Publicly, Marilyn Manson is a lot of things—most notably the self-proclaimed god of fuck, best friend of Johnny Depp, and the world's reigning rock and roll boogeyman. But what few people may know is he's also a winning conversationalist who's able to bring wit and whimsy, yes whimsy, to just about any topic.
I got the chance to ring up Mr. Manson who was relegated to the confines of his Los Angeles home as he healed from a recent surgery to repair a broken fibula which left him with ten pins and a metal rod in one leg. Over the course of an hour he divulged some secrets (the next video to drop will be "Kill4Me" which will again star bosom buddy Johnny Depp) and we riffed on the cinematic flow of his new album Heaven Upside Down, superstition, the validity of the moon landing, astrological phenomenon, and whether or not he sleeps in his makeup. See, pure whimsy.
Noisey: Hi there, how are you feeling today?
Marilyn Manson: I'm doing OK I've made a sort of makeshift recovery hospital bed in my TV room so I don't have to walk too far on my crutches to the kitchen or the bathroom and I can watch movies or read books to a limited degree. Unfortunately my bedroom and all my of art items of creation or inspiration are up a set of stairs which I cannot access. So I feel a little bit cagey, cabin fever I guess. I have ten pins in my ankle and a plate from surgery I had last week. It was a really extremely awfully painful ordeal for me. I had never watched the video of what happened until yesterday.
I'm lucky [the stage prop] didn't smash me in the head or I'd be dead right now. So that's something fortunate but people think I was trying to climb up it. I was actually holding it back because it had started to tip over and I was pushing it back but I realized too late it's too heavy for me to hold up. And then it broke my leg in two places.
Man. So, is it safe to assume you'll be in a cast for a while?
I'm going to find out on Tuesday when I see the doctor again. I had this surgery I mentioned in lieu of getting a cast. Instead of the old fashion way where a bone mends itself, I elected to have a metal rod replace it. I'll have that for life and I'll have fun at every airport.
Ha. So what is R&R like at the Manson Manse?
I got my two cats and I've got my projection wall of TV. I watched Mr. Robot today.
So you're a cat person?
Yeah, I was a dog person when I was a kid. But then a neighbor killed my dog and it kind of ruined the idea of having a dog for me forever. But I was actually considering having a dog again recently, I'm just not really sure yet. But I have two boy cats, they're Devon Rexes and they defy animal classification. The breed is often referred to as clowns in cat costumes. They're really unruly and unreasonable but they are very intuitive. They come in and tend to me. If they were a musical group… if they were Liam and Noel Gallagher, I'd say William would be the lead singer. Or if they were Wham!, William would be George Michael. And that's not to say Rusty's not talented, he's just more sensitive. He tends to be afraid of watching scary movies but William will sit on my chest and watch whatever I'm watching. So… yeah I'm a cat person.
Your tenth studio album is out now, Heaven Upside Down, but it was originally titled Say10 . Why the name and release date change?
I've often gotten more enthusiastic than I should sometimes about how much I want to release something and I wanted it to come out at a specific time so I suppose it was my way of pushing away the doubt of the record label who was wondering where I was going to take it on this record. I already had six songs done and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to ten because that seemed like, you know, what needed to be done. "Say10" was definitely the song that stood out at a time before we had really completed everything in its entirety. This was over a year ago and I think everything happens for a specific reason. Tyler Bates, who produced and wrote all the music and I did the vocals. That's my job. Tyler had had other obligations with scoring.
And then I had not foreseen my father's illness… I didn't know the extent of it. So there were a few bumps in the road. But I don't look at them as setbacks, they just gave me more time to get to know the record and what it need to be and tell the story properly. Heaven Upside Down, what it's become, is based on concepts from from Yeats and Robert Chambers and Carcosa…
Carcosa? As in True Detective ?
Yeah. It was strange because that's where I recorded the majority of my favorite music was in New Orleans. And I knew exactly where Carcosa was. In fact, when I was on tour I climbed the fence and broke into it not knowing that they have tours now. It's a really dark place. If you have to talk about anything, forget about good or evil or you know, the common conceptions of morality that people describe. There's something very dark and sinister about New Orleans that makes me even not want to go there. I've gotten a lot of things from there. There's something sinister or something at least inexplicable about that place. It draws in darkness but it gives you something but it takes something from you.
Antichrist Superstar was recorded there at Trent Reznor's Nothing Studio, right?
Would you say you have any spiritual practices or superstitions in your daily life?
