|Marilyn Manson Interview|
|Interview with Marilyn Manson|
|Source||Ray Gun Magazine|
THE DEVIL KNOWS HOW TO PACK A CHURCH. A GANGLY GOTH-ROCKER FROM CANTON, OHIO FINDS BOTH MESSIANIC POWER AND MORAL DECAY AS MARILYN MANSON. CRUCIFYING THE FEEL-GOOD MAINSTREAM AND INSPIRING MORE CHRISTIAN PRAYER THAN THE COMING MILLENIUM. DEAN KUIPERS WONDERS WHO’S MORE BEAUTIFUL.
- “My guests tonight are G. Gordon Liddy, Lakita Garth, Florence Henderson, and Marilyn Manson. That’s right, we have the architect of the Watergate break-in, Miss Black California, the mother of the Brady Bunch… and the Antichrist.”
Bill Mayer extends a hand as Marilyn Manson lurches onto the soundstage for the July 31, 1997 edition of the hot TV talk show, Politically Incorrect. A contact lens whites-out the iris of his left eye, leaving an unsettling blank. He’s wearing a ghoulish black suit, black lipstick, and yellow bruise around his eyes for just the right amount of diseased jaundice. The heels on his boots make him about nine feet tall. The girls scream like it’s the Beatles. Bill Mayer smiles likes it’s better than the Beatles, because the Beatles happened to someone else. His producers pray the Antichrist will carry them to primetime. You can almost hear Mayer thinking: this is the shit.
Which is exactly what Marilyn Manson wants. The fact that he gets yapped at for the next hour by a rabidly-judgmental embarrassment to Christian activism in the person of Lakita Garth, the show’s token bible-thumper, is irrelevant. He has won. Millions allow his ideas to wash into their homes, where he plays both aspects of his public persona – the entertainer, martyred for you (Marilyn); and the destroyer, a poisonous, anarchistic horror set loose by our foolish dependence on order and codification (Manson) – managing through his personal charisma to be lovable and devilishly creepy at the same time.
Marilyn Manson is not shy about his agenda. Or his methods. He represents the marriage of fully-realized contradictions in us all. Love/hate. Male/female. God/Satan. Purist/media whore. Thus the brilliance of the names assumed by him and his band – Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy – each a combination of pop icon and tabloid killer, and the title of their album, Antichrist Superstar.
Liddy, Watergate-convict-turned-right-wing-radio-host-and-don’t-forget-superpatriot, can’t seem to get flapped by Manson’s aristocratic pretense and ends up largely defending him, saying, “The drift of this conversation is: Manson and others, are they responsible for the kind of society that we have today, and I think that that is absolutely backwards.” Mayer says he likes Manson and that the album is “great.” Flo Henderson is just about breaking her back trying to keep a motherly hand on Manson’s arm and face the cameras at once, mewling out stuff like, “It’s all about perception, isn’t it, Marilyn?” when she’s not settling the following exchange:
- Marilyn Manson: (answering Garth’s implication that her Christianity makes her a better role model) It’s very admirable to be idealistic. I want people to think, but I’m not trying to think I can save the world. Maybe the world doesn’t deserve saving.
- Lakita Garth:You can’t save the world, ‘cause you’re not Christ.
- Marilyn Manson: Maybe they only deserve to be entertained before they’re all destroyed.
- Bill Mayer: I couldn’t agree more.
- Florence Henderson: (to Garth) Oh, now, wait a minute! You can’t judge who’s Christ and who isn’t. He may have more Christ in him than you do!
- Bill Mayer:That’s Mrs. Brady!
- Lakita Garth:You will know a tree by the fruit it bears.
Meanwhile, America – including the millions of Christian activists and parents whose captains toiled all season to shut down Marilyn Manson shows – is tuning in to find out what the Antichrist really looks like, if he slithers, if his words seem to have two meanings, like if you played them backwards they’d tell you to drown your dog. And Manson is using them: when decent folk pay money to gawk at a sideshow freak, the decent folk become something worse than freaks themselves.
