Perhaps it was inevitable that following his transformation into a fallen angel, Marilyn Manson would one day descend upon the City of Angels. Having explored the darkest regions of his mind with the nihilistic Antichrist Superstar, his attention turned from attacking the hypocrisies of religion to the vanity of Hollywood. He may have been the most unlikely of stars – a loud and obnoxious voice in a time of ambivalence – but his mission to destroy the mainstream from within was finally set in motion with 1998’s Mechanical Animals, the second chapter of his triptych that concluded two years later with Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). For many, Los Angeles represented the promised land, a place where dreams come true and desires are fulfilled. But those that succeeded in this cutthroat world often succumbed to its dark underbelly of drug addiction, emotional breakdowns, and self-destruction. Yet for Manson, who had crawled from his own personal hell at the conclusion of his Dead to the World tour, Hollywood represented a chance of rebirth, as once again he adopted a new persona, one that unlike its predecessors, offered a glimmer of hope in a cynical world he had once rejected.

‘It’d assumed the role of destroyer on the last record. This role is more of a saviour. I wanted to write songs that were more personal and dealt with specific emotions,’ revealed the artist formerly known as Brian Warner. ‘Antichrist Superstar was a really gruelling transformation; physically, mentally, and musically. It was conceived and written while I was enduring a lot of physical pain. I was unable to feel anything emotionally. This record is the polar opposite. The emotional pain is what started to come back as the numbness wore off, as I began to feel empathy, and things like that. It greatly affected what I had to say…I find myself at ground zero; I’ve just started and I’ve got a long way to go. My main goal with this new record was to put life back into rock ‘n’ roll, to take things back to the basics, and make a real rock anthem. Right now, the only thing that can save rock ‘n’ roll is this album, not arrogantly but matter-of-factly. Otherwise, rock will disappear like it did in the disco era of the seventies, when rock music was just disposable hits by bands no one cared about, and dance music dominated. That’s kind of where we’re at right now.’

Antichrist Superstar had documented the rise to power of a figurative worm that undergoes a metamorphosis from an angel to a demonic dictator, hell-bent on destroying the world. Manson, too, had felt a transformation within himself as he allowed his decadent rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle to consume him, any trace of his former self having been erased during the making of the album. The subsequent tour had pushed Manson and his bandmates further down the abyss and by the time they returned from the road in the summer of 1997, Manson felt numb. But his decision to commence work on his memoir soon afterwards would force the singer to reflect upon both his upbringing and past mistakes and before long he found his long-repressed emotions slowly rising to the surface. ‘I wrote it without describing how I felt, because a lot of the times I wasn’t feeling anything,’ he told Kerrang! when looking back on his experience writing The Long Hard Road Out of Hell. ‘Writing the book helped me complete the transformation to a more emotional being.’

While the songs that had populated Antichrist Superstar dealt with such themes as totalitarianism and facing judgement, for Mechanical Animals, Manson explored his experiences with fame and the shallow beauty of Hollywood. The concept for the album would depict an androgynous alien being called Omēga that is transformed into a rock star, the lead singer of the Mechanical Animals, the latest rock ‘n’ roll sensation. Much like Manson during the creation of Antichrist Superstar, Omēga’s life has become consumed by vapid relationships and excessive drug abuse, forcing him to alienate himself from everyone around him. Manson’s second persona on the record would be Alpha, a figure that has just begun to feel emotions for the first time and grows frustrated that others lack the empathy or compassion that he is now experiencing. Both Omēga and Alpha desperately search for a connection and this comes in the form of Coma White, a drug-addicted beauty consumed by her celebrity lifestyle and facing a premature self-destruction, similar to the fate that had befallen Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Manson

‘Antichrist Superstar was something like an act, a role I played. I had to play to be able to deal with my own hatred and the hatred of others. On Mechanical Animals, I had to get away from it,’ revealed Manson to NY Rock. ‘I think in the past our music was lacking feelings. It was harsh but not melodic and that was okay. It was suitable, but this album is far more personal. It’s more vulnerable. The music and the lyrics have to go together, so the music had to follow the lyrics, otherwise it wouldn’t have worked at all. What I really like about this album is that it will shut up a couple of critics; all the guys who claimed we’re just shock rockers without the talent will be rather quiet or they might end up looking like fools. I think we shocked them with this album. How’s that for shock rock?’

