JEORDIE WHITE | BASE TENDENCIES
"The grand scheme of things? Self-destruction eventually. Our next record, "Anti-Christ Superstar", will be our last. It looks that way, which isn't necessarily bad. After that we'll make a decision as to what we will do. It will be the end of MARILYN MANSON." - Twiggy Ramirez, bassist
White-faced, raven-haired gothic queens mill about in the bleak cold of Asbury Park, waiting for a glimpse of their anti-gods. Dave from local Jersey boys Reverse is there, in shorts, frozen, waiting to glimpse his idol, Twiggy. "Let me meet him, I'll go in with you." Fat chance. "I'm not a Shift fan, you know. That was a joke." What? "In your interview of us, you said..." Oh, yeah. It's cold out, the sky overcast. A nose-pierced girl smiles at me, noticing my Sunshine Blind long-sleeve. She has the band displayed on her leather jacket. "Did you see them?" Huh? I'm in a daze. Marilyn Manson interview. Need some heat. Need to get inside soon.
BLACK MOON: What do you think of America's fascination with serial killers and O.J. Simpson?
TWIGGY: As far as Marilyn Manson goes, we're not fascinated by it. We're more fascinated with the fascination of things. It's more of the fascination that society has with it. It's partly responsible for where we are now.
BLACK MOON: What if the media stopped paying attention to Marilyn Manson? Where do you think you'd be then?
TWIGGY: Um, well, we still existed without the media. The media has obviously gotten us farther. There's always places to go, other outlets to destroy ourselves. If there were no more interviews, it would be fine with me. Sorry, haha.
Inside, the road manager, Frank, who looks like an ANTHRAX roadie, sticks me in a corner while the band is running through soundcheck. I glance to my left, out the side door. The sky is going black. A dozen people are pounding on the door to sneak them in. In a few minutes, it will begin. I've been warned about these guys already, about their views, their feelings on things. I'm queasy.
BLACK MOON: Is the entire band involved with the Church Of Satan and Anton LaVey?
TWIGGY: Mr. Manson is a Reverend in the Church Of Satan. Some of the band uses Satanism too... It's not my religion, I don't have a religion. The rest of the band pretty much does, but that's a whole other interview to get into.
BLACK MOON: You guys grabbed a lot of attention on the Nine Inch Nails tour. Was Trent Reznor annoyed at that or...
TWIGGY: Not really. He's always been a big fan of the band and helped us out. He got us the deal, got us on the tour, the best situation we could possibly be in. A lot of people think of us as brats. We were the new kids on the block making noise and a lot of people were pissed at that. It's Trent's record company (Nothing) and he's really happy he had something to do with it.
BLACK MOON: What is the message of Marilyn Manson?
TWIGGY: We don't single out one message. It's possible to be an individual. That doesn't mean be like us, it means be yourself.
BLACK MOON: There he is. Mr. Manson. Everyone in the Stone Pony refers to him as this.
Mr. Manson. He grabs the mike like an extension of his phallus, fighting and weaving across the stage in front of a handful of club employees. One bartender smiles, cleaning glasses. "This will be some night". His makeup has yet to be applied, his skeletal body holding his clothes more like a coat hanger. He looks pissed. Fire gleams in his eyes, even from this distance. And it's only soundcheck.
BLACK MOON: If you weren't in a band, what would you be doing?
TWIGGY: Probably...(long pause). Hm. I've always been in a band, so that's a tough question. I'd probably be supporting Fahrakkan or something like that. It's not that I don't now, but I'd be in the Million Man March in DC.
BLACK MOON: What do your parents think of all this?
TWIGGY: They're very supportive. Ever since I was a child I've always said I'd be a big rock star, whatever that is now. I guess there's no such thing anymore. They sort of laughed it off the whole time. I lived at home for more years than I should have.They supported me.
Manson's not happy with the sound of his voice. He yanks his hands in the air, spinning around the stage like a demon. They crank him up. You can almost imagine Mr. Manson smile. Closest to me, Twiggy Ramirez is bored, plowing along with the rest of the band, eyes distant. How many soundchecks has he done in recent weeks? Stripped down, without Marilyn Manson regalia and makeup, obscene as it is, they could pass for just another band on the stage of the House That Springsteen Built, on the stage where Jon Bon Jovi cut his musical baby teeth. Somehow, you know that Mr. Manson and company would love to defile that altar, piss in the face of the legend of the Stone Pony. They now control the stage.
