By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
We caught up with Marilyn Manson in New Orleans. It seemed like the
ideal town for someone as dark and sinister as Mr. Manson, so we
asked what sights he'd been seeing.
"Well, last night we went grave digging,'' he said.
Oh, jeez. Here we go.
"There's this old cemetery around here, and the weather has
deteriorated the ground — it's just this big mud puddle,'' Manson
explained. "There are pieces of coffins and corpses lying around,
and no one seems to care. So we kind of went shopping at the bone
flea market. It's not something I'm really into, but our bassist
likes to put them in his hair.''
Such is the grim but happy life of Marilyn Manson, the heart
of darkness from the terminally happy state of Florida, and the
rising messiahs in the cult of death metal. Granted, rock is filled
with bands who enjoy turning the notion of good taste upside down,
but Manson's is a particularly putrid strain, specializing in songs
about blood, disease, rape and abuse.
But don't be too quick to judge. Manson's mission has less to
do with advocacy of these evils and more to do with reflecting them
back in our faces. Mr. Manson, as the band's leader is hailed,
blames us for creating him.
It's best to let him explain.
"Anyone who misunderstands Marilyn Manson right off the bat
and takes it for the shock value only — thinks we're glorifying
anything — is just feeding into the very trap that we're all
about,'' Manson said. "If you're disgusted by us, then you should
be asking yourselves why you're disgusted and why you created this
possibility in the first place.''
Fliers broadcast about to promote the album feature a searing
open letter "to whom it may conform'' from Mr. Manson. It is
decorated with the typical skulls, bugs, syringes and pieces of
candy. Some highlights: "Marilyn Manson is the harvest of
thown-away kids, and America is now afraid to reap what it has
sown. You have spoonfed us Saturday morning mouthfuls of maggots
and lies disguised in your sugary breakfast cereals. The plates you
made us clean were filled with your fears. These things have
hardened in our soft, pink bellies ... It's too late to take it all
back. This is your world in which we grow, and we will grow to hate
The band is Manson's vehicle for getting his message across.
The band has barely cracked sales of 50,000, and the debut disc,
"Portrait of an American Family,'' is not likely to go platinum.
"I still don't think I've gotten across to enough people,''
Still, here they are getting written up in our own placid
community. The message is getting out. And Manson chose his medium
well. Before the band came together five years ago, he considered
being a writer, but he figured music got into more people's heads
than any other form of communication.
"Music is the most powerful form of expression in America,''
he said. "That's where the great tyrants and anti-Christs, the
people who want to make some sort of big social change, are
talking. If Hitler were alive today, he'd be a rock star.''
You can just hear Bob Dole quivering, can't you? Marilyn
Manson is the perfect target for a campaign ad: Manson himself is
the creepiest visage on the continent, strewn with Alice Cooper
raccoon eyes, vicious tattoos and blood often trickling over his
deathly pale skin. He's bound to be spotted soon in a campaign
commercial, frightening old housewives while a serene voice tells
them that this is the state of all rock music today and, if you
don't vote for Candidate A, your children will be under direct
orders from Marilyn Manson to pillage the countryside.
Oh — and the music? Well, yes, there's music at the heart of
this, too. "Portrait of an American Family'' is the first deal
with Nothing Records, founded by Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor. His
hand in the album's distorted, edgy production is obvious. The
guitar riffs and song structures are nothing terribly unique
musically, but the vocal effects and Manson's ranting are
uncomfortable and scary.
But is that all there is to Marilyn Manson — a freaky
gimmick? Most of the bands Manson claims as influences used the
lipstick and bodily secretion fixations strictly to sell records.
"I get a lot of flak from people who think that what I do
isn't me, that it's just an image we put forth to get attention,''
Manson said. "I'm sorry if I'm a little more creative than Hootie
and the Blowfish, but I'm not doing this for anyone else. I want to
be the things that made me happy when I was a kid. Everyone has an
image, even if it's a bland, regular-guy image. I make myself happy
being this way. I do this for me.
"We're in such a bland, politically correct era where music
is such a product on TV. It doesn't matter if you sound like the
band last week — in fact, that's even better. I'm bored with that."
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.