John5 & Twiggy Ramirez: Scenes From Holy Wood
Marilyn Manson Axmen John5 and Twiggy Ramirez talk puke, piss, shit, dope, sex, death and guitars
By Alan Di Perna
Guitarist John 5, the newest member of Marilyn Manson, will never forget his introduction to the band's highly eccentric keyboardist,Madonna Wayne Gacy, a.k.a. Pogo. The meeting took place shortly after John had been officially accepted into the band in 1998.
"Pogo was sitting in a corner rocking back and forth," Mr. 5 recalls. "He does that a lot. I went over to him and said, 'Hey Pogo, what's up?' No answer. So I tried again, 'Hey Pogo, how's it going?' Still no answer. Just rocking back and forth. A third time 'Hey, what's up, Pogo?' Finally, after a long pause, Pogo goes, 'Why should I say hi to you? You're only gonna be in the band for six months."
"I said to myself, 'This is gonna be a rough one.' "
It's true. Since making thier 1994 debut, the Manson boys have parted acrimoniously with two prior guitarists, Daisy Berkowtiz and Zim Zum. Guitarists typically last for one album. Then it's splitzville, with the ex-axemen and the Manson camp calling each other bad names in the press.
But John seems to be different. He's already lasted far longer than the six months Pogo predicted. And he's technically gone the distance on two Manson albums, the 1999 live disc The Last Tour On Earth and the band's brand new studio opus Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley Of Death). To all outward appearances, John is still getting along famously with his fellow Manson family members.
"I think it's finally a band we can all trust," says Manson bassist, co-guitarist and co-founder, Twiggy Ramirez. "I think we sound more like a band than we ever have. And that's due to the fact that we all have competent members in the band. John is a really good guitarist. And it's been great to write songs with him. That has made our music a little more creative."
What's so strange about this scenario is that, in his habits and disposition, Mr. 5 seems ideally unsuited to take part in the dark, notoriously debauched world of Marilyn Manson. John doesn't do drugs, drink or smoke. And while he's been a sideman to metal dudes like Rob Halford and David Lee Roth, he also absolutely loves country music. Yes, Marilyn Manson's new guitarist has performed at the Grand Ole Opry and toured with k.d. lang. No amount of eyeliner and blush can quite conceal the fair-haired guitarist's boyish good cheer. He speaks gently, but with great enthusiasm. His disposition is so sunny, you feel like wearing shades in his presence.
Maybe the only way to out-freak the Manson guys is to be absolutely straight. By some strange alchemy, this dark-and-light combination seems to be working.
"The band's a little more stable now," says Twiggy. "And I think that's reflected on our new album."
Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) is Marilyn Manson's most ambitious outing yet, a brooding study of rock star disillusionment, media martyrdom and the dysfunctional society that furnished the raw material for the Columbine killings. The Biblical Adam, Jesus Christ, John F. Kennedy and John Lennon all have roles in Manson's latest creation. Holy Wood completes the trilogy that began with Manson's 1996 album Antichrist Superstar and continued with 1998's Mechanical Animals. It combines the heavy metal ferocity of the former with the catchy melodies of the latter. And like all of Marilyn Manson's works, it's sure to piss off Mom and Dad.
In the interviews below, we'll hear from both Twiggy Ramirez and John 5. First, Mr. 5 recalls his initiation into Marilyn Manson. Next, Twiggy and John discuss the making of Hold Wood. Finally Mr. Ramirez offers some profound reflections on the meaning of it all.
Travels with the Manson Family
"I'm a terrible, terrible perfectionist," says John 5, as if making a confession. "Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Twiggy will come in my hotel room when we're on tour and the room will be spotless. He's like, 'Dude, what is this?' His room will have, like, puke and dead people in the corner and stuff."
GUITAR WORLD: What was the Mechanical Animals tour like, as an introduction to the world of Marilyn Manson?
JOHN 5: I'd heard all the horror stories. "Oh, gosh, this is going to happen. That's going to happen." And you know what? Not only did all those things happen, but they happened on a much grander scale than I'd ever imagined. It was defintely grueling. After every show, the parties would all be in my room. So I'd have 40 girls in my room - which I wasn't complaining about. Manson's crew would come in and they'd order up all my movies and drink up my mini bar and have girls pee on my bed. Every night it was like that. It wasn't just once in a while. It was every fucking night.