BLACK MOON: Growing up, you guys are all in your mid to late twenties...
TWIGGY: Mid twenties is the average.
BLACK MOON: Did you guys get a lot of your influence from bands like KISS, Alice CooperR, that stuff?
TWIGGY: Obviously, KISS growing up. They of course had a big influence. I think maybe because they were so different. We didn't start the band to be like KISS or anything, though. Unconsciously, KISS and Alice Cooper was a very big influence, the Stooges, Twisted Sister, early 60's Bee Gees was a big influence, we take positive aspects of our influences and mold them into Marilyn Manson. It's nothing obvious.
BLACK MOON: How's Mr. Manson's lunchbox collection coming along?
TWIGGY: He has just about everything. Being on the road, it's hard to keep up the collection. Getting new toys, Barbie dolls, stuff like that is hard because there's really nowhere to store it on tour.
Daisy Berkowitz, Madonna Wayne Gacy and Ginger Fish run from the stage as if it's on fire. Soundcheck is done, and Marilyn Manson seems to think soundcheck is akin to the plague. "It's not that we don't like soundcheck, it's just so repetitious. We live to play in front of people, not our road manager". There he is again, watching me. Frank grabs Twiggy, pointing in my direction. This is it. Frank grins, and I wonder if they intend to torture me instead, just for fun. Is it suddenly colder in the club? They come towards me. I'm watching their hands for tell-tale weapons or handcuffs.
BLACK MOON: How long have you been on the road?
TWIGGY: We've been on the road, really, for about two years. This tour's been about a month and a half, maybe more.
BLACK MOON: How long will it be?
TWIGGY: It keeps getting longer.
BLACK MOON: How are you guys back home? Is it weird getting off the road and going home?
TWIGGY: They say that when you get to a certain point that you don't change, you stay the same. You see life totally different. We've been to places with a different way of life, of looking at life. You get this pre-conception that everyone acts the same and thinks the same. It couldn't be more untrue. We have the assumption that people look at us as assholes, anyway, so it's hard. Sometimes, it's good, sometimes it's bad.
BLACK MOON: Has the whole tour been with Clutch?
TWIGGY: Basically. They've been on since the beginning of this tour.
BLACK MOON: How was the Nine Inch Nails tour?
TWIGGY: Well, let's see...The Nine Inch Nails tour was great, a great learning experience. We saw a lot of new places, met a lot of like-minded people, met a lot of close-minded people.
An experience. "Black Moon, right?" Frank is pointing at me,Twiggy standing idly by. I nod positively, and he slaps Twiggy on the back. "This is your man, Twiggy. He'll be doing the interview. Grab a corner". He's wearing huge, Clark Kent glasses, a purple frill-lined coat, strange objects hanging from his clothing. We wander to a far corner, pictures of Springsteen and ancient rock and roll memorabilia displayed behind us. Twiggy seems unaware, or perhaps doesn't give a damn about any of it. He doesn't seem to care about anything around him, yet when he talks of Marilyn Manson and Mr. Manson, his eyes gleam from behind his glasses. Clearly, he serves one purpose in life: playing bass for one of the newest influential mega-bands to defy description and spit at their own success. He tells me that he doesn't care to talk about sex, especially Mr. Manson's sexuality, because those are the only questions he's been offered lately. I smile, mentally crossing off a dozen questions from my list. He looks oddly comfortable in his clothes. I seem overdressed, out of it. He's staring at me, eager to answer my inane questions. Will he cut me down if I ask him something stupid? Will Mr. Manson come out from the dressing room, spitting blood and gore, reciting lines from "Willy Wonka" and looking for his next victim?
BLACK MOON: How was the last night of the tour?
TWIGGY: The last night-which one? We had a couple of last nights. The very last night we went to Philadelphia, playing in front of 10,000 people and Trent sends some male strippers up on stage, which totally pissed us off. As we got off stage, they handcuffed us, then threw us in the back of a truck and dropped us off downtown. We had to find our way back to the place. It was a tough night, it was about twenty degrees outside.