All the freak has to do is sit there and seem reasonable. He reads the Bible. (“I like it as a book,” he says, “just like I like The Cat In The Hat.”) He also reads LaVey’s Satanic Bible. He believes in the freedom of religion (“I don’t protest Sunday schools or anything”). He also believes in the freedom of the press and the free speech rights of his detractors. He believes in the right to assemble. Like, for instance, his fans. At his shows. He believes that acknowledging both good and evil is the honest approach. He hasn’t done the things he’s rumored to have done according to last summer’s smear campaign, like kill animals or preside over the rape of any pre-teen girls. But he freely admits that he’s done things, like fellate some guy onstage and wipe his ass with the flag. His messages are extremely ugly. In the service of the beautiful. In fact, the people who hate him and his band seem to hate because he plays both sides: he and his main partner Twiggy write a hardcore heavy metal dance rock, the kind of thing that appeals to the sexually-threatened hard-rock crowds at OzzFest, but they act queer and thus were pelted by garbage night after night; he play-acts a religious revival that resembles a Nuremburg Nazi rally in his set, which ignites the notable skinhead contingent, but the idea is to question fascism; he is an entertainer who realizes that part of your good time means wanting to visit and transform a bad time. His motives and actions are perfectly gray in a society that demands black or white.
He’s a nice guy. I enjoy his company. He’s also not.
It’s an act. Kids know that. It’s also not.
By the end of the show, Miss Black California is reduced to an attempted conversion. She wants Manson to come out to dinner with her friends to bask in the witness of so-called real Christians. As the director cuts the TV cameras, Mayer draws them together so a still photographer can get a portrait for the green room. Garth is trying to write her number down as Manson takes her hand and says, “Okay, call me. I’m not as bad as you think.” He lets go of her hand and lowers his eyes for the camera, sneers, and adds, “I’m worse.”
“I can’t believe in the things/That don’t believe in me/Now it’s your turn to see misanthropy” – from 1996
I walk in the room and think: the beautiful people. Manson’s room in Los Angeles’ quiet, elegant Argyle Hotel is trashed. His bodyguard abandons me to the gloom. Outside it’s about five p.m. and the hard Pacific sun is blazing. Inside, a sepulchral calm presides over a plane wreck of clothes, bags, glasses, cigarette butts, magazines, tapes, guitars, food, unidentifiable crap. Manson is sitting on the bed in the back, apparently naked, eating a breakfast of hotel cheeseburger. Fine. I lay a recorder on the sheets.
This is an invasion, of course, but he takes as well as he gives. The bodyguard says he just woke up for the interview, but he’s managed to get that damn white eye going and slash a few charcoal-ish chop marks down his throat. He has the sheet pulled around his waist, but it turns out he is wearing some kind of black underwear or jockstrap or bondage pants or something. He controls that part of the game, anyway. He is a clam and meditative speaker – as was discovered by anyone who witnessed his admirable 1997 CMJ keynote address. I motion at the room and say it looks like I missed a good party.
“I tend to be myself and open up – as far as my personality or my sense of humor or sarcasm – when I’m around my friends,” he says, “maybe ‘cause I feel the need to entertain someone always. Last night was a good night and we ended up back here and we were having some interesting conversations.”
On the show [Politically Incorrect], you said, “I think my music is more about alienation and isolation,” and unfortunately that woman was talking a lot so you didn’t really get to explore that. Do you think that’s really what your fans are identifying with in your music?
Marilyn Manson: I think so, more than anything. I started liking music when I was about 13, because it was a place where I felt I could go that there weren’t any judgments. Music had a way of healing all the wounds of not being accepted by the rest of the world. I think it’s important that we have things like that, whether it’s a book or a movie or an album.
Ray Gun: Why did you feel like there were doors closed to you?
Marilyn Manson: I grew up in a neighborhood where all the kids went to public school, and I went to a private school. Since it was a Christian school, there was great pressure for me to be saved and to fit into the program – I had to wear a uniform to school, and I had to have my hair cut a certain length. So there was this real suppression of individuality; everybody was supposed to blend together. And back in my neighborhood I stood out because I was the only one that was wearing a uniform and had my hair cut really short. So I didn’t feel accepted either place. Part of me wanted to fit in at Christian school, but I could never convince myself to believe what they were believing. There was a part of me that always wanted more answers, wanted to look behind the curtain at the Wizard of Oz. “Shawn Roberts, 15, of Newburgh with purple streaked hair, Manson-style make-up and a Manson wardrobe, said he’d had ‘a bad conscience about this anyway. I mean, I knew what I was doing when I decided to come here. But once I got here and listened [to Christian protestors outside Roberts Stadium in Evansville, Indiana], I built up confidence about this.’ He didn’t join the prayer circle, but didn’t stray too far from it. “And what in Ms. Greene’s message changed his mind? ‘If [God] came back today, I wouldn’t go to heaven.’” – from the Evansville Courier front-page, April 23, 1997.