Having abandoned the demonic character he had depicted on his previous album, for Mechanical Animals had created a protagonist similar to Ziggy Stardust, a sexually ambiguous alien that arrives on Earth on a mission to save mankind but is eventually consumed by his own fame. One of the first examples of a concept album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was released in the early seventies and helped to popularise the glam rock cycle in the United Kingdom. One of Manson’s musical inspirations during his childhood, David Bowie would have a significant influence on the development of Mechanical Animals and provided the template for both Omēga and Alpha. Much like with Ziggy Stardust, Manson was experiencing his first taste of rock superstardom with the impact of Antichrist Superstar and his struggles with fame and fortune were personified through the character of Omēga.

The rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that had been portrayed in his memoir and the band’s relocation to Los Angeles would serve as one of the most prominent themes of the album. ‘A lot of the record is a reflection of our moving to Hollywood. We wanted to have a California record,’ recalled bassist and principal songwriter Twiggy Ramirez to Guitar World. ‘I’d never lived in California. So we said, ‘Let’s move out to L.A.’ We rented a house and started writing songs. Nothing was really written before then. So the Hollywood vibe was definitely shining through on the songs. Just living up in the Hollywood Hills, you look out on Los Angeles at night time and it’s almost like outer space or something, because of all the city lights. And you feel like you’re on top of the world. But you’re kind of alone. And that has to do with stardom, too, the loneliness thing…The music and entertainment business are highly fuelled on drugs and flavour-of-the-month and stuff like that. Who’s popular at the moment. And how many want to be around you because it makes them feel good about themselves, because you’re famous or important.’

In less than a decade the band had evolved from Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids, a psychedelic carnival-esque group that had gained notoriety on the Florida live scene in the early nineties, to the protégé of Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor. With amateur music critic Brian Warner having rechristened himself as Marilyn Manson – his name an amalgamation of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe and convicted killer Charles Manson – he had devised a plan to overthrow the entertainment industry by first embracing the mainstream and then annihilating it. Yet while their debut album had gained minor attention from the media, it would be his reinvention as the Antichrist Superstar that transformed him into a rock star. Although the band had begun to splinter during the making of their sophomore record, with guitarist Daisy Berkowitz eventually replaced by newcomer Zim Zum, Ramirez had become an indispensable part of the band. With the nightmare of Antichrist Superstar behind them and the glamour of Hollywood having an immediate impact on Manson, writing for what would become Mechanical Animals began soon after he had completed work on The Long Hard Road Out of Hell.

‘I think that in making Mechanical Animals I just opened up to the idea that being everything that I set out to be on Antichrist Superstar includes having human elements and emotions that I didn’t count on,’ admitted Manson. ‘I was imagining Omēga to be the most exaggerated extension of what the Antichrist Superstar was, everything that glam rock has ever been and then some. To me, glam rock has always meant a very sarcastic and over-the-top flamboyant image that was hiding something that was darker and more depressing underneath. That was always the irony of glam rock to me. A lot of people never really looked beneath that. Even in the eighties music there was that. To me, seventies glam rock went on to become the eighties new wave and there’s been a real void in the nineties since grunge music sort of put rock to sleep for a while.’

That numbness is manifested in drugs

The absence of emotion and the empty void that Manson felt he had become with Antichrist Superstar would be represented with the colour white, from the opening track Great Big White World to its closing moments with Coma White. Omēga trades the emptiness of deep space for the emotionless existence that is the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, feeling disconnected from his surroundings. This theme of empty space is first established in Great Big White World. ‘I wrote that song in my house looking down on Hollywood,’ detailed Manson. ‘I had painted the room I was in entirely white, even the furniture and it kind of represented the void inside. The feeling of no emotion. I was trying to fill it with music and that’s what the record is, me filling that void. The colour white comes up on the album a lot. It kind of represents to me a numbness I had. That numbness is manifested in drugs, that numbness is manifested in all the people who want to suck the life out of you when you become a pop star. It’s manifested in your self doubt.’

