22 settembre 2002
tastes like chicken
www.tlchicken.com
Cyril Helnwein
Cyril-Helnwein-talks-with-Marilyn-Manson
Cyril Helnwein talks with Marilyn Manson
THE FRENCH SAY, "CONDEMNANT IL FAIT Q'UOD": "WE CONDEMN WHAT WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND." BUT THAT STOPS RIGHT HERE. LAY YOUR OPINIONS OF THE MAN TO REST UNTIL AFTER YOU'VE READ THE ENTIRE CONVERSATION BETWEEN CYRIL HELNWEIN AND MARILYN MANSON - Manson: Of course, for everybody who reads this – they won’t know that our meeting has been very important to my career, because you introduced me to your father (Gottfried Helnwein) and we'’ve gone and will go on to do lots of great stuff together. So that’s the behind-the-scenes story for everybody who’'s going to read this..
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Thank you very much for your time; it’'s an honor and a pleasure to interview you.
MARILYN MANSON:
Thank you. Of course, for everybody who reads this – they won’t know that our meeting has been very important to my career, because you introduced me to your father (Gottfried Helnwein) and we’'ve gone and will go on to do lots of great stuff together. So that’s the behind-the-scenes story for everybody who’'s going to read this.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Yes, and I'’m very excited about that because you are probably my most favorite artist.
MARILYN MANSON:
Thank you, I owe you because you hooked me up.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
You’'re quite welcome. Okay, so my first question: if it were the last day on earth, what would you be doing right now?
MARILYN MANSON:
Not an interview, that’s for sure. I suppose I’'d prefer to be performing, I’'ve always said that this would be the way I’'d like to end things; with my death as a performance in itself. But then it’'s hard because you'’re torn -– once you get attached to things like your loved ones and your pets and things like that, so it would be a tough call. I suppose part of me would want to go on a killing spree and take out everyone who’'s fucked me over in life, and a part of me would probably just want to sit quietly with my cat and my girl. But it depends on what day you ask me, it’'s always different. But today is a good day, so I’'d probably just want to sit with my cat.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Being not only a musician, but also a performance artist, writer, producer, actor, director and recently successful painter, where do you find all your inspiration? What drives you to create?
MARILYN MANSON:
I've always dreaded being called a musician, because I always wanted to write and paint and I used to do art as a kid. I tried my hand at writing, and I enjoy being able to express myself in that way, but I didn'’t enjoy writing about other people so in journalism, there wasn'’t something there really. But I do like watching other people and reporting on it, so I guess you end up doing the same thing when you’re a painter or a singer, because it all ends up being the same job. But journalism is in a sense, I guess, the root of all evil and the root of all art because it’'s really just about observing and reporting it to others. But I’'m not ashamed to just merely be considered an entertainer, because art is entertaining; sometimes some of my stuff is funny, some of it has pain in it, some of it has confusion, some of it has anger, sex. I have a real hard time drawing the lines between any of them. The only thing that freed me up, and I think – it is an art form in itself to act and to be an actor. You’'re releasing yourself to the director and you are sort of a tool of another artist. And I’'ve enjoyed the release because I’'m so much in control of every detail of what I do, that it was interesting to have somebody else put me somewhere and do something and not play myself –- to act you have to be another character. And then it gets confusing because I play so many different roles in my own life, just for my own amusement. People always ask me “are you the same on stage and off”, and sometimes I'’m much more out of control off stage than on stage. People sometimes don’'t know if I’'m nice or if I’'m mean, and I’'m both. I reflect what you give to me. I think that’'s something that when I first began forming the idea of Marilyn Manson, it was the time when talk shows had just really become a staple in American entertainment and every channel there was, had interviews with serial killers. And then there were stories about dead celebrities and the two became intertwined and then started to bring to mind stories like “The Black Dahlia”, where the girl who came to Hollywood to become famous, and became famous when she died. Or more recently, Columbine: these kids wanted to be famous because they were considered nobodies. And they got what they wanted and the news media gave it to them. That’s when I first started seeing things about Marilyn Monroe that really interested me because there was so much tragedy behind the beauty. I think so many people had overlooked that because they dehumanized her later to just a product on some T-shirt sold on Hollywood Boulevard or something. And then at the same time I was seeing Charles Manson in interviews saying all these things; it made sense in ’69 and it made sense in ’96 and it makes sense today. He was saying a lot of things that I'’ve gone on to say and I think he expresses the same idea that he is a