MansonUSA.com recently conducted an interview with Marilyn Manson. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
MansonUSA.com: In 2005, you mentioned Tim [Skold] writing around 20 songs. Was earlier material scrapped altogether as by-products of false-starts, or has much of it survived from the initial 20-or-so recorded tracks in the 11 which eventually became the album? Is the dildo still slapping a leather sofa on the album somewhere, for instance? Will those other tracks ever see the light of day?
Marilyn: As a matter of fact, that song does exist and I had a hard time narrowing the record down to eleven songs, but I was in a position where I had some new, unbelievably strong inspiration and fire lit under me to really focus my point and what I wanted to say as a person and as an artist into music. I felt like it would really be diluted by putting it into too many places.
The songs that are on the record are the songs that were decided upon as focal points for me and I did not make any attempts to complete what was created musically on any of the songs. I was in the process of where for the year that I struggled to get to the point where I could actually write again and could actually get through what was wrong with me mentally and personally. I was unable to really come to a point of completion that I would consider any of the other things that we were working on finished or even "songs" that are defined by having music and lyrics and vocals.
The music that Tim and I were creating still exists and still could exist, but it's always hard to go back when you're making things. I had to really decide on cutting away the weaker parts in my life personally and artistically. It's a hard sacrifice because there is music that could have been completed and could exist as b-sides or soundtrack songs. The songs that still remain and were in the incubation process I think deserve to be more than that. There is more music; another album's worth. I don't think it's something that I would avoid now the way I would have in the past.
In the past I've created things that are centered so much around a theme that I've carved for myself to work around. This record revolves more around my transformation as a person and not thinking so much about the bigger, conscious picture. It's letting the unconscious picture be the focus, which is essentially unfocused. There are two songs that could have made their way onto the record that I think are enough to base more music around at the very least.
MansonUSA.com: In as much detail as you're comfortable with, could you describe the events of Christmas of last year? Specifically, what exactly took place from 6:00 to 6:19 that morning as is referenced in "If I Was Your Vampire"?
Marilyn: Honestly, I think that the song details it the best, but to be specific… The stories that have been told in fractures throughout the media about knives against the heart and things of that nature — are all true, but they're true in a different sense. Christmas Eve was a very different experience for me. I had a makeshift Christmas tree – and I'm not one for holidays to begin with. There were no Christmas presents under the tree. I myself was unable to even go out of the house. I didn't leave the house from the middle of November until after my birthday in January.
Christmas became a little bit more like one of those really sappy movies where people show their emotional side for Christmas presents. I had to break into pieces my concept of family which is what I feel holidays are all about. My parents had driven cross-country from Ohio to be with me, but they hadn't arrived yet at Christmas. My relationship had dissolved. To be specific, my cats, which to me were like children beyond what most would understand. I'm not a person that is able to relate in a lot of ways to any living creature, but my cats were something I was very attached to and maybe the only people that weren't able to judge me because they can't speak.
6am is when I got the phone call that I knew — without getting specific — I got the phone call that was kind of the final breaking point in my marriage. I was faced with the concept that I would never see my cats again and dealing with the emotional break between someone you've been with for such a long time. Ultimately, I did get Lily back. To this day, I just want to say that I never changed my feelings about Dita. I refuse to hate or blame her for any of the things that she said to me personally. Forget about what's in the press. The reality of the situation is the polar opposite. Relationships are always like that. Everyone should know that there will always be two sides to something.
I've been unwilling to go to the press. I refused to respond when I received divorce papers on my birthday, which was a little difficult. The way that I react, the way that I operate with the media, and the way that my temper and personality is defined… I think it should say a lot to her and should say a lot in general about how I felt about the relationship. I did not use my greatest attempt to try to destroy her, retaliate, or say anything mean because that's not how I felt.
I think that it's a casualty of a misunderstanding about personalities. I assumed that somebody else was more like me than they really were. It doesn't mean that two people love each other any less. It just means that it's easy to project ideas onto other people and it's not anywhere as simple as me deciding I liked somebody more than her. I literally, if you did the math, was alone more in the year I was married than in the seven years that I knew her. I technically was alone, by myself, for more than half of the marriage. It was something that I was unprepared to be.