GW: Marilyn Manson attracts a real cult following - in every sense of the word. What are the fans like?
JOHN 5: At the shows they'll be cutting "Marilyn Manson" into their chests. Shaving their eyebrows. They're the best fans in the world. Because they're so into it.
GW: Does that ever get weird for you?
JOHN 5: Absolutely. I was walking into the airport and this girl wanted me to cut her arm with a razor blade. Not an autograph butsomething that would scar her for life. Luckily, I had bags in both my hands. But yeah, we get that all time. And I love it. I'm like, "Bring it on." I think that's cool. That's some devoted fans.
GW: The band provokes an extreme response because it is making an extreme statement about our culture right now. Which not too many other bands are doing.
JOHN 5: I agree. But what is incredible is it's so real. It's not an act. Because when Manson takes his shirt off, you see those scars on his chest and it's like Braille. That's about as real as you can get. And that's why I'm so attracted to it. It's more than a show. It's something inside. When you get up onstage, he's a whole different, frightening person. I'm not only playing guitar, I'm watching him to see if he's gonna throw a mic stand at me. He'll knock you right over. He don't care. I got pegged with a mic stand. I got hit in the face with a water bottle. Twiggy will throw his bass across the stage. It's a war zone. That's for sure.
GW: How long does it take you to prepare for a show?
JOHN 5: All day, really. As soon as I wake up, I start going through the show in my mind. And then I practice guitar until showtime. I go through the set over and over again, and also go through old songs, just in case someone says, "Hey, let's try this one." I want to be prepared. I've always been like that with any gig. But especially in this case. We were recording a live album on the last tour. I didn't want anything to go wrong. Everybody told me, "They're really hard on guitar players." So all I told myself was, "You're going to go onstage and play each show as perfectly as possible. And what comes along with it - the hazing and initiations - you'll just have to deal with it."
GW: And you don't do drugs or anything?
JOHN 5: No, but I eat shitty. I should be dead. If I see a burger and there's a turd on it, I'll knock the turd off and eat the burger, if I'm hungry. I love playing the guitar, I love the girls after the show and I love junk food. That's my thing.
GW: What do you do right before a show?
JOHN 5: I'm usually in the bus, playing a bunch of ridiculous guitar music, while the other guys are all in the dressing room. I'd drive them nuts, so I just like to go on the bus by myself. That's where I get ready. Because the other guys are crazy before a show. Manson will grab a guard's gun and chase an assistant around. He'll light things on fire. Just because they're bored before a show. There's never a dull moment, I'll tell you that. And then, after we've done a show, we'll be on a plane and Pogo will still have his stage makeup on. He'll be a mess - rocking and stuff. We'll be in first class and there'll be some businessman sitting next to Pogo going, "Oh, my God." Ten times out of 10, the guy will defintely move to another seat - because Pogo's, like, all freaked out and smelling of puke and piss.
GW: So how does any work get done if everybody's so crazy all of the time?
JOHN 5: That's the thing, they're all such workaholics. What I like about Manson is that he works so hard. He's always writing or working on something. It's really inspiring to see so much fire and so much hunger, with the success that he's had.
GW: It seems weird, because of the partying image that band has. I guess they know to combine the two.
JOHN 5: Yeah. They can party, man. Twiggy's so classic. He'll be at the Whiskey Bar [ a chic L.A. nitespot] with all these beautiful girls. Then you go to his house and there'll be all these movie stars with booze bottles and weird wigs on, dancing around to death metal. It'll be at six or seven in the morning. But when Twiggy gets up later on that day, he'll be ready to work. Completely clear-headed. No problem. I don't party or anything, but if I even stay up with those guys, I'll be out of commission for days. I don't know how to do it. They must be not human. They must be made of steel or something.
GW: There are a lot of different personalities in the band. You don't seem anything like the others.
JOHN 5: Everyone has their own thing. Ginger is always stretching or bending. He's doing this new thing now - it's called bloodletting or something. It's supposed to be some Chinese cult thing, where they suck your blood out or something. Ginger is defintely a character. I think he's the one that's gonna go postal in the band: fucking kill everybody. Because he's so quiet. And he's powerful - really strong. He can tip over a car. He's the one that's gona go nuts.