Ray Gun: You’re mocking rock stardom at the same time that you’re celebrating it -
Marilyn Manson: The only way you can deal with it, especially for me, is through the paradox, and that has always been the basis of Marilyn Manson, is the extreme contradiction. Antichrist Superstar was a metaphor for my plan of becoming a superstar by going against the grain, by doing it all the wrong way. And also the idea that everything that I aimed to destroy with music – break down the idiocy of Christianity and things like that – by doing so, I’m just creating another form of it through rock music. I tried to point it out to people. And maybe they don’t get that part of it. But maybe they should and maybe they shouldn’t. The part of the show where I stand at the podium and I have the banners come down, and I’m mocking Christianity and simultaneously mocking myself, mocking a rock show, and people are cheering and pumping their fists to it – that in itself is just a great statement. Whether anyone understands it at all, it doesn’t matter. The fact that it occurs is just a piece of work that I’ll look back on someday and think, “Wow, how did I manage that?” and be proud of it.
Ray Gun: It also sort of has overtones of Nuremburg or something, a rally.
Marilyn Manson: I think all rock shows do, and all sporting events and religious events. It goes back to Julius Caesar. That in itself is a powerful form of magic. And that is what Antichrist Superstar was really about: wanting power, getting power, abusing power, realizing that you can have all the sex you want, you can have all the drugs you want, you can have all the rock ‘n’ roll that you want, you can have all the cliches that you want, but in the end, the only thing you can really believe in is yourself.
Ray Gun: It gets reduced back to what you are as Brian Warner. Is there any part of it that’s a childhood revenge fantasy for you?
Marilyn Manson: I think all of it is, in a sense. For a long time, that was my motivation: to show everybody who didn’t believe in me that I was going to be something. But I realized that that was pointless as well; it gives people too much credit. Whenever I start to hate someone, or I want to pay somebody back for doing something wrong with me, I realize that the worst punishment they can have is that every morning they have to wake up and be themselves, and nothing can be worse than that. So I always let my enemies go free, ‘cause they’re doomed to live their own miserable lives. That’s sort of beyond karma.
Ray Gun: The fact that my mom knows I’ve come to interview you puts me in the position of having a discussion about “What does this mean? Why do you want to associate with this person?” It’s amazing how powerful those ideas are.
Marilyn Manson: It doesn’t happen when you go out and buy a Wallflowers CD, or even the Doors or Led Zeppelin. I can’t go anywhere now without people reacting to me, but I get very, very few hostile reactions in person. I think people are dumbfounded by my presence – whether it’s intimidating to them or just confusing. I have something that surrounds me. Maybe it’s just a dark cloud or maybe I have a halo. People, even if they hate me, they tend to gravitate towards me. Just like the girl, Lakita, on the show; it seemed like she hated everything about me, but yet at the same time, she had to be close to it. Just like the people that protest the shows. They hate it so bad, but them being there, that’s just as strong as someone buying a ticket and going to the show, because they’re out there creating just as much energy. Whether it’s positive or negative is irrelevant, because it just adds to all of it. I would be bored with people who just didn’t care. People care. To the brink of hysteria. Marilyn Manson saves us all from a lot of boredom in 1997. What were we supposed to get excited about, in terms of pure rock ‘n’ roll – the Lilith Fair? Christian activists didn’t quite see fit to shut down those hugely-successful feel-good shows, even though the implied idea of goddess worship and female consciousness is a great deal more threatening to fundamentalist ideas of patriarchy and a biblical interpretation of history than any shock-rocker. But those girls are sneaky. They seem nice. None of them splattered MTV with the excessively-sinister videos for Beautiful People, Man That You Fear, and Tourniquet, or the gothic, blood-splattered, body-fluid-insect-bedlam images that encrusted the Antichrist Superstar CD and all the band’s public representations. Hell, anybody with half a brain could see plain as day that this guy was nasty.
And the idea of an Antichrist, well, it reinforces the idea of Christ. Marilyn Manson and American Christianity need one another. They rushed together like two passion-enraged lovers with knives in their hands and poison on their lips.