On the second song, The Dope Show, Omēga is captured and forced to endure an array of medical experiments before he is introduced to the world as the singer of the Mechanical Animals. This part of the story was further elaborated on in the accompanying promo video, which showed Omēga taken in a limousine to a venue where his group are to perform in front of hundreds of screaming fans. With its references to drug use and the demands of the rock star life, The Dope Show was a critique on the media’s obsession with the next big star and their willingness to sacrifice celebrities in favour of new blood. ‘That one is the most Hollywood song,’ declared Ramirez. ‘It’s kind of a reflection of how you’ll be at home here and suddenly you’ll find yourself hanging out with Scott Baio and the guys from Iron Maiden, all in one place. And the next thing you know, Corey Feldman’s knocking on your door to sing karaoke in your house. Coming here and hanging out with people who were icons when you were growing up. The crazy experiences you go through with them. You see how they viewed stardom after it has already passed.’

One individual that would play a key role during the early development of Mechanical Animals was Billy Corgan. In between pre-production on Adore, the fourth studio album from the Smashing Pumpkins, Corgan had offered Manson advice after being presented with a series of demos. ‘Billy and Manson became really good friends. They met backstage at one of Billy’s shows and just really got along great,’ explained co-producer Sean Beavan who, having offered his services on the first two Marilyn Manson albums, had returned for Mechanical Animals. ‘Billy’s a fan and supporter and Manson’s a fan of Billy. I think Billy helped Manson get up the gumption to try and do something musically more interesting on the new album. Manson’s always been good at sloganeering, but he wanted to do something more emotional musically on this record and I think Billy really helped formulate some of those ideas. They talked a lot and there was talk about Billy producing, but he was working on his own record and couldn’t get away to do anything else.’

Manson and Corgan’s friendship had been cemented during the turbulent recording sessions for Antichrist Superstar, when the Smashing Pumpkins frontman allegedly participated in various drug-fuelled shenanigans, but for Mechanical Animals his role was more that of a guide, advising Manson to fully immerse himself in his reinvention. ‘Billy’s participation on the record was more in the way of friendship than actual songwriting,’ claimed Ramirez on the influence that Corgan would have over the album. ‘He was doing his record around the same time we were doing ours. We’d spend days in the swimming pool over his house doing weird shit. He’d listen to our songs, I’d listen to his songs. It was more his friendship that had an impression on some of the songs than any actual work he did. He didn’t really tell us to change parts or play things a certain way. His influence was more personal.’

Twiggy Ramirez and Marilyn Manson

‘This record was more like a cyborg, whereas the other records had no living tissue. Antichrist was completely stripped of any emotion. It was completely amoral and antiseptic in a way, but full of anger,’ stated Beavan. ‘So this time, Manson’s gone completely the other way. The songs and lyrics are full of emotion and the music is very organic, although with a hint of what we’ve always done with computers and synths. We tracked this record so that we could come up with the most creative parts we could and then go back later and play live guitars and bass over the top of that to get a whole performance. So it’s not all chop, cut and paste. It flows and there’s a lot of dynamics…We recorded everything to hard disk at the house. We had a thirty-two-voice Pro Tools rig and a bunch of drum machines. We just bought every drum machine we could think of; real FM-sounding drums, old DMXs and LINKs. But the whole idea while we were doing it was that we would eventually take this up to the studio and replace some of the programmed drums with real drums. But we’ve also retained some of the programmed drums. So there are hybrids, like programmed drums in the verses and live drums in the choruses.’

With its story focusing on a reluctant rock star being forced into the limelight, Manson would make a statement on the state of the genre in the post-grunge nineties with Rock Is Dead. Arguably inspired by a comment made by Corgan sometime earlier, the song saw Omēga reacting to the mediocrity of the music industry that he saw all around him. ‘I’m on Howard Stern, I say rock is dead,’ declared Corgan in an interview with Rolling Stone. ‘Angry phone calls; ‘Nashville Pussy are better than you guys.’ I don’t care. Rock ‘n’ roll is not about what you play, it’s about how you play it. It’s the spirit, okay? My rock ‘n’ roll – alternative music – has been co-opted, become something easily imitable. So when I seek inside myself for what I want to do, my guide is: Is it pushy? Is it edgy? Is it going to make people uncomfortable?’

