Marilyn Manson Discusses ‘The Pale Emperor,’ ‘Sons of Anarchy’ + More
Marilyn Manson has been pretty active of late, splitting his time between finishing his new album ‘The Pale Emperor’ and enjoying a recurring role on the just-wrapped final season of ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ Manson recently took some time to speak with ‘Loudwire Nights’ host Full Metal Jackie about both projects and you can check out the chat below:
Marilyn Manson with us on the show. So happy to have you here.
Marilyn Manson: I haven’t talked to you, Jackie, since that black carpet. I was a little confused because it was chaotic. I think that little girl from ‘The Walking Dead’ tried to eat me.
It can get crazy on that carpet.
I think that puns have really lapped themselves and become funnier by not being funny. Like being Dr. Double Entendre. Every time I worked on a movie set and certainly with ‘Californication’ mostly I would say to the directors, ‘Do you want my jacket on or jacket off? Jacket on or jacket off?’ So you need to say that sometime as Full Metal Jackie — jacket on or jacket off? It would take them forever, because it’s so stupid. And then they would say, ‘No Manson, jacket off.’ I’m like, ‘Really? You didn’t pay me that rate for that — for the sexual stuff.’
Can I borrow that?
You may have that. I broke that birdbath for you.
[Laughs] Throughout the course of your career there’s been plenty of controversy, obviously. Most recently, an explicit video with Eli Roth and Lana Del Rey. Intuitively, what tells you whether or not to embrace a controversial situation or refute it?
I would just say no comment on that. There is what my publicist said and there is what I said, which I don’t want to get more angry emails from anyone. Mostly I would say it’s not — it’s exactly what I said. I would just leave it at that. I know that sounds pretty p–sy for me. It’s very simple, I said what I had to say and I don’t think there’s much more to say about it. I don’t want to start off an interview, sadly, by jacking it off.
What creative satisfaction do you get from television and film and how does it come full circle to inspire you musically?
I spend the bulk of my time when not making music or painting or whatever thing that I might be doing that is my outlet by watching film. I think most of the people that know me that are filmmakers or actors are surprised by the amount of cinema that I watch and I simply have a projector on a white wall. And a lot of people like to come over to my place to watch things and are amazed. People that are much more prestigious actors or richer or whatever you think that describes yourself as success in your craft.
My friends who I tend to associate only with — people that are considered great actors or artists or directors or whatever just under the scope of people that I think have integrity — that would stand up for me in a knife fight, those are the people I hang out with. And I carry a gold switch blade. You want to listen?
I hit the phone. It’s actually called a gold-plated utility thumb assisted knife on Amazon.com. You can buy that right now.
Does it go off in metal detectors?
It does, but I don’t really generally carry a switchblade through the airport. It’s what I would call stupid. But I do have a credit card made of platinum, not my black card, but one is also a shiv. But that just comes from my experience with ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ That’s where I learned to shuffle or try to smuggle things through my assistant’s undercarriage — his innards which I would say, “Could you just put the switchblade inside of you?” He is looking me in the eye right now.
How much of yourself did you inject into the Ron Tully character on ‘Sons of Anarchy’?
Well it’s hard to tell. It’s hard for me to still watch it objectively because it became a role that was bigger than I thought it would be. Initially it started with Kurt Sutter wanting to use one of my songs, ‘Worship My Wreck,’ a song on my record which he didn’t end up using. I think that the whole meeting was through Shooter Jennings. We had done a song together that he wrote the music for and Kurt wrote the lyrics for and I was really interested in being on the show because my father loved it as much as I did. And my mother had just died. And the show is just so much about a father and son relationship.
I want to trick my father into coming to L.A. to get out of Ohio because I wanted to shake his shadows and his demons off. I eventually ended up doing that but I didn’t intend to be an actor on that, that was a dream come true. I didn’t even know that was an option and when they said it initially was, I got the phone call when I was in Ohio at my mom’s funeral and I got the phone call from Kurt Sutter’s people and said, “Dad, I’m gonna be on the show.” He said,”That’s great.” I said, “Dad, I’m gonna be the head of the Aryan nation.” He said, “OK.” I said, “Dad, I’m gonna get paid. I’m gonna be in it with Jax, with Charlie Hunnam.” And it made my dad smile, and that was the biggest deal for me that I made my dad happy about it. I never had brothers growing up. I never had anyone stand up for me, and Charlie and Boom and Deo and Tommy Flanagan, they had my back in situations, where, just as now, the fact that I’m up before noon, It’s not a time for me but I can adapt.