GW: Do the other guys in the band tease you about liking country music?
JOHN 5: Oh yes. All the time. All the time. But sometimes on tour I'll sneak out of the hotel and go to country jam sessions.
"I don't know if he was pulling my leg or if some dead babies were playing the piano."
Songwriting for what would become Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) started while Marilyn Manson was still on the Mechanical Animals tour. Once the tour was over, the band did some writing and recording at Mr. Manson's own house in the Hollywood hills. From there, the project moved to another infamous Hollywood site - the mansion once owned by lengendary escape artist Harry Houdini. People say the place is haunted. John 5 is still trying to figure out whose house is more frightening, Harry Houdini's or Marilyn Manson's.
JOHN 5: There's some definite scary things about Manson. Strange things will happen in his house. He was living there for a year and a half, and all of a sudden there was a swarm of bees in the kitchen. Thousands of them. You could hear it upstairs. You couldn't even go into the kitchen. Like The Amityville Horror.
TWIGGY RAMIREZ: Scorpions, spiders...all of those are in all our houses anyway.
JOHN 5: But there's defintely some creepy, creepy things about Manson's house. It's real cold. Beautiful, but scary. Defintely scary.
GW: I know he's fond of decorating with prosthetic limbs.
JOHN 5: Oh, yeah. Bones, crucifixes, leather faces, babies...weird stuff. It's a shame no one goes in his house. It's a sight to see. If Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous ever went in there, they'd go whooaaaa.
GW: You've told the press that the Rolling Stones wrote "Let It Bleed" at the house where Manson now lives. How do you know that?
TWIGGY: Because the [Stones documentary] movie Cocksucker Blues was filmed in that house. You can see Keith Richards shooting up in the living room.
GW: Is that why Manson bought the house?
TWIGGY: I think that was kind of a bonus. I think that made it a little more glamorous for him, that the Stones were there. Of course, they're one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
GW: After working at Manson's house, you went over to the Houdini mansion?
TWIGGY: We wrote all the stuff up at Manson's house. Then we moved into the Houdini mansion and recorded all the live stuff. Then I think Manson did a lot of the vocals back at his house. But the Houdini house was pretty creepy. I always heard rumors, "Oh, the house is hanunted." You say, "Yeah right." But when you get there, you kinda get the feeling that something's going on. I think there were some murders there. And, I don't know if I believe this, but I heard somebody used to give abortions in that house. So maybe there's a bunch of unborn baby ghosts in there. Hundreds of little dead babies floating around.
GW: Were there any actual manifestations? Supernatural experiences?
TWIGGY: I spent the night there once. And in the morning I heard people downstairs. I heard someone playing the piano. I thought the crew had arrived. I figured it must have been Bon [Harris] - one of the engineers, who used to be in the band Nitzer Ebb - playing the piano. I got up and there was no one down there. Ten minutes later, Bon showed up and I asked him if he was playing the piano. He said "What are you talking about? I just got here." So I don't know if he was pulling my leg or if some dead babies were playing the piano.
JOHN 5: One time, our co-producer Dave Sardy was in the kitchen, and he was walking back into the living room. There were curtains seperating the two rooms. He bumped into somebody behind the curtains. "Oh gee, sorry," he said. But when he opened the curtains, there was no one there. So there was something going on in that house. There were so many rooms. Nobody in their right mind would want to stay there overnight. But it goes right with the territory, I guess. It was perfect doing this record in that house.
TWIGGY: We picked up on the vibe of both places where we recorded. Between the Stones and Houdini and the dead baby ghosts, I think it all made an impression on the record.
JOHN 5: I took the rug from the room where we tracked and put it in my place - for a souvenir. We got a lot of great sounds out of the Houdini house. I'm glad we did the album in a place like that and not just a regular studio. It's got that magic to it.
GW: Did you have amps miked up in a lot of different rooms?
TWIGGY: No, we just had all the cabinets in one big, giant room. We kept all the heads in the control room. Tons of bass heads and guitar heads running out to all sorts of different cabinets out there.
