An Interview With MARILYN MANSON
So, this is your first tour and you're out with NIN...when did it start?
How has it been so far, touring with all these people: NIN, especially The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow? What are those guys like? Have you had much of a chance to really get to know them?
"Yeah, we hang out with Jim Rose all the time. Sometimes after shows we'll make porno movies with the bands and people that we find... hitchhikers, people who go to our dressing room and deserve to be tormented, stuff like that. They're all really cool."
So what would you be doing right now if you weren't in music? How would you be getting your message out, getting your point across to people, if you weren't doing it through music?
"At this particular point, I think that it has to be done this way. This is kinda where I ended up; I tried other ways. If I weren't doing it this way - through music - I think I might be a... third-grade school teacher or a TV evangelist. Somewhere I could be getting at people's minds, when they're most vulnerable."
That is really weird that you said that, because the other day I had this bizarre dream, and I asked you that question, and you said, "Well, I'd probably be a school teacher. A school teacher or a serial killer."
What's your biggest non-musical influence or motivation for doing your music?
"Non-musical influence? Anton LaVey: his writing, Nietzsche. Willy Wonka is probably my biggest non-musical influence."
That partially explains the recurring themes on Portrait Of An American Family of candy, innocence and sweetness, children. What about the monkeys?
"Right, right. You noticed that. I've kind of put up the challenge for someone to figure out what the... I don't know, it's some kind of weird "Trinity Of The Monkey" on the album that I haven't even figured out.
I realised after the album was already out that the monkey occurs three times -- in three different songs. And just by coincidence, that picture under the CD (inside the case) has three monkeys on it. There's something there to be discovered, I just can't say what..."
Speaking of children, the little boy who sings on your album [Robert Pierce] how do you know him? How did you get him on the album?
"His parents used to come to a lot of our shows in Florida. They introduced me to him, and he knew the lyrics to My Monkey from when it was on our demo tape. I always tried to sound like a little kid on that song, so when I heard him singing it, I thought it would be perfect for him to sing that with me. And it was weird, because in the song I sound like a little kid, and then he's singing, and then we kind of transform into one voice and you can't really tell who's singing. We just did a video for Lunchbox on Monday, and he's in it."
Is he really?
"Yeah. Maybe someday he'll grow to be a big star."
He just has the cutest voice! So what were you like at that age? I mean, if I were to call up your Kindergarten teacher right now, what would she tell me about you?
"That I cried a lot because I didn't want to be there. I didn't like to take naps, and I used to get in fights with all the girls."
So what are your thoughts on the recent, well, relatively recent Gacy execution? And what do you think of capital punishment?
"I think capital punishment is necessary. I think maybe they should even enforce capital punishment for lesser crimes. Like shoplifting, if you're stupid enough to get caught, I guess you deserve it. Not that I'm against shoplifting; I do it on a regular basis. I just don't get caught. There are too many people in the world and somebody needs to start getting rid of some of them. I guess that's the best place to start: with criminals. I thought it was kind of stupid how people cheered when Gacy was executed. They're just being hypocritical. They didn't cheer when he killed all those people. Killing is killing, it doesn't matter, it's all the same. It's not necessarily right or wrong, it's just part of nature. In America it's against the law, so you have to deal with that. It doesn't mean that it's morally right or wrong; it just means it's against the law."
So what do you think of religion, society, the interpretations?
"Well, in America, religion - morality - it's basically just created to benefit the people who made it up, not the people who are controlled by it. Everything that's considered a sin is just a natural human emotion, so you're automatically supposed to feel bad about yourself. Kids are brought up feeling ashamed of themselves. And that, in turn, creates fucked up kids who either kill themselves or kill other people, and then society wants to blame it on rock music and television."
Could you ever picture yourself being a parent? A real parent, actually raising children? And how would you raise them so they won't be victimized by the very things you're speaking out against?
"I do want to have kids someday, and I would show them everything. I wouldn't hold anything back from them. I think if you show kids reality, and stop trying to "protect" them from it, then they can handle it. Everyone wants to "protect" you from yourself in America. They don't want you to do this or that "because it will hurt you". We have gun laws and drug laws, but they should just let everybody do what they want, and the ones that are smart enough to survive will; those who aren't will be dead. Then there won't be as many people, and everyone will be much happier."
