The High End Of Low Interviews

Rock Hard

Twiggy Ramirez
2009 Jul

"If only I could counter jet lag by getting drunk, my life would be a lot easier..."
It is with these words full of a certain wisdom that Twiggy Ramirez, back with Marilyn Manson after an absence of more than four years (that he spent with A Perfect Circle as well as Nine Inch Nails) welcomes us in his suite of a Parisian hotel.
A few days away from the beginning of a European tour which would have gone through Hellfest when you'll read those lines, we met the musician - a bit sleepy - to hear about his return to home and about The High End Of Low, Marilyn Manson's seventh album. Interview with the one we should no longer call Jeordie...


In which context did your reunion with Marilyn Manson take place?
"I'd just finished a tour with Nine Inch Nails. I was lurking in an hotel, in Hollywood, where I met Manson. That day we just talked about everything and nothing in particular, but we stayed in touch by phone. Then he offered me to take part in his next tour. I accepted. It happened in a very 'organic' way, without the intervention of managers, record labels or whatever... It was very easy to do because both of us really wanted to work together again."

Did you recall the past and the events that led you to the split?
"No, not really... We left all of this aside. We were mostly happy to see each other again and we kinda had a fresh start. But I have to say that during all these years we weren't really upset at each other. We just grew apart and lacked the desire to work together anymore... But years have gone by and now our relationship is better than it has ever been."

Did you keep an eye on what Marilyn Manson was doing while you were away?
"No. I didn't listen to his albums and I will probably never do it. I had to learn one song off each album in order to play them on stage, but other than that I don't know them..."

Did you start to write the new songs of The High End Of Low, an album that you co-produced, immediately?
"We started at the end of the US tour I just talked about, which lasted about six or seven weeks. As soon as we got off the tour bus, we were longing for only one thing: writing new songs. The 'concept' was simple: each new day meant a new idea for a song. We never got bored because every day was different and we were working in a totally different way from the previous day. As a result, the sources of inspiration behind those songs are numerous..."

What were your inspirations?
[thinking] "I don't know exactly... It could be something I've heard in a bar, or some pop thing playing on the radio... But my personal influences are still the same, and they are very diverse. When I write some songs, I always listen to the old classics I've heard thousands of times, but that I still love so much. Pink Floyd, Spiritualized, Oasis, etc.
Those songs came to us in a very spontaneous way and the record took shape little by little, day by day. We didn't know which type of record we were going to do, but we knew that we didn't want to recreate something we already did in the past. I made that record in the most honest way considering my musical tastes, and I know it was the same for Manson. The music and lyrics he wrote for The High End Of Low are totally in accordance with what he is and his tastes. We always worked that way when I was part of the band before, and I think that's what made our success back then."

Did you work as a tandem?
"Each song has been done a different way. There were no rules. I recorded some songs at my home, then Manson added the lyrics. Some other songs have been recorded in a studio, along with Sean [Beavan] and Chris [Vrenna].
But in any case, most of the songs have something in common: they are mostly first takes. That record was composed while it was recorded, or is it the contrary?" [laughs]

The booklet doesn't really tell what instruments you are playing on the album...
"A bit of everything! Guitars, which I will also play on stage, bass, programming... As it was clear in my mind which kind of sound I wanted for that record, I thought it would be better if I did a lot of things myself. It is a rock album, rather rough in itself, which suits me perfectly. We used to have so many guitar tracks and electronic effects in the past... Today we limit ourselves to two or three guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and that's all. Just like any rock band in fact. That's cool, because we happen to be one!" [laughs]

Who's gonna be the new bass player for the band?
"It's a musician named Andy [Gerold] that Billy Howerdel [A Perfect Circle, Ashes Divide] recommended to me. Andy was a part of Ashes Divide and he is truly amazing. It took him a single audition to convince us that he was the right man for the spot."

Do you agree that some of the songs in The High End Of Low have a "pop" dimension?
"It's a word that I have no problem with. If the melodies are good enough so that people find some pop qualities in them, I'll take that for a compliment... The album I listen to the most right now is the last Lily Allen, I have nothing against pop... when it's well done."

The High End Of Low is very rich and varied, as it is 15 songs long. Was the choice so difficult to do, that you kept all the songs?
"Oh no, we didn't keep all the songs. We had enough songs to do at least three albums! But it's true that the choice has been difficult. When you are honest at writing songs, you can only love all that you create and it's nearly impossible to step back and decide which song is better than the other. I really love Leave A Scar and Devour, but there isn't a single song that I don't like."

