Mechanical Animals Interviews

Liquid

Marilyn Manson
1998 Mar

After the enormous success of the Antichrist Superstar album, Marilyn Manson toured, wrote his autobiography The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell and contended with countless media attacks and law suits. He was on the receiving end of a right-wing backlash that included condemnations and lawsuits of nearly every variety. Manson has been accused of everything from provoking teen suicide, being a baby eater, worshipping Satan and causing El Nino. Despite his satanic duties, he also managed to get together the superb new album Mechanical Animals, revealing a new, glittery, glam rock image - to the surprise of critics and fans alike.

"I think in the past our music was lacking feelings. It was harsh, but not melodic. That was ok. It was suitable at the time. However, this album is far more personal, as well as vulnerable...
The music and the lyrics have to go together. Therefore, the music had to follow the lyrics, otherwise this project wouldn't have worked at all! What I really like about this album is that it will shut up a couple of critics. All the guys who claimed we're just shock rockers without talent will be rather quiet or they might end up looking like fools - I think we shocked them with this album! How's that for shock rock?"

But what has made Manson the space oddity he is? The hysteria surrounding the band seems maddening and yet the world's most notorious rock star remains as calm and pleasant as ever. His lanky limbs (partially covered in 70s get up) gives him a slight Ziggy Stardust-on-acid look...
"Hey, glam-rock at its best. I always had a thing for the 70s glam-rock and Bowie's Ziggy Stardust was certainly a masterpiece."

His Satanic Majesty seems to be pleased despite the fact that sidekick Zim Zum left the band. He's not the first member to leave the band. The rollercoaster seems unending... Zsa Zsa Speck's out - Madonna Wayne Gacy's in. Gidget Gein's out - Twiggy Ramirez's in. Sara-Lee Lucas is out - Ginger Fish is in. Daisy Berkowitz (aka Scott Mitchell Potesky, currently in litigation with Manson) is out while Zim Zum is in & out - John 5 (John Lowery former David Lee Roth and Two guitarist) in. Zim Zum schmoozing with the Hollywood crowd and not showing up for work rumor claims resulted in a kick from Marilyn's high heeled boot. Of course Zim Zum claims the split was amicable and he's pursuing his vocation, a songwriter. Marilyn is above mud-slinging. In true diva-style, he glances over his sunglasses and whispers his hypnotic voice...
"True art is conceived and born in great pain. It's a combination of pain, craziness, confusion, drugs and of sex! It has to be your lifestyle, you have to live and breathe it. And you can't just pretend that you live it. If you're not really into it and believe less than 100% in what you do, then it's impossible. We're not a freak show where we put on masks and the rest of our time we live a nice suburban lifestyle. We have to feel, breathe and live it! If we're not 100% in it, then we create a monster that comes back to haunt us!"


The favorite whipping boy of conservative, right-wing Christians surprises with a laid-back attitude and puts everything in perspective.
"A story might sell better if there's a headline like Marilyn Manson The Satanist. All the little hypocrites will go and buy the magazine, read about what weird people we are and will feel better about themselves. People love to judge. And as long as they have somebody else to judge, they don't have to concentrate on their own miserable lives. They point at us instead of looking at themselves. Did you ever wonder how many of those people who show up where we play and protest against our performance have stuff they keep in the closet, have plenty of nasty secrets they want to hide? How many of these people who pretend to "save the children from our evil influence" molest children? How many of them abuse their wives? How many of them are so full of hatred that they need an outlet and use us as a scapegoat? And being branded as a bad influence, I think I'm in really good company, before me The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, basically every musician who invented something new was branded as an evil influence who'd compromise the youth. Wasn't it Elvis' indecent movements that put them on the barricades? Or the hair of The Beatles. Now it seems absolutely ridiculous, just as ridiculous as their protest will seem in a couple of years!"

Marilyn is definitely not a savvy Satanist, but rather a master of media manipulation. A small wonder since he started his career as a journalist. An opportunity that gave him a great insight into just how the media circus works...
"The experience I had as a journalist gives me the inner security to ignore what the media says or writes about me. I used to be one of the guys who wrote the bad reviews. That is how I know it's so much easier to write a bad review than a good one. Not because they're malicious, but because there are at least a hundred more ways to say an album sucks than to praise it. The media always fascinated me. For a while I was obsessed with it but it couldn't satisfy my needs. I had to become a rockstar to satisfy my needs!"

