Marilyn Manson

10/1998, Interview by Marcal Anders / Orkus Magazine

This interview has been translated by fans in '98, which I find quite funny - [most probably] during the interview MM's words were translated from English to German to the interviewer, and then translated back to English... reminds me of "The Broken Telephone" game we used to play as kids. =)

Your new album Mechanical Animals is underlining one extreme thing. Marilyn Manson in 1998 has nothing to do with Marilyn Manson two years ago during Antichrist Superstar.

Yes, definitely. ACS was a study about the abuse of power. About rock 'n roll, religion and politics. It's about describing emotions and being as powerful as possible. And MA is about what everything looks like after ACS will happen. That means what will happen when you get your emotions back. That's like you're walking on an unknown planet or in an atmosphere where you don't fit in. Hollywood is this place and the best location to feel good in this new formed world. I live in a house on a hill. I have a very good place to watch the city at night. I see all the lights and this aloneness. It's something like space. This idea has fascinated me and so most of the new songs are about that place and watching the city. In MA there is a person who wants to fit in in this society, but that is not easy for him.

On earth or in space?

A part of both things. It stands between two worlds.  But space and Earth are only two metaphors that are specifics for my persona. I think on ACS I created a character to be clear with my emotions and to be easy with all the hate that tries to crush me.  On this album, I must create a new self.  And who knows what my real persona is.

And who are you now? The androgynous creature like on the album cover?

(laughing) No! I'm searching for people who want to understand me and trying to create an intimate relationship with them. I must realize that most people who are rich and powerful, are just not human. But people who think that they are just not normal have the most powerful emotions. I have so many emotions that I must bring out of myself.  Just with my kind of art.  And that's the reason why many people did not understand me. They think I just do a picture of hate and evil, but I make a picture that they didn't understand. They only want to see all the details, but they only have to step back and look at the picture from a distance. Then they will really understand me, I hope.

So... MA is a concept album about the loss of humanism?

Well. They are two characters that fight with each other. So it is a very narrative album which is very important in the song "The Dope Show". In that I personalise a cynic, cold rock star that fits in all the things that are like a rock star's decadence.  So it is a caricature of all the rock stars with depression and sarcasm.

And most Americans did not understand this sarcasm?

Yes. But isn't it silly? Many people think Europeans don't understand me. But in America it isn't harder. Marilyn Manson is pure sarcasm. Our fans know this, but the rest of the world is pissed and frightened. But it is okay. This way I entertain the people. It is not important what people think of me, because I still entertain them. It is just art. I never wanted people to realize who I was. As a child, for example, I often wore masks to fright the people at the Burger King drive through.

It is not wrong to not like Marilyn Manson, but you must have a meaning for them?

In my opinion, art doesn't need a description. People can make everything they want to make of it. I write songs because I like it. What the rest of the people do with it is not my job. Don't misunderstand me! I like it if people understand my work and why I do it, and sometimes I like it when people don't understand it. That makes me laugh. They say I have things I never want to have or I do not have. Confusion is the best way to communicate. That says Salvador Dalí and I think he is right.

In MA, Marilyn Manson is musically important. Is it boring for you to set the main part of your concept just in visual things?

In the past, music was always just at the second place, but in reality it was always like the visual part.  I've learned in the past few years so much, not only as a performer, more in songwriting. From that point, I hope the world is ready to accept music as our clothing and such things. Why? Because this album is much better for me than the other albums. Of course it is the job of the journalists to think about that fact.

Is it also a severing of Trent Reznor, the father in mind of Marilyn Manson?

Absolutely! I always think that Trent just saw Marilyn Manson as a "not good as himself" band. Maybe that's about the fact that he only showed us like one-dimensional shock rockers. With the new album we take the next step forward.  For me it's like an escape from Trent.

How is the climate between you and Trent now?

I don't know. I haven't heard anything for a long time. Maybe he is angry because of the details I spoke about in my book. But those are things I must speak about. Well, I was often the guy that was not good in their eyes because I have done something with my career. But he was just the same as me, but never wanted to say it. It is very difficult to be involved in the label of an artist. There comes the point when you reach the same level as your old mentor. You get the same responsibilities from the people and such things. That's a very dangerous phase. To make it, I must build a difference about us. I must step out of his shadow. Release all the chains you get. And, believe me there were such chains. Trent made it impossible to break out of my lines. Now I must not think about that. I have fought with the whole world already, so I don't want to mess with somebody else.

Since Daisy Berkowitz left the band,  you and Twiggy were the musical directors, changing many things.

Right. Between Twiggy and me there is something magic-like. Especially with songwriting. And that's something you have, or not... In the past it wasn't there. It appears on the work of this album. Some people might say that now isn't the highest point of our work. But we have a very long way in front of us!

And your new album is full of glam and goth references. Are you the new "Bauhaus"?

When you turn our work into something like temperature, our past work was very hot. Now this new album is very, very cold. We are getting back to our roots. The things we heard when we were kids which inspired us. And we are not ashamed to say that. I think music is at a very dangerous point now. Take rock music. Nobody leads it, because it's just pop music. This ultra going away product. And then there are the extreme underground metal bands. They have something to say but no one wants to hear it. Between all of this there is absolutely nothing. Emptiness. But it wasn't like that as I was growing up. There were real icons, and we need them very much now! This new album follows some like a target. It would be there to save rock 'n roll from death. Now we are in a second disco age. Exactly as in the beginning of the 70's as all was so futureless. Everyone just wanted to dance. They didn't want to hear the lyrics of the songs. I want to create something much powerful with all of myself inside of it! I hope that people know this, and if not, I still can lay back, because I know I have done a great piece of art.