BLACK MOON: Did you get back at them?
TWIGGY: Well, actually, they got back at themselves. They had a really bad show that night.
Outside, the crowd is restless again. The doors won't open for another hour, yet a good-sized group has formed outside. The Children Of The Night, dancing and screaming under the moon. In the chilling air near the sea. Where rock and roll legends will be put to death tonight. Body piercing and tattoos reign supreme. Does Marilyn Manson realize what they've done? What they are to these people, to this sub-culture? Do they care?
BLACK MOON: Will you be doing any videos for the "Smells Like Children" EP?
TWIGGY: The last album we did one for "Dope Hat", kind of a children's television vibe to it. As far as the EP goes, possibly for "Sweet Dreams".
BLACK MOON: Why did you cover that song?
TWIGGY: We like that song because it has a darker message than people realized when it came out.
BLACK MOON: You definitely show that.
TWIGGY: Yeah, we wanted to bring that out. That's what Marilyn Manson is.
BLACK MOON: What about "Rock & Roll Nigger?"
TWIGGY: We liked what that song stood for, it's not a racist song. We're not trying to scare up attention by doing it. We were just big fans of the song. We were originally going to do it for the "Natural Born Killers" soundtrack, which Trent put together, but they went with the original version. So this was our chance to do it.
"This is just another show", Frank explains. "I'm not being a dick, but there's more to come, more that were played." He's talking to the promoter, and I'm eavesdropping. The place is still empty of fans. It looks huge, like a cavern deep in a mountain. It's darker inside than out, even though night has finally come to New Jersey. Like a bat cavern, silent now, the residents waiting for the sign to rise and feast. Soon, the doors will be open. The Creatures will be set free to roam in search of blood.
BLACK MOON: What happened in Fort Lauderdale with Mr. Manson? Is it resolved?
TWIGGY: Mr. Manson's been arrested a few times in the state of Florida. If he gets arrested one more time, he's going to jail,so he's trying to stay out of trouble.
BLACK MOON: Trying?
TWIGGY: (Smirking) Yeah, trying.
BLACK MOON: Where does MARILYN MANSON fit in down in Florida, especially in the death metal scene?
TWIGGY: The only reason people identify us with the death metal scene is because that's what Florida is known for. You hear Florida and you think of death metal. That's the only thing that's gotten anywhere-nowhere, actually. But it's gotten recognized. I was in a death metal band before Marilyn Manson.
BLACK MOON: Is it an influence in your playing, having been in a death metal band?
TWIGGY: Well, at the time I was doing it I thought it was the shocking thing to do. It was more attitude on stage.
BLACK MOON: Do you prefer the smaller venues or the arena shows?
TWIGGY: Both have their advantages. I like playing smaller clubs because it's more personal. Then again, arenas are great because you grab hold of so many people. It's two different games.
BLACK MOON: Has Marilyn Manson gone to Europe yet?
TWIGGY: Not yet. I think the Europeans will understand this band a lot more because we're such an American band. They are on the outside and can see that. A lot of people don't understand us.
As we conclude our chat, I can't help wonder if he's annoyed. Bored with another interview in another club with another fanzine in another state. How many small-press guys have bent his ear this week alone? How many more will attack him in the next few weeks? He shakes my hand, I wish him a good show, and he disappears into the back of the Stone Pony. It has ended. I am still alive. Or am I?
BLACK MOON: How's the new album shaping up?
TWIGGY: Most of it has been written on the bus and we've recorded some songs on a 4-track. We're looking forward to recording it, and I'm sure everyone is looking forward to it coming out. We're all very excited about it, and it will probably be our last album. Our last record as Marilyn Manson. Lots of bands say that, and use it as a marketing ploy. We won't. If we stop, we stop. I just think that we've put so much into this record that there's nothing more to offer after it.
Somewhere in the deep recesses of the Stone Pony Mr. Manson is contemplating the destruction he will wreak on the crowd outside, chanting his name. For, tonight, the Stone Pony stage is his unholy altar, he the dark preacher, and the blood of rock and roll legends will flow. And Mr. Manson holds the microphone in his hands like the sacrificial knife.