The High End Of Low Interviews

Elegy

Twiggy Ramirez
2009 May

Tired and marked by the effects of jet lag and a drunken evening, Twiggy has just woken up and welcomes us in his suite of a Paris 8th district's hotel.
It's 3 PM, Twiggy awakes.


So, dead tired?
"Yeah, I spent the evening in a bar with Manson and the Black Eyed Peas... Then we went to a Parisian club not far from the hotel, where Manson has already been with his ex Dita Von Teese. I was wondering why there were no chicks in the bar, until I understood that it was a gay club." [laughs]

But Fergie was here?!
"Yeah! [laughs]
And she was making eyes at me."

Did you try to pick her up?
"She was sitting on my knees. But, no... Nothing happened. I have a girlfriend in LA. She just sent me a SMS. And it's only 6 AM or something over there."

That's because she misses you.
[yawning] "Et cetera!"

Excuse me?
"Et cetera. And everything else. Manson and I love to say that. So much that we both have it tattooed on our right arm. [he shows me his right wrist where et cetera is indeed tattooed in full length]
He just got etc.."

He is softer than you?
[laughs]

Is Manson in the same state as you?
"Probably worse than me because he got up earlier... In fact I'm not sure that he went to bed at all. And as we just arrived from LA yesterday, we're suffering from jet lag."

You brought your acoustic guitar with you, are you taking it everywhere?
"Yes. Just in case some journalist asks me to play something or to use it in a photo shoot."

Manson told me that you never put so much of your heart in doing a record than you did for The High End Of Low...
"Oh, really ? I think we already worked that hard, but it's true that this album is one of my favorites out of everything I made so far. And as I like it, I don't care to know if other people like it too."

Manson is saying somewhat the same thing. Is it difficult for you to listen to your first albums, as it is for him?
"Oh no, I have no problem with them. But it's true that I don't listen to them."

You will have to listen to them again and rehearse some of those songs, no?
"Yes, sure. In any case we won't play songs from the albums I didn't work on. Even if I like those songs too."

Did you start rehearsing already?
"Yes, yes."

Can you play the whole new album live?
"No, we only rehearsed 5 or 6 songs."

That's all?
"Yes. We have to play the hits: The Beautiful People, The Dope Show, Sweet Dreams, etc."

Can you give us the setlist or at least the 6 new songs that you're gonna play?
"The setlist is not defined yet, but we worked on Four Rusted Horses, Pretty As A Swastika, Leave A Scar, I Have To Look Up Just To See Hell, We're From America and Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin'-Geddon."

Not Devour?
"No, but we will probably play it on some shows. But not for festivals. On the festival tour, we open with Four Rusted Horses. But what's cool with the new album is that we can play everything live without being obliged to use tapes or computers. Everything could be played with only a guitar, a bass and a drum kit."

The lineup includes Chris Vrenna, and Ginger Fish on drums?
"Yes. Ginger Fish also played some piano on the record. Chris will play keyboards live and of course Ginger will play drums."

You're not gonna play the best song on the album: I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies either?
"No, not in Europe at least. It's ten minutes long, that's too much for festivals. Maybe we will do a 40 minutes long version, so that we'll only play that song." [laughs]

Do you love movies as much as Manson does? Do you have similar tastes?
"Yes, yes. We buy a lot of books and DVD, we spend time classifying them... I love Jodorowsky's stuff, I think it's very funny."

What about Philippe Grandrieux?
"Well... I'm not as much a cinema fan as Manson is. I also like Fellini a bit, but you know.. I also love far less intellectual movies, I watch about everything that comes my way."

Manson is a Toby Dammit fan...
"Yes, it is his favorite short film! [laughs]
I'm not a big Fellini fan, but we love that film which is a part of a triptych. It's with Terence Stamp, we love him! I'm a fan since his role in Superman 2. [laughs]
I'm not at all surprised that he told you about Tobby Dammit!"

And what are your musical influences?
"Oh! It's probably shameful, but right now I'm more in the 90's with Richard Ashcroft or Noel Gallagher's work. I love that basic side, and their textures. I am a big Oasis fan. Other than that, David Gilmour has always been a big inspiration for me..."

