ALTERNATIVE PRESS • ZIM ZUM: SPREADING THE VIRUS
If there's one proven theory in rock, it's that when your lead singer and songwriter's lent his name to your band, he's the one in charge. Secondary musicians never quite catch on - until they decide to do their own thing and realize they have to leave the band to pursue it. Guitarist Zim Zum left Marilyn Manson in July, and he couldn't be happier. Randee Dawn speaks to the guitarist about his tenure in the Manson camp and his plans for the future. Beth Herzhaft captures the moment.
So, why leave a hugely successful band on the cusp of their third album, on which you've just spent nine months in the studio working?
"Where do I begin? It was just basically one of those decisions that felt like the right thing to do. One of the days [during the recording of Mechanical Animals] it was basically open studio, and I recorded a song of my own on the side and it just felt more comfortable that way."
Was Manson upset that you wanted to leave?
"As far as relationships between myself and Manson are concerned, there was no problem whatsoever. It was fairly amicable. For me it had gotten to a point where it had moved away from [my] creative input."
What, in your mind, was your last day in Manson?
"We were rehearsing for European festival dates, and I got word that Ginger [Fish, drums] had mono, so the dates were canceled. So I jumped on a plane and I went home to Chicago, and I just spent two weeks away from everything, just detoxing from the whole experience. And I came back, and Manson and I sat down; I think he got a clue that I wasn't into 18 months of touring. It was very mutual. He needed 100 percent, and I was comfortable with the idea of being more introspective in a personal way, less as part of a unit."
Where do you want to go musically now?
"Manson has always been a David Bowie fan, and I think I wanted to explore more of the Mick Ronson element. Ziggy Stardust was an amazing album, but Slaughter On 10th Avenue, for me, really did it. The respect level and credit that I give [Ronson] for being comfortable with stepping away from that, just to explore his own ideas... I think it's time for me to speak up, as well."
You just did a remix of Korn's new single, Got The Life. How did that come about?
"I'm very good friends with the guys from Korn. So I went in the studio, and I recorded the guitar tracks for the remix. That's the kind of thing I want to do: I want to apply what I do to the ideas of someone else. Plus, I think it helps take away the soul-sucking business side of it, breaking it down to what's always been the easiest part: music. Within the last three to four weeks I have reduced the amount of stress that I had down to basically nothing."
You're about to head into the studio. What's that going to sound like?
"I'll focus more on exploring and breaking it down to guitar and vocals and being more introspective and personal, dealing with the human factor. It's definitely more T.Rex; it's definitely more Mick Ronson; it's got aspects of David Bowie and Prince and Adam Ant. I don't think I've felt as confident, or as comfortable, and for once in my life I am 100-percent sure I made the right choice in doing this."
You never had a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that you'd done the wrong thing?
"Sooner or later, I think everybody comes to this place. I've done so much over these last two years, nothing at this point is going to be a letdown. Very few people get the opportunity to wake up every day and completely reinvent themselves. As a kid, I wanted to be The Beatles. And for me, in this time frame, playing with Manson was pretty close. And now I feel I need to strip it down a little more through putting this responsibility on myself. I'm closer to getting to know who I am as an individual."
So the solo recordings will be more stripped-down?
"Definitely. More stripped down: an amp, a cord, and a guitar. A loud amp."
Are you at all concerned that people are always going to see you as "that former Manson guy"?
"People have a certain TV reality of me; what they see on the news they tend to believe, and the image that goes along with that. It's not so far off from myself, but I think it's more like reintroducing myself to them."
And you're keeping the Zim Zum name?
"Yeah. The Zim Zum name never really had anything to do with Manson - it wasn't about serial killers and pinup models. It was more about somebody coming in that was different. I had toyed around with switching it up a little bit, but I'll hold out on that one."
There was this story about a kid who asked you to sign his back. and then he got your autograph filled in by a tattoo artist. How do you feel about that now?
"I've seen that guy a couple times, and I hope sometime I do see that guy again when I'm playing by myself. The way things have gone, in this sort of situation, you're really going to find out who your friends are, and I've been quite pleased with finding out that they're the same friends I've always had."
Will the guys in Manson still be your friends?
"I think so.. Who knows? If it comes to a point where Manson decides to do a solo album and he wants me to sit down with him, I would. And if he wanted to do vocals on something that I was doing, that's an open invitation forever. I think we've gone through a lifetime in a year, with the Antichrist Superstar tour, and there's only so many times people can threaten to blow up the building you're in with four other guys before you bond."