Um… I will say that I know that sometimes when I walk into a room electrical problems will occur. That's true. It's really strange. Yeah. But now I have to consider, is it my soul or whatever, my essence, or is it my foot, because I have metal in my foot.
I mean, I live in a house that was one of Bela Lugosi's and I have a lot of things that would generally be not good to have in your house if you were worried about that sort of thing. I am not. But I always think that as long as it's not something that's harming me, then I'm not really afraid of it. I used to be afraid of things like that when I was a kid because of Christian upbringing. Now I'm open to believing in whatever I can experience and see. And if it's something that I can't explain, then I'm more curious about it.
I can't believe anything unless I know all the facts first and I can't believe anything if I don't see it firsthand, sometimes. I take for granted, as you might, that the picture that we see of the Earth from a satellite is what the Earth looks like. Neither of us has been to outerspace so we don't know that to be true. We're going to go ahead and go with it because that's what we're being told.
But you know, at the same time the lunar landing and things like that, without getting into conspiracy theories, I feel like if America had landed on the moon with such little technology at the time that it happened, then why haven't we been back there? But it seems it's impossible that it happened the first time.
And it's also funny that the people that landed on the moon are not as famous as they should be. In fact, I'll give you an example. Who's that biker with the testicular cancer?
Yeah. Yeah. He came to my show and I mistook him for the astronaut. They said "Lance Armstrong is here." And I said, "The guy that walked on the moon?" True story.
Oh, no. What a let down.
Due to my complete disregard for history class in high school.
You're a big fixture in the goth scene. Do you consider yourself goth?
You know, when you think about the origins of goth, I think a lot of the bands that originated it, they were taking the piss out of it because a lot of those bands were British, even a song like "Bela Lugosi's Dead"… and then you have bands like Alien Sex Fiend or Christian Death, I don't know what all falls under the technical umbrella-ella [pause for effect] of goth.
Funnily enough, your song "Saturnalia" really reminds me of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and I mean that as a compliment.
Thank you. "Saturnalia" was the very last song we recorded. And what happened was the moon and Saturn and Earth were rotating, and this only happens I believe every 36 years or so and this rotation was particularly special. And when this rotation started was when I started recording this song maybe over the course of two or three days. And Tyler and I worked on it, and we had the beats and the music and I wanted to take it home and listen to it at my house.
And I put it on and I had already decided to call it Saturnalia not exactly for a specific reason. Not knowing that Saturn was revolving around the Earth. That wasn't my reason. It was more related to what the song was about. You know, New Orleans and the festival of eating the young and also Saturnus about, you know, the father eating his son and ouroboros eating its own tail and that type of theme. And then I found out Saturn was orbiting the Earth and in a way that it hasn't since Dali died and then ironically, that same week they wanted to exhume his body.
And then I got a phone call that my father was more sick than he was leading me to believe. And I finished the song which would technically finish the record. Two days later I flew to Ohio and I saw my dad. I said hello to him and he went downstairs for some sort of MRI, you know, a scan and we came back up and he had a seizure and he died and that was really fucking traumatizing.
But then they brought him back to life which was fucked up because it was the hospital he and I were both born in. I believe that he waited for me to come there. And then next morning, you know, I had to make the decision to take him off life support because I asked the doctor if he was in pain and he said probably. And my dad's sister, my aunt, said it was the right thing to let him go.
And I feel like it was in the tradition of that song, and it can't be any coincidence other than fate, that an hour after that happened Saturn had finished its orbit around the Earth.
And that seems very fateful to me that my father passed his energy into me and it just made me feel that this record was destined to be something very important for me. This is not the type of thing where I'm not trying to be someone I'm not. That's what happened when I created Marilyn Manson. I didn't like who I was. So I became someone else. Now I have to stick by that and I think now something wanted me to make this record and not to save the world and not to cause a ruckus and not to have to talk about what's happened in popular culture, but to give somebody something else to think about.
You're a big film buff. Do you approach making music like a movie?
Well, if you're watching a movie there's a particular scene that has to happen right there. That's after like "Saturnalia", the romantic scene where the whole love affair is established and then the next scene is the action scene and that's JE$U$ Cri$i$. And then it gets to the sensitive part and then the part where the person you really like in the movie dies and then the part where you decide how it goes. It's sort of a basic love story that has a tragic or happy ending depending on how you're looking at it.
Just like life.
You're ostensibly a death threat expert. Got any tips for the kids on how to handle those?
