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Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013

Marilyn Manson Escapes His Funk

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Despite his reputation as a shock-rocker, Marilyn Manson insists he doesn’t want to be shocking. In fact, he says, that’s impossible. “I think the only thing you can be in today’s world is chaos and confusing,” Manson explains. “You can’t be shocking. The minute Kennedy was shot on color TV, you can’t be shocking.”

Not everyone follows that logic, of course. Manson shocked plenty of people with his eponymous band’s dark 1995 cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and the 1996 blockbuster album Antichrist Superstar, attracting the ire of angry parents across the country. Three years later, Manson was entangled in a far more bruising controversy when he was blamed by some, with scant evidence, for inspiring the two teenagers who murdered 12 students and a teacher at Colorado’s Columbine High School. By the mid-2000s, Manson began to seem like an artist diminished. He’d become less a creature of the night than a creature of the tabloids, and he began to lose interest in music, recording a pair of listless late-’00s albums.

He considers his latest album, 2012’s Born Villain, a return to form, however, even if he laughs at the suggestion, floated by some fans, that it’s one of the best records of his career. “How dare they?” he says, laughing, before turning serious. Making the album, he explains, “really took saying to myself—which isn’t easy for anyone—that I needed to make a comeback.”

By comeback, Manson doesn’t mean a return to his commercial peak, but rather a return to himself as an artist.

“I lost interest,” he explains. “That was the problem. The edge comes with the desire. I’m like a knife. You’re either a butcher knife or a butter knife. It takes longer to cut off your dick with a butter knife. That’s what I was. I don’t know where that metaphor came from, but I’m sticking with it.”

Dissatisfied with his life and record-label situation, Manson decided he was depressed.

“The only way you can get out of it is to put your fucking boots on, stand up and start kicking your own ass,” he says. So he “let everything go,” putting all his “monkeys and all the stuff people have heard about” into storage and moving into a spare, warehouse-style Los Angeles space with only his books, paintings, movies, musical instruments and cats.

“It was the first time I’d lived alone,” Manson says. “I went from high school to here. I was living with my parents in high school. Then with Twiggy [Ramirez, Marilyn Manson’s guitarist], then on tour. I had three long-term relationships. I always had somebody living with me. I found it very liberating to do simple tasks, like walk down the street and buy a sandwich. It wasn’t that I was spoiled. I’d never had a chance to do it.”

Manson stopped being a recluse and went out and met people, including a lot of actors, directors and Hollywood types.

“There were no expectations,” he says. “They knew I wrote the song ‘Beautiful People.’ They’d heard about the 36 or more school shooting victims that I’d been blamed for, even though I had nothing to do with it. They knew about my dick getting me in trouble. We became friends like regular people, which is unusual in Hollywood, where you usually lead with your résumé.”

Soon he brought them back to his place. “I created sort of a factory, like Andy Warhol, and began recording there, with people—mostly girls—watching,” he says. “It would be like reading a book report naked in front of the class.”

Manson says those sessions brought him back to his beginnings.

“I suddenly found the same inspiration,” he explains. “I wanted to make music for the reason anyone would write a song in the first place. You want to communicate with the person in front of you. You want to impress a girl.”

The resulting album impressed fans, and perhaps more importantly, Manson himself.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a fun record,” he says. “I don’t know how people respond to it. But it seems like a strong record to me. This is what I’m good at. This is what I do best…I feel like I’ve got my brother, Twiggy, back in the band after a long breakup. This is our second record together, and now I feel like we finally started to feel live like we used to, when we were at the top.”

Marilyn Manson plays the Rave Friday, Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. with openers Butcher Babies.
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