While the majority of the guitars during the sessions for Antichrist Superstar were performed by Ramirez, with Zim Zum having joined the band prior to the album’s release, he would play more of a significant role during the writing and recording of Mechanical Animals. As would become a common factor throughout Manson’s career, with each subsequent albums featuring a line-up change, Mechanical Animals marked a significant change of direction from its predecessor. ‘I’d say there were only two or three songs I don’t play on,’ Zim Zum told Metal Edge. ‘They’d gone into the studio armed with quite a few songs written before and during the tour and we just jumped into it. It wasn’t about planning anything. We just went in and started recording. Everyone was open to my contributions. When we first came into the studio it was really comfortable. We did like a song a day, recording as fast as we could because all we wanted to do was play them for anyone who wanted to come in the room.’

One significant theme that would populate Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), the closing chapter of Manson’s triptych, was one that was first explored two years earlier on the track Posthuman. On 22 November 1963 John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth president of the United States, was assassinated during a visit to Dallas, Texas, his murder caught on film by local dressmaker and amateur photographer Abraham Zapruder. ‘She’s got eyes like Zapruder, a mouth like heroin. She wants me to be perfect like Kennedy,’ crooned Manson on the song that would first introduce another character to the story, Coma White. The assassination of Kennedy was also depicted in the music video for Coma White, which featured Manson shot while travelling through the city streets in his motorcade as his grieving partner, portrayed by Hollywood star and Manson’s then-girlfriend Rose McGowan, cradles her dying lover in her arms.

As Omēga begins to suffer the destructive temptations of rock ‘n’ roll stardom, Manson would use this opportunity to mock the way in which celebrities use their addiction and subsequent rehabilitation to promote themselves, appearing on talk shows to discuss their personal struggles as they are praised for overcoming their demons. Incorporating gospel singers for the first time, I Don’t Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me) also featured contributions from a guitarist best known for his acclaimed work with both Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers. ‘Dave Navarro played the guitar solo over the ending and everyone’s heard the rumours about Dave Navarro and his relationship with drugs, which I won’t get into,’ explained Manson. ‘But the sheer pop art of Dave Navarro, shirtless, playing a guitar solo while three black gospel singers are singing the refrain, ‘I don’t like the drugs, but the drugs like me.’ And then suddenly Leif Garrett walking into the room – a surprise visit -was, I think, one of the more memorable moments in rock ‘n’ roll.’

Although Manson and his bandmates had overseen the sessions, following failed negotiations with the Dust Brothers, they realised that despite how prolific their work in the studio had been, they still required the guiding hand of a professional. Their first album to be produced without the influence of Trent Reznor, Manson eventually reached out to Michael Beinhorn who, much like Navarro, had done extensive work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Having recently completed work on Celebrity Skin, the third album from Courtney Love’s group Hole, Beinhorn had also collaborated with the likes of Soul Asylum, Aerosmith and Ozzy Osbourne, but it was his work on Superunknown, the multi-platinum-selling album from Soundgarden, that had the greatest impact on Manson. The majority of the writing and recording had already been undertaken but it would be Beinhorn that gave Mechanical Animals its much-needed pop sensibility.

With the integration of machines

‘This project came together very quickly and was completed in two and a half months,’ revealed Beinhorn on how he first became involved at the studio. ‘I appreciated how he conceptualised his work and the way he created a new alter-ego for each successive recording. With the integration of machines and normal band instrumentation, I envisioned the project like a cyborg from a sixties sci-fi novel; this weird, imprecise amalgamation of human and machine. The band were well-prepared, excellent musicians and apart from the occasional silly behaviour, professional and hard-working. One of the most entertaining parts of the project was when I decided that we needed a more anechoic listening space. We wound up hiring a piping system, heavy, black theatrical drape curtains and built a room within the control room with AC/ventilation and blue neon lights under the console for vibe. The added atmosphere made the project that much more surreal.’

The experimental nature of Mechanical Animals not only allowed Manson to expand his creative wings but also his bandmates. ‘The songs are just so different. There’s some blues influences, all different styles that I’ve played in the past that people don’t consider rock,’ explained drummer Ginger Fish in an interview with Drum! ‘The first single that’s out is a full bump and grind song. It’s the stripper beat. There’s a bunch of songs on the album where I really got into the old school, Tommy James and Shondells and the Animals and stuff like that, where the drumming is sparse and it’s not rock in the sense that I felt a lot of space. It’s very roomy, almost the opposite of 1996 from Antichrist Superstar, where I was trying to figure out how the hell I was going to be able to do that single night and not screw it up, because I’m running as fast as I possibly can, like 186bpm.’