reflection of culture. How can you -– how can America hate something that it created. It’'s like being mad at your own shit. You should have eaten something different. All of that somehow started brewing up in my brain, and when you’'re in that position when you’'re turning 19 or 20 and you have to decide what you’'re going to be when you grow up, I found out that I don’t want to grow up, I want to be Peter Pan. So I decided to create a world where I didn’'t have to play by anybody’'s rules and Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson were the two things that spelled that world out. Phonetically it’s like Abracadabra; you know Manson by his last name, you know Marilyn by the first name and it just goes together like “Mickey Mouse". It says everything; you say “Marilyn Manson” and it needs no explanation. It conjures up such images, no matter what country you’'re from. It'’s very American, but at the same time I think like a European and my reason for choosing the name is both a celebration and a harsh criticism of America. And that kind of creates the whole contradiction that I thrive on. So working with your father, working with Tim Skold, now a member of the band, and he’'s from Sweden. I think that European artists appreciate my understanding of American culture because I look at it as an outsider. I was always treated as an outsider and it doesn’'t make me hate America, it doesn'’t make me love it; it just makes me see it for what it is. In someway a part of the problem and a part of the solution, being all you can be is entertaining in the midst of it because there is no final answer -– so just be part of the show. I don’'t want to be in the audience, I want to be on the stage. And now with what I'’m doing, I don’t want to be on the stage, I want everybody to be part of the show.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
One of the first stories you wrote as a journalist was as Brian Warner about Marilyn Manson.
MARILYN MANSON:
That was also part, strangely, what I suppose deep down in my heart, I knew that I would get here, to what I am now. But in the initial insecurity of “where do I go from here in my life”, I thought I could lead a secret identity almost. I thought maybe I could continue to be a journalist and maybe get a great job in Rolling Stone or something silly like that, and I started this band and all of a sudden I thought “well, nobody really knows who I am, I don’t have any friends here, so why don’t I write the article, why don’t I call up all these record companies that I writing articles about their bands and say ‘hey, I got this great band I heard of – Marilyn Manson, would you sign them’.” It worked for a period until I didn’t want to be two people anymore; I just wanted to be one person. It wasn’t being a different person; I just wanted to kind of narrow it down to one thing.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Would you rather be eaten by sharks or be injected with lethal toxins if you had to make a choice between those two?
MARILYN MANSON:
[laughs] I think I already have had enough lethal toxins on a daily basis as it is, between Absinthe and everything else. I have a real great fear for the ocean and sharks. I lived in Florida and I rarely went near the ocean because as a kid, the film “Jaws” really scared me. Earlier you asked where my inspirations come from; films are where everything comes from for me, it’s my inspiration for everything. And that’s why, I think, I find myself able to direct something with the freedom of not creating something for public consumption, not working within the demands of the consumer – creating it for artistic purposes. That’s where I’m going to be happy. That’s what I like about painting – because when I did these paintings I did not think, “I wonder if people are going to like this”, “I wonder if someone’s going to buy this”, “you think I should paint more of this type because it’ll be more popular?” I painted because it made me calm and it entertained me. Some of the paintings were gifts to other people and it made me feel nice to give a gift to somebody. That was a nice freedom as an artist, because as a musician, you create a family of your fans and it’s like being a mother and if you start feeding your kids a certain thing every Sunday, you have to keep feeding them that or they’re going to get mad or they’re going to want to go out and eat at McDonalds. [Laughs] So as a musician, in terms of music, I do have to consider the desires of my fans but I do want them to grow with me so I want them to accept change. But I don’t want to be self-indulgent and arrogant and forsake their loyalty at the same time. So it’s a tough, sometimes very depressing, line to walk, and for someone like me, who’s always changing and a shape shifter, it’s hard to keep things going but also be developed into a fast-forward culture where things are forgotten – sometimes before they’re even remembered. I’m proud to say that I’ve been able to exist in the music industry this long because most people don’t.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
That kind of brings me to the next question - every album that you’ve produced, has it’s own drastically different style, attitude and vibe, yet it’s still easily recognizable as Marilyn Manson. Do you think you’ll ever get bored of doing that specifically, and do something completely different – maybe start a boy-band or something?
