Portrait Of An American Family Interviews

RAG

Marilyn Manson
1994 Aug

He can be Peter Pan, or the Candy Man, he's got the Devil's hand - Goddamn!! Marilyn Manson have crawled out of South Florida's local scene, and the shit's gonna hit the fan - they're gonna be everywhere, you won't even see that bullet coming.
America has been throwing their kids away to sex and violence on TV and to drugs and guns on the streets. Tired of the candy coated idealisms that we were all fed in our youth, Marilyn Manson has bubbled to the surface life a hideous growth on the butt of America's moral majority. That was a little over three years ago when they surfaced and since then, they have acquired loyal followings who identify with the music and their philosophy on life both above and underground. Anyone who had had the illicit pleasure of attending one of Marilyn Manson's all out creepshows can attest to their abstract nature and crude methods to their madness.
There's nudity, self mutilation, desecration, explicit sex - every taboo in the book, enough to make your conservative flesh crawl. By now every preacher across the bible belt and the PMRC are either shaking in their boots or dying to get at them to shoot them down. Why? Because Marilyn Manson is an ugly reminder of how America has failed our generation miserably, and you know how much we hate to admit that we're wrong.

But guess what? The monster we built is growing larger and more hateful by the minute, everyday it gets stronger. Forget trying to nip this in the bud, Marilyn Manson just got the ammunition they needed to get back at everyone at once. They got a national record deal with Interscope/Nothing Records. So now what? Now, it's time to pay, and Marilyn Manson has got America's nuts in a vice, poetic justice is such a bitch!
What makes this band so damned special? I'll tell you, to me Marilyn Manson represents a big fuck off!! to all the people who ostracized you because you were different. To all the religions who threatened you with damnation when their dogma was in question and they couldn't support the validity of their faith. To all the lies your parents told you because they couldn't suck up the guts to be honest. Or to anyone who made fun of you because you dressed funny and didn't listen to the music that was clotting up the top forty stations. This is a homage to all of us who felt like misfits at one point or another, and to the child in all of us who believes in their dreams and isn't afraid to do what they feel is right. There's not a band alive that has made me feel so strangely vindicated as Marilyn Manson.
But I've wanted forever to set the record straight and hear things from the source of all this commotion. I had a long, pleasant talk with Mr. Manson and it wasn't anything any God fearing parent would expect. No, I did not encounter Satan, or the sallow pixie-thin demon everyone sees onstage as they shudder. I did encounter an intelligent and outspoken man with a soothing, placid voice and a firm grip on his beliefs, along with well earned disdain for hypocrisy and ignorance.


So is Mr. Manson also a product of the TV generation, or is he observing the disastrous effect it has caused?
"Well, both. I'm a part of it and I'm observing that too. America has fed my generation sex, violence and fear on television, and we grow up a certain way. And Marilyn Manson comes out of it and then they want to complain we're wrong when they're the ones to blame because they're the ones who made us what we are."

Everyone experiences religion differently, Mr. Manson's indoctrination is one that many people today can identify with.
"I went to Christian school up until tenth grade when I got kicked out. And I just remember they used to pump me full of fear from the beginning. Just the whole Santa Claus mentality of Christianity, if you're good, you're gonna get Christmas presents. They were preaching a lot of stuff about how it's gonna be Armageddon in 1984 and the Antichrist was coming. And when 1984 came and none of that happened I kind of realized that I was being taken advantage of. That's when I first started questioning things.
That was around the time when I really started getting into music. Initially I liked KISS. Everything they were saying we shouldn't listen to because it either had backward masking or it was just outright Satanic was everything I went out and bought. I had to wear a uniform to school, and I had to have my hair cut a certain length. I was real limited to everything. I wasn't allowed to bring my KISS lunchbox to school.
Unconsciously, after getting out of that, it made me into what I am because I'm just the opposite. This 'Just Say No' mentality is never gonna work with kids. If you explain to kids; 'Don't do drugs because you're gonna get fucked up and maybe die.' Or 'don't do drugs because you'll end up being a drug addict, and you'll be a loser. You won't be able to find a job and everyone will hate your guts.' Maybe kids will go, 'ok maybe I should use a little discretion.' But if you just tell kids, 'Don't do drugs because it's wrong.' They don't give a fuck."

The death of Dr. Gunn was barely publicized, yet it proved an unnerving point, your new single, Get Your Gunn was prompted by this event, what's your take on activist groups?
"It's hard to even tackle that subject. I think a lot of those people are just weak people that don't really have anything to live for. So they attach themselves to some group, some way of thinking to make themselves feel like they have some value in their lives. And they put on some good guy badge that says, 'I'm pro-life' to make them feel good about themselves. If someone were to come up to you and say they were abducted by a UFO, you're gonna think they're nuts. But if they told you they talked to Jesus, most people are going to accept that because America has embraced this mental handicap of Christianity and its way of being so acceptable that the whole Dr. Gunn incident was just brushed under the rug anyway. If it would've been Nazi Skinheads killing a Jewish doctor it would have been on Geraldo every day of the week."

