Love him or loathe him, let's face it: Marilyn Manson is the last great living rockstar. Other stars and other bands sell more records these days, but he was on to something in 1998's Mechanical Animals when he wrote "Rock is Dead," because the genre is in serious need of a make-over. For better or for worse Manson is still unpredictable-- sometimes he barely makes it through shows, and some nights the shows are just downright bad. Other nights there are still glimpses of greatness, and that is what fans will be hoping for tonight as he plays an intimate show at Marquee Theatre. Interviewing Manson is a totally different--sometimes difficult--story.
But if you can get through the barriers--and his opening monologues--and get him talking about the music that transformed him from Brian Warner to Marilyn Manson, he's charming, witty, inappropriate, and everything you want in a rockstar.
Marilyn Manson is scheduled to perform at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe Thursday, May 30.
Manson: You're in the capital of methamphetamine. I just used a medicinal drug that you people call marijuana. I used to never smoke pot as a kid, but now I get it--now this is music and it sounds different. I've been meeting a lot of different people and they've been having an effect on my life.
I like to smoke it and hang out with the gangsta rappers and the hip hop crowd. I finished a song last night with a guy that produces and writes a lot of Chris Brown's music, and I met the choreographer and asked him if he taught Chris Brown how to punch, which was an interesting conversation. So I started smoking blunts--so there ya go, that's the new Marilyn Manson.
But I wrote a song last night and finished it that has Prince sort of feel to it, but I did a bunch of other songs that had sort of a Revolting Cocks [feel]. My friend Roger Avary and I have been hanging out a lot and he asked me about my Phantasmagoria script about Lewis Carroll losing his mind. I sort of lost my mind when I was writing it, and that's why the movie had never been made yet. He encouraged me to go in and do it and I did it, and it was very liberating because I afraid and I just kind of put it away. And that let me start putting together and releasing my Hollywood novel, and turning it into a mini-series, and getting ready for the Alice Cooper tour. How that relates to marijuana is irrelevant.
Me: I have to cut you off because like I've said before, if I let you talk you will literally interview yourself.
Manson: [Laughs] my monologue.
You drink canned beer onstage.
It's white trash. The one thing that keeps me most sober from drinking alcohol is smoking pot, because I drink absinthe [and] smoking pot makes me not want to drink as much. I leave my drinks everywhere and I forget where I put them, so I never actually finish them.
I only like to drink beer because it's white trash and and tough having it in your hand, when you want to look masculine around a bunch of other men with beards on a Mayhem type tour. A beer bottle is always better, because you can use it in a fight-type situation--which is not really good, because that's what happened with the guy I only got to make a minor acquaintance with, Gucci Mane. He wanted me to do a video for a song, so I almost did get shot at in a drive-by last night when we were recording in this particular studio. I'm here, I made it and I like to live on the edge.
Let's get down to business, I'm interested in cameras and rock n' roll.
I've always photographed my paintings because of the paint on the floor--I have to photograph them to get the depth of the painting, and that's how I got started. Then I would photograph people that I wanted to paint, and you know cameras were invented orginally to photograph the dead... My Lewis Carroll script is strongly about his photography, and he was really one of the first photographers.
What I really like about being a photographer is that you can get girls to be naked. I've always said that there is a combination in photography--it's about circumstance, and that's 50 percent of it, and knowing the talent, and having a sense of light and having a sense of the goal or ratio. Knowing the chemical mathematics to make something strong and the person you're taking a picture of. A photographer like Mick Rock has all those amazing historic Bowie [photos], and all these different people, but half of the beauty of that is that the photographer has to be able to get that intimate with the subject.
The difference in this day and age is that photographers don't have that kinda of access to the artists to take those kinds of shots.
Maybe you just opened up the door for that.
You're going to be at the Marquee Theatre here in Tempe before you start your tour with Alice Cooper.
Manson: Yes, and let it be said on this tour we will be playing just singles and opening with "Angel With the Scabbed Wings." I think the first song on a record should always be the single, because it's the first thing you want people to hear.
After the jump: Marilyn Manson talks about his own catalogue.
I am in a position now where I can do things differently, and I also believe that people have a desire for what is not being given to them, and that's what I want to change musically after this tour and that's why I am experimenting with different people.
I've compiled a list of my top Marilyn Manson songs from your catalog and I want to get your thoughts on some of the songs I've come up with.
Let's start with "Long Hard Road Outta Hell" and the tension of working with the Sneaker Pimps for the Spawn Soundtrack.
Manson: Interesting, I love that song a lot and it was written before meeting them. I just wanted a girl to sing back-up vocals and then the record became this thing about collaborations, and that was about the record company or whoever was putting out the record at the time.