So you'd expose them to everything. Basically "temper" them, so that they won't be on the "Dead" side later in life?
"Yeah. People are afraid that you can't make up your mind for yourself, and that some people have "animal instincts." Everybody wants animals to have the same rights as humans, so why don't humans have the same rights as animals?"
So who's the 'Boogeyman' in Marilyn Manson's dreams? What, or who, scares you?
"Probably myself. The fear of losing control of myself: That's probably my biggest fear. I hate weak people. I always try to be in control of my life. I think my biggest fear is being weak."
What would you say is the perfect activity to engage in while listening to Portrait Of An American Family?
"Erotic asphyxiation. That's where you strangle your sex partner during intercourse (At this point, Mr. Manson gets a devious little smirk on his face and continues) to the point where they pass out, and then there's that brief moment of fear, of whether they're dead or they just passed out. It's real. That's probably the closest you can get to killing someone without them actually dying; the closest you can get to the feeling of actually murdering someone. The point of climax, the feeling of power, and the fear."
And what's your favorite song from Portrait Of An American Family?
"It kind of varies from day to day. Probably, at least right now; Organ Grinder. I don't think we're going to play that tonight, though."
Do you have a particular song that you really like to perform live?
"Probably My Monkey."
Now, you just finished shooting the video for Lunchbox. How did that whole thing go? Where did you do it?
"We went back to Ft. Lauderdale, where we're from, to do it. It takes place in a skating rink; we're playing in the middle of a skating rink with a lot of little kids skating around us. I haven't seen how it came out, but we had a good time doing it. I'm sure MTV won't like it."
That's what I was just about to say. Is it suitable for MTV? You'd have to do a lot of editing of the lyrics and stuff, but that's true with almost any song on Portrait. I was going to ask you what songs will be released as singles, and which ones were actually going to get airplay. There's a lot of room for controversy; if not over the actual lyrics, then over the ideas in the songs. There's a lot on that disk that people aren't going to embrace.
"Yeah, a lot of people aren't going to like it, but that was always kind of the aim for me. We wanted to write songs that people could remember, and that were catchy, you know, just good songs; but I didn't want them to get away so easy that kids could go around singing them to their parents. So I guess most of the songs on our album that would fall into the quote/unquote, "hit" category are all totally offensive. I don't think that (the general public) is ever going to be our market."
So you'll basically stay more underground?
"Maybe. I'm not afraid to rise out of that, though; and if it happens, I'm not going to complain. If someone wants to say that it's selling out, they can just go ahead. A lot of people are hearing about us from touring and just from word-of-mouth, so airplay isn't always necessary."
Yeah, you're right there. Okay, I know you have a CD single out for Get Your Gunn, but is there one for Lunchbox?
"It's coming out in October."
And those are the only two things you've released besides Portrait?
I heard you have a track on some movie soundtrack, S.F.W. or something?
"Yeah, Get Your Gunn is going to be on that. The movie's coming out next month I think. What month are we in now?"
September, the end of September.
"Yeah, I think it's going to be out in October. It's called So Fucking What? It's got a lot of cool bands on the soundtrack."
What's the music scene like in Florida? You don't hear much about what's going on down there as opposed to, say, New York or L.A. or even Seattle.
"It's okay. In Northern Florida, Florida's a pretty big state, there's a huge death metal scene. There's The Genitorturers, Morbid Angel... In Southern Florida, there's a pretty big punk scene developing. When we started out, there wasn't any scene, about four years ago. We started about four or five clubs having live bands, just by us playing there. If there is a "scene," it's just recently developed over the past few years.
There's that band Saigon Kick who got signed out of Florida, but they're just that cheesy commercial rock bullshit. Oh, then there's Collapsing Lungs, I don't know if you've heard of them. They're like Rage Against The Machine. I think they've been dropped, because they suck. They're the opposite of us: They're all politically correct, complaining about everyone's rights but their own. We're here to stand up for the little guy who doesn't have a support group. We don't fall into any of the categories that everyone whines and complains for. We're kind of like "Freak Supremacists"; People who don't belong, yet know they're better than everyone else."
