from Skold, who else was present at some of those sessions? What other sorts of peculiar equipment and recording situations did you employ this time around, and how do you think they have affected the finished material?
We did use a lot of different guitars. We used as was mentioned earlier, years ago, a rubber penis against a leather couch and a pill bottle used as a shaker. I did use, without giving too much detail – I won't say which song – a basket full of butcher knives as a sort of tambourine shaking device. I had an epidemic of skunks living under my house. It ended up being nine skunks that were trapped. They're actually illegal to kill in Chatsworth, where I live. Not that I wanted to kill them, but I do enjoy firearms and shooting things in the middle of the night. At one point we did record beating metal pipes on the skunk cages, which ended up in You And Me And the Devil Makes 3. I also received a gift from Tim last year. It's an archaic device called a stylophone that Bowie had used when I saw him perform live. He had used it that night and I suppose Tim must have realized that I thought it was interesting and he got it for me as a gift. I did make use of it. It is one of the many other elements in You And Me And the Devil Makes 3. We got strange at times and there were really no rules for the most part. There were circumstances when I had people in the studio with me which I never liked to do. I will be no more specific than to say they were girls. It allowed me to perform in much the same way I do live and it made me a better singer. Women make me a better singer. They also make my life miserable, but that's for anyone.
In the past you've had frustrating experiences with co-headlining bands. Do you have more confidence in touring with Slayer than with, say, Hole?
Well, I haven't seen Slayer's vaginas. I'm a huge fan of Slayer, and while I'd never thought there would be some sort of compatibility, I think that people's opinions and ability to put music together in their head and their enjoyment of music is so different now. I have no problem listening to rap music, death metal, or even retarded kids from Whitney High. It all fits together. This is really the moment of bringing evil back to music, because that's important. Everyone is so conservative and wound up about everything. I was just told today that they wouldn't allow the part in my video with the blood to be shown on TV because it was too explicit or gory, so they wanted it to be in black in white. I had a laugh. "You're ok with me driving a car of the cliff and fornicating, but the raining blood is bad?" It's always a new experience with learning what people hate and love. We can be sure that people will always love the devil because the devil is their best friend.
You've announced Rob Holliday as the bassist for the upcoming tour. How did this come about? Was there an audition call he responded to or did your interest in The Prodigy point you his way?
I suppose my interest in The Prodigy as a fan helped, but it came about in a different way. It was a situation where we didn't really think about when we were making the record what we would do. I knew simply that Tim was going to play guitar and there was never any question what would happen with that. Now hearing the new material, it sounds the best it's ever sounded and I'm very pleased with that. Rob was someone that I did not care to musically audition. I was quite aware of his capabilities because of the bands he's worked with. I like all of them. I simply wanted to meet him personally. I think he got hired simply on his choice of his favorite movie. I'll wait and let him tell everybody what his answer was, but it was a good one. That's why he was hired.
Are there any future plans for releasing some of the books you've talked about in the past, particularly the book of aphorisms and the coffee table book of paintings?
The book of paintings is in the process of being finished. It will be published by the creators of Flaunt magazine. As far as the aphorisms go, I'm happy to be in a position now where I can use not just print or digital media to express things that people can interact with. I want to create something greater with my quotes, essays and ideas. I think there's something more interesting than just a print book. There will and can be a print book, but I didn't feel an urgency to do it once this record took off. I have made my absinthe label which I think is supposed to be done before the European tour starts. I used my painting When I Get Old for the label.
How would you describe your creative process as it pertains to painting? Do you consider yourself to be mostly spontaneous when creating art, or do you often elaborate on studies or sketches that you created earlier and elaborate on those ideas to create a finished piece?
I do both. Some of my paintings – and it's not always what could be perceived as the more complicated ones. For example, Edgar Allan Poe or The Black Dahlia did not start simply as sketches. Something like The Flowers of Evil was actually a sketch in my notebook. I still have it, and I like the sketch just as much. It's always different.
Regretfully, I haven't painted in a few months. I painted a little bit while I was in Europe one night in a hotel. It always comes to me as more of some form of relaxation. Mostly I've done it in silence, in the middle of the night when no one's around. I guess it's my way of being alone. I don't have a problem painting in front of other people. It's not any sort of shyness or insecurity. I've done that before, I just never really found it rewarding personally.
That's one element of my book. I included the sketches of the paintings that had sketches. The painting of Tim that I gave him as a gift is a good example. Essentially what I do most is portraits and will often photograph the person first instead of having them sit in front of me because it's uncomfortable. Unless it's Angelina Jolie posing naked – I won't confirm or deny that -- for the most part I don't want anyone standing in front of me. I have Polaroids and a sketch that's pretty identical to the final painting I made of Tim. I sketch with a black pen or a pencil usually, but I don't ever put color into it.
