A Mellower Marilyn Manson? Now That's Shocking.
The 46-year-old rock provocateur on his friendship with Johnny Depp, swearing off old vices like absinthe and complicated women, and his new album, The Pale Emperor.
INTERVIEW BY MATT HENDRICKSON
DETAILS: What's going on tonight?
Marilyn Manson: Johnny Depp is coming over, and he and I are going to get tattoos. We met in 1998, when I released Mechanical Animals, so we've been friendly literally almost to the point where our sexuality could be considered questionable. But I haven't kissed Johnny. So it's more like having a brother. It's hard for two guys who have never grown up.
DETAILS: Your new record, The Pale Emperor, has a cinematic quality.
Marilyn Manson: I've spent my whole career prior to this album wanting to make cinematic records. I wasn't exactly in the frame of mind that I am now when I made some of my past albums. It made me not as powerful, and I lacked confidence, assurance, and swagger. The song "The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles" is about me reclaiming pride in myself.
DETAILS: Do you have any rules for writing a song?
Marilyn Manson: Don't confuse strippers. Make sure you've got a beat that makes her dance. She's working her way through college or whatever.
DETAILS: You played an inmate on the final season of Sons of Anarchy. You said you took the role to make your dad proud. Did you succeed?
Marilyn Manson: He loved it. Dad used to ride a bike, and Sons of Anarchy is his favorite show. I went to Ohio for my mom's funeral, and I just wanted to do something to take his mind off things. I'm sitting at the table with my manager in my parents' house, and he got a message that I was going to be on. Dad got very excited. My manager said, "It gets better: You're the head of the Aryan Nation, and you get paid for it."
DETAILS: You ran into Courtney Love at the show's premiere and later, on Twitter, equated the experience to prison rape. What happened?
Marilyn Manson: She was very distraught. She said her dress ripped, and I said, "Is your pussy showing?" She said no, and I said, "Thank God, that's fucking disgusting." Then she went, "Oh, Brian . . ." She likes to call me Brian, like I give a shit. I think she learned how to use Wikipedia.
DETAILS: When your mother died, you wrote a tribute saying you hoped to see her again someday. Where do you think you'll see her?
Marilyn Manson: If you're asking if I believe in heaven or hell, I don't. If I see her, I hope it's in a good place. But when life ends, it ends. Then it becomes something different. I'm very hard to kill, though. Maybe not immortal. Certainly immoral, or maybe more amoral . . . in between those three, that's where I exist.
DETAILS: Twenty years ago, Marilyn Manson was synonymous with drug-fueled debauchery. How does that compare to the Manson of today?
Marilyn Manson: It's all a matter of balance. I've been to rehab, I've been to a mental hospital, I've been to jail. Not prison or anything—only on TV. I wouldn't say I'm proud to announce this, but I have not drunk absinthe in more than six weeks. I switched to vodka. I started smoking pot two years ago, and I was like, "Wow, I can hear that thing in the music." I understand that whole pot music scene now.
DETAILS: Do you enjoy any current pop music?
Marilyn Manson: "What Goes Around" by Justin Timberlake. "Ring the Alarm" by Beyoncé. "When I Get You Alone" by Robin Thicke. That and Urge Overkill's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" are in my "rape song" category. They seem innocuous but are very . . . struggle snuggle. That's what we call it in prison: a struggle snuggle.
DETAILS: Do you work out?
Marilyn Manson: I've been doing a lot of training because I want to fight people. I don't know why. I just thought it would be an exciting new hobby. In the past, I've started fights and then didn't finish them because I have a bodyguard. But I want to be good at it.
DETAILS: You've been married once and engaged twice more. Will you ever do it again?
Marilyn Manson: No, I don't think I want to be committed again. I am flypaper for crazy bitches. Am I hard to date? Shit, yeah. Do I have a hard-on every day? Shit, yeah. There you go: Put that on a T-shirt.
DETAILS: Speaking of marriage, Charles Manson is getting hitched. Will you be invited?
Marilyn Manson: I don't know if I'll be invited, and I don't even understand how that would ever happen. I tend to stay out of the Manson thing. I'm not mocking him, and I'm not praising him. I'm just simply stating his place in history. So, I think I'm supposed to go get a tattoo now.
DETAILS: What are you getting?
Marilyn Manson: It will say FATED, FAITHFUL, FATAL. It's from one of my new songs. I'm getting it around my neck, gangster-style. I've just got to find the right font so it looks super-, super-, extra-gay—like it would in jail.