JOHN 5: Dave Sardy and Greg Fidelman were so nit-picky. It takes a long time to find just the right guitar and just the right amp. And I'd have to play the part over and over again, while they were trying different amps and things. I'd fool around with them and start to play country licks. And they'd say, "Come on, play the real lick!"
TWIGGY: We did all the little tricks that people do when they get truly bored in the studio. Like miking headphones. A lot of those little, high, abrasive, crazy, fuzzy sounds were just miked headphones.
GW: Who played what on guitar?
TWIGGY: Technically, John is a fantastic player. But stuff that needed more of my vibe I would play. I actually played a little more lead than I usually do. More melodic leads. It's usually the other way around.
JOHN 5: One of the things I'm proudest of is the weird, Robert Fripp kind of solo on "President Dead." There's a lot of weird augmented chords in there. I think there's a flat 13th in there too. A lot of the songs have weird, crazy chord usage. Like "Coma Black." There's augmented chords, flat 13ths and minor sevenths. But it all makes sense in all these rock songs.
GW: Who writes these chords into the arrangements?
JOHN 5: That's what I do when I'm home. An augmented seventh works so well in certain songs. But Twiggy is a great songwriter. He can come up with incredible melodies.
GW: There's more of a pure rock guitar vibe on a lot of songs on this album. You think of the Stooges, Sex Pistols...bands like that.
TWIGGY: We just wanted to do that for certain songs. We worked out a lot of great arrangements with Bon Harris as our programmer. And then Dave Sardy came in and kind of turned us back into a rock band. He put a hard edge on the album - urged us to record stuff live.
GW: "The Fight Song" is a killer in that rock vein.
TWIGGY: Yeah. That's got a Sex Pistols vibe.
GW: Not only the guitar playing, but even Manson's vocals have a kind of Johnny Rotten quality.
TWIGGY: Yeah. It was probably inspired by the Filth and the Fury movie.
GW: I hear Manson's into alchemy now.
JOHN 5: Yeah, he is. He'll talk to me about the stuff. I'll try and follow him. But he's so into it and so smart with it. He's like, "This is what this means on the record, and this is what that means."
GW: So you go to his house and smell sulfur? Is he trying to turn lead into gold?
JOHN 5: No. He's got, like, books. He's always reading and doing research. He's really, really smart. And Pogo is smart in a different way. We'll be in Japan and see some strange tree and Pogo will give its Latin name and know where it comes from. Or he'll give the whole history of something from the 14th century. He knows everything about everything. If he ever got on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? he would win.
TWIGGY: When we were at the Houdin house, Pogo and I both grew mutton chop sideburns. And we'd both be wearing bell bottoms. Pogo still has his mutton chops, with little braids on them. But Manson made me shave mine off. He couldn't look at me anymore. I looked like I was in the Eagles: jean bell bottoms and a rock jersey and these terrible things on my face. It kind of had the vibe for the record. But then everyone would laugh when they looked at me. When I was recording, they wouldn't take me seriously.
GW: On past albums, Pogo would sample guitar tracks into his rig, manipulate them and spit them back out again. Is that kind ofstuff going on on this record?
TWIGGY: Absolutely. I think Pogo's best work on this record is "Cruci-Fiction in Space." It's such a dirgy, space-rock, death metal type of thing. I had the idea for that song and we did the demo for it in, like, 10 minutes. And Pogo just put on samples of this kid he used to...It's kind of an inside joke.
GW: Oh, come on!
TWIGGY: It's just some kid with something up his ass or something. I don't know what it was. You're really going to have to ask Pogo about that one. I think Pogo's gonna have a web site. He wants to release the world's longest song - just start a sequence and have it keep playing. He wanted to put it on a 20-disc set. But I think he's just gonna have it broadcast forever. You go up on the web and there's this song that will just go on until someone turns it off.
JOHN 5: "Cruci-Fiction" has more guitars on it then any other track on the album. All the other songs have only two or three guitars,but they sound massive. But Manson and Dave Sardy really pumped them up.
TWIGGY: I remember when we recorded the bass for "Cruci-Fiction." The monitors weren't big enough to play in the control room. So we ordered these giant speakers. I think they were $30,000 each, or something like that. Someone rented them to us. I don't even know what they were called, but they were supposed to be impossible to destroy. They're supposed to be unblowable speakers. But we got the mix cranked up on them and they started blowing smoke rings. Actual rings of smoke came out. Like Gadzuki [Godzilla's baby - GW Ed.] or something. Luckily, we didn't have to pay for them.