The most significant change recently was when I started using acrylic paints and ink creating pieces like Edgar Allan Poe and The Flowers of Evil. The one of Alice with the pig is all watercolors. Acrylic to me involves more commitment than watercolor. It's strange when I meet other painters and they find watercolor to be so difficult. Watercolor has always been the easiest for me. I've always been in awe of oil painters because I have tried it, but it just doesn't suit me. I think I do in a way what they do, just in my own way. I take a lot of pictures when I'm painting. I think the next time I have a show, which will hopefully be soon, I'll have a lot of Polaroids of all my paintings from the beginning to end like the Trismegistus painting. I have a Polaroid of every ten to fifteen minutes of the process. That's the way I see depth and color the best. I can't always trust my own eyes, so I have to see it in a static form.
You've said that Putting Holes in Happiness was your first choice for a single. Does a video concept for this song exist that might surface in the future?
I wouldn't say in its entirety. When I was in Berlin we shot, for the most part, a music video for Putting Holes in Happiness. It was done in one day in a mansion people assumed I bought. It was completely different and experimental and was directed by Bobby, a long-term friend of mine. It was lit only by candle light in the tradition of Barry Lyndon. We had the room filled with candles and it created a really beautiful look. We shot easily as much film as we did for Heart-Shaped Glasses. It was much easier working in a different environment. I have to say that I'd be quite pleased to do more film work in Germany. The way that they approach cinema is quite different and very efficient.
I wrote Putting Holes in Happiness on my birthday. It was written because the night before I had a strange, wonderful, interesting evening where somebody – I'll be vague, but I think we can assume who – wrote a song for me. No one's written a song about me before. It really had a huge impact on me. I watched Bonnie and Clyde several times that night.
I was also given a gigantic bakery full of some sort of hash brownies and some sort of hallucinogen. I found myself wandering around in a very childish adventure in an empty mansion with someone else. When you're with somebody in any of those situations that is exaggerated by a mind-altering situation…I'll only incriminate myself. The point being, I watched the sun rise. It was a certain color, and I wrote the song. That's how the song came about, that's how I was writing. I said things that I normally and in most cases said in my everyday life and it never occurred to me until this record that these ideas are really the way that my personality is defined.
People that don't know me might identify with something that they find witty, amusing, or controversial about something I say in an interview and have not yet found that in my music. That didn't mean that I wasn't putting as much of my emotion into it, my personal feelings or creativity. I didn't realize that I could communicate on a much simpler, direct level. It's really my way of, as always working from the hardest possible point to the easiest possible point. When I say "easy," it doesn't mean that it's easy, it's just me realizing that the creative part is not supposed to be painful and difficult. My life, and anyone's life is painful and difficult. It's the creativity that allows you to move forward, to transform.
From your first album to your latest, there seems to be a fairly consistent theme of you describing yourself in automotive terminology...which is rather odd considering how far removed from the mechanic's garage you seem to be, not to mention your evident disinterest in becoming a licensed driver again. Would you care to elaborate on that metaphor and/or its inherent dichotomy?
I should say, technically I may still have a license to drive in the state of Florida. However, that doesn't help me here. I will deny that to any of the people around me because, for the most part I don't feel as if my best place is behind the wheel. I hadn't thought of that.
In high school I read Crash by J.G. Ballard and it must have made a bigger impact on me than I might imagine. A couple people have said to me if it had something to relate to personal experience, things to happen to friends. For the most part, I don't believe that that's what my unconscious mind was pulling out. It's always been me finding inhuman metaphors, concepts, or ideas to insert myself into. I mentioned the vampire, the butcher knife, the Alice in Wonderland concepts; these staples that revolve around Christianity and things that are set in stone. As an artist you have to challenge those things. I think the car is an important thing that I suddenly found as an inspiration after I looked at it. Certain things like the themes that are very strong on this record and the story that essentially to me makes this the greatest concept album that I never knew I was creating until I got to the last two songs.
When I got to EAT ME, DRINK ME, that's when I realized this is very simply the name of the record. This song is the thread that ties together the narrative that is my life and my extension of what I see it being, having been, or still trying to discover. There is a story here that I allowed myself to tell in songs instead of forcing myself to be a part of or trying to challenge or dare art and life to mix together as an attempt at transformation. All of the things I'm saying on my record, if you were to ask me even two months ago I wouldn't have been able to explain or wanted to. I was still creating it in a way that I haven't before.
Things like the car, when I look back at it, I see that it runs through the record in the same way that the things that were really essentially being the only places for me to turn the places where I could live out a world that didn't seem possible for me in which I was able to make possible. Movies like True Romance,Bonnie and Clyde, Lolita, Badlands. If you look at these movies, there's a common thread. They're movies that are functioning through a car in a sense. The car might not be the central point, but it's still a very important piece of it.
