STEPPIN' OUT ē The Return of Shock Rocker MARILYN MANSON
You've been through a lot this past year - a nasty divorce from Dita Von Teese, a highly reported relationship with Evan Rachel Wood, and a 20 million dollar lawsuit filed against you by a former bandmate. How have you been dealing with it all?
"It's been a tough one to get through. It started with finishing my record, and then by no accident my bad year turned a corner a year after I wrote "If I Was Your Vampire" on Christmas morning at 6am.
I happened to be with Evan and my best friend Rudy, who's a magician who lives with me and helps me with my stage design. I was also with Twiggy after not being with him for almost seven years. I just knew that the year to come was going to be all about change and transformation. It started a couple of days ago, having played on stage again with Twiggy."
What was that moment like for you?
"It was as if time went backwards. We're right where we left off. The fire is back and burning in a way that I can't remember it ever being. I've aligned myself with the people who really love me and believe in me the most. We're a team - all of us. Romance, the band - all of it combined together. Now is the time to keep moving forward and to make a new record and to get things back that we had taken from us."
What impact did the separation between you and Twiggy have on both your careers?
"I think the separation did have its downside, both professional and personally. I think he went on to make music with other groups and I made two records that I really love without him, but I think sometimes you need that separation when you've been so close to somebody. But if you're able to get back together again without the awkwardness, it's a good thing. We're back to being like brothers. That's the way we've always been. I've lived with him for half my life."
What brought you and Twiggy back together again?
"Things happen for a reason. I was lucky. I could have waited until the current tour is over to get back together with him. But I felt like life is too short. It was fate that we ran into each other, so I felt we had to capitalize on it."
What influence, if any, did Evan have on your decision to reach out to Twiggy?
"I think she had a big influence, besides the fate part. Like I said, things happen for a reason. If I wouldn't have run into Twiggy before the holidays, I don't think I would have just decided to call him and get things back together. It didn't really cross my mind how much I missed my best friend. Although I give Evan credit for holding my hand while I walked through hell this past year, at the same time I had to really appreciate the fact that Twiggy and I both still love each other as friends. The music almost comes second to the fact that we both needed each other back in our lives. Something was missing without it."
What is it like having your breakup with Dita and your new relationship with Evan plastered all over the tabloids?
"I don't think there's anything anyone can say about me that's going to make a difference. There's nothing you can say about me personally, after Columbine and every other school shooting that I've been blamed for. There's nothing you can say that's bad about me that's going to make a difference. When I started, I wanted to make it clear that I'm a terrible person. I wanted to make sure I was at the bottom so I could only work my way up. There were people who preyed upon my weaknesses when things were going bad."
I assume you're referring to your ex-keyboardist Stephen Gregory Bier Jr., who is suing you for 20 million dollars in back pay.
"I'll just say there are people who are bitter about me getting my stink back and being in charge of my life. So when I read about all the people who are suing me, it just sounds pathetic to me. You can have everything that I have if that's what is going to make you happy. But you're going to lose the one thing you can't put a price on...."
"My friendship. I was sold out so he could look better in the public eye. He sold me out so he could take everything that I worked for."
Writers note: On August 2, 2007, former band member Stephen "Pogo/Madonna Wayne Gacy" Bier filed a lawsuit against Marilyn Manson for unpaid "partnership proceeds," seeking $20 million in back pay. Several details from the lawsuit were leaked to the press. In November 2007, additional papers were filed alleging that Manson purchased a child's skeleton and masks made of human skin. He also allegedly bought stuffed animals, such as a grizzly bear and two baboons, and a collection of Nazi memorabilia. In December 2007, Manson countersued, claiming that Bier failed to fulfil his duties as a bandmember to play for recordings and to promote the band.
Are you concerned that you could lose everything you worked for?
"Right now, I feel like nothing can stand in my way. I'm not worried about any of it. I never really gave a shit what people think, anyway. It became unfortunate that I started to worry about that. I think that was a real sign that I was not around the right people in my life. I'm not the person who is supposed to care what people think. I'm the one who is supposed to be making people think."
"I don't want to have a gravestone. I want to have all my friends burn me and then snort the ashes. I think that's the only way to go out."
Letís talk about your breakup with Dita. What influence did that period of your life have on you, creatively speaking?
"The last record (Eat Me, Drink Me) definitely has a lot of what I was going through with every single lyric you hear. But no, I'm passed that. I'm back to being a rock 'n' roll band. I'm back to having the spirit that I began with. There's more of a wide agenda for all of us in the band. Everyone in the band has gone through personal things this year. Mine was more publicized, but everybody has gone through a lot of stuff. This next record is going to be about taking back what people robbed us of."
