Marilyn Manson Shows His Vulnerable Side

"This may be the bravest concept record I've made," Marilyn Manson says of "Eat Me, Drink Me."
By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 27, 2007

Marilyn Manson is sitting in a cold, dark room.

"There's drugs and naked girls everywhere, passed out -- does that work for you?"

Manson is on the phone from a Los Angeles hotel and, we suspect, having a little fun with our expectations. Of course, the reason he's at a hotel in his home town, Manson explains, is "because I shot the stove at my house -- it was making noises, and I thought it was looking at me -- and it caught on fire and burned my kitchen down. I was absinthe-drunk, which makes you have good marksmanship but no concept of reality. That's why I'm not allowed to have firearms.

"But it's all good now."

Again, Manson is probably having a little fun with us, but at least his closing statement is true, particularly in the context of the last year. This past Christmas eve, burlesque/fetish queen Dita Von Teese, whom Manson had married the previous December after a six-year relationship, filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. In subsequent interviews, Von Teese pointed to Manson's alleged infidelities, substance abuse and demons (inner, not pets). He blamed depression and a basic reluctance to change his ways.

Six months later, Manson released "Eat Me, Drink Me," his sixth studio album but his first since 2003's "The Golden Age of Grotesque." It is a raw, emotional breakup album in the tradition of Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" or the Cure's "Disintegration" but also a celebration of renewal as the 38-year-old Manson embarked on a relationship with 19-year-old actress Evan Rachel Wood. Apparently, even the antichrist superstar needs someone to hug.

Manson is asked whether "Eat Me, Drink Me" shows a human side and vulnerability few would associate with the longtime shock-rock provocateur.

"I suppose so, though when I was making the record, I didn't have any calculated concept," says Manson, who just a couple of years ago hinted that he would retire from music to concentrate on painting, writing and directing films. "I was at a point where I didn't know, and the people around me probably didn't believe, that this record was even going to happen until I turned in the artwork."

Manson says: "It was a very chaotic time in my life. I got to the point where I didn't understand who I was supposed to be. I thought that I'd said everything that I could say . . . about politics and religion. I realized I can convey the same ultimate motivation -- trying to talk to people about humanity, about individuality, about self-preservation -- by turning the magnifying glass onto myself and talking about human emotions. This may be the bravest concept record I've made -- it was right in front of me, my life at that time, a more dramatic idea than I could ever fictionalize."

Although the new album's industrial metal sounds familiar on its surface, it also contains elements of tenderness and romanticism mostly absent from Manson's previous works. And if the album was sired by Manson's breakup, it's equally inspired by the friendship-that-grew-into-a-relationship with Wood, whom he sought to cast in "Phantasmagoria -- The Visions of Lewis Carroll." (Manson, who directs his own videos, will direct from his own script, as well as play Carroll.)

"That's where we first met, but that wasn't our bond," Manson says of Wood. In various interviews, he has described her as a creative sounding board during the making of "Eat Me, Drink Me" and a much-needed friend as he battled severe depression that at times left him almost catatonic. In Rolling Stone, Manson cited Wood's gesture of solidarity and devotion when "she picked up a butcher's knife and said, 'Here, you can stab me.' When someone was willing to drown with me, I really didn't want to drown anymore."

Manson says the first song he was able to sing off the new album was "Just a Car Crash Away."

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