KERRANG! MAGAZINE • PARANOIA. JAIL SENTENCES. SEPTEMBER 11. AND KITTENS?
This is what bothers Marilyn Manson in 2002...
Since the '80s appear to be back in vogue it seems only fitting that, just like the song said, we've landed in the rush hour. Marilyn Manson, as he will tell you, finds himself in a rich vein of creativity at this time, with work consuming his every day since the end of the Holy Wood tour last Autumn. This has shown itself in work available already - such as the Tainted Love cover version (and video) from the Not Another Teen Movie soundtrack and Manson's contribution to the Resident Evil film score - as well as an upcoming new LP, most of which is now written and which has a tentative release date of September. As for a title of the new record, our man isn't telling. At least not yet.
There is, of course, other stuff to talk about, because with Marilyn Manson there is always other stuff to talk about. On this occasion the interview will sweep down on Manson's court appearance in Detroit on charges of sexually assaulting a security guard, and his haggard appearance on the witness stand. Manson will also speak up about his image and persona, and answer the question whether this related closely to him the private man or stood simply as a limited public image.
It also seems appropriate to ask about the controversy and social commentary ingrained in the Marilyn Manson oeuvre, especially in the wake of the outrages that took place on September 11. Prior to this Manson had performed in the US on the Ozzfest tour, playing his set beneath a backdrop of an American flag that hung scorched and burned. Now that the America psyche itself appears to be in the same ruin as Manson's flag, his thoughts on the purpose and nature of art and social commentary in the wake of real tragedy are, as you might expect, worth hearing.
This is what he had to say.
You've covered Soft Cell's Tainted Love for the soundtrack of the film Not Another Teen Movie. But shouldn't the kids of today be protecting themselves against the '80s?
"I think the kids of today should defend themselves against the kids of today. But I do take your point about '80s nostalgia, [though it's not new] back in '95 when we covered Sweet Dreams, so now it's almost 10 years later. And I wasn't really thinking about '80s nostalgia when I did Tainted Love, although I do realise that's probably what the people who did the soundtrack to the movie had in mind."
Did you yourself like anything about the '80s?
"Well, I did like the darker sensibilities of new wave and the strangeness that MTV added to the music. I'm thinking specifically of people like Adam Ant and David Bowie and the videos they made. I also remember Ultravox had a couple of videos that had an impact on me. It's difficult to describe the effect that new wave had on me, but I did like the real coldness of it. I liked the way that made me feel."
Musically and creatively, where does Marilyn Manson stand at the moment?
"I find myself, right, now, at one of the most creative points of my life. After I finished the last tour I immediately went in and recorded Tainted Love, I seriously painted 20 or 30 paintings and, most importantly, I started writing the new album. So I haven't stopped working at all. I haven't taken a day off since October. So my creativity at the moment is at its highest point, and it's influenced by I guess what has always been at my roots, which is the vaudeville element that has always been part of Marilyn Manson. The cabaret element, if you will, and the dandyism. I'd like to think of myself as the arch dandy of the era."
Is there any distance between Marilyn Manson the private man and Marilyn Manson the public persona?
"I don't think there is a great deal of distance between the two. I think the only difference would be on the level of performance. I think even in your personal life you sometimes have to be the things that the person you're with wants you to be, or you have to perform odd sexual acts that you may not be experienced in. Or else I have to be a father figure to two kittens that I've just got..."
Literally, two kittens? This isn't a weird metaphor for something weird is it?
"No, really, fluffy kittens. And looking after them is something of a role, almost as big as being onstage and performing to a real live audience. But it's all different parts of what I have to be. It's all one vessel and it's all honest. My cynicism remains no matter what I am doing."
Are you cynical or sceptical?
"No, I'm cynical. I have nothing to be sceptical about. I'm cynical because I believe that the world is fucked and that everyone is out there to fuck me in some way. But everything I do is indicative of me as an artist. I don't separate myself from my art."
One of your works of art was the Holy Wood album which bombed quite spectacularly in the States. Were you troubled by this at all?
"Well I know that people perceived it that way, but I think that the climate of the music that we were in at that time, the album stood up comparatively to other albums in the rock genre. I think it stood up just as equally. People could look at Kid Rock's new album and take a much more harsh view of its sales. Because when I do a certain number of records in America it's always in the region of a million or two million records here and there. And if I sell less than that I don't think it's such a disaster as if I were to sell seven or eight million records and then go on to sell just half a million records. So there was no disappointment for me.
Also, it's important to bear in mind that I consider myself to be a world artist, not just someone who pays attention to the United States Of America. So in that sense I have to say that, in that regard, things really balanced themselves out."
Do you think of commercial concerns when you write you music?
"I don't think of commercial concerns, no. I find that would only pollute how I approach my art. As for what can be expected for the new record, well my influences this time come from the impression era and from vaudeville and cabaret. Particularly Berlin in the 1930s, and the lengths that people there went to in order to live their lives to the fullest and to make their entertainment as imaginative and extreme as possible. So people can expect the imagery and language to be something entirely of its own and something they certainly haven't heard from me yet. It will be something that's very in your face and extreme. It's the type of record that you can't deny tapping your foot to or smashing your head against the wall to. It just grabs you and it just doesn't let go. it doesn't have as many variables as Holy Wood let's say."
What's the title of the new record?
"I hope you don't mind if I don't reveal the title to you. I think I'll keep that to myself for now. Expect the title to be out there, maybe in the next week."
Last year, when you played the US Ozzfest, the backdrop to your stage set was a burnt and scorched American flag. After the events of September 11, would you still use that backdrop?
"That's a very good question. Fortunately the tour ended, so we didn't have to make that decision. But I have to say that I don't think the two have very much in common with each other. Let me put it this way, it would be unfair of me to change my artistic statement because of September 11. I think it would be unfair to people who died in Vietnam or WWII, or any other war for that matter, if that's why I was going to change my statement. My intention with that statement was not to express my hatred of America - I am actually a very proud American - my intention was to express something about the deterioration of our culture.
For example, it asked if it was the actual flag that people believed in, or was it the patriotism behind it? Or is it the paper of The Bible that you believe in or is it the lessons that can be learned within those pages? Those are the questions I was asking with that statement. But if I were to do a show now, that wouldn't be included, if simply for the reasons that that's not part of what of what I have to say or what I hope to accomplish on this next record."
Last year, you appeared in a Detroit court charged with assaulting a security guard. Photos from the trial showed you looking very tired and haggard. Were those pictures as representative as the appeared?
"Yeah, I'm quite sure that I must have looked like shit, because I had to get a plane at 2 AM and I arrived in Detroit at 9 AM. And it was the week of the September 11 bombings. So as you can imagine I didn't want to get on an airplane, I did not sleep and when I arrived in court I felt like absolute shit. And the last place I wanted to be was in a courtroom. I can assure you, though, that I'm in better health and spirit today than I am in that picture."
You did look like you had the weight of the world on your shoulders, though.
"Well I wasn't inspired by the idea of being incarcerated either. As for how the whole thing turned out in the end, I don't think it's completely finished yet, but it looks as if things are going to turn out for the best."
If you were to drop dead tomorrow, how would you like people to remember you?
"Well, I once said that I'd like to be remembered as the man who brought an end to Christianity, but I don't know if that's possible. But I would like to think I left a large dent in it. But I think I'd like to be remembered as the person who took Marilyn Manson from an idea and turned it into a worldwide household thought. I'd like to think that I'd helped people all over the world to question the things they otherwise would have accepted as the truth. I'd also like to think that I'd charmed them a bit with my lovely vocal stylings and the baring of my lovely arse."