the second coming of marilyn manson
Read an extended Q&A version of our interview with Marilyn Manson from The Music Issue, where he discusses John Galliano, social media and his place in the world today.
Marilyn wears custom made cloak Dior Couture.
On a Saturday morning at 4 AM, i-D spoke to Marilyn Manson about a new chapter in his life and The Pale Emperor, his most critically acclaimed album in a decade.
Watching old interviews, I noticed that you've become more easygoing with age. Do you feel like that's the case?
I feel that this year, and all I've overcome, especially [with the death of] my mother. Making a record that has a swagger and a masculinity to it, and still has a femininity to it, strangely enough I think I've just become more masculine. I think maybe it was just getting out of the house and socializing a bit more, and that probably makes me easier to talk to. I don't know if it makes me easier to understand, because everyone is gonna understand me differently. You know, people ask me, "Do you think you're misunderstood?" I don't think the word 'misunderstood' is even a bad word. It's certainly chaos incarnate. I'm an amusement park twenty-four hours a day for my friends, but that doesn't mean that everyone rides for free.
I'm not sure what had to change. Maybe I had to grow up a little bit. Time, does it make sense to me in the same way as to other people? I still think of 23, when I started this, and it could have been a year ago for me. I really have a hard time keeping track of what day of the week it is, or what month or year it is. I just had a birthday and I didn't really know how old I was. I think not having a calendar and not owning a watch keeps you in an eternal state of Peter Pan. I take things seriously, but I honestly don't take myself too seriously.
How did the death of your mother change you?
It happened while I was finishing recording the record. The record had happened very quickly, over the course of two months or so, and then, because of work - I had jobs going in New York on Sons of Anarchy - the record literally, I believe, took almost nine months, like a child being born. And I guess it made me sort of born again in a strange way. Going back home and going through that, having to deal with my mother's death, it made me grow into a different person. Still the same, but it sort of took me back to where I was when I started, with the same end vision. The difference between a person, who has nothing to lose, and someone who has everything to gain. And I'm someone who has everything to gain at this point.
A lot of people don't realize how accepting your parents have been of you.
Yeah, but I don't think it started out that way. Before I graduated my father didn't want me to—I wanted to be a writer—and at the time I was working for them; I was painting the walls. So ironically, I became a writer and a painter, not of walls but of paintings to hang on walls. Strangely enough, the first cover story I wrote was on Katey Sagal and I gave it to him on Christmas because she's on Sons of Anarchy and I thought that was ironic because that was my father's favorite show and I wrote an article on her.
What have you learned from spending more time with your dad?
I never actually thought nightmares were nightmares. I just thought they were more interesting dreams, when I was kid growing up. But apparently I used to have terrible nightmare where I would wake up in panic attacks. I didn't know that. My dad's been telling me a lot of things recently about himself and about me growing up. He brought my first report card from the sixth grade and I had all As and it said, "Brian is a very lovable, courteous young man." I thought that was hilarious. I do have manners and do introduce myself with a handshake and I do… you know, if somebody is trying to hurt somebody or… you know, I protect my friends and loved ones. With deadly force.
What does Marilyn Manson means today?
It means something different to everybody, but to me it just means… I don't expect people to know who I am, but on the other hand I think my legend precedes me. So there are going to be a lot of people, who think they know what I'm supposed to be. I think that works to my advantage. The devil's greatest asset is that no one believes he exists.
What is your revolution now?
I think it's about people unlocking their door on everybody. I think there's one part snake and one part snake charmer in me.
What is the biggest political problem right now?
Maybe that I'm not the emperor?
Who is relevant now?
Someone I really like is Matthew McConaughey. He fascinates me greatly. Musically, I'm kind of interested in this Madonna record. I'd say that that's one record I'm looking forward to hearing when it comes to relevance. She looks hotter than ever. I'd also like to let it be known that I did get to sit next to her once at a screening of one of her movies. And I still have a crush on Madonna and I would definitely fornicate with her.
You still have teenage fans. Why do you think you appeal to people who don't even remember the 90s?
Other than my good looks and my deep voice? I know those things have an affect on people. I don't know what it would be. There is something unnatural about my voice that is supernatural. I found that out this year. You can't auto-tune my voice even if you wanted to. It won't accept it. We tried to put it through. It makes it glitch.
Who makes your clothes these days?
I've been wearing a lot of John Varvatos. Dandy of the Grotesque is making my stage clothes and I'm very much caught up in the combination between the gangster era of America and England and Ireland - Peaky Blinders, the 1920s, Boardwalk Empire, the TV shows I watch - but I think the hooligan look of the 20s is where I'd put myself. Trenchcoats and disheveled combat boots and very tight leather pants. It's something that I always enjoyed.
You used to wear John Galliano. Did you follow the whole situation with him over the past three years?
I did. I almost went to visit him after he got in that bit of shitstorm, because he was a friend. He designed my clothes for my wedding. He got a raw deal. They just overacted a lot.
What's your view on this age of social media?
I do remember the first time I was using MySpace, I was trying to talk to a girl… had I known she was a psychopath I wouldn't have done it under the name of Marilyn Manson. I could ignore [social media] and it wouldn't have an affect on my life. I don't read what people say in response to the things I put online. I could be equally masochistic or narcissistic, because… you know, it would be like Santa Claus or God suddenly having to hear everyone's thoughts.
Your career has followed the career of the internet. What has the internet done for Marilyn Manson? Or what have you done for the internet?
I don't even think social media, I think more like the media decease or social decease. Maybe I put a little bit of dirt in there. But it's hard to say. You can't really get your hands dirty. I get really annoyed if I'm talking to somebody and they're texting on the phone, or half paying attention. It's different for me because I have some, probably, scientifically quantifiable diagnosable to understand what goes on inside my head, but it's some form of synaesthesia where I can watch a movie, read a book, and talk to somebody at the same time. That also opens up all my senses so it makes me hyper-sensitive to being in crowds with people that I don't know, which is ironic because of what I do.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Nicholas Alan Cope
Styling Ise White
Hair Ramsell Martinez at Streeters using R + Co
Make-up Donald Simrock at Tracey Mattingly
Set design Jamie Dean at WSM
Photography assistance Keith Schwalenberg, Hans Hansen, Garett Guidera.
Digital technician Peter Juhl.
Styling assistance Amanda van Duyse.
Production Kiori Georgiadis.
Production assistant George Sanchez.
Retouching Digital Giant.
Creative Direction Willo Perron.
Art Direction Hassan Rahim.