If I believed in psychiatry, I think I would be best defined as a borderline personality. I don't believe in psychiatry, but psychology is something I spent most of last year studying when I was writing about Lewis Carroll. It's a sad situation that I don't have an answer for, but maybe I should be thankful. If I wasn't forced to be alone, I would not have faced the fact that I was running away from my own personality and fears.
I was forced to redefine myself. That's why it goes without saying, it's beyond the cliché or melodrama when I say that this record saved me. I'm not the type of person that's going to complain about a past relationship and "this is my statement about it." It was never a statement about anything. This record was me writing to find a way to redefine myself. It's about me rising from the fire that is my life now and it's not me complaining. I'm not a complainer. I got to the point where I had that fearlessness that I assumed I already had in music. I proved to the world that I can't be destroyed, but I found that I could be destroyed in a simple way that vampire mythology has illustrated. The human heart, emotions, those are my weaknesses.
Being me is like anybody. That's the hard part. Making art is the way you deal with it. I've always chosen to make art in the hardest way. I've always avoided the obvious and things that fit best. I picked things that fit me right this time. Living is the hard part. Not to complain about it; that's for anyone. I've created something that made me stronger. I've gone through the transformations that I talked about on Holy Wood more than I realized I needed to on this record.
I met with Jodorowski in Paris and he read my tarot again. He also identifies with cannibal symbolism and he said to me this record was me trying to be human. It was the opposite of the Christ metaphor where a man became a symbol that people devoured symbolically. I am a symbol that has no human definition that decided to become human by getting married and had no way to define myself. This record became my ascension instead of my fall. He said angels and devils are the same essentially. He told me that this record was the philosopher's stone, which I believe to be true. This is the result of the alchemy that I didn't realize I had to accomplish. This isn't choosing it as a theme; it's living it. You probably need to be blind to these concepts to really accomplish them.
Nothing on this record is a theme; it's not anything I picked to talk about. It's what was right for me, what I needed to say. When I go back — the record is still so new to me — I look at it and I realize certain lines I that I say — I realize now how obvious they are to me now than they were when I wrote them. I truly allowed the unconscious part of my mind to dominate the conscious part of my mind and it worked in a way that I've never experienced before.
MansonUSA.com: Early on in the process of creating your new album you mentioned that if someone wanted to play on a track and was the "right" person, then their contribution would be welcomed. How did the openness of this approach ultimately lead you to writing and recording almost exclusively with Tim Skold?
Marilyn: I think what I came into was a real collaboration for the very first time. I've always been in the position where I felt and had been perceived as very controlling. That might be accurate in a sense, because I've never really been able to get someone to express musically what I'm trying to do lyrically and vocally.
The door was open for any sort of creativity. There were things that Ginger did. There were things that Tim orchestrated sometimes when I wasn't there physically, but my ideas were present in his mind. It's interesting to me that I can still hear the record and without the prejudice. Someone who makes movies can't watch a movie without seeing the way it's made. In a similar sense, it's hard for me to listen to music sometimes without knowing right away how they recorded the high-hat, or what sound is on the vocals.
I suppose the easiest way to explain, but not to simplify in any way, the guitar work that Tim does melodically and the creative end of his songwriting is what I would imagine doing if I played guitar. I can play instruments to an extent, but I was able to hear musical ideas from him and for the first time in my life it was something that I didn't suddenly want to suggest changes to. From a songwriting standpoint, changes had to be made of course and our collaboration had to exist. I didn't have to tell Tim how to be Tim. I've never been in the position with a guitar player — especially with John 5 — where you could attach an emotion to a melody.
I think objectively it may be as simple as the fact that Tim was around me the most last year. I think that he may have just written music that reflected what he saw me going through. This music is what really hit me when I heard it because he had no idea of the extent of what my emotional confusion was at the time. He had no idea of everything I was going through, because I don't have that kind of relationship with him. We're very close, we're best friends, but we don't talk about stuff like that for some reason. It's just not the kind friendship we have. Tim was the one who said to me one day, simple as, "Well, why don't you write a song about this?" because I had told him one day about all of these things that were fucking with me. Ironically, I'm hearing "Just a Car Crash Away" in the background — they're rehearsing. I think that was his song. "Car Crash Away" was really the first song I completed.