Is rock dead?

Surely, there are innovative people like Tricky who are going to the limits of music. That's the same with the pop act Missy Elliot too. I think they are very, very creative. But there are too many Puff Daddy's and more that look at music just as a product that must sell good. They don't work to reach something new. They just took old things and left a big empty hole behind them. I think the kids are growing up with a very different thinking of music. For me, music was something central. It was a retreating point, in which you can hide. Now it's just a jingle or entertainment in an elevator.

So are the 80's not as bad as they are made out to be?

The 80's were great! I will be happy when we can look at a grunge revival. For me, Nirvana was the rock band who everybody can identify with. Since this point, nothing has happened. In the 90's, there was only Jane's Addiction that made good music. They reminded me of the bands I loved during my childhood. So, I'm very happy that Dave Navarro worked on the new album with me. Like on "I Don't Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)".

Was the production of MA chaotic like the production of ACS?

Yes, but in another kind of chaos. You can't make art without pain. Without sex, dope, confusion or whatever. You can't grasp good music just out of air. You must do something for it. You must find yourself in your music. If not, it is just nothing.

For some Americans you are the symbol for a national meltdown. Why do you feel good in that role?

Because it doesn't hurt me... I'm at the point now where nothing can hurt me. The people can hate me when they want to hate me, it just doesn't touch me. I don't sit every night in my room and say "Oh what must I do? Everyone hates me, Oh god!" It is okay when I am still the "bad guy". They are my favourite characters in literature or films.

So society needs something to hate?

Definitely. If not, then the church would be out of business. The people need something they can hate and talk about every Sunday in their church. Gangsters, sins and drugs and such things. It's always the same. At this time I don't want to talk about religion. I've said too much already. Religion doesn't have the influences they want to have. There's something more dangerous. The pseudo puritanical messages. On TV for example...

What are you talking about exactly?

Well, now it's just the same as at the end of the 60's: everywhere you went, you were pumped up with messages that make yourself to be a sin. "You must recycle, don't smoke in public places, be friendly to your neighbours, don't be sexist and a racist and this and that... And people are so shy when they want to say what they feel. They don't tell a girl how beautiful she is. Iit could be sexist or they don't want to say they hate a black or white man, because he is an asshole, the neighbours could say you are a racist. These are things which are going in your mind through television and newspapers and such things. You can't see them but you know what they do! A crazy, hidden fascism. There isn't a big brother who controls all, but many, many little brothers who observe all who don't fit in with morality.

Through what we observe?

Through the internet. The people love the idea of the data-highways so much, so they didn't know that everyone can see what they do. We have the conventional mail replaced by e-mails. But that makes the government just easier to observe us! We have created our own big brother. That's a big trap, but the people didn't know it. They don't leave their apartments and just want to sit in front of their computer.

Does Brian Warner still exist today?

Definitely! I personified Marilyn Manson, but I never lost my real person. Today Brian Warner is a name which people use when they didn't know me. The name is something like a safing-net. I often meet people who I don't know and they call me Brian, but my friends and people who go to bed with me never have the idea to call me Brian. It's ironic.

How did they call you? Mr. Manson?

Normally they call me "honey." That's not so formal, but only Dave Navarro uses it.

Your Biography "The Long Hard Road out of Hell" was a bestseller. Can you imagine that you can sell a collection of your early lyrics? Jewel has made a lot of money with it.

It's unbelievable how someone can make more than a million dollars by selling some boring story. I've read this and it is just about a girl in a supermarket and how happy he was not to wear the same outfit as her. Calling this poetic is an outrage for all poets! I have nothing to do with such things. I work in films, paintings and photography.

You paint?

Yes, people are my favourites! I paint everyone I meet. First I take Polaroid photos of them and at home I paint them.

Are they so abstract?

No, more grotesque I think. I often only paint the weakness of a person. That's the middle of all my paintings. I think I will put some in the booklets of new CD's. When not, then I will organize an exhibition of the paintings. But at the moment I only paint when I can't get to sleep at night.

Why didn't you accept some more film-roles since David Lynch's "Lost Highway"?

Well, this new album is part of a film script I want to make in 1999. Do you know what my motivation is? As a child I was a big fan of films like "Tommy", "The Wall", and "Sgt.-Pepper" Films. I think the Spice-Girls and I are the only ones who save this medium. So I have no other reason to release an old dream of mine. I will do everything so that it doesn't die. But I can't make it better as The Beatles. They were very funny!

Did you have someone who leads the production?

My favorite ones are David Lynch and Terry Gilliam. If I can win someone of these two for the job I would be very happy! David and I have already realize some projects and we are still good friends. Perhaps I could be a good influence to our work. And Gilliam... I was very stunned by his film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". It was the first film that shows you the dope-feeling in the right way. As I leave the theatre I must organize some drugs to feel this adventure like in the film.

In the 80's you were a music-journalist? Did that job change your opinion about the press?

My knowledge about music journalism makes me feel about the things that the press says about me. Hey, I know what it is about to destroy people verbally. It is the same when I get a bad critic from a magazine. I was  the guy who did those things for long enough. I was very happy with all the media but then I wanted more, the only way to get higher was being a Rock-Star. Today I'm still something like a journalist. I look at the world and tell the people what I see. It's not always the same but has the same roots.

Is it true that you check in at hotels as Michael Stripe (REM)?

I've done it often, but then it gets boring.

Did you ever think about a life after Marilyn Manson?

Perhaps I could end up like Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas. Then I will sing easy listening versions of "The Beautiful People". Or maybe I will be executed in prison. Isn't it funny? Let's see what will happen.