Published: 1998 - Journalist: Paul Elliott

The Antichrist Superstar is no more. In his place stands the alien messiah. We have come to Hollywood to meet the new incarnation of MARILYN MANSON - a spaceage playboy who's re-discovered his emotional core, become immersed in glam decadence and engaged himself in a mission to save rock 'n' roll.

Hollywood, Los Angeles. The giant TV set in Kerrang!s hotel room is tuned to a specialist God-bothering channel on which the silver-haired host of Praise The Lord turns to pious crooner Pat Boone and implores, "What happened to our music, Pat? Where did all those good songs go, those sweet, romantic, clean songs?"
Pat is at a loss for an answer.
Less than a mile away along Sunset Boulevard, a huge painted effigy stares down over the mid-afternoon traffic from the roof of Tower Records. The luminescent figure has a shock of red hair, sinister red eyes, nipple-less breasts and an indeterminate bulge between its legs. Its skin is alien-white.
To rock fans, this is the new glam image of Marilyn Manson. To the millions glued to Praise The Lord, it is evil incarnate.

A half-hour cab ride from Sunset leads to Culver City and a photographic studio, where the 'real' Marilyn Manson has just finished a Kerrang! Cover shoot.
Manson moved to LA from Florida a year ago to make his new album, Mechanical Animals. Since arriving in the City Of Angels, the self-anointed Antichrist Superstar has found a new celebrity girlfriend in Rose McGowan, fired another guitarist in Zim Zum, and made the best record of his controversial career while re-inventing himself as rock 'n' roll saviour come end-of-the-century-glam rock icon.
But why Hollywood?
Clearly, a deviant like Manson would delight in mixing with the elite of the American entertainment society - his house is set in the Hollywood hills, where the original Manson Family undertook their shocking killing spree in 1969 - but he didn't come here just for fun. Hollywood, he says, provided the perfect inspiration for the new music. Moreover, as Manson prepares to begin his own movie career, this is definitely the place to be. The Manson movie - based on the new album, its title remains undisclosed - is rooted in the tradition of such fanciful celluloid rock follies as The Who's Tommy and Pink Floyd's The Wall. Coupled with the dazzling Mechanical Animals, it could turn Marilyn Manson into the biggest rock 'n' roll star of the new millennium.

Suede's glam rock throwback Coming Up booms across the white expanse of the photo studio as Manson slips out of gold PVC pants into a creaky red leather pair and dons bulbous shades. The look is half rock god, half insect. He sips water and speaks in low, croaky tones as he describes the genesis of Mechanical Animals.
"Moving to Hollywood, I experienced a rebirth. I'd stripped away all my emotions in the past and I started to get them back. Living in this strange city I felt almost like a child or an alien, and the more I got my emotions back, the more I saw that the rest of the world had less and less. I started seeing people as the mechanical animals I talk about on the record."

Manson concedes that he was a monster, cold and hard, when he made his last record; the filthy, fucked-up Antichrist Superstar.
"Antichrist Superstar was a really gruesome transformation," he reveals, "physically, mentally and musically. It was conceived and written while I was enduring a lot of physical pain. I was unable to feel anything emotionally. This record is the polar opposite. The emotional pain is what started to come back as the numbness wore off, as I began to feel empathy and things like that. It greatly affected what I had to say.

You're not going soft?
"No, but I feel more vulnerable on this record, more alienated. Not necessarily robbed of power, but faced with more of a challenge.
"I feel like a lot of people would have assumed that Antichrist Superstar was as far as I could take what I was going to do, musically and with my imagery. But now I find myself at ground zero; I've just started and I've got a long way to go.
"My main goal with the new record was to put life back into rock 'n' roll, to take things back to the basics and make a real rock album. Right now, the only thing that can save rock 'n' roll is this album," he says, not arrogantly but matter-of-factly.
"Otherwise rock will disappear like it did in the disco era of the '70s, when rock music was just disposable hits by bands no one cared about and dance music dominated. That's kind of where we're at right now.
"My contemporaries are Garth Brooks and the Spice Girls. They're not doing anything rock, but they?re doing things on the same grand scale that I like to do things on."

You've said previously that an outsider like yourself must enter into the mainstream in order to subvert it. Is this the philosophy behind the new record?
"I just wanted to approach this album from a different point of view," he shrugs.
"I'd assumed the role of destroyer on the last record. This role is more a saviour.
"I wanted to write songs that were more personal and dealt with specific emotions. The music had to really compliment that, but there wasn't a conscious effort to make more accessible songs. There was simply an effort to write songs that would make people feel differently to the songs on the last album. In a sense that makes it more accessible, but it's not just for the sake of pop.
"Even if it was, that's okay too," he adds with a smile.
"I can appreciate the Spice Girls and Garth Brooks in the Andy Warhol sense of it - pop art."

Manson could simply be taking the piss when he says this - his manner is so deadpan, it's sometimes difficult to know when he's joking - but it is true that Mechanical Animals is a more pop-slanted record (stronger songs, slicker sound, smarter hooks), just as his new image is cleaner, if resolutely pervy.
And he is definitely not fibbing when he says that his new music is inspired by David Bowie?s classic 1972 concept album, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, which effectively set the template for '70s glam rock. Likewise, Manson's new androgynous alien image owes much to Bowie. Check out the cover of the latter's 1973 album Aladdin Sane for irrefutable proof.
"I have great admiration for David Bowie," Manson confesses.
"Queen and T-Rex and KISS were all big for me when I was growing up, and this record reflects the music that meant a lot to me as a kid, while bringing it up to date."