In the spring of 1997, when the band’s Dead To The World Tour began to pick up momentum on the sale of 1.4 million copies (to date) of Antichrist Superstar, family groups – primarily Christian (the ensuing street war didn’t feature a whole lot of incensed Buddhists or Sikhs or Druids or anything) – began a loosely-coordinated disinformation campaign. Conservative activist groups like Empower America, lead by former Secretary of Education Bill Bennet, began mass-mailing alleged “affidavits” from unidentified witnesses in Oklahoma City which detailed acts that went down at a Manson show, including (different versions are combined and paraphrased here) satanic altar calls; sex with dogs; nudity; homosexual acts; sacrifice of puppies, kittens, and chickens; rape and fisting of apparently mind-controlled young girls; and heavy, open drug use. According to the band’s attorney, Paul Cambria, a version of these “affidavits” were posted on a website sponsored by the Gulf Coast branch of the arch-conservative American Family Association.
Cambria tried in vain to obtain copies of the affidavits from the AFA. They were pulled off the website, which was then shut down. “It’s our position,” says Cambria, “that the affidavits are phony.
“They said that Manson was slaughtering puppies onstage,” adds Cambria. “And that I went around with him the morning of the show and helped him round up a bunch of puppies from the ASPCA. Now, everyone who’s ever obtained a dog from the ASPCA knows that you can’t even do that on the same day.”
The “affidavits” originated from a group called Oklahomans for Children and Family (OCF), an “educational” organization whose primary function, according to spokesperson Sherry Scott, is fighting pornography. The OCF, she says, have “three signed affidavits on file,” which are “informational” documents, evidently not deposed as part of any lawsuit. One of these statements came from a “young boy,” a minor who had “traveled with Marilyn Manson for a while… and related the things he’d seen with the band.” The other two were adults who related details from a Dallas concert (presumably on an earlier tour).
These allegations helped the OCF obtain 23,000 signatures on a public opinion petition, also not a legally binding document, pressuring the Oklahoma City Council to pass a resolution saying they wanted the Oklahoma State Fair Board to cancel the Manson show. They didn’t. The OFC, however, considered this a victory, saying, “This will affect fair attendance and board re-elections. People won’t forget.” Adds Scott, “He didn’t do a lot of the stuff he said he would do onstage here in Oklahoma City, I’ll tell you that much.”
OFC Executive Director Bob Anderson later relayed a message saying that he could not send Ray Gun blacked-out versions of the affidavits, and that both Paul Cambria and the local District Attorney would have them. Who, of course, do not.
The speed with which these unverified documents swept through the conservative community is not simply proof of Marilyn Manson’s power. It proves just how badly pious folk want to believe this stuff. Nothing is more morally stimulating than sin. Nobody is more fascinating from the Devil.
And the Devil got pissed. Manson manager Tony Ciulla estimated early in the tour that 20 per cent of ticket sales were being lost. At Oklahoma City, it came to a head. Cambria was retained and fought the cancellation effort as a classic civil rights and First Amendment violation, calling it “malicious.” The band is also holding a decent hand for a libel and defamation case against the smear campaign. The show went on.
This pattern was repeated all over the country. Everyone was waving around some version of the “affidavits.” In Richmond, Virginia, the city manager vowed that Marilyn Manson would play “over my dead body.” The State of South Carolina offered them $40,000 to cancel (they eventually did, but didn’t take the money). The band fought bitterly with Rutherford, New Jersey over their Meadowlands show. Cancellation was threatened in Burlington, Vermont; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Utica, New York. After a show in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the state Senate passed a nonbinding resolution requiring an ID check at the venue to keep minors out of the shows by artists whose albums carry parental warning stickers – even if parents had okayed the albums. Subsequent to Marilyn Manson’s own tour, OzzFest shows were similarly threatened at New York’s Giants Stadium and other venues. In Vancouver, city officials succeeded in moving the Manson show, in order, according to Cambria, “to make him not make any money.”
Cambria feels the flap has been smoothed in Manson’s favor: “Once it was published all over and it became part of jurisprudence all through this country and went down in the annals of rock promotion history that this is a clear civil rights violation of protected speech to not let someone like Marilyn Manson play, they pretty much went away.”
Are you still thinking about pursuing lawsuits against the people who have been spreading misinformation and tried to shut down your shows?