The creation of Antichrist Superstar had been a nihilistic experience that had brought the group close to self-destruction but for Marilyn Manson, the making of Mechanical Animals was far less gruelling. ‘The drug use while making this record was more fun than it was when we recorded the last album. Everyone was on drugs and it wasn’t necessary,’ detailed Ramirez. ‘This is the most live record we’ve ever done. Before, a lot of the stuff was cut and made perfect, with all the guitar and bass parts playing exactly the same thing, really tight and perfect. But this one’s a lot looser. All the performances are pretty much live, like one pass through on the guitar and bass. But then that’s edited together with more mechanical stuff. It’s a real mixture of mechanical and real playing.’

The story of Mechanical Animals would come to a conclusion with Coma White, which depicted the tragedy of a beautiful young woman tortured by her demons that succumbs to self-medication through drug abuse. Representing the notion of a symbolic perfection that is out of reach, Coma White proves to be as self-destructive as Manson had been during the making of Antichrist Superstar. Manson’s high-profiled relationship with McGowan had inspired both the character and themes that he explored through the song. ‘A lot of the pain that she’s gone through, I started to feel and the record kind of documents me coming to terms with emotions and caring about somebody for the first time,’ revealed Manson. ‘There’s something very tragic about her, something very classic, in a Marilyn Monroe sort of way, that just captured me. I’ve never met anyone like her, a guy or a girl. And she has very extreme ups and downs, they’re so extreme that they affect me as well.’

Marilyn Manson and Rose McGowan

One area of Mechanical Animals where history would repeat itself was in the departure of the band’s guitarist prior to the album’s release. With Berkowitz having been replaced by Zim Zum close to the end of Antichrist Superstar, barely two years later Zim Zum had also parted ways with Manson. And once again this reason was shrouded in mystery. The news was first announced by MTV on 22 July 1998, with the guitarist citing the demanding schedule and his desire to pursue a solo career as the primary cause. ‘There isn’t any bad blood or anything like that,’ he insisted a few months later. ‘It was never anything about business. We never really talked about anything like that. It’s not that it went sour or anything. It was a mutual thing. I wasn’t fired. I didn’t want this to be anything negative and neither did they. There’s no problem with any of them. But I’d gotten these offers to play on other albums I’d turned down and I kinda looked at the next eighteen months’ worth of touring and didn’t want to spend it in a hotel room.’

Yet for Manson, the departure of his guitarist would be nothing more than a minor inconvenience. ‘Zim Zum was the temporary replacement for Daisy and originally he was only hired for one tour, but we got along great and he stayed. It’s sad and I would lie if I say it’s anything less than inconvenient, very inconvenient, but life goes on,’ he retorted, while in a separate interview he further elaborated on the split; ‘We had problems with him not showing up and I took that as an insult. That’s just the way I am. My feelings are, if you’re gonna lead a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, don’t let it affect our work. I know I can stay up all night and still come in the next day and write a song and nothing will stop me from doing it. I expect the same as everyone else. If you’re gonna pretend to be something, then you have to at least live up to what it is.’

Almost two years had passed since Antichrist Superstar had been unleashed upon the world when Marilyn Manson revealed their new persona, Omēga and the Mechanical Animals. It was not only their music that underwent such a dramatic reinvention, however, as Manson’s image was reborn as a sexless alien with dark red hair, long inhuman fingers, breasts and a lack of recognisable genitalia. While the image would provoke a significant amount of controversy, it helped to expand upon the persona of Omēga. ‘The androgynous body was created by a Japanese special effects artist called Screaming Mad George. He cast Manson’s chest and we had tits designed by a sculptor,’ recalled photographer Joseph Cultice to Louder. ‘Then the tits were put on Manson’s chest and his entire body was covered in a kind of rubbery latex. He had to put it on four times and each time it took eight hours. At the end of the day, you’d have to peel it off in big pieces. When we did the retouching to make Manson’s hips the right shape, we used a shot of Elle Macpherson.’

Marilyn Manson was reborn. Los Angeles had introduced the rock star to a new type of excess, one that had seen them engulfed in a world of glamour and vanity. ‘I moved to Hollywood and it’s really not what you think it is. I’m trying hard to make it livelier, to space it up a bit. Everybody thinks Hollywood is this decadent place but it’s terribly conservative there. The people are so bourgeois,’ he exclaimed. ‘This whole past year, my house has become a real Hollywood Babylon, Studio 54-type of place. It’s a magnet for the whole where are they now and the we know where they are now and the they’re not doing real good now. I started a project – usually at about six or seven in the morning – of taking these unlikely individuals and putting them together to sing karaoke in my living room. So at any given moment, you may have found Leif Garrett or Corey Feldman singing the theme from Grease.’