You have been very busy those past years. To which extend do you think that you have improved as a musician?
"I've changed, for sure, but it's difficult to tell in which aspects I may have improved. When I left Marilyn Manson, I had no idea of what I would do next. I was kinda offered the 'jobs' with A Perfect Circle and Nine Inch Nails without having asked anything. I still wonder why they called me, but I'm glad they did! [laughs]
Thanks to both bands, I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I grew up a lot, too."

Do you think that Marilyn Manson, the band, is still as dangerous and provocative today as it was at the beginning?
[thinking for a long time] "In fact, I think it is more dangerous now, because what we play is more anchored in the real world. There is still provocation and Manson is still an expert in that area. But those songs are also more personal and this is really frightening. We are not hiding behind anything. Of course we'll keep on wearing extravagant clothes and makeup, but we are no longer hiding behind some characters that we created."

You just spent several years working under your real name Jeordie White. Was it easy to become Twiggy again?
"To be honest, those last years I had some difficulties getting rid of the Twiggy character... And today, I find it weird when people doesn't call me Jeordie! [laughs]
But it's not really important for me. People may call me Twiggy or Jeordie. I don't care. In fact I'm using the Twiggy moniker to make sure the fans know that I'm back. But I'm not really the same Twiggy that I was before. I am no longer the same person."

What kind of person were you?
"I don't know... An idiot ? [laughs]
Something like that! In any case I was someone who didn't know what he loved, and who was hiding behind a persona he created. It's no longer the case. I cannot talk for Manson, but as far as I'm concerned, I've changed a lot and I consider my role in this band in a different way."

After you left Marilyn Manson, you auditioned for several bands, among them Queens Of The Stone Age and Metallica...
"I never really auditioned for Queens Of The Stone Age. There was an opportunity at one moment, but it never materialized. At the same time I auditioned for Metallica, but without really thinking of joining the band. I wanted to play Master Of Puppets once with them, and I was very happy to be able to do it, but frankly I didn't really want to be a part of that band. Of course, I would have become instantly rich, but it would probably have been far too complicated... I'm good friend with Lars [Ulrich] and I knew in which situation Metallica was at that time. A Perfect Circle was much better for me."

What do you think of the 'abrupt' ending to A Perfect Circle?
"Maynard [James Keenan] simply got back to Tool and Billy [Howerdel] wanted to do something different... I don't know what will happen with the band, but I'm really proud of Thirteenth Step [2003] and I hope that we will work together again. I would love to do another album with those guys. We'll see what the future holds for us."

What do you think about your experience with Nine Inch Nails?
"I loved the shows we made together, but what I'm keeping from it is mostly some kind of discipline. It hasn't always been the case - far from it - but Nine Inch Nails is now a very disciplined band. It helped me turn the page and make a clean sweep of the excess from the past..."

You could also write a book describing that period, like The Dirt by Mötley Crüe?
"If I was writing a book, it would be very short: 'people told me that I had good times, but I don't remember anything...!' [laughs] Maybe I could write a few pages with the help of hypnosis, but in any case it would be too short..." [laughs]

You started a Stoner Rock band, Goon Moon, with Chris Goss, and made a first record in 2007. Do you have other projects together?
"People call it Stoner Rock because it is a 'weird' kind of music and because Chris Goss is a part of the band, but there is absolutely no rules in Goon Moon's music. This is why both of us love it so much. It's an outlet. We made an album with the collaboration of many of our friends, among them Josh Homme [Queens Of The Stone Age] Josh Freese [A Perfect Circle], and Dave Catching [Eagles Of Death Metal], and we are very pleased with it. I don't see why we wouldn't do a second one... Well, I will start with this Manson tour, and then I will think about the future. I'm playing guitar in the band now. Going back to the instrument I debuted with will maybe offer some new perspectives, and bring some new desires..."

You're going to tour with Slayer this summer in the USA. What do you think of that lineup?
"It's weird! I grew up listening to bands like Metallica and Slayer, so I'm proud to tour with them. But honestly I don't know why such lineups can see the light of day... Well, don't worry, I know it' all about money! [laughs]
I love Slayer, but I also know that their fans are sometimes disrespectful. Fortunately, we play after them. So if we are lucky, most of their fans would have gone back home when we will get on stage!"