Marilyn Manson is rock's premier scary bogeyman.
Yet he himself is haunted, by spectres more real than any Halloween ghoul.
In his frankest interview yet, he reveals what REALLY spooks him...
The Black Death
"THAT'S SOMETHING I'm very obsessed with... the origins and importance of The Black Death. And that may be a big influence on my next record.
The Black Death came from nowhere, and then it disappeared, and there's no explanation. I don't know if you know, but dark and death-orientated gothic art and music just didn't exist before The Black Death... no skeletons in art.
As for my art, a lot of my songs can seem very childish instantly, but when you go back and look at them in a deeper way, they come across like there's something wrong with them - which I can see, there's something obviously wrong with me - something darker to it. That's what Ring-A-Ring-A-Rosie, the child's song from The Great Plague, has."
Memories from childhood
"I WAS born at a scary moment. The year the world changed in a way it had never changed before and it change forever, 1969. It was the end of optimism and the end of naiveté. Me growing up was a time of awakening and seeing all the things that my parents were fooled by. And that feeling stays with me... And part of the reason for that is television. I've always said that things aren't more violent or more depraved than they've ever been, they're just more televised. You're vulnerable to it as a kid. All your psyche, all your fetishes, are developed when you're a child. Watching Tom And Jerry and seeing a woman's high heels and stockings made me grow up to have a sexual fetish for that kind of thing."
"I FIND myself in a strange psychosis - I'm afraid of me. It's very worrisome when you know that something's wrong with you... and it's something you try not to acknowledge, and then you do, and you try to control it as best you can. I filled in a series of questionnaire tests for schizophrenia, really just to humour someone. And when I saw the results, they were positive. At this point, I now know the two sides of me. And I know when I'm one of them and not the other. But I can't control it. I've written more than I ever have in the last year, and sometimes I don't even remember writing it. Like I've got some notebooks in front of me right now. (Scrabbles about for notes) And I look at it... and I swear I don't recall writing this. I don't know if I wrote it, but I know I did."
Jumping the shark
"THAT'S WHAT they call it when an artist suddenly loses it. And I'm assuming that all those artists who make terrible albums, who jump the shark, don't think they're making terrible music at the time. They genuinely think they are making music that is as good as they can make... [pauses]
Okay, I done this already. But I did it consciously: when I made Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death), I went out of my way to make an album that nobody could like. And I made it dark, and I made it ugly, and I made it all but unlistenable. And nobody was on my side with it. Not the media, and not, by that time, the record company. And you know, when you're a kid, you know that two plus two equals four, but you still don't know about gravity, so you're still not gonna fall on your face. It's only when you find out about gravity that you fall down."
Revealing his own weakness
"I KNOW I have a very self-destructive side to my personality. And yet, with the music I make, I won't ever create something that isn't for public consumption. I make that for an audience. I have to find other outlets for revealing my vulnerability, for examining that self destructive side. My painting, for example. If somebody were to criticise me unfairly for that, I'd be hurt. There are things I feel intensely vulnerable about. Performance, too. That's where people can tell if you're faking it or not. You're naked up there. anyone can write a vulnerable-sounding song, but you are as exposed as you will ever be when you're onstage."
Super villain status
"THERE ARE some who think I promote violence and I'm bad for people. There are some who think that's the only sane thing being said in the world gone mad. Look at Bowling For Columbine for example. It's silly when people think I'm trying to merely be shocking. Artists in the past, artists today are trying to be provocative. I look at myself as more like a fashion designer, but applied to the idea of music. I create a new ideal or a new Zeitgeist that isn't happening right now. And it's going to be provocative at first, and then of course it's going to wear off because you're used to it and there are much more disturbing things in the world. I've never wanted to be shocking! Though, I mean, of course I love to see people appalled. This is a big movie and I like to watch it play out. and I'm obviously the villain that you think, but also something else. The anti-hero."
"SOME OF my darkest times have been because of drugs, I would be the last person to listen to regarding weather to take them or not, but drinking alcohol and taking drugs are supposed to be fun. They are not something you are supposed to take because you are upset. At the end of the day, it's like being in a band itself: it's only going to be fun if you do it for the right reasons. Otherwise, life becomes very dark."
"THE WORST was the reaction to Mechanical Animals. But I was expecting it. What happened with that was that I had become wrapped up in a false reality... After Antichrist Superstar was a hit, I could feel the wolves gathering to attack me. To attack me for being a sort of cleaned-up version of their fears. Which - no disrespect to Eminem - is what I think he represented. But that record was, for me, looking at the whole phenomenon. It was me taking pieces of my childhood, things that I knew from that time, and assembling them. That was the point. But it was too subtle for them."
Discovering the 'real' him
"THE REAL is the scariest thing of all. I'm attracted to the idea of the artist removing the mask. But now... I'm not sure what's underneath all of my masks... or if there is anything. Probably another mask.
The word 'persona' really implies playing someone else when you're creating things, but I don't I could be more 'me' when I'm creating things. Is there a good side to that? I can at least promise that if I make something that's more vulnerable or naked, I will not be self-indulgent. I may be arrogant, or ridiculous, but you make music for people, not in a vacuum.
"SOME OF my darkest depressions are when I don't have something to create. You run into something like that when you create an outlets that limits you.
If I made Antichrist Superstar over and over again, that would be my vision of Hell. And that's why The Golden Age Of Grotesque was me closing that chapter. I had to bury that, or... [pauses]
I was... leaving a funeral: that was a part of me, and a personality that I've grown out of. It's not that the music isn't good enough to stand up for itself, it's just that my fascination is in danger of collapsing if I don't find other outlets, so I need to. Right now, I feel... like I'm on top of the roller coaster and I'm about to plunge down."
From the Secret Diaries of Marilyn Manson
Manson presented us with a revealing glimpse of some of the dark thoughts and lyric ideas that litter his personal notebooks. They go like this...
"Listen to this, I'm opening one of my notebooks now. I know I wrote this, but I don't recall writing it.
'A cow has eight stomachs, To taste best milk we have to try all the worst, Let's start with the smallest tits and work our mouth towards the big cheese,'
'I fuck you like a gun, I shoot you like a fucker, I'm right underneath you.'
"I'm actually having a friend of mine who's a magician - an interesting choice of editor - take all my notebooks and compile them because I think it would make an interesting project."
"It's the darkest album I ever heard."
Scary Monsters And Super Creeps
"It's twisted and it's dark. I like that. Some art haunts you, and this was one of my favourite records when I was growing up. He was at a point that I'm probably at right now. He's dressed as a Pierrot, and he's acknowledging the fact that the world has objectified him. He's been made into their clown. It's a dark record. It may be just my interpretation, but I think the references to 'Major Tom' that he had to bury on that album meant the drugs that he was leaving behind."