The Golden Age Of Grotesque Interviews

Metal Edge
Marilyn talks with Paul Gargano of Metal about the The Golden Age Of Grotesque, shock values, album artwork and performing at Ozzfest 2003
Marilyn Manson
2003 Sep

THE GOLDEN AGE IS UPON US
By Paul Gargano


Babble babble, baby baby, Rebel rebel party party, sex sex sex and don't forget the "violence," Blah blah blah got your lovey-dovey sad-and-lonely, Stick your STUPID SLOGAN in: Everybody sing along…

So sings Marilyn Manson in "This Is The New Shit," the opening track of his latest canon, The Golden Age of Grotesque. He's tired of the same old shit. He has been for quite some time, actually. And while critics may cite Manson's overpowering persona as yesterday's news, his music says otherwise.

His Portrait of An American Family debut and Smells Like Children EP follow-up exposed an artist who wasn't afraid to turn his back on anything and everything the music industry had embraced, in turn, forging a path directly into the American psyche, a twisted amalgamation of everything that's come before him, with everything he envisioned his future becoming. It was candy-coated horror, an evil so sweet, it mesmerized onlookers with a sadistic Grin. As the Antichrist Superstar, Manson turned religion on end with an album so brilliant, it may have scarred his enemies more than it inspired his fans-No small feat, as he single-handedly hoisted the gothic subculture from the reclusive ranks of teenage bedrooms, to a noticeable presence in the malls of America. On Mechanical Animals, he turned his image on end, transforming from the prince of darkness, into an androgynous superstar bent on twisting his extremes into an uncanny crossbreed of pop-cultural commentary. Holy Wood shrink-wrapped the two existences into one, the final tri-mester of a three album birth process that brought us to The Golden Age of Grotesque.

If America has truly reached a point, as many suggest, where nothing's shocking, what does that mean for Manson, an artist whose shock value has often overpowered the impact of his music? "It doesn't mean that I would take back or change anything I've done on the past," says the prolific poet of rock'n'roll rebellion. "But I could take another step further and show people all the parts of my personality that you get from hearing my album, or from seeing may art show, or from hearing what I have to say in an interview, or in a movie like Bowling For Columbine, or spending time with me personally and getting my sense of sarcasm."

In other words, it means that The Golden Age Of Grotesque stands to be the crowning achievement of Manson's rise to superstardom. Rather than rely on shock value, Manson is relying on his sense as an artist to unveil his latest decree. The album isn't the overwhelming opus that his previous three concept albums unraveled into, but there's still a method behind the calculated madness, as Manson and his band of merry hell raisers-guitarist John 5, drummer Ginger Fish, keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy and bassist Tim Skold-have but one focus: Art. From the origin of, through the creative process, to the public interpretation of the finished work, this Golden Age is Manson's answer to a commercially-minded entertainment industry that all-to-often falls short of its primary objective-Entertainment.


"You have to realize that you are creating things for the world, and no piece of art is complete until the world accepts it- It doesn't matter if they hate it or love it," our protagonist reasons. And he knows a thing or two about love and hate, as the extremes have been underlying factors in his worldwide success. His fans love him, and his critics love to hate him, the results fanning each other's flames and building the larger-than life entity that has become Marilyn Manson. Metal Edge sat down with Manson- the man, the myth, the artist and the art- to dig a little deeper into the phenomenon he has dubbed The Golden Age Of Grotesque…

Metal Edge :
Having seen your performance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, is that a little bit what we can expect from your stage show? The "grotesque burlesque" dancers and all?

Marilyn Manson :
That was the simplest form of it, but there's a whole lot more to it. I mean, the stage kind of goes from one end of the spectrum to the other, from Julius Caesar to Walt Disney, and everything in between, and it's really taken all the stuff that inspired the record-vaudville, cabaret, grotesque burlesque and all that stuff- and put it into reality. I collaborated with this magician Rudy Coby, and he's worked in a lot of different places, like Paris, a lot of interesting places.

Metal Edge :
What inspired this direction for you? The album's still dark, but the themes have shifted from your previous few records.

Marilyn Manson :
It's maybe closer to where we were in the Smells Like Children and Portrait [Of An American Family] era. I've always shifted between the heavier-handed political and religious references, to the vaudeville and cabaret, and the more theater of cruelty kind of element. Also, the show has a very heavy-handed political overtone to it, but it also adds in the sarcasm of the American Disney elements mixed with the carnival, grotesque deformation of beauty, with Siamese-twins, the girls playing piano… There are performers that we have brought along with us, not to try to make the show something that it's never been before, but also to build on what it has always been and make it even more. So it's got everything it always has, and then some.

Metal Edge :
You went out in broad daylight on the first OZZfest, as well. Are you tailoring your set to that, or are you stripping down what would be your headlining show?

Marilyn Manson :
Not at all, I think it's a matter of realizing that Disneyland and Nuremburg, and any protests that you have ever been to on any city street, all work during daylight, because there is sprit behind them. The spirit of the performance, there is a bombastic, political element, and there is the childish insanity, eccentricity element, and it's all going to be combined together, which will be the most entertaining thing for me. I'm looking forward to it more than anything.

Metal Edge :
What's the significance of the mouse ears? Was that ever intended to be the album cover?

Marilyn Manson :
Well, all the artwork that we created was part of The Golden Age of Grotesque, but none of it was intended to be album artwork. What ended up being the album was allowed to be on it. We used a different approach- We didn't say we were going to design things for an album, we designed a bunch of things, and then we chose ones that we wanted. Many were denied and some were accepted, so we decided to show those that were denied elsewhere. What you're talking about is a big part of the show, because the show has a lot of statements about politics and religion, and about art, and how I fit into all of it. They will be a major part of the performance that I think everyone will be surprised by.

Metal Edge :
The OZZfest experience has become somewhat predicable. I presume you are looking to change that?

Marilyn Manson :
Absolutely. I mean, there is going to be a moment where I call for Siamese twins, I might have three legs, or I might need two heads. Whatever the case might be, I'm there to entertain people, and I am there to make them think something different than what they thought before I went on the stage, that's for sure.

Metal Edge :
Disney loves the lawsuits. Are you anticipating any legal problems from them?

Marilyn Manson :
No. Everything that I have done, doesn't do anything but challenge or evoke people with images that they might associate something like Disney, because I'm representing myself in a childish way, that is drawn from my imagination. Images that I create don't exist anywhere but in my head, and through the artwork of Gottfried Helnwein, so therefore they can't be infringing upon anybody, but they can really provoke people to feel a certain way. And the way that they feel is the intention of art. Art is a question mark, and the answers are how people react.