GW: What's happening on "Born Again"? There are some really processed and manipulated-sounding guitar lines. At least I think it's a guitar.
TWIGGY: Actually, that's a bass and a guitar. We had a drum beat and we needed a hook. So I went and recorded a guitar and bass part on a small Roland 1580 digital workstation that I have. So that's what it is: a guitar and bass, looped, processed and fucked with a little bit. We've written a lot of stuff on the Roland workstation. "President Dead" was written on that on the road three years ago. So was "In the Shadow of the Valley of Death."
GW: "Burning Flag" is so industrial - so Ministry.
GW: Was that the intention?
TWIGGY: It's just got that hillbilly death metal thing. It draws this picture of a pickup truck full of guys with shotguns, going around shooting people on the streets. It just has that ignorant, violent sound to it. It's an exciting live song. Riff-wise, it refers to "The Beautiful People" [from Antichrist Superstar] a little bit, too.
GW: The drum pattern on "Disposable Teens" is also kind of reminiscent of "The Beautiful People."
TWIGGY: Yeah, well, "Disposable Teens," "The Beautiful People." There's kind of a link there, you know?
GW: Who played the acoustic guitar on "The Fall of Adam"?
TWIGGY: That was John. We put him outside on the porch. We'd spent all this money for this nice acoustic guitar.
JOHN 5: I had Rick Rubin's 1950 acoustic guitar or something like that. Manson said, "We'll set up a mic outside. Go out there and play the part. I want to get the cars going by in the background." I'm out there playing, and I say, "Hey guys, it's starting to rain a little bit." They said, "Oh we'll get this really quick." So I'm playing and all of a sudden there's thunder and rain pouring down. You can hear it on the record. It was one of those amazing parts, but that guitar got soaked!"
TWIGGY: It's just a perfect moment. It could be mistaken for a Ronnie James Dio song: "Don't Talk To Strangers" or something like that. It was just perfect for the theme, because that's a turning point of the record right there. From being pretty sad, it becomes very nihilistic, almost Nazi Germany style. And in a lot of movies, when it rains it's a turning point in the plot. That was kind of washing away all the good. And it goes to where it means business, you know?
Twiggy Ramirez Tackles the Big Issues
On a recent, sweltering hot day in Los Angeles, Twiggy Ramirez turned up at his manager's office dressed in leather from head to foot. Leather pants, heavy leather coat, huge leather boots. But there wasn't a single bead of sweat on the bassist's pallid face, nor the slightest trace of discomfort. Tall and gangly, Twiggy led the way into a lounge room and drew the blinds. In the half light, his skeletal features took on a strange, phosphorescent glow beneath the matted tangles of his jet black dreadlocks.
Twiggy is Marilyn Manson's right-hand man. They go back a long way together - back to the mad days of the Florida's late-Eighties death metal scene. Next to Manson himself, Twiggy is the person best equipped to comment on the underlying themes and ideas behind Marilyn Manson's dense, multi-tiered new album, Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death).
GW: The new album was partially inspired by the Columbine killings?
TWIGGY: Not the whole album. I would say there's a track or two on there that obviously might hint at something like that. But I wouldn't say it's about Columbine. Some of it is about situations like Columbine - stuff that would cause somebody to do that, or make people feel that way. This whole record is kind of like the repercussions of Mechanical Animals. And if this was a series of movies, Holy Wood would be dated before Antichrist Superstar.
GW: Is this a prequel?
TWIGGY: If you want to say so.
GW: Were your personal lives affected by Columbine? Were there more threats or harassment than you usually get as part of a normal day?
TWIGGY: After that happened, not too many people awnted to support us in some of the areas where we had concerts scheduled. I guess because they'd get shit from somebody if they supported us. But I wouldn't say we were personally affected. It's kind of like when you get accused of something you didn't do. I don't think those kids even listened to Marilyn Manson.
GW: Exactly. But the media wasn't familiar with the bands they did like, so they named Marilyn Manson instead.