Are there any bands you'd like to mention, kind of a plug?
"Yeah, actually. There's this band whose demo tape I produced. They're called Jack Off Jill. It's four girls, kind of punk/metal."
Okay, at the end of Portrait, there's that irate woman from the answering machine message, talking about the pornography you were sending her son. What were you sending him?
"Our newsletter. I'm about to send out the first one since the album came out. I haven't sent any out yet. It was never really pornographic; maybe to her it was. There may have been some cartoons with some dicks that she was offended by. Maybe because her husband hadn't been fucking her lately. I've been trying to incorporate a lot of messages from the hotline. On the Get Your Gunn single, there's a song called Revelation #9, and it has some phone messages incorporated into it. I'm sure our next single will have some on it."
And do you tend to be more dominant or submissive?
"Now that's different. I guess it would depend. If I had to pick one, it would be dominant; but I know a lot of times I'm not always dominant. Or maybe I'm only pseudo-submissive, because in the end I'm still being dominant, because I'm only being submissive to satisfy my own needs. So that would still be dominant."
Are you talking physically submissive, or mentally?
"Mentally it would be always dominant, that I know."
Okay. So what's the strangest thing you've ever done, as far as weird sex stuff, S&M and all that?
"The strangest to me, or something other people would think is strange?"
Just tell me something that will make jaws drop.
"Umm. Something strange - I guess it's kind of amusing - I was involved in an act where we covered a deaf girl with lunch meat and pissed on her. But she was willing. It was very non-sexual. I'm sure to others it may have been (sexual). She sure seemed to be enjoying it."
Geez, after that I don't think there's much left for this question. What's something you've wanted to do, like a fantasy or a fetish or something? Maybe something you haven't done, but that you think about a lot?
"You know, I try to do everything I want to do, but of course you have to work within the limits of the law."
Okay, how about just a fetish? Any certain thing that you really like? Something that really gets to you?
"Young girls. That would probably be it."
Maybe Catholic School Girls?
"Yeah, that would do it."
I know quite a few people with that one. Who is the most deviant member of the band?
"That depends. I think it would either be me or Gacy. He tends to be more deviant when he's on drugs or alcohol. I'm usually more deviant when I'm not."
Tell me about the rest of the band, describe them.
"I guess we're just five really different people who've kind of come together with the music. I wouldn't say everybody agrees with what I think, but it's kind of a club of non-joiners. Individuals united. It's five people whose common ground lies in not having anything in common. We have a lot of different things to offer to each other. Everyone doesn't believe everything that I have to say, but they trust me as a leader, so they kind of have to believe. I don't know if that makes sense."
Yeah, I understand what you're saying.
"They don't have a choice."
Now that makes sense. Okay, if you were a serial killer, what would be your Modus Operandi?
Would that happen to be during any certain act, previously mentioned?
"Well, it could be, it could be during sex. Or it could be otherwise. But honestly, I think that strangulation is the most powerful way to kill somebody. It seems to me it would be, because you're actually taking someone's life with your own hands; you aren't using a weapon."
I've also noticed that, compared with other ways, it's kind of slow if you think about it. It can take a while. And they change colors. Is there anything else you'd like to add? Closing comments?
"Nah, I like what we talked about, because I've had to talk about all the other stuff in every other interview. It was kind of nice not to have to say the same old shit; eventually people get tired of reading about it."
Upon wrapping up the interview, Mr. Manson proceeded to tell me about the last interview he did. The interviewer was just an ass, I guess, because Mr. Manson didn't seem too fond of him:-
"The last interview I did, I set the guy on fire. I burned him up."
Yeah, right! I thought. "No you didn't, did you?" I asked.
"Yeah. He asked me some stupid question, or just said something really dumb, so I took out my lighter fluid, sprayed him down, and lit him up," he replied.
"I see," I said. "Is he okay?"
"Oh, yeah. It didn't really burn him, it was just a big flame. Lighter fluid doesn't burn for very long," he assured me.
"That's not like, a habit or anything, is it? I mean, burning people who interview you?"
"No. Only if I don't like them. But you're safe."
"That's nice to know."