MARILYN MANSON:
Well I do really like the scoring job. When I got to do “Resident Evil”, we intentionally avoided it sounding like Marilyn Manson in a rock song sense. We did desire for the score to contain guitar elements but we used them in a cold, mechanical, harsh way. My collaboration with Tim Skold was where that whole relationship began, during that job. I had a great time doing it because what I did, they had a hard time defining, because of the different jobs different people do; there’s the composer who does the traditional string arranging, then there’s sometimes the person who supervises the music that they take from albums that already exist, and then there’s the sound designer who creates atmospheres and the alarming and emotion-invoking textures. And I wanted to do all that, I didn’t see any reason why there should be more than one person handling that so they had a hard time. I guess I gave them more than they were expecting, and they were happy with it, but the other person who was hired for the job, Marco Beltrami; he’s very talented in a classical sense, he even writes out things on a piece of paper. Our music was 80% of what was on the film but because he was the established composer, we kind of took second billing for that, but I think now we’ve kind of proved that we can do that sort of thing, we’ve gotten a lot of offers. I’ve just agreed to score the new interpretation of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which I myself thought could be very hokey and could be very silly because the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the template for all horror movies - it’s the first and best, I would say, scary film; psychologically terrifying, not just a slasher movie. And the sounds in the score of that are all music-less, scraping and plucking strings sounds and things like that. I’ve even sampled things from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, [laughs] but I’ve mutated them enough so they shouldn’t come after me and sue me. So I want to try and treat it in the same way when I do it, and I told the director when I had a meeting with him, he said “What do you think the music should be?”, and “Should we put a Marilyn Manson song in the end credits?” and I said that would ruin the film because they’re trying to create this interpretation of Texas Chainsaw Massacre as the real story. The movie we saw in the 70s was based on a real story and now this is the true story and that’s what gives it a real interesting twist and I like it and I read the script and I feel like, if the director does everything right, I can, with the music, make it a very scary movie. And they said, “What are you going to do with the music?” and I said, “people are really going to be paying me to create silence because I think the absence of music is what is often most effective”. Some of the best movies almost have no music in them.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
If you could wish one person gone from this earth – never even to have existed, past or present, who would it be?
MARILYN MANSON:
That’s hard - everybody does have their own purpose. Every person that’s caused harm to me – that wound that they made has been bandaged with some song or something. So I wouldn’t thank them for it, but I don’t know if I’d be the same person. But maybe if I stepped outside my own personal existence… somebody who’s ruined someway that things work… hmmm…. That’s tough, tough, tough. I suppose Adam; then none of us would be here. [laughs]
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
If censorship weren’t as strong in America, compared to Europe for example, would you have done more provocative or more extravagant things, and where do you draw your own line?
MARILYN MANSON:
There is a different kind of censorship in Europe than there is in America. America has a lot of hang-ups on sex but they sell and exploit it endlessly, but they’re ashamed of it so that that’s where the censorship comes in. America’s really ashamed of itself, where as Europe’s not. And that sexual shame is the source – any Freudian, Youngian, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, will tell you that’s what it all comes from – American Christianity and the shame that it creates. But there’s a lot of political censorship in Europe; your father’s (Gottfried Helnwein,s) work finds itself in a lot of trouble as does mine, the strange things like in Japan, the cover of the “Mechanical Animals” album was censored – but not because I was nude, because I had 6 fingers and they are real sensitive about physical deformities. I said, “well what about the rest of the…” [gestures towards his body] and so there are just odd things like that. I wasn’t allowed any religious clothing or have any references to religion when we played in Warsaw on stage. Rather than canceling the show and disappointing the fans or changing the show, we played different songs. On the DVD that’s coming out, there are some bits and pieces from that concert where we did a few things there that we only played once. Over here, people want to arrest me for showing my ass or whatever it is, but they're selling “Girls Gone Wild” videotapes. That’s the world we live in. There needs to be censorship because there need to be boundaries in order to cross the boundaries.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
True. Is there a point where you have your own personal boundary with things?