By no means were the lyrics thrown together on the moment. The lyrics were made into "songs of the moment," but the way I keep my ideas together is so erratic that it's often upsetting or defeating to me. I keep track of what I say in as many as thirty notebooks at a time. I had to spread all of my notebooks out and I'm flipping through them with one candle in front of me. I was lying on the floor with my microphone, came across a line and I'm suddenly having to piece together all of these different ideas. Some of them could have been as old as ten years ago, others could be right there at that moment, but they were never put together as an idea or as a sentiment. I probably sang "Car Crash" twice and the recording that's on the record is probably the second time.
We had a different approach to this album. Tim wanted to get across — I don't think he wanted to prove himself so much, but I think part of him wanted to prove that he could be a guitar player that people did not imagine, and he truly is. Nobody expected him to play the guitar that he played on this record. I did. I've always known. I've known him and know what he's capable of. This was in some ways the record I wanted to make before, but the circumstances weren't right until now. "Car Crash", to me, is already heartbreaking just to hear the music of it. When I sang it, it was more or less improv'd. If I wanted to reproduce it live, I could study it, but I think the emotion of it is more important.
I didn't want to make a point of, "I'm trying to show I'm a great singer," or "I'm trying to show I've got emotions, so I'm going to leave it as the first take." I just simply heard it and thought "Well, there's not really anything to change about it. Why should we rethink it?" As opposed to some of the songs on the rest of the record, this has one vocal on it. There are background vocals at the end, but the lead vocal is one track. This is something I've done before, but this was me not being able to reproduce it identically as trying to match it as a second vocal. That became the way we wanted to make this record.
Tim did not want to record the instruments in the way we have done at times in the past, where you're chopping apart every single note and perfecting everything. Things people see as flaws were left in intentionally. I got some initial complaints about my vocals from the people I don't think understand what is special about music at the record company. They had said "The vocals are too distorted," or "It's too noisy." I said "Tell that to John Lennon." I'm not going to clean it up.
We fired the first mixer after one day on this album, and I think he's a great mixer. It's the guy who mixed "Mechanical Animals", Tom Lord-Alge. I'm not saying in a derogatory way that I fired him. He just wasn't right for the record. I thought of Sean Beavan right away because I noticed Sean is more artistic because he's a musician and he would understand. What we recorded does not vary much from what appears on the album. He did his best to make it sound as good as it could and as good as it does. He didn't try to rethink how it should be. All of the nuances, all of the details of it, were part of the recording process.
MansonUSA.com: Can you comment on Pogo's [drums] absence from any recent news or appearances? Is he still in the band at this point?
Marilyn: It's a strange circumstance. We've been in a weird position as friends, knowing each other for so long. I haven't spoken to him in quite some time. Essentially he has a lot of personal issues that I don't necessarily understand or can define. It's not my place to.
For the time being, Chris Vrenna, who played drums for us when Ginger was injured and is also a keyboardist, is going to be coming on the tour. I'm really happy with Chris. We've been friends for a long time since he had helped me on our very first record. It's a really strong music unit right now. As far as what happens with the permanency of the band, I can't say right now.
Some people might make an easy deduction that I've simply become a solo act. That's as easy as saying I've always been a solo act. It's Marilyn Manson. I embrace and work with the people that are around me with as much respect, admiration, and collaboration as it warrants. This is a really strong unit. We're all friends and we all want to make this as enjoyable as it really should be. This is a real wake up call for me. I want to perform, and I really can't wait to perform these songs. I really like listening to this record. I've never really listened to my albums before, never really had a reason to.
This record to me makes me feel as much as some of the records that I had listened to on such a regular basis like "Diamond Dogs" or "Purple Rain". It wasn't my intention to try and mimic them or make a tribute, it's just that those records represent some sort of really strong despair and romance that I didn't know I was capable of until it happened.
Read the entire interview at MansonUSA.com.