There was a point not too long ago — but before news of the dissolution of his marriage to Dita Von Teese went public in late January — that Marilyn Manson realized he just didn't want to live anymore. His life was in utter turmoil, he had hit a wall creatively, and the idea that he didn't "have somebody to hold hands with through hell" was too much to handle.
"I was clearly at the point where I was ready to give up, and it wasn't that I didn't have the motivation to ... it was almost as if I couldn't bring myself to make a conclusion," Manson explained. "I can look back on it now like it was a different person, and I refuse to ever get to that place again. But it was mostly because I didn't feel that I had someone who was going to walk with me through the horrible reality that we live in. Did I want to kill myself? Yes. Did I come close to doing that? More than I'd like to think. The only thing I can say about it is, I feel like maybe I wasn't strong enough to make that choice. I guess I was just more lost than anything. I didn't have anything to attach myself to. I didn't have any emotions or fears — nothing to have hope for.
"There's a big difference, I discovered, between wanting to die and not wanting to live," he continued. "When you want to die, you at least have a goal. When you don't want to live, you're really just empty. That's the point I was at before I was able to make [his new LP, Eat Me, Drink Me]."
Manson said he needed to find a reason to want to live, and in time, did so in actress Evan Rachel Wood, who eventually became the rocker's girlfriend. "Finding someone who's willing to drown with you creates a situation where you no longer want to drown," he said.
It was meeting Wood, he said, that helped him salvage his muse and finish Eat Me, Drink Me (see "Marilyn Manson Likens His New Guitar God To A Naked Woman"). He recorded the effort — which follows 2003's The Golden Age of Grotesque, leaked online Tuesday and hits stores June 5 — in a Hollywood studio with guitarist/bassist Tim Skold. "It would be an understatement to say this record saved me," Manson said. "This record was my salvation. This was my rebirth. This was me realizing who I am, so this is the most important record I've ever made, in every possible way."
The album title can be interpreted to hold several meanings, not the least of which are the obvious references to "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" — he's been fascinated with the book and its author, Lewis Carroll, for years — vampires and the Catholic Eucharist. Manson also said the title was partly inspired by German cannibal Armin Meiwes.
"Once you've been in a position where you don't want to live, and you find a reason to live, you're perfectly justified to decide how you would chose to die," Manson said. "And if I had a choice, being devoured and devouring the person you're obsessed with is the most romantic idea possible. The only complication is the practicality of it, that one person just gets full and the other person's dead. I mean it in a literal sense and a metaphorical sense, but I think that I don't plan on being eaten anytime soon. I clearly want people to consume me with this record. I am offering myself as a sacrifice, and letting people see what's inside of you is really the same thing to me."
For the first time in Manson's career, he has written songs not about ideas, issues or his own beliefs, but about himself — a personal diary, if you will, spread out across 11 tracks. They include "The Red Carpet Grave," "They Said That Hell's Not Hot" and "Mutilation Is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery."
"I always probably chose ... I wouldn't say the wrong way, but I chose a different way of defining myself," he said of his previous studio efforts. "I didn't realize to prove that I believed in everything I was saying, or prove my powers as an artist, I always chose the most difficult thing. Whatever fit. I didn't realize just being me is the most difficult f---ing thing possible, and just making a record simply about how I'm feeling, it felt so perfect that I was able to finally realize that I didn't want to run away from music.
"I hadn't lived up to my capability," he continued. "I was trying to put all of these emotions or ideas or just energy into painting and cinema because I felt strangled with music — felt I couldn't do what I wanted to do. I didn't realize I was doing it wrong. By not trying to defend myself with my music, I'm simply letting it represent me. This is probably the way everybody starts out writing songs, and of course, I worked backwards. It's like going from heroin to Diet Coke — neither of which I'm a fan of."
Manson tried things with Eat Me, Drink Me that he'd never tried before by truly collaborating with Skold, who infused guitar solos into the songs — something Manson previously tried to shy away from. Working with Skold also encouraged Manson to take his vocals in new directions.
"The music led me to feel like I had to step up to a different level of doing what I do," he said. "It's very bizarre when I think about the fact that I wanted to make a very romantic record. That's been something in me, and I just made a mistake of trying to express my emotions and dedication and my idea of romance — I made the mistake of choosing marriage as the gesture to say it, when I realize now that a song can say it much stronger.
"It's not a negative comment on my past relationship, because I think the biggest mistake of it was marriage," he continued about Von Teese (see "Marilyn Manson Marries Longtime Girlfriend Dita Von Teese"). "But it allowed me to see who I really was, and I've finally realized a lot of things that I started to slowly believe were false in who I am, including being a singer and a rock star. I started to see when I became friends with [Wood] that these were things that are what make me likeable, or make up my personality, and I somehow was completely oblivious to that. The fact that this record is something that people are identifying with so much on a basic emotional level is because I was trying to identify with one person, which I guess makes the simplest universal way of speaking to everyone. ... I am sharing some part of me that I've always hidden."
Starting in July, Manson will team up with Slayer for a run of U.S. co-headlining gigs. He said the pairing was inspired by a book he knew as a child.
"It was [Hal Lindsey's] 'Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth,' and that was my theory with this tour ... now you know exactly where to find him," he explained. "I think our differences complement each other, and the uniting element in all of it is the darkness that both bands represent."
Fans can expect a more ostentatious stage show from Manson this time around, and they'll also be seeing a different backing band taking the stage: Skold, former Prodigy bassist Rob Holliday and drummer Ginger Fish.
"The show isn't going to be something that is basic or unimaginative in any way," he said. "This show will be probably my greatest undertaking in theatrics, and me trying to really bring back the power of rock star."