Marilyn Manson: Yeah, we’re investigating that. There will be repercussions. Not for financial reasons, but set a precedent. I think we may have lost a few battles, but we won the war, and for me, this is just the beginning. A lot of people would be content to accept this as a pinnacle – that we’ve sold a couple million records, and a couple models who do too much coke want to suck my dick, so I can retire now. (laughs) That’s not the case; I feel like this is day one. Because the more people that are finally convinced that Marilyn Manson is something to listen to, the more power that everyone gets. I think we’ll all be liberated together by the things that I’d like to do in the future. Liberated together. Were we liberated by Alice Cooper? How about Judas Priest, KISS, Elvis, the Rolling Stones, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Black Sabbath, and/or any amount of death metal? Yeah, we were. By outliving our fears. I once asked Keith Richards if the Stones were the band to make rock ‘n’ roll evil. After pondering a minute, he said, “We just put it in the clothes.” Marilyn Manson has given it a whole new wardrobe. Someday it’ll be retro chic. Your kids will wear it and you’ll think it’s cute.
As soon as there wasn’t the Cold War, there was the Drug War. And now that’s fading, who knows what the next societal war will be, but you’ve suddenly become an object for that.
Marilyn Manson: Which was something that I set out to do. By adopting the title of Antichrist Superstar, I was assuming the role of a villain in a society like this. In a place where we have such potential to do so many great things and to create such beauty, we have an obligation to cause destruction. And that’s always been that relationship with the so-called forces of good and evil; they have to work together. That’s what the song Irresponsible Hate Anthem is about: both sides are always going to be wrong; you can’t really pick one or the other because history is written by the winners.
Ray Gun: What’s good for people or what’s “right” doesn’t always win. People have great faith in that, and it’s not true.
Marilyn Manson: Reality is just what’s popular. At one point, the world was flat, and we were all convinced of that, because that was what was popular. Right now in America, everyone is convinced that this is one nation under God; it’s on the dollar bill. And there’s been so many people that tried to crack that open. An Antichrist is just someone who is fighting for man. Even in the Bible, the word Antichrist never really defined some villain who was going to come at the end of the world and destroy everyone. The word was used to describe someone who was opposed to Jesus in his day; it was a collective disbelief in God. I think that there is a collective disbelief in God nowadays, and it just needs to be massaged. I’m not against God, I’m against the misuse of God, and the victimization of people through guilt and these ideas of sin. ‘Cause Christianity is really responsible for consumerism.
The idea of blind faith has really ruined America in some ways, because there’s this underlying theme of fascism that nobody’s willing to accept. We’re being controlled by our own stupidity and weaknesses. You turn on the TV, and if you don’t buy this type of shampoo, you’re not going to get laid, or if you don’t buy this car, your friends aren’t going to accept you, and all your friends are making fun of you behind your back because you have acne. It just eats away at your soul. It makes you so dependent that you’re scared to make your own decisions. You’ve got to consult the Psychic Friends Network. Beavis and Butthead have to tell you it’s cool. That to me is just a bizarre form of self-destroying fascism.
There’s so many people who will never realize it, and maybe they don’t deserve to. Maybe there is a need for the law of the jungle, social Darwinism, that the strong should feed off the weak.
I don’t think I know a lot, but I know how to apply what I know. And I think those are the kind of people that I respect and that I’m friends with. If the world were to be destroyed today and I had to start from scratch, that’s how I would build my empire: around artists, architects, writers, performers, musicians… people who contribute things to society. If we didn’t have entertainment, the world would truly be a miserable place. Because entertainment is really what everything grows from. These are the people that should be running the country, not some politician who’s never suffered.
Are you kidding? You set the agenda.
Marilyn Manson: That’s true. In a way, we do run the country.
Marilyn Manson seems about 19 feet tall as he roars over his band’s chaotic, triumphant cover of Patti Smith’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Nigger onstage at OzzFest’s Los Angeles stop, the Blockbuster Glen Helen Pavilion just north of Riverside. Down front, the skinheads are in spasms of ecstasy, missing the whole point. I’m standing on my seat, watching four buff, shirtless, sunburnt jocks in front of me scrounge around on the concrete for cans and debris which they hurl onstage with pretty good accuracy, hitting Manson on several occasions, high-fiving one another and screaming, “Faggot!” and “No disco!” and “Ozzy!” The security guy is amused. Right next to them stands a tiny teenage goth girl as skinny as a lost dog, green hair, draped in black from eyeliner to boots, her fist thrust up in the air. She is cute as a button, and wears a Manson T-shirt over her dress which reads: “When I’m God Everybody Dies.” Who, here, has been empowered?
