Interview:1996/11/20 Aquarian Weekly
|The First Revolutionary Act: Being One's Self|
|Interview with Marilyn Manson|
|Source||The Aquarian Weekly |
"Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law of our today." -- Friedrich Nietzsche, 1878
"The lyrics and ideals expressed on this album are those of a character called Antichrist Superstar, who is portrayed by me and every other person in America. Those who fail to admit and realize this are the ones who will be afraid and offended. This is what you should fear; you are what you should fear."
Marilyn Manson, whose rise to the national spotlight this year with their hellbent cover of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams," have always been a band true to their heart and blackened souls. On their latest release, Antichrist Superstar, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard charts earlier this month, Mr. Manson and company -- bassist Twiggy Ramirez, keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy, drummer Ginger Fish and newest recruit, guitarist Zim Zum -- have created an introspective and real life fright show that will make you sweat and smile at the same time.
On such songs as the bludgeoning "Irresponsible Hate Anthem," the introspective ranting and raving of "Wormboy" and "Mister Superstar," and even MTV's newest buzz, "The Beautiful People," Manson's aggression and vulnerability walk hand in hand as we stroll through the psyche of the man himself. It's as if someone were ripping at Manson's very scarred seams and stretching his flesh in order to allow the darkness within to fly free and enlighten the masses.
Shedding the S&M inspired wardrobe and looking past the wair-like, acutely scarred and heavily inked body of Manson, The Aquarian Weekly attempted to get into the brain of the madman behind the band. What we found was not the ranting and raving of a Satan worshipping demon that the mainstream press has made him out to be, but instead an intelligent, insightful artist, who is more interested in Nietzsche (whose book Antichrist seems to have inspired Manson), human sexuality and self-expression, than human sacrafice, voodoo, and lucifer.
Aquarian Weekly: In the past you have been very frank about your rejection of all forms of organized religion, especially on Antichrist Superstar. Can you speak a little about why that is?
Marilyn Manson: I promote individuality and belief in yourself. Most organized religions promote weakness and blind faith in things you can't see. So Antichrist Superstar is a manifesto of self-expression much along the lines of Nietzsche and Darwin. People of that nature who promote the belief of man as his own god.
Then you believe that each person is their own creator and has the ability to control their own lives and outcomes.
Everybody has the potential to be their own god. It just takes writers, philosophers, music, and others to get them to realize that. However, I do believe there is a greater force in nature, but you don't necessarily have to worship it.
You were talking before about Darwin and Darwinism, whick in theory suggests that only the strong survive. Yet in a lot of your music you take the opposite approach, usually taking up the cause of the alienated against the oppressor.
I think (the theories of Darwin and Nietzsche) promote a need and a want to be a stronger person. I think that is a lot of the underlying themes behind everything on the new album. I use the metaphor of a worm that grows into an angel and it's the same transformation from being someone who is suppressed to being someone who is no longer suppressed but rather empowered.
Was there a turning point in your life that you said, "Hey, I'm not going to take anyone's crap anymore, I'm going to be me."
I dont't think there was any one moment, I think it was a gradual building and realizing that I didn't want to fit into the status quo. I was going to make my own status quo. I would rather make my own status quo for others to have to fit into.
In a sense through your music, you are now promoting individualism. Trying to let people know that they can be different as long as they are themselves.
Yes, and I'm saying that if you want to be like me, be yourself, because that's what I'm being. So it's a group of nonjoiners, like a club with no members.
When I mentioned our interview to my sister, she asked if I was going to be afraid of you. At times, you're perceived to be the epitome of fear, you give off a violent, almost scay public persona. Are you afraid people will prejudge you by your image?
I like to look at people's fear and my own fear so that I can better understand it. So when people see things and listen to things that I do and it scares them, then they should be asking themselves why it scares them. Why does it bother them, why does it offend them, why does it scare them? Maybe they can learn a little bit about themselves by addressing those fears. I'm not afraid of anything. If there is something I'm afraid of I do it and then I'm not afraid of it anymore.
How about the fear of failure as a musician?
That's really my only fear and it's an everyday battle to be in control and succeed with what I want to do.
As a musician, you are one part recording artist and another part stage performer. Marilyn Manson as a band seem to excel during live shows. Speak a little about why that is.
That's the most important thing to me really. An album is just a blueprint for a live performance. It's very ritualistic, very theraputic and there is a lot of energy exchanged between the audience and the band. It's a powerful thing to tap into. It's one of the oldest things in the history of man, that interchange between one person and the people that are attracted to what they are doing. That's why we enjoy touring so much.
Your live performances seem to not only be an entertaining show, but also a purging of your soul as well.
I would say that it's an exorcism, not only an exercise but an exorcism. It's getting everything out. I think that other people can enjoy that as well, because it makes them feel like they can get everything out too. It makes them feel like it's ok to be yourself and do what you want.
You mentioned before how a lot of your music is based on real life experience and self-expression, individuality and the alienation that sometimes comes attached to being an individual in a cookie cutter society. Speak a little about that.