Marilyn Manson feels that irresistible urge to mirror the failures of the American family, why is that?
"Marilyn Manson for me is like a slideshow, I'm like the barker, I'm getting people's attention and I'm saying 'Come see this freakshow!' I pull back the curtain and it's just a mirror, and that terrifies people more than anything."
I don't worry about sexism, racism or any other kind of 'ism, because I hate people on an individual basis. I don't generalize any kind of group because that's just unintelligent. I don't have a problem with hating a girl, or someone who is a different race than me just because they're an asshole. It has nothing to do with their gender or their skin color. I'm more worried about the discrimination that I receive on a regular basis. People make up their minds about me before ever talking to me, just by the way I look."

On the song My Monkey you have five year old Robert Pierson on lead vocals - were his parents concerned at all about the lyrical content?
"It was his parent's idea in the first place to do the song. I think he's got a better chance than a lot of kids because his parents are open with him from the beginning. He's got the opportunity to make up his own mind. He knows they're curse words, now it's up to him to decide if he wants to speak that way. People have the animal instinct to know what's gonna hurt them and what is not going to. I think morals and right and wrongs should be left out of it. Right and wrong are according to what perspective you're coming from, where I'm standing, something that's right is gonna be totally different for someone else. Truth is completely relative to who's believing."

Gidget Gein was replaced by Twiggy Ramirez (ex-Amboog-alard bassist) who did the studio tracks.
"He added a new life to our sound. We've pretty much written our next album, we had a lot of time since the record was done. We wrote like six songs, very strong songs. We recorded a B-side, a cover of Gary Numan's Down In The Park which is gonna come out on our next single, Trent produced that one."

Trent Reznor as your friend should have a better grasp on your material than anyone else, how was he as a producer, what did he bring out of the band?
"He bought out Marilyn Manson. He made us sound like we were supposed to. He was really happy when it was done that it didn't come out sounding like Nine Inch Nails. He was worried going into it that he was gonna change us too much. But he really brought out what we were about. He brought out the guitar playing and the little things that make us who we are."

So what did Trent's label, Nothing Records, offer you that other labels couldn't?
"Artistic freedom. Just the fact that I trust Trent. And it's hard to trust people in the music industry. To have somebody you trust on your side is really important. So it was never the money thing or anything like that."

A lot of taboos are being externalized in music these days; like the S&M lifestyle, piercing and tattoos are now widely accepted. Were any of your tattoos symbolic to you, and do you feel this uprising is a sign of the times?
"In a way, without sounding pretentious or like there's some big scheme. I think it was almost like a permanent Halloween costume for me. As a kid I would always wear a Halloween costume even when it wasn't Halloween. I guess that dripped over into my adult life.
I think everything is just becoming more commercialized. And things do become more acceptable when they can make money for the people who are deciding what's acceptable and what's not."

There is a certain child-like candor to Marilyn Manson and their music. What qualities do you admire in children?
"Kids can see through things more honestly than adults do. They see the scariness in places where adults don't. They also see the beauty in ugly things. When you're a kid you have a dream and that means something because you really believe it can come true. That's what Marilyn Manson is all about; finding something positive out of darkness and pointing out the ugliness in things that are supposed to be beautiful. I think kids do that, kids are pretty honest - I'm trying to hold on to that. I'm trying to be Peter Pan!

How do you see Marilyn Manson's music affecting their audience now that you are reaching a much larger market? What are your goals now?
"Ideally I would like to make a difference and make people listen to what I'm saying, and maybe change their thinking a little bit. Even the smallest degree would make a difference to me. And then I want to make music. I want kids to realize that they don't have to fall into the program that your parents have set up for you from birth. You can think for yourself. You don't have to go to college to live your life happy.
The topic of artist or listener responsibility is something that I always talk about. If kids want to have the freedom to listen to whatever they want to, they should take on the responsibility and the parents should take on the responsibility of teaching their kids to think intelligently. A kid should be able to listen to a song and not want to kill somebody or kill himself. That shouldn't have to be the artist's responsibility. What I'm singing about is my sarcastic, sardonic, even bitter look at what's going on. It's just my point of view. If people want to share my point of view and they can understand where I'm coming from, fine. If not, they don't have to."

Marilyn Manson will resume their touring with Nine Inch Nails at the end of July. It will be really interesting to see how the national market will receive something so unexpected and artistically innovative as Marilyn Manson. One thing is sure they will cause quite a stir and maybe this time going to the extreme will be a wake up call to everyone who says, 'What's wrong with the youth today?' without offering any long term solutions. Listen up, truth doesn't scream any louder than this.