Marilyn Manson: I’m Not Trying To Be Reborn, I’m Trying to Transform
In part two of our in-depth discussion with Marilyn Manson, we delve further into the his upcoming album, ‘Born Villain,’ and its first single, ‘No Reflection.’
In the first part of our exclusive interview with Manson, we simply offered a visual interpretation of ‘Born Villain,’ which conjured a detailed response from the artist. Manson allowed us a rare visit into his personal mindset while preparing for and writing the album, which included a voluntary isolation into a room with black floors and white walls.
In this next chapter of our discussion, Manson further discusses the new album, the video for ‘No Reflection,’ his metaphorical use of the concept of zombies, his rejection of psychiatry and much more:
Returning to that physical place where you once had success creating things (Manson created his first canvas painting there), did that help spark that flame once again?
I don’t think that it was a formula that can be figured out in that sense, but I think that I believe so strongly in fate and synchronicity. If we were to compare something — for example I watched that film David Cronenberg made about Jung and Freud, ‘A Dangerous Method,’ and I don’t believe in psychiatry. I believe a lot about psychology or I’d like to learn about it — I’m someone who likes to learn about everything. I went to Christian school and I’m not religious in the conventional sense. I just went to Passover and not to Easter Sunday. [Laughs] It’s unusual because I’m not Jewish, but I went with my friend Eli Roth to his house. I’m someone who is open-minded to new experiences because they teach you new things.
I don’t believe in psychiatry because I think it’s a foolish, completely irrational way of thinking of things, and I don’t believe in Alcoholics Anonymous. I went to rehab, they tried to put me in the mental hospital. I’ve been through all the processes and I learned a very simple balance, and it was, “Try to make the ups better than the downs.” When you’re happy, drink. When you’re unhappy, don’t, because it will just make things worse. It may seem like a very simple, logical conclusion to come to after many years, but it’s important for me to just realize that this is supposed to be enjoyable — making art.
You make it to get out your feelings and your opinions and you’re supposed to have fun while you’re doing it. It’s not supposed to be so much effort after the process. So a lot of times I would make a song, for example, and while I was doing this recent video that I just did, ['No Reflection'] it became… I wasn’t directing it, I allowed someone else to direct it. They were taking too long moving the lights and I said the song — it took me less time to write it. So I’ll do it myself. It’s just merely adapting to the situation. It’s almost in an easy way, which is a great metaphor and it applies to the recent Easter that we just went through — a zombie.
I like zombie movies, I like ‘The Walking Dead,’ I like the metaphor of it, simply because when we go with the zombie concept — if you’re bitten by a zombie, you don’t transform into something else like a vampire or a werewolf or whatever. You become something that’s not you. You don’t turn into something that’s different or something that’s evolved, you turn into something that doesn’t exist. It’s undead, so you become that’s the zero factor and that’s unusual to me. So there are a lot of things on the record that are not inspired by zombie films, but because I like that metaphor and because the first zombie, we can say is Jesus, because he died and rose from the dead three days later — that’s a zombie. So I think these metaphors exist on the record and on ‘The Flowers of Evil.’
I’m not trying to be reborn and I’m not trying to be resurrected. I’m not trying to be reincarnated, I was trying to transform, and that’s not the same as zombies, but I was trying to transform into something that I had not yet become. That’s what anybody in life should always want to do. When you’re in a relationship, if you just break it down to regular terms, people are attracted to something and that’s what they want you to be, and that’s what you should just be and for me it’s very simple — if I meet a girl and I say, “This is what I like about you. Just continue. Everyday.” I like the same thing everyday. I don’t need change, because my mind is so full of a tornado of chaos, I don’t really need more excitement, or other girls, or anything else. Just be the thing that I love and continue. And then from the other point of view, for me, I’m sure it’s a f—ing nightmare to be involved with me, but it isn’t that complicated. If you like me, I am what I am, but if I start being something less than what you liked, then that’s a problem. But don’t think, “Well, eventually I expected you to change.” And that’s almost saying, “I expected you to become a werewolf or a zombie,” or something stupid like that.
I appreciate that fact that in my personal life, that the people closest to me had enough faith or belief in me and stuck by me. So that was the first part of what I needed to do by making this record. I wanted the people that believed in me to be proud that they made the right choice. You know, it’s when you watch shows that I like on TV — ‘Californication,’ or ‘Eastbound & Down.’ They have characters that I like for a reason, because they’re the dog that s–ts on the carpet, but you still pet them and you know that they can do better. I’m lucky that’s what the people who are closest to me believed in.
