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‘I want to remind people that music is dangerous,’ declared Marilyn Manson to Bloody Disgusting prior to the release of his tenth studio album Heaven Upside Down. ‘I always found it really strange that people who blamed me for what my music supposedly had inspired…were never afraid of what I would do. They weren’t afraid of me, they were afraid of my music and that seems sort of ass-backward.’
Having first emerged in the mid-1990s at a time when the music industry had been heavily immersed in Seattle’s grunge scene, the impact of Manson’s eponymous group was immediate, with both the press and religious organisations rallying against them due to their mixture of Alice Cooper theatrics, Nine Inch Nails-inspired industrial metal and controversial lyrics, delivered with sadistic glee by the self-proclaimed ‘god of fuck.’
Following the critical disappointment of 2007’s Eat Me, Drink Me and the departure of even his most loyal bandmates, critics were all-too-eager to dismiss the singer as a has-been and watched in anticipation for the group to self-destruct but in 2012 he returned with a vengeance with the electro-punk record Born Villain. Since then through a collaboration with composer Tyler Bates, Manson has produced two critically-acclaimed albums, culminating in Heaven Upside Down in October 2017.
While his memoir The Long Hard Road Out of Hell may have been published in 1998 when the frontman was twenty-nine, each album that Manson has released could be interpreted as an autobiographical account of his life at that time, sensationalised through satire in the form of concept albums. This first became evident with the release of their 1996 sophomore album Antichrist Superstar and it successor Mechanical Animals, both of which documented his rise to fame and subsequent struggle with success.
‘I think that I wanted to make cinematic albums when I made those two. And they were both dangerous in different ways. One was in New Orleans – Antichrist Superstar – where I was completely in a state of nihilism,’ he explained to Classic Rock. ‘I was in a state of wanting to make things change in the world. For Mechanical Animals I moved to Los Angeles and I was pissed off at the fact that they were going to make me into something I wasn’t, so I wrote a record about it before it happened.’
Yet while Marilyn Manson may have seemed shocking when they first emerged over two decades ago, the real-life horrors that have flooded the media in the years since 9/11 have shown the theatrics and outspoken opinions of rock stars can be viewed less as a dangerous influence on the young and more as mere escapism, with the violence and anarchy portrayed in his albums far less disturbing than the ones viewers of the news are subjected to on a daily basis. ‘It does seem a little apocalyptic right now, but the world’s been ending since whenever the Bible was written,’ he admitted to Consequence of Sound.
With a little over a year and a half having passed since the release of his latest album and with only covers of Cry Little Sister and Helter Skelter to keep fans satisfied, Manson has been balancing his life as a part-time actor, having recently been cast in the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, with the development of what will be his eleventh studio album and his first since turning fifty.
The as-yet-untitled record will mark Manson’s second collaboration with country singer and songwriter Shooter Jennings, following their cover of the David Bowie classic Cat People for Jennings’ Giorgio Moroder tribute album Countach (For Giorgio). ‘It’s kind of like hitting the reset button,’ Manson has claimed in a new interview with Revolver. ‘…if I was born a gun, the problem that I have in life – or the plus side – is that I don’t know how to put the safety on. Which would be the best way to describe my current state of mind, in general.’
Regarding how he came to collaborate with Jennings after working with Bates he explained, ‘Me and Shooter first met to do a song for Sons of Anarchy, before I ended up being on the show. We didn’t end up doing the song for it. We decided it wasn’t right for us. We did the Bowie cover and then we wanted to do more work together, but we had different things going on – I broke my leg, you know the story of what happened. But I think it was in about November of last year, we got together to hang out and listen to music and I think we found a common bond with Bowie’s Diamond Dogs and just the way that it tells stories in the songs.’
He continues, ‘Last night, I was working pretty late in the studio and we finished the sixth song. So, it’ll be out before the end of the year, definitely. I plan on going on the Twins of Evil tour and I have an art book that I’m going to release and I’ll probably have a bunch of exhibitions all over to go along with it. And then I’ll release the album after that.’