Interview:1997/04 America's Most Wanted by Jayne Margetts
|America's Most Wanted|
|Interview with Marilyn Manson|
THROWING their fanatically obsessed fans into a raging frenzy that leaves them wondering whether to "f...k somebody or kill them", Marilyn Manson, on a good night, could be T-Rex performing live at Nuremberg. Throwing their stick thin, emaciated bodies into epileptical ecstacy, grinding to the dirty, speedcore industrial rant and ribbons of toxic, lyrical prose, the prophets of the darker side of life render all around them into satanic bliss.
Pagan chants and demonic squalls hits stage front moshers with the intensity and density of a brick wall, and somewhere behind the glare of the spotlight, frontman Manson smiles as a million metaphors surge through his mind. He recently described himself to Rolling Stone America as a snake, an angel, an alien, the child snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and his favourite "a Hydra, the nine-headed serpent of Greek mythology"and deserves and revels in the tag that very few would wear as a badge of honour as he does, as AMERICA'S PUBLIC ENEMY NO.1.
Proclaimed as "America's Sickest Band', Manson and his ghoulish and ashen co-horts have forced church' and religious groups into a corner, he has fundamentalists on the warpath and American Rolling Stone crowning him pin-up boy and Best New Artist, and, if you get past the layers of pasty ivory foundation, the hollowed eye sockets, the satanic leer (an attribute he loves to exaggerate) and the cacaphonious vocals you find an intriguing proposition full of possibility and perception.
"I think Marilyn Manson is an alter-ego of itself," he says from his hotel room in Indiana, where the band are tying up their American tour. "It's a paradox of itself because even the way I relate to my friends, some people call me Manson, some people call me Marilyn and that kinda reflects my relationship with them. I find it interesting and really pay attention to that. It's very unconscious to them and they don't even realise it.
"You know, there's definitely the Marilyn side that's very showbiz orientated, very much Hollywood, like Marilyn Monroe was; the paparazzi, the controversy and then there's the Manson side that's more political, more nihilistic, more philosophical. More of how I am right now. Really, the combination of the two is what comes together especially when I'm on stage or working on a song or something like that. The dynamics of the two is what makes life really enjoyable and together, that's when I feel most alive."
Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar doctrine filled with angels with scabbed wings, scenes of crucifixion type poses and particularly compelling and disturbing is Manson standing legs apart, a contraption hugging his nether regions and two members of the band at his knees breathing in the apocalyptic fumes through face masks. This is the kind of image that has shocked and compelled many.
This is Manson's revenge on a world he says that subjected him to fear and alienation in his early years. His fascination musical and otherwise did not come to him born on the wings of a revelation. They came as a child being forcefed Christianity in a religious school. "When I was about 11-years-old there was a lot of attention being paid to the world in the Christian school that I was going to," he remembers.
There was a lot of talk of 1984 being the apocalypse and when that didn't come, it didn't happen - there was much fear and anticipation built up, so many nightmares that I'd had - that I was almost disappointed in some ways and began to resent the people that had scared me for so many years. So I think that was a turning point there, where I slowly became the things that I was scared of. That's where I've ended up, because I think everyone's fear has created this whole idea of an anti-christ.
"I began getting into this old ideal and I think it comes from Hebrew writings that mankind must invite the end of the world upon itself. That it's not God's punishment. It's something that man wants, because man becomes so bored with himself and I thought that was appropriate. And I think that's a good analogy of Antichrist Superstar."
Signed to Trent Reznor's Nothing Label, Marilyn Manson's debut album Portrait of an American Family condemned American culture and it's way of life to the throb of a decadent rock'n'roll beat. It even caused a British Tory MP to rally for the albums banishment from record shelves. While the controversy in Britain raged, Manson continued to shock and outrage by dating ex-porn star Traci Lords and allegedly giving Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck oral sex on stage.
After Antichrist Superstar's release he proclaimed that sleep deprivation, drugs and masturbation contributed to the hellish visions that poured through the grooves and importantly that people should not underestimate and judge this ghoulish rock'n'roll icon by its wrapping. " I think all of these people complaining about what I do and saying I'm such a bad person for making this record ....
"I think it's exactly what they've wanted all along because that bad guy gives them the ability to make themselves the good guys and it's really justifies their existence. It's their fear and disbelief in themselves that's created something like this. There are a lot of people who would underestimate the way I think and say to me, 'don't you think by people listening to what you're saying, you'll have people following you and creating the same problems as other religions do?'
"I think if you have the hindsight to realise all of this then you'll admit it's a paradox. That's what you're based around, and that's your strength not your weakness. I think with anything you're only as limited as you want yourself to be. I mean, I've always felt like, rather than just being one person, why not be many different things? That was always my reason for creating Marilyn Manson. We're often too afraid to take that step. But, once you take the first step to being, to doing, to saying and living your life the way you want to, then it just becomes second nature."
So, does Manson feel like the eternal observer, standing on the outside looking in? "Well for many years I felt like I was on the outside and that was the only way I could relate to people -looking in. But I think what I've tried to do now, instead of continuing to complain from that point of view and almost being on the inside. I've taken the outside and made it the inside. I think that's what people who are a part of Marilyn Manson, and fans in particular, enjoy within the music, and some day soon will enjoy the fact that they no longer have to try and be a part of somebody else's inside. When THEY become the inside, and everybody else can try and be a part of what they are."
Evoking the spirit and decadence of Ziggy Stardust, the goth, glam and punk of Bauhaus and the dark verve of Marc Bolan and T-Rex, Marilyn Manson are shaking up the live establishment with industrial pyres of morbid ecstasy: "The moon has now eclipsed the sun. The angel has spread its wings. The time has come for bitter things. The time has come, it's quite clear. Our antichrist is almost here ...."
- While the source names an old fansite, The Hydra as the source, the author, Jayne Margetts, was employed by Spike Magazine that was in business from 1996 through 2001.