Mechanical Animals was a drastic departure from Antichrist Superstar, one that saw Marilyn Manson taking on the mainstream from the inside. Once he had been the enemy, the most feared man in America, but now he had become something more shocking: accepted. ‘We pretty much wrote every song on the album to be a single. We weren’t thinking about that on Antichrist Superstar. That music held a lot of anger. This one is a lot prettier,’ admitted Ramirez. ‘It’s less riffy, in a heavy metal sense. That may disappoint some people. But I think a lot of fans who were into Antichrist Superstar have grown up a little. So I think we’re on the same page as them. To be honest with you, I didn’t think people would get Antichrist Superstar either, because it was a complete U-turn from something like Sweet Dreams. But they did!’

A lot of the album is about fame

But for Manson, Mechanical Animals represented the new world they had discovered. ‘A lot of the album is about fame. It deals with the vulnerability of living in a place like Hollywood, how sometimes I deal with the pain or pressure by being sarcastic and being a caricature and being glam rock. And then the other half of the record was almost alluding to a fall from grace. And Mechanical Animals is more about what happens when you hit the ground. It’s about trying to find emotions, trying to have empathy, trying to fit into the world. And I started to get these feelings back and started to repair myself. I started to see the world as being more and more just mechanical animals looking and acting like human beings.’

Whereas Marilyn Manson had become public enemy number one following the release of Antichrist Superstar, with its follow-up he forced both his detractors and the media to re-evaluate the self-proclaimed God of Fuck. ‘This album is the first time we actually experienced Manson as a band, not a phenomenon filtered through Reznor’s mixing board wizardry or a freak show accompanied by a soundtrack,’ declared the Los Angeles Times. ‘It’s a fiendishly brilliant career move, worthy of the Serpent himself,’ concurred the NME. ‘Over the fourteen tracks here, ten could be singles. On this evidence alone, Mechanical Animals is an unashamedly crass bid for total world domination. There’s a bit of flab here, sure and Manson’s lyrics remain more cack-handed than his interview fluency would suggest, but this is Manson’s most dangerous record. Ever. The gamble is this: They already have the goth kids. The massed legions of metal are on side. They reckon they’ll keep them both, despite this record’s stadium thrust. Now, their sights have turned on everyone else.’

Other publications would also show their support. ‘He and his band approach its terrain the way a sixties rocker like Eric Clapton approaches the blues, with respect and a sense of entitlement,’ commented Rolling Stone. ‘When he wails in his bitter baritone about the mutant longing of his lost soul, the echo of a Gary Numan-esque keyboard drifting behind him, Manson extends a time-honoured fantasy. Such nightmares are comfort to the initiated. Returning to his roots on Mechanical Animals, Marilyn Manson has made an album that reassures his follows that he still belongs to them and they to him.’ Some, such as Entertainment Weekly, would sound divided in their opinion. ‘All of this is actually comic in its ridiculousness, much like Manson’s entertaining (if not completely believable) memoir,’ stated critic David Browne. ‘In fact, there is something deeply outrageous about Mechanical Animals, a jolt of the most unexpected kind: It’s a Manson album that delivers on music as much as on image. Manson knows that his moment in pop culture has arrived.’

Mechanical Animals transformed Marilyn Manson from a rock star into a celebrity, a pop culture icon with a Hollywood girlfriend that finally had the world in his hands. And for a brief time it seemed that he was capable of anything – becoming a movie star, a filmmaker, a politician – but one morning in April 1999, two teenagers in Colorado opened fire on their classmates and almost overnight Manson had become the villain once again. But for one glorious moment, he had finally become the superstar he had always wanted to be. ‘All these people were saying what I do is so wrong and they don’t really have the soul that I felt I had now gained,’ revealed Manson. ‘This record’s more of a dystopia, a kind of an end of the world, where we find ourselves record; mankind being less and less significant, that all our creations have made us irrelevant, that eventually our cell phones will talk for us and our computers will come up with our own ideas for us. And that’s kind of the sad ending that could happen to us.’