MARILYN MANSON:
Absolutely, everything I have done is within my boundaries, and my boundaries are often more related to doing things for the wrong reasons. The thing that I hate most – more than censorship, more than what the government or MTV or record companies tell you “you can’t” – it’s when bands, musicians, artists, whatever they want to call themselves, censor themselves in order to succeed.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Make compromises?
MARILYN MANSON:
Well, not make compromises after the fact. I think everybody has to do that to find the bigger picture. You have to find the compromise you can live with as an artist. For example, my new record has a lot of songs that they would consider to be singles to be played on the radio and I might have to censor profanity for the single to be played on the radio. But if I would have, while writing the song, said “Well this is really catchy”, “Maybe I shouldn’t put this word in here”, that’s the wrong kind of thing. That’s when you sell yourself out, when you censor your creation in anticipation for success or monetary gain. Everybody’s going to have to make their work fit in to the world around it after it’s created. That’s still part of the creation, I don’t think that’s necessarily censorship – that’s kind of putting things within the boundaries. That’s part of being an artist and wanting to succeed, for me it isn’t about money as much as it is about wanting to have as many people hear and see what I do. And you can easily defeat yourself by not making certain compromises that are for the better good.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Right. When was the last time you watched a TV soap opera and what was it?
MARILYN MANSON:
I think the soap opera’s of today are these reality-TV shows. I think part of it is the laziness of not wanting to hire actors and part of it’s the voyeurism – which the internet is partly responsible for, and there’s a real dangerous element of culture that is developing that needs to be stamped out and I will not be a part of, and that is the inter-active element of things like TRL or when you’re watching something on MTV that’s like “Britney Spears is trying to pick what she’s going to wear, write in and help her decide” or “We’re in the studio writing our song, here’s a piece of it, tell us what you think”. When the artist starts letting the audience help them create, then the art is destroyed. That’s quite different from trying to please you’re audience, but it’s developing a culture where – like these soap operas, that aren’t really actors, that are just real life – it’s a culture where eventually, because of all of that and video games and being able to make films with animation that look so real – that it eliminates the artist. It’s not a fear, or my fear of being extinct; it’s a fear of taking away the basic element, what it’s all about. Sure, I use a computer to record music and we use a computer to make sounds and things like that, but you have to be able to still have a set of crayons and paper to do something that’s worthwhile. Eventually it will end up killing itself; kids now have grown to be so demanding, because it’s the whole give-an-inch-take-a-mile thing, once you start letting people make choices like where they have – or you’ll go on a website and there’ll be a poll – “Which do you like better”, “Which do you think should be the next song that comes out from Christina Aguilera or Marilyn Manson” or whoever it’s going to be, and everybody puts in their votes. Eventually that’s going to create such a demand that artists are just going to… it’s just going to make people not want to be creative. It’s just going to encourage a lack of creativity. And on the Internet there’s a lot of people that can just sit back anonymously and say “That’s sucks, I can do that better”. The challenge should be, “Well, do it better”. That’s why anybody that tries to criticize anybody’s art, mine or someone else’s, it creates an environment that is truly a product of journalism. You can’t define what something is, you can say you like it or you don’t like it, but you can’t take it apart.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Everyone always has their own different opinion of it anyway.
MARILYN MANSON:
It all has it’s own meanings. That’s just the basic idea of life being art and just enjoying all of it at all times; playing a movie, always being in a movie. Maybe I’m wrong; maybe someday I’ll find out that I’m an actor playing somebody else. Like I had a great amnesia and no one told me.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
That would be quite a realization… You have often been unjustly accused of things by the finger-pointing media that you weren’t, I don’t know if guilty is the right word, but definitely didn’t have anything to do with – for example the Columbine kids. Why do you think they especially like you as a scapegoat and do you think that this possibly is a sign of your own originality and success as an artist?