So few people know that song is a cover. Christian groups have their lists of reasons why they hate me, and one of them said, “Marilyn Manson is also a racist because he has a song called Rock ‘N’ Roll Nigger.” They completely didn’t get it. You can hold something up in front of people and they’re gonna see what they want to see. When they see something ugly, it’s because it’s in themselves. It really takes one to know one.
Ray Gun: People say that the kids are naïve and that they don’t understand that this is a “show.” Do you think your audience get it? Do they understand what’s fantasy and what’s fact in what you do?
Marilyn Manson: Well, I don’t think that people necessarily have to draw a line between what’s real and what’s not real, because I don’t. Part of what’s exciting about being alive in a world that’s so shitty and boring is not having to decide what’s real and what’s not. Parents have a tradition of not giving kids enough credit, not thinking they can handle the truth. Kids are so much smarter. If you stop telling kids about Santa Claus and you stop telling them about Jesus and all these different fantasies – because that is what’s not real – and you start telling them about what is real, which is things like Marilyn Manson, and you explain to them how it affects their lives and you tell them “Don’t do drugs because it can kill you,” instead of, “Don’t do drugs because it’s wrong,” or if you say, “Don’t have unprotected sex because you can get pregnant or get syphilis,” instead of, “Don’t do it because you’re going to go to hell,” then kids can comprehend that. When they find something they identify with, like rock music, and you take it away from them, it’s no wonder the kids are pissed off and they hate their parents and want to kill themselves. ‘Cause you’re taking away the only thing they can relate to.
Ray Gun: So that’s one of the only places you can get a little dose of truth?
Marilyn Manson: Yeah, and kids can handle the truth.
Ray Gun: There are a couple different ways you piss people off: religious imagery and sexual imagery. Why is it important for you to bring out this almost hermaphroditic, trans-gender persona into your work?
Marilyn Manson: Well, I don’t think I’m making straight people and gay people unite, or men and women unite. Maybe it’s my way to trying to appeal to everyone and not trying to limit my attack. I don’t think there was any profound event in my life that made me want to be that way. It’s kinda the way I would view angels or aliens, which are, in a sense, one and the same; they really wouldn’t be defined either way. I’m still quite conservative when it comes to sex. I’m kind of conventional; I don’t get wrapped up in the trappings of bondage or S&M or, despite the rumors, bestiality. An occasional blowjob onstage. I’m still a meat and potatoes person when it comes to sex, I guess.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
Should we get that?
Marilyn Manson: This is probably someone interrupting me. Come in!
A smallish Filipino or Indonesian-looking young bellman pops inside the door and looks at us in amazement, then averts his gaze, embarrassed.
Marilyn Manson: Oh, you want to have sex?
Bellman: (faintly) No.
Marilyn Manson: No?
Bellman: I have to check the mini-bar, uh, sir. Can I do it now?
Marilyn Manson: Uh, seven. Could you come back around seven?
Marilyn Manson: Yeah.
Bellman: Okay, thank you very much.
Marilyn Manson: No sex, though?
Bellman: (nervous laughter) Ha ha, no.
Marilyn Manson: No? Okay.
Marilyn Manson: I don’t consider what I do to be evil, or that I’ve picked the “wrong” thing to do. It’s about perspectives. It shouldn’t be limited, what’s right and what’s wrong; people should be able to make their own choices. There’s a lot of people who have grown up their whole lives believing one certain thing and then some asshole like me comes along and says, “Everything that you believe is wrong.” That’s seen as a threat.
'Ray Gun: Is there a sense of satisfaction for you in just bringing it? Are you happy with it?
Marilyn Manson: Well, there’s a need to do it. I’ve always felt the need to say what’s on my mind and to use that positively, whether it’s to entertain people or to make people think or piss people off. People are always telling you to do your homework or get a job, or stop being distracted by daydreaming and drawing pictures or listening to music, but that’s what everything is about. The other things are just a distraction. Slavery never really ended; they just found a new name for it, and it’s called “jobs.”
Ray Gun: I see this being a very positive thing to do, this whole idea of opening people up to new possibilities and tolerance. Why use such dark music to do that?
Marilyn Manson: If it wasn’t as dark and didn’t contain the suffering that it contains, it wouldn’t be sincere. It would be like Nutrasweet. And whether people believe what I do or not, I do. Darkness is what makes it real. My goal has never been to have fun, or to be happy; it’s just to be satisfied that I got things out of my system. Happiness is a psychological disorder (laughs). If you’re happy, I think you’re sick; you should see a doctor.