That was my first goal, making music to impress and prove to the people that stuck by me and believed in me — people that I actually know, would be motivated by. So then I had to put out those feelings to people that I don’t know. I have to go onstage and sing these feelings to people that I don’t know. And it became exciting and easy for me to realize that I just need to prove what I am with what I make. That’s the same thing I did in the beginning. I wasn’t trying to go backwards, but I came to the simple conclusion that I was ready to do what I do. It’s in nature. We don’t know for sure what animals feel, but a snake does what it does. It doesn’t have worries, it just does what it does — rabbits, cats, lions. It’s all about confidence and gut instinct.
You mentioned the video shoot for ‘No Reflection.’ How close is that video to the visual you had in your mind while writing the song and what made you pick that song for the first single?
Well, that was, strangely, not something that I had visually in my mind when I wrote it, which often I do. I asked Lukas Ettlin, the director, who also worked with Alan Lasky, who is the person who provided the camera that created the slow motion effect that no one has access to except me. It’s from a German company that believed in me as a visual artist and wanted me to use their camera. So I asked Lukas to listen to the song and tell me what he would do, because I like to collaborate. If I tell somebody what I would do, I should just do it myself, but I wanted to hear someone else’s take on it and I wouldn’t have thought of that, and I love how it came out. Completely not what I would have thought of.
I chose that song as the first single because I thought it was almost if the record were a movie, that’s the song I would use for the trailer, because I thought it represented the album. It had the spirit of the record and it had the attitude of the album. I’m not saying I think of it as the “big hit single” or any of that stuff, because I didn’t think on those terms. The world has changed into a place that is almost exactly, in a great way, how I started out; where I didn’t think on those terms. I didn’t think, “I have to pick a song that’s three minutes and fifteen-seconds,” and all this bulls–t. Simply, this is the song that I like, that I want people to hear and it just the very beginning. You obviously don’t want to give away an entire movie in a trailer for a movie, and that’s the way I thought of the song and that’s why I picked it.
The reason I ask is because the album feels just like that — an album. I wasn’t sure how you would choose just one song.
Normally, in the past, and I’m very, very, very, very, as many very’s as you want on that, happy to be off of Interscope. It gave me a new perspective, which is very similar to my original perspective on making music. I did not think about anything else except making them for the reason that I wanted people to feel something, and I didn’t have my head filled with all the bulls–t. In the past, I’m just gonna say that every band made on all my records previous to this one, I was proud of. When I turned it into a record label, what they did with it was not always what I wanted and what I made, and having that loss of control is very soul-breaking and very difficult to deal with. So I dealt with it, and that’s part of things, I’m not going to complain, I’m not going to pull a Pearl Jam and sue somebody.
The fortunate thing is that I got out of the record deal because I told Jimmy Iovine that he wasn’t smart enough to understand what I do. That was before ‘The High End of Low’ record, so of course I made an enemy, but I wasn’t insulting him, I was just simply saying that he wasn’t listening to his own instincts. You sign something for a reason. If you want to change what you’ve signed, it’s idiotic from a business point of view, it makes you look stupid, but I was trying to explain that it wasn’t personal, it was just an objective point of view, and I just asked that we’d be out of our relationship. That did not end that quickly, so when I got out of the relationship and onto a new label.
It made me feel, finally, like I did in the beginning. I could have just gone and done it with no label, but Cooking Vinyl… very, very strong attitude that they wanted me to do what I do. “Just continue to do what you do.” The whole pattern, I actually fell into a pattern that some people may find hard to believe, and I won’t complain about it, just look at it objectively, where I would do something and there would always be, “Okay, we’ll see if this is all right to release, we’ll see if this will work.” It was almost like being in Christian school again, where you did something that they want you to do, in order to control you of course. Once you’re in that role you can’t really do anything about it. They wanted to be in control, but that’s why the record industry just fell to s–t, because people were trying to think for the artists. People who aren’t artists of any sort, or even patrons of the art or muses, or anything that’s related to it, will always try to control it or hate it, and for me to be out of that relationship freed up my energy and finally I can do this and enjoy it — like I’m supposed to. [Laughs] That’s the point.
Stay tuned for the two final parts of our extensive and in-depth interview with Marilyn Manson, where we discuss the evolution of Manson’s perception by the public and the release of the West Memphis Three.