MARILYN MANSON:
I think that I had as much to do with Columbine as everybody else does, as a part of American culture. But I think that’s the reason why I chose “Crop Failure” as the title of a painting I did of Harris and Klebold. I think you have to blame the farmers when the flowers don’t grow properly, you can’t blame the landlord who owns the property or the girl that gets the bouquet. Or the guy who buys it for her. I think when people want something to be shocking or they want to call it whatever word – I think it’s lazy journalism when people constantly refer to me as “shock rocker” – it’s a tiring, tiring term. Because I don’t think that I’m shocking, I didn’t try to be shocking. If I am shocking and I got your attention, that means that I’m good because there’s so much out there – if something gets your attention, it’s good. I think that’s the bottom line, and if it continues to, for as long as I have, then that means that I’m really good and I should be proud of it. And I can say that without being arrogant, I think it’s just a matter of fact that we live in a world of really mediocre things and I’m trying to raise the bar with everything that I do and trying to work with great people and bring back a desire for a higher aesthetic and usher in this golden age of grotesque idea. That’s obviously why I’m working with your father, and trying to collaborate with other people who are like-minded and want the world to be exciting like it was in Weimar-Berlin or in the 70s in New York, or fashion, and music and art were just rather decadent and it was bursting at the seams and then just watch everyone run in fear to try and stop it all. It’s always fun instigating new things. I build something up and someone else tries to break it down.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Tell us your best party joke, or some joke or prank you played on somebody else.
MARILYN MANSON:
There’s a lot of them, I think one of my favorite was very mean-spirited. There was a girl in a hotel bar, while we were on tour, that came up to me while I was just trying to relax with my friends and my band. She was quite obnoxious; asked me who I was, it was quite clear she knew who I was. I told her, and then she said she wasn’t a fan and I said, “Well okay, that’s fine” and then she sat down and kept bothering me and told me how much she really didn’t care who I was. And I said, “Okay, go away then” and then later I went back to my room and somehow she had found out what room I was in and knocked on my door. I had been at a spy store recently where they sold spy apparatuses and other devices and also prank items, and I bought this liquid container called “The Evacuator” – it says to put in several drops in someone’s drink and they will immediately shit themselves, and it says don’t put in too much because it could result in hospitalization. Well, I poured the entire bottle into a glass and I said “Oh, well hey – I’m so glad to see you back, why don’t you come in and have a drink”, then I gave her the shot. She went back to her room, and her friend came knocking on the door of my room, waking me up, and my bodyguard in the room next door. “Have you seen my friend, is she with you?” “No”, I said, “she’s not with me”. “Oh, I can’t get in my room, the door’s locked.” So they had to break in the door and they found her lying naked on the bed, covered in shit. She had gotten drunk, passed out and shit all over herself.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Oh no!
MARILYN MANSON:
I found that to be quite amusing. [laughs]
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
She got what she deserved, I guess.
MARILYN MANSON:
Yea.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
You’ve often and openly admitted to illegal drug use. Was this more to experiment artistically and help creatively or rather for your personal pleasure?
MARILYN MANSON:
I think drugs are best used when they are to have fun, to enjoy yourself, to loosen up. The worst use of drugs is when you’re not able to deal with the depression or whatever it might be, or for self-destruction. I’ve gone through periods of extreme highs and lows and I feel, in particularly this week, last week I felt quite depressed – it wasn’t really drugs or anything but there was a little bit of apprehension about what people – you know, having to see my paintings. And not that it matters much, but of course everybody – especially me, has feelings. I mean, what people underestimate about me, is how sensitive I am. Because I’m so sensitive, that’s why it’s best being so dramatic and why I have to build up such a show. But I found myself this week being rather positive, I have crossed the bridge onto the next level of where I need to go and I’m quite confident that this is going to be the best era – this golden age – that’s coming for me and as I’m starting on this next album, I think it will show people exactly what I’m capable of. Anyone who underestimated me before will know differently now. So, I think, any drugs now are to be part of decadence and letting loose. I think Absinthe is probably my worst vice, if I had to pick one, because I just like it. It tastes good and it makes me create a lot of, well I wouldn’t say makes me, but is has inspired a lot of my best work - a lot of my paintings, a lot of my writing. It does tap in, poke holes in the temple or lobe and let out some demons that were hiding in there. So it’s an enjoyable, not a depressing thing. I used to be a miserable drinking person back in the early days of self-destruction, but now I’m a much happier person with a different approach.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Two paintings of yours, which are probably my favorite ones, look very absinthe inspired. One is of William Burroughs I believe, how you would like to look as an old man; the other is “The enabler”.