Ray Gun: Well, unrealistic expectations, maybe.
Marilyn Manson: You can have fun every once in a while. And I guess it is acceptable to smile if you have to – although I’m against it. But being happy, there’s nothing good about it. No good will come of it -
Ray Gun: Do you feel happier -
Marilyn Manson: - because there’s always a down afterwards. But I guess you have to have good to justify the bad.
Ray Gun: Do you feel complete or in some way good when you’re playing, in your full expression of what you are?
Marilyn Manson: Yeah, I enjoy it, and maybe I end up in a good mood, but I can’t say that I’m happy.
“Marilyn Manson is not ‘rebellious,’ he’s a corporation’s lap dog. And the result of this supposedly ‘unlimited’ freedom is not, as the lie continues, an endlessly new, exciting creation, but rather an ugly, predictable, circular merchandising.” – letter from Breck Brizendine, Boonville, Indiana, on the Opinions page of the Evansville Courier, April 19, 1997.
“He stands behind every band on his label, and he’s into artistic freedom.” – Trent Reznor, speaking through his publicist, Sioux Z
How did your relationship/collaboration with Trent Reznor first begin?
Marilyn Manson: We met in Miami, and Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids opened up one of their club shows on one of the first tours. He and I became friends. We were both from Ohio; we had the same mentality and the same attitude. I hadn’t really known too much about nine inch nails. I was really into the early Wax Trax scene that was exploding at the time – Ministry and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Pailhead – the more aggressive-sounding, punk rock almost, industrial stuff. When nine inch nails came out, lyrically, I could get into it, but musically, it wasn’t as aggressive as the other stuff that I was into. On Antichrist Superstar, we spent seven months together, which really put our friendship through the wringer. At this point, I don’t even know how it stands.
Ray Gun: Is there a problem there?
Marilyn Manson: No, seven months can be very trying, and throw in the fact that everybody’s doing a lot of drugs, it just becomes very wearying. At one point, I stopped drinking and doing drugs so that the record could get finished, and when that happened I became an outsider. I became the voice of reason, which, when you’re on drugs, is something that you hate. So I kind of became hated by everybody, even my own band. But it was necessary for me to become an Antichrist or the idea of the superman – the Nietzsche philosophy, which I’m a big fan of; to become that, you have to not only go against the world, you have to go against yourself and you have to rise from the ashes of your own soul being burned.
Ray Gun: Do you like working in adverse conditions? I mentioned that OzzFest -
Marilyn Manson: I do, because it’s more of a challenge. Most of my life has been about being an underdog, and if something’s too easy – like if I had to sit in a nice hotel room to write a new album and there was no problems and no one was bothering me – I don’t think it would make any sense. I think inspiration comes from adversity. I liked playing to hostile audiences on the OzzFest. People would throw bottles of piss at me and I would just say, “Is that the best you can do?” At one point, the entire crowd is throwing shoes and beer cans and everything. I thought it was exciting; I enjoyed it. What else should I do? I thank ‘em.
Marilyn Manson need you to know. Even if knowing might lead you to hate. Because hate is at least acknowledgment. And Brian Warner needs the acknowledgment. He is holed up now, the Dead To The World Tour a fossil in our cultural memory, working on an autobiography for release in spring ’98. Twenty-nine is not too young; this will be part I. Meanwhile, he collaborated with the Sneaker Pimps on a track called It’s A Long Road Out Of Hell for the Spawn soundtrack. This will be the next single released from Spawn, and also the next video, in which he’ll make an appearance. A “home video” documenting the tour, shot by imagemaker Joseph Cultice, comes out in November, accompanied by a five-track EP rumored to be album remixes.
I originally wanted to be a writer, and I started with journalism. Everybody had the wrong answers and I felt like I should be answering the questions. So in a sense, I may have started the band purely so that I could do interviews. (laughs) I like to write. I’ve always approached lyrics like poetry or literature. I’ve always been more interested in writing lyrics that are subversive and more of a pop song so that people are singing along, but they don’t realize what they’re saying. That’s always been my secret science project, which kind of succeeded with the song Beautiful People, because it became so mainstream.
Ray Gun: The beautiful people don’t realize that they are the beautiful people. Everybody thinks that it’s someone else.
Marilyn Manson: (laughs) That’s good; that’s true.