The songs wasn't necessarily written for Spawn . It was written while on the road and was one of the songs that I wrote and it changes someone's singing and writing at the same time, the rhythm of your vocal. The guitar player of the Sneaker Pimps had just got hit in the foreskin and he told me about it, which is a dumb as fuck thing to do, because the first thing I did was hit him in the dick, and I'm sure that probably added to the tension in the room. The song itself is one of my favorites, and I remember doing the video in the place where RFK was shot. I like it because it's one part sexy and one part dark.
"Disassociative" makes the list because I think it's the most melodic song of your catalog.
I love that song, and that song is my favorite song off of Mechanical Animals. The story behind that song is that when Twiggy and I were living together in the Hollywood hills and I was with Rose Mcgowan, she reached into her pocket and found a small baggy as we were walking to The Rainbow, which I never go to.
I didn't get in there because it wasn't cocaine, it was Special K, which is a disassociative drug where your body and your mind stop working together. So unknowingly I'm walking down the sidewalk and I do not have control over my legs--my brain was still functioning the same, so my then-tour manager/bodyguard-type guy took me back to where we were living. Then I had the dumbest-shit idea to go into the swimming pool on a raft. I probably would have drowned, but it started to wear off at that point.
I woke up first thing the next morning, and I just had all the lyrics, I dreamed them, I guess. That song has a real heartbreak/melancholy to it. The one thing about that record and that song in general is that those songs are about an imaginary romance. It was really changing my personality into something different.You'd be surprised that changing your haircut and the way you dress and your environment will change the way you write, and I just had to do that. And sometimes taking the wrong drugs helps (laughs).
"Little Horn" makes the list because it's the heaviest track from Anti-Christ Superstar.
There ya go! That song came from when we were in New Orleans and we were doing a lot of strange shit and a lot of strange drugs and, like, staying up for a week at a time, and when I did go to sleep I slept in this utterly filthy fucking apartment.
It looked like a TJ Maxx had exploded, and Twiggy didn't know how to put his clothes away, so there were rats and stuff, and we would sleep in utter cold and darkness. I had this lucid dream about this horrible end of the world experience with strip bars and something that is like The Walking Dead.
So it was strip bars and women in cages and I had to keep them from biting my dick off, and it was just a vivid dream. From when I was in Bible school I must have remembered Little Horn, that sound just came out automatically. The rhythm parts are very strange; when we play that it really relies on me being able super-able to be on the spot on time, because of the crazy drum fill.
Do you realize that next year is the 20-year anniversary of Portrait of an American Family and "Get Your Gunn?"
That was my favorite song on that record, and it was a combination of get your gun and Dr. David Gunn when I was in Florida. I wasn't appalled, because I pretend to have certain emotions sometimes but I do have beliefs, morals--and maybe appalled is the wrong word. I was pissed off at the irony that someone would kill an abortion doctor because they were pro-life. It almost made me laugh, but it made me mad. When you think about it, it's so fucking backwards, despite the whole Christian belief of love thy enemy and all that.
I do remember when I wrote the rest of that song. I used to drive around when I did have my license, and I would always see these abortion picketers, and there was this one old guy, really the red ass about everything, and he looked like he was on his deathbed, so I'm not sure why he cared about pro-life because he'd be dead before the kid was born, anyway.
I had this thing that I bought at a magic shop in Florida that shot cotton-wad fire things out of the palm of your hand, and I drove up to him one day and said the devil's got a message for you and I shot the fireball at him and he ran. That guy had a great story to tell church: The devil is for real and just saw him and he is in a Pontiac Fiero, red.
Strangely, when I was doing that song, I sampled an audio piece from the guy shooting himself on television [R. Budd Dwyer] at the same time as Rich Patrick from Nine Inch Nails--he was there when I did that and he wrote "Hey Man, Nice Shot" about the same thing.
He thought it was just so exciting when he was standing there when he heard me play it; he wouldn't have even heard it if I didn't play it. That's just because I don't like him very much. He bothers me.
"This Is the New Shit" was a great track from The Golden Age of Grotesque.
That was the first song that was written for that record, and I remember I played that guitar riff direct into a Neve console. I was fascinated by the rhythms, beats, and stuff in rap music and [how] it brings out something that so many people like... it was worth trying to focus on making the beats first, and really making beats that had their own hooks to them, and then making riffs.
Then I wanted to address the simple absurdity of saying "This Is the New Shit"--it's the most bitter, sardonic stab at fucking anyone who would listen to the song unless you get that, and therein lies the beauty. "Do we want it? No / Do we get it? Yeah/ Babble babble bitch bitch / Rebel rebel party party." You can just say anything; sometimes I'll sing different things live just to see if anyone notices.
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