MARILYN MANSON:
That’s my friend Jonathan. Yea, I suppose I really like the color green too so maybe I’m partly drawn to that, the “When I get old” painting – it actually has some Absinthe used in there. In a couple of them, as I was painting, I had my drink sitting right by my paint bowl and I’d dip into the wrong one, so it mixed in the drink, I just painted with it because it makes a nice green. So thank you, those are two of my favorites also.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Alright, I think you kind of answered my next question already, but maybe there is something else – is there any one thing that gives you particular feelings of hate, fear or disgust?
MARILYN MANSON:
Well, there’s more than one thing, but I suppose – while it’s okay to lounge around and take days off – I suppose laziness or a lack of desire to accomplish anything disgusts me most. It might be because I have such an extreme work ethic, or rather, creative impulse – because I don’t really like to consider I do work. I have to be doing something constantly. It was hard for me not to want to sit down and paint today because I was so happy with the show; I wanted to paint a new picture of my cat. I wanted to paint so many things but I convinced myself just to relax and to meet with you and do this interview, and to go out; actually leave the house and have dinner, which is a rare thing for me. But I find it hard, and this is the reason why it’s very difficult for me to find people to collaborate with, and to keep certain friends or band members in my life because while it is my vision, I think that I’m quite willing to share that with whoever has the same ambition and drive as I do. I find it particularly with Tim, who has helped me produce this record and has encouraged me to do things that I had forgotten that I like to do. Anyone who just doesn’t want to create or who’s satisfied with mediocrity or anyone who just takes for granted their talent and lets it go to waste, whatever that might be. Even if it’s mowing lawns, or painting walls, whatever it is. I think that’s the thing that disgusts me the most. I’m not an unkind person by any means; people that I love, I do anything for. I support my parents, they’re both retired and they have no retirement income. I support them completely; I take care of everybody that I care about. But you won’t see me giving a dime to a beggar on the street. But I think that’s actually part of a metaphor of the story your father and I are creating and the idea of how liberal idealism is often the downfall of America; when you let people think it’s okay to hold their hands out and expect the other people, who work really hard to get where they are, to give something to you.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
That also breeds further criminality.
MARILYN MANSON:
Yea, and a lot of people think that’s all evil American capitalists but it’s easy to bitch about that if you’re poor and it’s easy to hate it if you’re rich. I don’t consider myself extremely rich, but I think I worked hard for every dime that I’ve earned. So I cherish everything I own and I don’t spend my money foolishly or anything like that.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
I think you also answered the next question, but maybe you want to add something else. Is there one thing that makes you particularly happy and content or gives you joy?
MARILYN MANSON:
Several things; my cat and I have a very nice relationship, she calms me down, painting makes me very happy, finishing a record makes me very happy and creating the record makes me very happy. The middle process of getting it finished is very stressful. Anal sex, good movies, being with the woman I love – that goes back to the anal sex part, I don’t want you to think that was a homosexual reference. And I guess kind of getting to relax on a day like today, after the stress of having an art show and people honestly saying, “Hey, I liked what you did” and not just kissing my ass or trying to tell me what I want to hear. I feel like I accomplished something, I am a humble person, I’m very confident and I think I do the best that I can do. Now people can debate whether I’m the best that there is; I know that I’m the best that I can be. And that’s the best that anyone can be.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
Great, that basically wraps it up for me. Thank you very much again for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to say or ask?
MARILYN MANSON:
I think people should just expect everything that they’ve seen and heard from me to seem tame in comparison to what is to come.
CYRIL HELNWEIN:
I look forward to it.




inizio pagina