I didn't try to write a story. I was able to allow myself to not be afraid to go ahead and live out my everyday life as an absurd world that other people might think it is. I set up movie lights in my living room where I was staying. I was taking some of the photos that appear on the record and I left them there instead of buying lamps. I mic'd my bed at one point. People can discover where that exists on the record; that's their adventure. It wasn't an attempt to be creative as much as it was an attempt to enjoy the fact and not really care anymore if people thought "he's insane," because I had something to put there and say "You know what? Maybe I'm still going to be. What's wrong with that? Who are you to say?" Here's what I created. If you don't like it, that's your problem. If you do like it, that's your problem too. As far as my sanity is concerned, that's a matter of opinion and I'm quite content and happy. This is the first time in my life where I don't feel insane.
You regard EAT ME, DRINK ME as the thread that tied the album together. Would you also consider it to be the most complex song?
To me it's the scariest and darkest track on the record. In some ways I had imagined that title being attached to it much earlier but never mentioned it to anyone. It was the last song I finished and is pretty much why it's the ending. The record aside from Car Crash being one of the first important moments, Vampire was the song that turned the corner to allow me to realize this will be a record – this will be the first track. The record for the most part appears in a chronological order of how it was created. There are a lot of things about EAT ME, DRINK ME that are strange, unusual and disturbing to me.
It's truly a really upsetting song because there are a lot of things that don't fit right in audio phase or in the stereo spectrum. There are a lot of things that don't fit right sonically which is an intentional creation, but not in a way that was forced. There's a third verse that appears in a chopped up manner that has as many lyrics as the other two verses. I did not include that one in the booklet simply because I thought it would be interesting to allow people to interpret it how they want to. I didn't want to put it in front of your eyes to affect how your ears hear it.
This song was really interesting in its arrangement musically when Tim presented it to me. It's very similar to how it appears now, but I was really affected in a lot of ways and attached to the guitar in that song, especially in the chorus when it opens up more. At first I didn't know if I wanted to sing on it. I thought maybe it was meant to be an instrumental piece, and I finally figured out what needed to be said. I had found a notebook that had a very erratic and couldn't explain to myself what these writings were. A lot of these writings were notes or a sketched out concept for a visual, cinematic scene. I don't know if it was an early concept for Phantasmagoria, or just something I wanted to do visually because I write everything that I think of down.
I realized at the time that day I had finished reading a different book by Vladimir Nabokov. Lolita was obviously a book that I was very drawn to and inspired by. It became a bit of a – obviously an inside joke between Evan and I. I was reading an Invitation to a Beheading, which is a really fantastic book as well. The song has a lot of literature references in it. They weren't specifically intended to be that, but that song really tied together everything in the same way that the painting I did of The Flowers of Evil. I think it could have easily been the album cover before the album was created because it says a lot of the things that I feel on the record. It was an important painting for me.
There are different reasons for putting things in different places. There's another verse that essentially because of the arrangement, I felt that there wasn't a need to have a musical chorus or verse. I found that that spot that it exists in really made it the right place to say it. When I hear it, it's really upsetting to me in a strange way. I can't really decide how, but I'm very pleased with that song.
With a new film on the horizon, what do you make of the reaction to Doppelherz? Is the audio recorded on that April fool's day the same as the reported single you sent to label heads when they asked for one?
Yes. I didn't send it to them. I was aggravated with their inability to allow me to simply do what I wanted to do, and I feel I was not prevented from doing that more than ever on this record. I don't think I've ever made a record that compromised my ideas in a way that I can't stand behind. I feel that I'm always at a disadvantage with rules that don't apply to anyone else. That didn't happen this time. I did sit them down and I did play them the 35 minutes of audio that's the bed of Doppelherz. About ten minutes into it I said, "That's the single." They were not happy about that. I didn't really laugh when they were unhappy about it, either.
The new album deals a lot with the difficult pain revolving around heartbreak, psychological breakdown and the end of a period in your life. How in those moments of darkness do you find the strength and will to move out of the anguish and move into a positive personal transformation?
There's nobody except me that could have taken me out of the way I was feeling or literally what I wasn't feeling. If anyone could have, I expected it to be the person I had made some sort of a commitment to. When that never happened, I went through a great devastation. I don't even know the words for it, so I'm not going to try to create them. I went through something that I wouldn't have recovered from if I hadn't simply sang one song that gave me some sort of stupid hope or a shred of belief to outweigh my uncertainty to commit to something and giving up altogether. It was a situation where I realized that I can't be happy, I can't define love without the idea of sacrifice. I assume - and I've assumed wrong in the past - that everyone defines themselves whether they analyze it or not. I'm happy if I can make somebody else happy and that's how I feel as a person. I don't expect something in return. When you make that sacrifice to someone who essentially is the person that you should be giving it to, you're not doing that because you know that or you want something back. When that person is going to offer the same sacrifice, that's when you figure out that you're not alone. That doesn't mean that love and romance equal happiness, because it's never going to be happy, and that's fine. You at least need somebody to at least join you in taking on the world. The line at the end of my video, "Together as one, against all others," is a line I've always felt should be the way romance is defined. It's hard to find someone that's willing to take that stance with you and when you do, do not fuck it up.