You quoting my lyrics? Well done. Well done. I'll tell you what, my dad gave me the best advice. He said, "Son, if they're gonna kill you, they're not gonna tell you in advance."
That's some sage advice.
Yes it was.
Do you ever sleep in your makeup?
I often fall asleep in my makeup only because I'm lazy.
When I went to the hospital after my injury, I had completely black stripes across my face that I started the show with and I had wanted to wash them off but I was in too much agony. There was too much chaos going on and they wanted to cut open the pants I was wearing and I said, "No, no don't ruin my pants. I just got those." I actually think I still have some makeup on since New York. I haven't been able to actually take a shower or bath since my injury. Not a real, one at least.
I wear less and less makeup these days despite the fact that it looks like more. Like, I don't wear as much foundation if you want to be specific about it. I like a more natural looks these days.
And before I leave you, it was the 21st anniversary of Antichrist Superstar this past week. Any closing thoughts?
Wow. It's 21. It can drink now! I'm gonna find a CD and pour alcohol on it.
Manson will return to the stage on November 5 performing at Ozzfest Meets Knotfest in Devore, CA.
MARILYN MANSON 2017/2018 TOUR DATES:
NOV 05 - DEVORE, CA @ OZZFEST MEETS KNOTFEST
NOV 12 - HELSINKI, FINLAND @ ICE HALL
NOV 14 - STOCKHOLM, SE @ ANNEXET
NOV 15 - ELSINORE, DK @ HAL 14
NOV 16 - HAMBURG, DE @ SPORTHALLE
NOV 18 - MUNICH, de @ ZENITH
NOV 19 - PRAGUE, CZ @ TIPSPORT ARENA
NOV 20 - VIENNA, AT @ GASOMETER
NOV 22 - TURIN, IT @ PALA ALPITOUR
NOV 23 - ZURICH, CH @ SAMSUNG HALL
NOV 25 - BERLIN, DE @ VELODROM – UFO
NOV 27 - PARIS, FR @ ACCOR HOTELS ARENA
NOV 28 - EINDHOVEN, NL @ KLOKGEBOUW
NOV 29 - DUSSELDORF, DE @ MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC HALLE
DEC 01 - NANCY, FR @ ZENITH
DEC 02 - BRUSSELS, BE @ FOREST NATIONAL
DEC 04 - MANCHESTER, UK @ 02 APOLLO
DEC 05 - GLASGOW, UK @ 02 ACADEMY
DEC 06 - WOLVERHAMPTON, UK @ CIVIC HALL
DEC 08 - NEWPORT, UK @ NEWPORT CENTRE
DEC 09 - LONDON, UK @ SSE WEMBLEY ARENA
JAN 10 – PHOENIX, AZ @ VAN BUREN
JAN 12 – LAS VEGAS, NV @ HOUSE OF BLUES
JAN 13 – LAS VEGAS, NV @ HOUSE OF BLUES
JAN 16 – OAKLAND, CA @ FOX THEATRE
JAN 19 – SALT LAKE CITY, UT @ THE COMPLEX
JAN 20 – DENVER, CO @ FILLMORE
JAN 23 – SAN ANTONIO, TX @ AZTEC THEATRE
JAN 24 – HOUSTON, TX @ HOUSE OF BLUES
JAN 26 – SPRINGFIELD, MO @ SHRINE MOSQUE
JAN 27 – TULSA, OK @ BRADY THEATRE
JAN 28 – KANSAS CITY, MO @ ARVEST BANK THEATRE AT THE MIDLAND
JAN 30 – DES MOINES, IA @ 7 FLAGS EVENT CENTER
JAN 31 – MINNEAPOLIS, MN @ THE MYTH
FEB 2 – MADISON, WI @ THE ORPHEUM
FEB 3 – MILWAUKEE, WI @ EAGLES BALLROOM
FEB 6 – CHICAGO, IL @ RIVIERA THEATRE
FEB 7 – GRAND RAPIDS, MI @ 20 MONROE
FEB 9 – BUFFALO, NY @ RAPIDS THEATRE
FEB 11 – TORONTO, ON @ REBEL
FEB 12 – BOSTON, MA @ HOUSE OF BLUES
FEB 13 – BALTIMORE, MD @ RAMS HEAD LIVE
FEB 15 – HUNTINGTON, NY @ PARAMOUNT THEATRE
FEB 16 – SAYREVILLE, NJ @ STARLAND BALLROOM
Alexandra Serio is a Brooklyn-based writer. Follow her on Twitter.