"I think that entertainment is dangerous to idiots. I think that we should strive to make people more intelligent," he tells NME's Siobhan Grogan...
Two hours after Marilyn Manson has stalked offstage, flanked by a huge minder carrying an oxygen mask, he emerges from the safety of the dressing room and girlfriend Rose McGowan, hidden behind a huge hat and sunglasses, and dressed entirely in black. We are summoned.
NME: What happened out there tonight?
MM: “I don’t think anything special. A very typical Marilyn Manson show. I got hit in the head with a bottle so I wanted to fight whoever did it, but that’s just my nature.”
What about your gig in Germany (where Manson stormed offstage after two songs, waited an inexplicable half-hour and returned for a one-song encore) the other day. What happened there?
“It wasn’t me being a prima donna, it wasn’t me being a baby, it was the fact that I’m a perfectionist. The crowd deserved the best Marilyn Manson show. Because of the technical problems, they weren’t gonna to receive that, so what I gave them was something greater. I think if I was a person and I went to a concert, if I had the chance to have a riot, I would be happier to have a riot than to see a concert. That’s something they’ll remember their whole lives. I’m glad no-one got hurt, but I think a riot’s good. Chaos is always important in music.”
Do you think you can shock the British media like you have in America? There was no mention of you in today’s newspapers.
“That’s good in a sense. I think we’ve always been treated differently in Europe because Europeans look at America the way I do. They have a sense of irony. They see it for what it is. Americans don’t want to see it for what it is. I don’t thrive on shock, I thrive on entertaining people and giving people something to think about. I still give Europeans something to think about or we wouldn’t even be talking today.”
After the Columbine High School massacre, are you even more sick of America? Would you ever consider leaving?
“No. In fact, it inspired me more and I think it’s gonna show on my next album and in my film (he is writing a film script based on his album, ‘Mechanical Animals’). The thing that happened in Columbine has been happening since the beginning of time and it’s the exact thing that inspired me to start a band and inspired the name Marilyn Manson. It’s the fact that mankind is not as good as they assume they are and it’s pretentious of them to ignore their shadow.
“I don’t think it’s good what happened, but me being able to say what I thought will hopefully reach a lot of people and make people re-evaluate what they think about entertainment. I think that entertainment is dangerous to idiots. I think that we should strive to make people more intelligent.”
How do you think the massacre will affect your future writing?
“I think it will make them all miserable to know that I was ever born because it’s only made what I’m writing about more extreme and more relevant to the whole subject. In no way will I have toned anything down and the next thing I do will probably be the most extreme thing, not because of a desire to shock anyone but because of a desire to say what’s on my mind.”
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Why do you care that you were blamed for the Columbine massacre?
“I care most because in a sense what I do is fuelled by my idealistic hope that mankind could be better. What I do isn’t fuelled by total hatred for humans, it’s fuelled by the desire to make people more intelligent. The fact that it happened and I was blamed for it is pitiful and ironic because everything that I say is to fight against that. Me speaking out was important not just for me but for Hollywood and music in general.
“I think we’re gonna see the most watered-down, pitiful bullshit in television and in films over the next few years but for me, I’m gonna push it even further because art is gonna suffer from people who aren’t willing to accept the responsibility that mankind is, by nature, violent. It’s something that is obvious to me and you’d think that by now people would realise it, but they don’t.”
One thing that did turn up in the papers this morning was an article criticising the new South Park movie. It was exactly the same sort of article we saw about you a few months ago…
“Yeah, it’s a good example – they’re ID-ing people at the movie theatres in America. To me, it’s always a game. The only people who really care about the kids are people like me who are making music or trying to speak to America’s youth to make them realise the world around them is full of shit. With the politicians, it’s just a tug of war between gun control and religion and entertainment. It’s just a power game to them and in the end it’s about money. For me, you could say in the end it’s about money as well because it’s how I make a living but, y’know, with or without money I’m still saying what I’ve always said because I want to say it.”
Do you ever worry that because of what you do say, someone might try to do you some harm? Even attempt to assassinate you?
“To a certain degree. I wouldn’t say I want to die, but I don’t think I’m afraid of dying and there’s a difference between that. I’ve faced my own death by my own hands so many times through my lifestyle and through the way I’ve felt over the past few years that I kind of conquered that fear. We recently did a video for a song called ‘Coma White’ that I used as a metaphor of the Kennedy assassination to make a few statements about the culture of death and the worship of violence, so it was kind of on my mind when I was doing that. It’s something that I’m quite aware of but it’s not something I concern myself with. I let other people worry about it.”
