Everyone believed Marilyn Manson when he announced three months ago that he'd be throwing in the proverbial rock and roll towel to focus all his creative attention on film. Manson, the consummate rock star, was fibbing in a sense — but it turns out that it was all part of a much larger plan.
"The time that people aren't expecting what's going to happen, I find that's the best time to really cause the damage that needs to be done," Manson explained. "I might have had to defuse people with a smoke screen of weakness and the idea that I was going to run away from music when I was really just trying to find the bullets for my gun — metaphorically, of course. But I was contemplating giving up entirely. It's a sort of philosophy that I find to be true that if your life is collapsing around you, sometimes you have to be willing to let go."
But Manson didn't end up letting go. Instead he's been writing and recording in two different California studios with KMFDM guitarist and Manson studio bassist Tim Skold, keyboardist and drummer Pogo (Stephen Bier Jr.) and an assortment of other musicians — just who, he's not saying. Most of Manson's still-untitled sixth LP has been finished for weeks.
"I feel as if there's more like three albums' worth of material, [because] I don't want to cram a long record into a place that doesn't have the attention span for that," he said. "I'd like to return to the old-fashioned records that had eight or nine songs [that] were all very important. Not to say that I made records that had filler material. They were all based around a central idea, and the central idea in this one is my pain and its ability to be unashamed to repeat itself."
As for the musicians he's been working with, Manson said, "It's hard to call [them] a band because it's open and developing in a way where anything can happen. The songs have been ... a collaboration between Skold and myself, but we're at the point now where the people who will fulfill the positions that need to be there to make the Marilyn Manson of end times, the Marilyn Manson that, if it had to be the last form, this is the way it should be remembered — those people will stand forward and make themselves appreciated, and I feel like I've created an environment where that will happen."
While Manson's been busy with the forthcoming "Phantasmagoria," a movie he wrote and is directing that looks at the life of "Alice in Wonderland" scribe Lewis Carroll, he's put that project — which will star fashion model Lily Cole as Alice — on hold for now. He plans to resume in January, after the album, which could drop before spring, is completed.
Manson says working with Skold has renewed his passion for music. "[Skold] has turned out to be the guitar god Marilyn Manson always needed," he revealed. "His guitar playing is something that completely seduced me into liking [music] again. It was almost a naked woman to a man who's just gotten out of prison, because I felt like I was in a prison of sorts, of my own creation. I was preparing a hole for myself, really, and finding nice clothes to be buried in. Instead, the hole will make a nice place for people to wait [for] a V.I.P. party that's not going to happen, on their way to hell, and I'm just going to have a fashion show afterward."
The music, Manson said, is the "most guitar-driven" and "most original that I've heard created. This record has a very unpleasant attitude toward itself, and I expect it to be — without sounding like someone who says this every time they make a record — something above and beyond and different — sonically, emotionally — than anything I've done."
The album's lyrics, he said, were inspired by his muse, fiancee Dita Von Teese.
"They have probably the most romantic feel to them," he said. "This is a desperate and crippling desire for romance — not in the romance sense of a Reese Witherspoon movie, but in the sense of living your life like a film and enjoying it that way. I've found a woman I can relate to. That's something — and I don't even feel sappy saying it — that, if anyone has that, don't lose it, because it's probably the only thing that you can ever really find any satisfaction from."
Beyond Skold's guitars and Manson's pipes, Manson said he's been experimenting with various unconventional forms of percussion.
"We created a snare-drum sound with a bottle of painkillers," he explained. "We often get sent to the house — the wife and I — an assortment of sexual marital aids that are also very useful as percussive instruments. When hitting a rubber penis against a leather couch, I found a bass-drum sound that's unmatched by any other."
Manson also said he's launching an art movement called the Celebritarian Corporation. While he wouldn't discuss it in detail, he did allow that Celebritarian has been incubating for seven years and that "it represents the only place where art can possibly go after surrealism and Dada. There's an array of people involved — from Gottfried Helnwein, who is a fine artist, to Steven Klein, who is a fashion photographer, and Anthony Silva, a director and an editor. I've collected a group of people, and everyone has a role. I think it's probably the only valid attempt at an art movement since the surrealists. It's something that should be feared, but it's something I can't imagine not living up to its expectations.
"I can't satisfy myself with just trying to tie all of my imagination into music, especially when music is not appreciated as an art form as much as it used to be," he added. "I'm trying to take this moment in my life where I could relax and be lazy, but instead it's a full-scale attack. My goal isn't to make money, it's to try and survive and make a point. I'm at that level where there's nothing left living for except doing some damage."