There was no fight, no knock-down, drag-out argument, no back-stabbing, no "creative differences," at least not according to departed Marilyn Manson guitarist Zim Zum.
"It was an amicable decision," Zim said of his announcement that he was leaving the multi-platinum goth-rock band after completing work on their upcoming album, Mechanical Animals (Sept. 15).
He added, however, that the decision was not final and that the band and he have "left the door open."
"After two years of touring, doing videos and eight months of recording, I just felt that, creatively, I had gotten to the point where I wanted to expand on my own music rather than spending the next 18 months on a tour bus or plane," said Zim, 29, who would not give his full real name, but offered that his middle name is Michael. In a brief statement, shock-rockers Marilyn Manson confirmed that Zim will be replaced by John Lowery, ex-guitarist for former Judas Priest singer Rob Halford's industrial-rock band Two.
Sounding relaxed and excited about the many "very recognizable," but at-this-point unnamed, artists he hopes to have play on his upcoming debut solo LP, Zim said he felt good about leaving the band on good terms. Zim added that he has already penned 60 songs for his solo project.
Zim said that he and Manson, who became roommates the day after the guitarist joined the group in 1995, have always had a good relationship and that his former bandleader was understanding of Zim's decision to leave to pursue his own muse. "We sat down and he could tell there needed to be a change and we agreed to give each other some room," Zim said of the pair's meeting last week.
Manson had no further comment on Zim's leaving because he is still in the studio mixing the upcoming album.
"It'll become clear what my influence was on this album," Zim said of the upcoming Manson effort. "I think people have become misled by what is perceived as the 'revolving door' policy on members of this band. When I came in, I felt like I was coming into a new band. I never felt like I was replacing anyone. And there's nothing final about me leaving this band. We left it open."
Zim joined Marilyn Manson just after the band finished work on their breakthrough 1996 album, Antichrist Superstar, on which he played on one track, "Irresponsible Hate Anthem," replacing previous guitarist Daisy Berkowitz (a.k.a. Scott Putesky). Several hard-core Manson fans seemed unsurprised by the departure.
"My first reaction is, 'Wonder what took so long?'," wrote Jim Kenefick, 28, of Connecticut, who runs the "Marilyn-Manson.com" website. "Not because Zimmy is a bad guitarist, or a bad guy, but because Marilyn is nuts. I get the feeling the guitarist/drummer slots are going to be very Spinal-Tappish over the next few years."
Kenefick said he was unsure how the band's sound would change in the wake of Zim's departure, and wondered which would prevail in the future: the heavier, chunkier sounds favored by Zim in the live setting, or what he described as the lighter, "kaleidoscope-ish" riffs of Berkowitz's work on Antichrist. Another fan, Dave Simko, 26, of Florida, said that the guitarist change didn't concern him since, "I am loyal to the music, not the members."
Another guitarist who recently left a major band after only one album, former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro, who is a friend of Zim's, said he can relate to the former Manson guitarist's current situation. "I've never [gone solo] yet, even though my album's been done for a while," Navarro said of his unreleased Spread project. "But, of course it's hard. I think the hardest part of it is yet to come, though -- establishing that name again."
Zim -- who said he will continue to record under his stage name, which he described as a derivative of a phrase from the Jewish mystical teachings in the Kabbalah -- will undoubtedly leave his mark on the band. According to Zim, his guitar-work will appear on 12 of the 14 songs on the upcoming album, which he would only describe as "introspective." He also said that he has entertained offers from "a bunch" of labels interested in his solo project, although he said he was not ready to reveal which labels those were.
Zim's work can also be heard on the track "The Suck For Your Solution" (RealAudio excerpt), from the soundtrack to radio personality Howard Stern's "Private Parts" movie, and a cover of David Bowie's "Golden Years," on the upcoming "Dead Man on Campus" soundtrack.
"I knew the after-effects of this would take up some time," Zim said of his departure, "and I didn't want a circus to follow it and I didn't want it to hold up the tour or cause any problems for the band."
Saying he didn't want his creative process to end once the band finished recording the album, which was produced by Michael Beinhorn -- who also recently produced Hole's new album, Celebrity Skin -- Zim said he wanted to leave while he was still feeling good about his experiences with Marilyn Manson.
"It's not like things weren't going well," he said, adding that there was a two-week stretch where the band recorded a song a day for 14 days. "Everyone comes in and does what their job is in the band. If you play bass, you play bass, if you play drums, you play drums. There were no egos and any creative idea that anyone had was tried."