In America, you wouldn’t normally be playing second on the bill. Have you tailored your show to play Europe and preach to the unconverted?
“In a way. Festival shows to me are like playing club shows. It’s very raw. It’s about the energy between the audience and the band. I guess it’ll prepare us for ten years down the road when we’re hoping for a quiet ride at some bar in Miami or something!”
That’s the future for Marilyn Manson!?
“You gotta have a laugh about things like that or else you’re gonna have a big letdown!”
Nicky Wire said your concert was the best show on earth. What do you think of the Manic Street Preachers?
“I like ’em. It’s an entirely different thing but that’s a great compliment, y’know. In my lifetime, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band that puts out what we put out. Whether or not you like it, in a way you still have to enjoy it on your own level. Even if it’s just as an oddity. What we do, I don’t think it’s like anything that’s been done. In its sheer and raw honesty, it’s very special to me.”
What about Eminem? He said you had plans to work together.
“There was talk. He asked me about singing on a song but I wasn’t really fond of the song that he asked about. Unfortunately, he’s very creative but the one-hit wonder status that he’s been stuck into is gonna make him suffer and it’s sad. But I’d love to see him show people that he has more than that ‘cos I think he’s pretty great.”
How about the New Radicals? Did you hear that song where he promised to kick yours and Courtney Love’s arse?
“Oh yeah. Well, if he tries to kick Courtney‘s, his foot will get lost in the swamp that she calls her nether regions. The sad thing is that he has to go to bed knowing that his song would have never been played on the radio if he hadn’t mentioned my name.”
What’s the relationship between you and Courtney like?
“Same as ever, y’know. I think that in a strange way I respect her because she’s just so ridiculous and she’s managed to make a career of that. In another way, I have no respect for her, so it’s just a strange thing. It’s the way I’ve always felt about her. I don’t dislike her, I don’t like her. It is what it is and it’ll always be the same. I don’t ever feel threatened by her or competitive with her. That was her downfall – she tried to compete with me and she lost.”
Do you feel the person you’re perceived as stops you living your life? Today, you were in the dressing room or onstage, never anywhere in between…
“Yeah. I’m not really the type of person who likes to go out or likes to be around a lot of people. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have some logical explanation about why I like to perform in front of a lot of people when I don’t like to be around anyone but…!”
Would you ever consider running for office?
“Erm… I think music is stronger than politics and in the future I think it will continue and become even stronger because of things like the Internet. Now that everyone has the ability to be a star it’s gonna get to the stage in the next few years where the really talented people and the really strong-willed people will come to the forefront and really lead the world into something stronger. All of the mediocre people who are riding on luck will be cast aside. I think I’m a rival to religion and a rival to politics and people prefer you to feel strongest about those two things. Kids feel stronger about something else so it becomes dangerous to everyone. I’m not a genius to know that there’s three things… sex, God and fear… that will always get people’s attention.”
How’s the film script going?
“The script is in its first draft and has been inspired by the things that have happened to me. I’ll be playing a strange metaphor of myself and it’s based on my life in the sense that it’s an autobiography of mankind in a way. It’s about how man deals with his dreams and how he’s often destroyed by them. I want to make something that really raises the standard in the way that someone like Kenneth Anger did in his time. Where people feel the need to actually put art back into movies and not make it some stupid fucking ploy to sell tickets because they want to hire someone who was on Friends or some script that appeals to the moment. I want to do something that’s very important and I know it’s idealistic to think that can be done, but I plan on doing it. It’s gonna be a major motion picture but I’ve been given a lot of control.”
Is your girlfriend going to be in it?
And what’s next with the music?
“Well, the new album should be out next summer and it’s more extreme in every way. It’s more extremely melodic and it’s more extremely aggressive. All the people that hate me will hate me even more and the people who understand me will find something new and inspiring to hopefully help them to create as well. I wish everyone wrote songs, y’know. Hopefully I encourage people to. Knowing that you create an extreme reaction shows you must be doing something right.
“If everybody liked you, you’d be very boring. If everybody hated you, you’re obviously not talented. You have to find a middle ground.”