You don't like the 80s?
"I did... In the 90s. It seems that I'm always listening to stuff that came out ten years before. [laughs]
But the 80s metal will always be a part of me: Judas Priest, Blast, Cinderella or Mötley Crüe, and also thrash metal with Metallica, Testament or Slayer."

What band led you into learning to play guitar?
"Well... I think it's Van Halen, whom I saw live in 1984. But it is Kill 'Em All and Ride The Lightning from Metallica that really made me improve. For me it was 'Sports-Metal', imitating them meant a lot of training. [laughs]
Those are the two bands that brought me into music."

What made you come back to Marilyn Manson?
"I was in a tight corner, I was just back from a Nine Inch Nails tour and I was feeling lonely. I was wondering what I would be able to do next. And I ran into Manson in a bar. We stared at each other and we were like 'what about doing a record together, more organic?'.
That was it. We made a small tour last year then we start composing together. We must have wrote about sixty songs or ideas of songs and we just selected fifteen."

Did you work differently this time?
"Yes, because before we would work fifteen days on the same song. This time we worked a few hours on a song, then we switched to the next one. That is why we wrote so many. And the songs have been finalized more quickly."

How did you choose which songs to put on the album?
"It's Manson, depending on the lyrics, I think."

Do you take part in the lyrics writing sometimes?
"Sometimes I tell him that I prefer this word to that other word, but that's all. I'm more responsible for the music."

But when you compose, don't you have some ideas for lyrics sometimes?
"Yes, I also write lyrics, but not for this project. On the other hand, we used some songs ideas that I had in store for about ten years. I wrote Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin'-Geddon in the second album era."

And when you write lyrics, it is for Goon Moon, your project with Chris Goss?
"Yes. Or for MySpace and YouTube... I share my small musical videos or some songs... As soon as I have some time, I start composing for Goon Moon again."

Will there be a particular stage setup for this tour?
"To be honest, I have no idea."

It's gonna be a surprise for you as much as for the audience?
"Exactly." [laughs]

Will you play in Paris?
"I just don't know. I do not take part in the organization of the tour. We're rehearsing in Berlin, and the tour starts at the end of May."

What is the difference between your work with Manson and Reznor?
"Both are very demanding. But with Nine Inch Nails, you aren't in a creative situation, it's Trent's band. His expectations are very high, he is a very talented musician, you learn a lot with him. He is more responsible than Manson. With Manson, it's more about surviving chaos, the emotional chaos that he tries to express in his songs with the use of my music. He is less demanding on a technical point of view. With Reznor, you need discipline and rigor, and he shows you who the boss is. His search for perfection makes you a better musician."

Are there a lot of takes in the studio?
"I practically didn't work with him on the studio. He does almost everything on his own on the records. I just did the live shows."

So your work with Manson is more gratifying...
"For sure. With NIN, it's just a job."

And with A Perfect Circle?
"That was more of a band. Even more than Marilyn Manson, where it's just him and me who create. We are the heart of this band, even if Chris Vrenna has some technical contributions. With A Perfect Circle we compose live together. Trent is all alone with his computer."

How do you proceed when writing songs in Marilyn Manson? Do you try to create a particular atmosphere?
"When one of us has an idea, we call each other and we call Chris too. Actually, Chris and I often meet in the studio to write the core of the songs."

Was one of the songs more difficult to do than the others?
"No, it was really easy. Most of the time it was good at first take."

Is there a song that gives you more pleasure to play live than the others?
"Devour, and Leave A Scar."

There is a great variety on the album, did you want it like that?
"Yes, I think. As we had more than fifty songs, Manson chose the ones he thought would make the best album. We had to choose between about ten really heavy songs, some a bit less heavy, and others even less."

Have you been frustrated that some of the songs didn't make it to the album?
"Of course, but I'm happy with the record as it is. Maybe some of those songs will appear on the next album?"

Obviously you have seen the walls in Manson's room with the lyrics written on them. Wasn't it a bit frightening?
"A little, yes. It was surely worse for the owners, when they got the keys back, because it was a rented house! It was very dark, the anteroom of Hell... There were also porno pictures... I didn't like going there too much, it scared me."

The owners must have kept the deposit...
"Sure. [laughs]
They must have repainted or destroyed everything."

Was the house in downtown LA?
"Yes, at Hollywood Bowl. When we were going to the studio, we had to cross all the traffic, it took some hours... Sorry, now I need some sleep." [laughs]