His career as a journalist paved the way for his musical career. He was among the first chosen few who interviewed the influential genius and his future mentor Trent Reznor. Reznor signed Marilyn on his label Nothing Records. Due to his autobiography, Marilyn and Trent are not on the best of terms.
"Anyway, it was time to free myself. I had to step out of his shadow. His work as a producer was very important and it was really great but at the same time he really limited me. I had to break out. People viewed me as Trent's product, his dummy, talentless."

Even if they're not on such good terms anymore, Marilyn admits that the interview was not very exciting but pleasant enough and that they became friends...
"He's pretty different from Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers). I interviewed him a couple of times and he always was an asshole, or at least he acted like one. I might dedicate The Dope Show to him. It's a pretty cold and sarcastic song that plays with all the cliches of a decadent musician or rock star."

His grudge is the result of a couple of interviews where Kiedis was less than courteous and Marilyn doesn't seem one to forgive and forget. The Enfant Terrible of the music scene, often rumored to be gay, and who now presents himself as a sexless alien, is pretty happy with his current girlfriend, actress Rose McGowan [Scream] and confesses that she even influences his music...
"She adds a positive element, a glimmer of hope..."

But don't worry, he's not thinking about becoming your domesticated pet musician. Tinsel Town and love haven't tamed Manson.
"Everybody thinks Hollywood is this decadent place, I thought so too before I moved here. It's terribly conservative here. The people act so bourgeois. You're not allowed to smoke in restaurants. Nobody would admit that they're taking drugs... The people seem to come from another planet. It's like the McCarthy era when movies had no bathrooms, no double beds, everything was proper. I live in the middle of them and I'm an observer. I see their loneliness and their fake fronts! I know I'm not like them! There's nothing I enjoy more than making statements with my performance. My shows are going to become far more extreme than you can imagine. The beginning of the true nightmare, (ha ha ha). I'm an entertainer. I really enjoyed the whole confusion my last show created and I tell you it was nothing compared to what's going to happen."

He laughs about death threats that seem to follow him on every walk of life, or at least at every performance. Manson simply shrugs religious lunatics off.
"You get used to death threats after a while, you know it stops me from growing bored. When I'm in Europe I sometimes miss something from home. Then I think about what it is and realize it's the protests and the threats. People are far more relaxed in Europe. If they do not like us, they simply do not come to our shows. It's just that simple. I never really understood why someone would bother to come and see a performance they would hate. I've heard so much about it, the talk about what I do on stage, or what I'm supposed to do on stage! It's hilarious but sometimes I get the feeling they're hoping that I'd ride in on a donkey and have a wild orgy on stage. Compared to what people talk about, our performance is pretty conservative. Think about it! What they claim I do is weirder than anything I've ever thought about doing. So who are the perverts? Them or us? I dare say that we'd have made it without all the protests, but I wonder when all the religious hard-liners will realize that their protests speed up our careers. Without them protesting, the media wouldn't have paid so much attention. I'd like to thank them for their great help! I promise not to bore them in the future. I'm an entertainer. There's nothing I enjoy more than making statements with my performance. My show is going to become far more extreme than you can imagine. I just enjoyed the whole confusion my last show created. The majority didn't understand it at all and it set their little brains in motion. Thinking is actually something that most Americans have forgotten how to do. That's a reason why I absolutely have to go on! It's my aim, my goal to never ever be boring!"

Since Marilyn, AKA Omega is pretty strange himself, it's hardly surprising that he doesn't mind strange fans. One of the highlights of his career was a fan who dropped his pants right in front of Mr Manson and requested him to autograph a part of his body that's described as "private". Far from being shocked or disgusted, MM granted the favor...
"Of course I used a felt-tipped pen. I didn't want to damage anything the guy might want to use!"

As for Manson, his future is an unwritten book, full of surprises. Marilyn isn't going to enlighten his audience, but he offers a few interesting possibilities...
"Maybe I'll end up in Las Vegas as a crooner, like Frank Sinatra, singing easy listening versions of The Beautiful People. That would be fun! On the other hand, I might end up in jail or on the electric chair. I haven't got a clue, life is full of surprises!"

Even if they say that everything is possible, somehow it seems far more likely that Marilyn Manson will not cease to surprise us. He showed that his musical capacities are almost unlimited. It's about time to forget about his makeup and inclination to show his bony derriere and concentrate on the fact, that his musical talent is simply amazing!