TWIGGY: Yeah. So the effect it had on us was mainly frustration at getting accused of something we had nothing to do with - just how stupid people were to accuse us of inspiring these kids to commit murders, when they probably didn't even listen to our records. But then what 16-year-old kid doesn't listen to Marilyn Manson? So maybe they did or maybe they didn't. Either way, it wasn't our fault.
GW: I guess you're like Ozzy was a couple of years ago. Someone's gotta take the blame.
TWIGGY: Yeah, put one chicken on the stage and the next thing you know you get blamed for a bunch of kids killing people.
GW: The album is called Holy Wood. You're obviously still riffing on the idea of Hollywood and its meaning in our culture, as you were on Mechanical Animals. But have you guys absorbed the Hollywood experience by this point?
TWIGGY: Like I told you the last time we spoke, Mechanical Animals was very much the Marilyn side of Marilyn Manson. It reflected us coming to Hollywood and being very ironic and decadent about the whole scene here: drugs and girls and all that. But this record is more like the Manson side. Charles Manson was in Los Angeles trying to make it in the music business. Being around all the Hollywood stars and being turned away. And that ended in people cutting babies out of stomachs. I can see that vibe of hatred for the Summer of Love. And...I won't say hatred for Hollywood, but just more of a negative perspective on the place.
GW: So rather than evoking the glam Seventies as you did on Mechanical Animals, this album is drawing from that 1968-69 period: the end of the hippie dreams, Altamont, the Manson murders.
TWIGGY: Yeah. I think we pulled a lot from the Beatles' "White Album" [which came out in 1968-Ed.]. I know a lot of bands say, "Hey, we're gonna do The Wall, we're gonna do the 'White Album.'" But we weren't necessarily after the way the "White Album" sounds, but what it meant at the time when it came out. It got accused of causing the Manson murders. They dug into the Beatles and blamed them for stuff like that. Which you can kind of compare to Columbine and Marilyn Manson.
We also picked up on that vibe of experimentation from the "White Album." Manson played guitar and I played a bit of keyboards, and we came up with loops and stuff like that. So everyone was doing something different than usual on this record.
GW: There are even a few Beatles references in the lyrics.
TWIGGY: Oh, it's straight up, yeah.
GW: "You say you want a revolution" in "Dispoable Teens."
TWIGGY: Yeah, there's a reference to Lennon in "Lamb of God:" "Lennon and the happy gun."
GW: And even the line "nothing's gonna change the world" in that same song is an echo of Lennon's "nothing's gonna change my world," from "Across the Universe."
TWIGGY: Yeah, it's pretty obvious, in a way. The record has a lot of Lennon, Kennedy and Christ references.
GW: What's going on with that? They're media martyrs?
TWIGGY: Exactly. Like the song says, if you die on the TV, you're a martyr and a lamb of God. And if you die somewhere and no one hears of it, you just fade away and disappear. So it's like you said: a media martyr. That's kind of what all those kids at Columbine were. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold - who knows if they shot themselves or if they got killed by the police? Well, I'm sure someone knows. But no one will say what really happened.
GW: The album seems to have a lot of compassion for the nobodies, the disposable teens - feeling sorry for these poor, manipulated kids in a way.
TWIGGY: Yeah. Although that's also how we felt too, coming off that Mechanical Animals tour and not being able to perform any shows. It was just a bad backlash.
GW: You went out to Death Valley at one point during the making of Holy Wood. What the heck were you doing out there.
TWIGGY: We just went to the desert to explore. We brought some acoustic guitars and I brought a little Indian drone machine. We went out there just to write a few little things and maybe perform some of the songs out in Death Valley. The desert at nighttime is real scary. We made up a story that there's such a thing as desert bears. Which of course there isn't. We told John 5 that desert bears were going to get him.
GW: But you didn't actually record out there? Lay tracks?
TWIGGY: We didn't bring a recording system out there. But we did film some stuff. I don't know if that will ever see the light of day.
GW: The advance buzz on Holy Wood went something like this: "Oh well, the kids didn't get the decadent glam thing on Mechanical Animals. So Marilyn Manson's going back to more of a heavy metal sound."