What do you feel you were robbed of?
"Whether it be time or kicking us when we're down. That's why the next record is going to be very ruthless and very heavy and very violent. ...And I'm excited to make it."
You've always been a very physical and visual performer on stage. How has your on-stage look changed, if at all?
"On the last record, I thought it was important not to make it so much about image because the music was written from a completely different place. A lot of times when I let people listen to my music before it came out, I wouldn't even let them see any images of me. I just wanted them to hear what I was singing. But when you see us on stage now, its full-blown Marilyn Manson. I'm not a caricature of myself. I think there's always that period in all my favourite idols' bands when they mellow out because they feel being normal-looking or less theatrical is king of the only thing you can do once you've done it all. I have too much energy and too much creativity. When Twiggy and I get on stage now, it's not so much like a contest as it is that we really push each other to go that much further, whether it be a performance or how ridiculous we can make ourselves look. It's fun again for me, which is what it's supposed to be."
For the most part, if you turn on the radio today all you'll hear is shit. It's either American Idol winners, music from other decades, or hip hop. Rock 'n' roll seems like a lost art. Do you intend to bring back interest in rock 'n' roll on a commercial level, such as you did with Beautiful People?
"I think the place for that to happen is on stage. That's one commodity where people who have instant success on the radio lose out. That's a place where you have to invest you entire soul into performing live. People will always know that they can go see you live and it will be amazing, whether they hear you on the radio or not. You can't download that or duplicate it. So I think we can make a new record that will be another turning point for me, just like this last one was. But I won't be going backwards and doing what I've already done. I just know that the fire in us is the same as it's always been."
You were quoted once saying: "I got into music to bring back an apocalypse." Is that still your motivation?
"Well if that was my goal, it looks like its working! Because I don't believe things could get any worse in the world. I think Twiggy and I realize that, separate from each other, we can't cause enough damage. So getting back together, we can cause a lot more damage. We can stir things up. It's not even calculated attempt, but add it to the fact that it's an election year. That's always fun for me, because I'm the type of person that it's easy to make yourself look good by saying, 'He's bad.'"
Since you brought up the election, are you leaning toward any candidate?
"Right now, I'm just sitting back and wondering who is going to get shot first. It seems that they're all asking for trouble just by being themselves."
I don't see you as the Republican type. Am I wrong?
"It would be really sad to see Republicans win again. But I don't know. It's an interesting year. I don't really feel I can be a part of voting for the lesser of two evils, when it comes to, 'Well I don't hate this one as much as the other, so I'll vote for him.' I donít know what the answer should be. I think we should have a king or queen instead of president. Then at least you would know what you're dealing with."
How do you think Evan would feel about being Queen Evan?
"(Laughs) I'm sure she would love that!"
You were given the title Reverend Manson by the Church of Satan. Do you take that title seriously, or is it a joke to you?
"It's not a joke. But it's more of an honouree thing. I don't really think about it that much anymore. It sounds like it has too many obligations to it."
We all have bad habits. At this point in your life, what would you say is your worst vice?
"I have all of them! I collect vices. It's like a hobby of mine."
So sex and drugs are still a part of your daily existence?
"I take a different approach to all that now. It's why you do those things, and not so much how often. Right now, I'm enjoying life. It you're miserable and you drink and take drugs, it's just going to make you more miserable. But I'm enjoying life. I think my biggest vice would have to be drinking Absinthe. That's why I had to make my own Absinthe label, just to help support my vice."
What is the most misunderstood thing about you?
"I think people often miss out on my sarcasm because I'm very deadpan. I don't even know if it's that people misunderstand me. I don't think there's any wrong way to interpret what I do, because there are people that take something serious that's meant to be funny or something funny that's meant to be serious. I just want to be understood in every possible way, because that just adds to what I was trying to create in the beginning. I should always be a question mark, not an answer."
Is it true you used to manage Eminem, or is that an urban legend?
"It's an urban legend. We just sang together, that was it. If I were getting paid for what he did, I probably wouldn't have to every work again. I don't know where that concept originated. But truth is, we just sang together. That was it."
Are you still looking to get into acting?
"I'm making my film after this tour is over. It's currently in production. Right now, I'm at the mercy of the writers' strike. I'm also going to play Lewis Carroll, and I'm looking forward to it."
Finally, how would you like to be remembered when you and I are long dead and buried?
"The rock star with the biggest death toll."
And what about your epitaph? How will it read?
"I think you jinx yourself if you ever answer that one. I don't want to have a gravestone. I want to have all my friends burn me and then snort the ashes. I think that's the only way to go out.