MARILYN MANSON: 'Finding Out Who You Are Is How You Make Art'

Spin magazine recently published an exclusive interview with MARILYN MANSON. Several excerpts from the chat follow:

Spin: How different is the career you've had from the one you envisioned back in Florida in the late '80s?

Marilyn Manson: "I can't say I envisioned how it would turn out precisely, but I always thought — after the first show, when I walked offstage and vomited — that it was the first day of the rest of my life."

Spin: What was that first show like?

Marilyn Manson: "It was just me and my keyboard player. We met at a FRONT 242 concert — he was wearing a tuxedo, he was laughing, and he was by himself. I thought that was peculiar, and we started talking. The next day he gave me an old rusted can of deviled ham that had been passed through his family for years and a CD by RAPEMAN. I said, 'We need to start a band,' and that's where all the music came from. Our first two shows involved reading algebra and sex-ed documents. I was convinced that I could get a record deal without playing any music. That's how dead set I was on changing people's opinions."

Spin: Politically speaking, how would you say the cultural climate has changed over the length of your career?

Marilyn Manson: Let's see. I started during Bush I. I think I was drunk during the entire Clinton administration. And now we've got Bush II. By the way, you should put that in italics."

Spin: Why?

Marilyn Manson: "I always tell people when I'm being funny. Some people have a hard time figuring it out."

Spin: Your interview in Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" changed a lot of people's opinion of you.

Marilyn Manson: "That movie opened up a window at exactly the right time. The interview was an hour before I went onstage [in Denver, June 2001, not far from Columbine High School] faced with thousands of death threats and 30 cops following me around. I was faced with the choice: Do I go on? Of course I do. I have to show people this is all that I live for, so if I gotta die, it's gotta be there. Now, I'm not encouraging people to start threatening me, because I do pack weapons, and I'll take you all down. That should be in italics also."

Spin: Is it harder to shock people today? And is shock still a viable way to communicate a message?

Marilyn Manson: "No matter what I do, people will always say Marilyn Manson is a shock rocker. But they miss the point. First of all, show me somebody else who can even step to the plate — I'm not even like other bands. I do something very specific and that's be a rock star. That's why I started this band. Rock stars were gone like the dinosaurs. I'm a fan of music and icons and people who don't let you come into their houses and show you their refrigerator. The power and fear lie in mystery, and I'm always willing to be a mystery, because I don't know who I am — so there's no chance of anyone else knowing who I am. Finding out who you are is how you make art — the question mark."

Spin: What does rock-star decadence mean to you?

Marilyn Manson: "It's having someone whose only purpose is to cut lines of cocaine for you. Or to pour shots. I don't ever carry cash, but I've seen rock stars, or whatever they think they are, tossing hundred-dollar bills around at bars in Hollywood because they have a song on the radio. All while I'm rolling my eyes so far back they don't even roll. That's nouveau riche. That's passe."

Spin: So what is your favorite musical act of the last 20 years?

Marilyn Manson: "Hmm. [Pauses] Well, I was a KISS fan, but 20 years ago they had taken off their makeup, and I'd lost all interest. I've met Gene Simmons, and he's a swell guy, but swell guys don't breathe fire. If you meet me, chances are I'm going to have a nosebleed, and I'm going to give you crabs. Put that in italics."



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