By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Once there was a subculture of people who shaved parts of their head and brightly dyed their dreadlocks. They casually wore bondage gear and did drugs most people couldn't find. They were true freaks of a different sort — 1990s industrial cybergoths, or whatever you want to call them. They rallied around a musician whose bold statements on society and shocking counterculture antics served as a battle cry for the disenfranchised. The artist that brought this all to the forefront was undeniably Marilyn Manson.
After being taken under the wing of Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson kind of conquered the world. He took the disturbing imagery and catchiness of industrial radio rock and honed it by adopting the persona of a genderless Satanist. He was a living demon to conservative households everywhere and a hero to every meek, pasty-skinned kid wearing black.
Then on April 20, 1999, two meek, pasty-skinned kids wearing black stormed their high school and started killing people. Marilyn Manson was blamed, and soon he became the most hated performer on the planet. Despite all of his posturing, Manson found that it is hard to be despised by everyone. He put out a few more records that kept him on the radio and eventually retreated into a dark depression.
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When he returned, he put out still more records. But people didn't seem to care in the same way. The whole industrial scene had changed. Now on tour with Alice Cooper, Manson is back in the headlines after Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris, reportedly attempted suicide after being unable to attend one of his concerts. Never one to shy away from controversy, Manson responded to the incident by issuing a statement inviting her personally to any of his performances, and he followed it with a simulated wrist-slashing bit in his live show. Despite a dip in popularity, the lipstick-clad chronic offender continues to reinvent himself.
Drew Ailes: I read an interview where you said that you wanted to stop writing songs to make people feel a certain way and more to make people feel something. What's the difference?
Marilyn Manson: Well, I think I fell into a pattern on Eat Me, Drink Me where I was writing about how I felt. Maybe I couldn't tell anybody how I felt, so I had to do it through music, and a lot of people liked it because of that. I think the most important thing is to write something people are going to remember. Music is the soundtrack to your life. But I can step outside myself and listen to something I've done objectively, especially now that I'm working with people that I would've never dreamed of working with. It's not like me doing what people might expect — it's not like, metal rap or anything like that. It doesn't sound like anything I've done or anything I've ever heard. I'm making some very interesting stuff that people are going to be surprised by.
You've had a shift over the last few years where you've taken the focus off of American society as a whole and projected it inward. You're now taking more of a look at yourself and making more personal art. Is that going to be reflected in this new work?
It's still personal but different. I guess it would be more like...I wouldn't say what my first record was like, but the state of mind that I was in. Maybe it's this whole Alice Cooper thing that is definitely triggering childhood memories. I surround myself with a very different crowd of people than I have usually, lately. I almost got shot in a drive-by last night. So that was fun. I don't think it was intended for...I just heard a lot of gunfire in the area that I was recording. Let's just put it that way.
Wow. Where are you recording?
Everywhere. Johnny Depp's studio, then I'll be recording at Kevin McCall's studio. I just record anywhere. I record on my laptop. I record on my iPhone. I don't really give a shit if I've got an idea. I have the technology now for just spur-of-the-moment stuff. It's not improvisational, like freeform jazz or some nonsense like that.
Do you feel you've lost some of your confidence over the last few years? I know you had a dark period where you isolated yourself.
Yeah, I think I took a blow. A hit with what was going on in my life. I didn't really understand how to deal with it. I had a lot of stuff with my mother getting mentally ill and involving myself with girls that probably are in kind of an insane place. I'm sort of a magnet for the ones with a screw loose. I was working on a song tonight with Mr. Oizo, the DJ who directed the Wrong Cops movie and this guy Cage, one of my best friends.
Cage from New York?
Yeah. He's made a new record, and we're really good friends. We hang out and smoke a lot of the drugs that you refer to as marijuana. That's the new phase of my life. I'm going backwards. It's a gateway drug, and I went through the gates the wrong way. I started hard, came back soft.