TWIGGY: That's a little discouranging to hear. I think Mechanical Animals was a great record. I'm proud of that. No one got that we were being ironic - Manson having tits and we're all wearing crazy outfits, and we had a big, light-up sign on stage that said D-R-U-G-S, and cops in pink uniforms. It was a celebration of being ironic, and so much fun. But the record did as well or better than Antichrist Superstar, financially. So I don't know what everyone's talking about. I think it's maybe something critics like to write about so they can stab us in a soft spot - which it's not. The joke's on them. I mean the joke's on everybody else. Not us.
GW: How could people miss the irony in Mechanical Animals?
TWIGGY: I know. I have to stand behind that record all the way. No apology for Mechanical Animals. At the time, we were singing Karaoke with weird people and dressing up in costumes. That's the way we were then. This new record is what's happening with us now. It's not like we reinvented ourselves. Or went back. This is an honest progression. I think if we had made Antichrist Superstar Part II, or Mechanical Animals Part II, people would have gotten real bored of us.
GW: Do you feel eclipsed in any way by the Korn and Limp Bizkit bands?
TWIGGY: I don't really care. I just do what I do, and I'm enjoying myself. I'm not threatened or discouraged by what any other artist is doing. A lot of the bands you mentioned are very accessible. They're easy to get. They're not dangerous. People embrace that because it's pretty safe.
GW: There aren't the levels of irony that you guys have.
TWIGGY: Well, it's apples and oranges. I'm not saying we're smarter. If I was smarter technically, I'd do a record just like that and reap the rewards. But I just want to be honest writing songs and putting out records that entertain me. Because, hopefully, that will entertain fans, too. It's not about who's watching TRL. You can get tricked watching TRL.
GW: This is a weird time in popular culture.
TWIGGY: It reminds me of the Seventies. Everyone's got the same look, you know? When you looked around back in the Seventies, everybody had Afros and bell bottoms. Now everybody's got baggy pants and baseball caps. I think they're gonna look back in two years and say, "What the hell was everybody doing? Why were we wearing those fucking terrible clothes?"
GW: It's been six years since Marilyn Manson came on the scene. Do you think you're less shocking to people now than you were then?
TWIGGY: I hope so. In the beginning we went out and we wanted attention. Everywhere I went, I was starving for attention. And now I go out of my house and I get attention.
GW: What's life like as a Goth icon?
TWIGGY: I don't know how we got into that one.
GW: There were always dark elements to the band, but you were certainly never poster boys for velvet capes.
TWIGGY: We can put on some capes if you want. Dress up like Count Dracula?
GW: Does the hero die at the end of Holy Wood?
TWIGGY: I don't know.
GW: The last song is called "Count To Six and Die," and you hear what sounds like the chambers of a gun.
TWIGGY: There are a lot of sounds on the record that sound like either people taking pictures or fireworks - people celebrating - or gun sounds. So they all kind of mix together: taking pictures, celebrating and death.
GW: But you don't hear a final shot. So you don't know if Adam, the protagonist, dies.
TWIGGY: I'm not really the author of the story, so I don't want to answer too much for it. It's up to the listener to decide what happens in the end. There will never be an answer. Some people will say he dies and others will say he doesn't.
GW: How are you guys going to bring this to the concert stage?
TWIGGY: I think it will be a theatrical show once again. We can't help but put on a good show. As for the details, we'll have to wait and see. it's all in the works now.
GW: Is it going to be like The Wall or something - a story?
TWIGGY: There's gonna be costume and scene changes like there were in the past. But it's not gonna be like Styx's Kilroy Was Here. There's no Dennis Dee and Tommy Shaw.
GW: This new album completes the trilogy that started with Antichrist Superstar. What's next?
TWIGGY: I think we're ready for the next chapter in Marilyn Manson. I think we're gonna reinvent ourselves again after this record. And I think we're going to have another record ready a lot quicker than we usually do. I'm ready to do another record now. We had a live album last year and Mechanical Animals the year before. And now this year, we have Holy Wood. So technically we've been putting out records every year.
GW: Is that partially a function of the band being more stable now
TWIGGY: Yeah, I think so. I know I'm a lot more interested in songs and music than doing as much drugs as I once did. Although I still love to do that too. But I think the situation's a lot healthier now. Not necessarily physically, but mentally. I can't wait to get on the road.