I went to a private Christian school and I didn't really buy into the whole born again idea, so I wasn't friends with too many kids there. I wanted to go to public school, but all the kids there kicked my ass because I was the kid from private school, so I didn't fit in there either. I couldn't win either way, so I decided that instead of feeling alienated I would one day strive to create my own set of standards and the rest of the world could work around me.
Now that you are working on your own terms, is there any pressure to tone down the act because you are starting to get more mainstream radio and MTV airplay?
No, I think that now is the time to turn up the gas and make it more dangerous, push the fast forward button to the end of the world and go as far as we can go. A lot of people go most of the way, but the only way that you can reach perfection and purity is to go all the way. And that's really what America needs. Because everything is so common and desensitized. People aren't even impressed by sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll anymore, so it needs to go as far as it can go so that people can once again appreciate the little things in life. They can re-obtain their innocence, be a kid again.
You're definately not innocent now. Do you feel that the point where you decided to not be alienated anymore and decided to be, in a sense, the alienator was where you lost your innocence?
No, I think my loss of innocence was one of the things that helped to develop the hard shell around me. If you follow the transformation of the lyrics on the new album there is a metaphor that I use of a worm that is very vulnerable that forms this hard cocoon around it and becomes this angel which thinks it is beautiful, but the rest of the world around it thinks it is very ugly. That in itself is a bit of vulnerability and that is where I have been over the past several years. The final result is coming to terms with power and this almost other identity, the Antichrist Superstar, emerges and that's what things are developing into. The album itself is my story, it tells the beginning to the end, but we haven't gotten to the end yet, so it's a bit of a prophecy. Sexuality and sexual imagery are recurring themes in the music of Marilyn Manson. Why do you think that you are so fascinated with sex and why does it play such an important role in your music? It's probably due to the way that I grew up. My first experience with sex was seeing my grandfather's collection or pornography. It was more out of the ordinary, more deviant, with photographs of women and animals, and he had a lot of lingerie and stuff that he used to wear under his clothes. So, I had a strange introduction to the world of sex. Then as a teenager there was the pressure of losing your virginity and it became a real obsession of mine.
Speak a little bit about the people who claim your music is a little too sexually explicit, or who claim it's unhealthy for kids to listen to. Speak out to the Christian Coalition and the C. Delores Tuckers of the world who try to censor the music of Marilyn Manson.
A lot of times the people who had a knee jerk reaction are not only playing into my trap but are also missing the point that I was making in the first place. A lot of the references on Smells Like Children were about my own childhood and about views on use and abuse. Those were missed by them because they interpret them on a base level and actually on more of a pornographic level than they were intended to be interpreted. An example that I like to use is that on our first album I wanted to put a photograph of me as a child posing nude on a couch. My mother took the photograph. And I was told by the executives of Time-Warner, the company that used to distribute our albums, that it would be considered child pornography and I said, "Why? It's a perfectly innocent photograph," and they said, "Well if it can elicit some sort of sexual arousal then it is child pornography." And I said, "Well, that's the point of me putting it here. It's innocent unless you make it something else." That's a lot of the points that I try to make. If people see something as being sick, they have to have that sickness in their own head to see it as sick in the first place.
So do you believe that the people who are the most outspoken and disgusted by sexuality and deviant sex are in fact the ones that are most fixated with it?
People always hate what they are afraid of, and they're usually afraid of Marilyn Manson because they see themselves in it. People who aren't willint to admit that they have these same emotions and experiences are going to be the ones that are the most offended by it. It's hard for them to accept the fact that they are just like everyone else.
Are you afraid of being pigeonholed as the next Alice Cooper, or as the next shock rocker?
If I wanted to be shocking or offensive, that would be easy, because it is such an easy thing to be. I could be so much more offensive. I do things on my terms and sometimes they are more extreme than most people would like, but shock value is never my point. I am expressing what is on my mind and i say it like I want to say it.
In the past you have criticized television and especially talk shows for creating an unreal view of American society. Speak a little about why you feel that way.
The talk show is kind of synonymous the whole bullshit of political correctness in America. You have people on talk shows saying "I hate you because you're a racist" and that's a contradiction because they are being racist by saying that. And there are people saying "I hate this guy because he hates me." It's just a never ending circle and my point has always been that neither side is ever right and nobody wants to solve the problem and the problem is, if people were more intelligent then there wouldn't be so many arguments. In a perfect world the criterion for anything would be intelligence. Sexism and racism are too lenient for me because I could never say that I like all men because I don't. I could never say that I like all white people because there are plenty who don't deserve to be liked. I think intelligence is really the bottom line. Often times it's the unintelligent who are the first to make snap decisions about people or music or anything for that matter.
Are you afraid that those people are going to get the wrong impressions of the band because of your music and your public persona?
That's the way it has always been with the band: people need to read between the lines to get the real message. I don't ever worry about people's perceptions, because they either get it or they don't. I like more extreme reactions anyway. I want people to either love us or hate us. I don't want anything in between and over the years I found out that's where most people are. I always used to say that there were two types of people: people who love Marilyn Manson and people who are jealous.
Where do you go from here, whats the next step?
I just plan to keep on getting bigger and bigger and just doing something real productive with our popularity. I believe that there is a real strength to utilize. The things that change society have always been art and music; they have never been politics. So we'll just continue to prove that.