People have great assumptions about my ability to adapt to different schedules. It’s very simple, I have to sleep 7-8 hours to make this magical voice as gravely as it does. However, it can happen any time. I used to think that 3AM was when my brain fired off the most, so I thought that was my most creative time but what I realized was, that was when my brain had to stop [sings circus music] and be a circus. But what would happen, I started making this record I made the greater portion of this album with Tyler Bates. I know I’m skipping past your all your questions and just monologuing it — but the greater portion of this record was made during daylight hours. I did not have that 3AM circus in my head because I was on ‘Sons of Anarchy’ time and I was on a different approach when I realized that if I get finished with what I want to do during the day, I don’t have that circus. I used to think that circus in my head was when I was supposed to function. So, the past three or four records that’s when I thought I was supposed to record and I was wrong. I’m not saying I don’t like those records, I’m just saying I was wrong about that.
What’s the inspiration behind your new album ‘The Pale Emperor’?
Well, ‘The Pale Emperor’ came from a book that I was given in 2000 by [Johnny] Depp. We have each other’s back as in we have the same tattoo on our back. It covers our entire back. It was about Heliogabalus which may be a little esoteric for our listeners. He was the emperor of Rome before Caligula. He was the first one to deny God and that’s a big deal. For whatever reason I had just opened up all the boxes of my past life. I moved into a new house while I made this record. Normally I’d title the album before the album was made but this time I titled it after it was made. I unearthed all of these books and I found this book Johnny gave me in Y2K when I went to stay with him in South of France because we thought the world was going to come to an end. Instead we set off firecrackers and bought all the absinthe there was in different countries. I read it and it was referring to this emperor who they referred to the pale emperor and I identified with it suddenly.
Being in that it was the first book that I was given by my friend and also that a lot of times I don’t realize how intuitive some of my best friends are. They don’t say things. They don’t say, “Here’s why I’m giving this to you,” they just give it to me. He’s the topmost person that gives me things that I don’t really know why at the time but I know later. It’s unusual, and that’s why we have this strange, complete lack of time and reality. I met him first when I was an extra on ’21 Jump Street’ at age 19. Just when I did the first Katey Sagal interview, it’s a cover story, which I gave to her which ended up being the reason why I was on ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ It all comes into a strange circle that proves that everything happens for what … I’m going to get my next tattoo. Faded Faithful Fatal, which is from the ‘The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles.’
Initially, what sets the tone for the musical direction of an album, specifically for this new one?
I give [credit to producer] Tyler Bates. I had met Tyler on ‘Californication.’ We tried to work together once. It was a small room, it didn’t work out. It was with Dave [Lombardo], formerly of Slayer, the drummer. I stopped him. The room was very small and when I say small, it was smaller than the room I’m in. Smaller than the room you’re in. Probably the size of a … well it’s a rehearsal space but it was crammed with things and a girl screaming and I’m not really good at adapting to the idea of jamming. Which does apply to what I became more comfortable with — the ability to improvise with other artists without fear. I’m used to sitting in a cramped vocal booth and isolated, which doesn’t seem really right. Records should be made in the room with a person.
So with Tyler we later got back together and the first song we did was ‘Birds of Hell Awaiting’ and that really set the tone for the album. The second song we did was ‘Third Day of a Seven Day Binge.’ It just became a rhythm of, the record was done under a few months and that’s only because our schedules vary because of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and he was scoring ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ which ended up being the biggest movie of the year. This was something I was excited to go to, get up and go to work. I didn’t have to be dragged into the studio at 3AM. I wanted to go to the studio at 5PM or whatever the case may be, still during daylight hours which is unusual for me. It proves I’m not a vampire, or a werewolf. I don’t know about the werewolf part.
Shooter Jennings probably isn’t the first name people would put on a list to collaborate with Marilyn Manson. In what ways are you kindred spirits, musically and otherwise?
He’s adorable, I call him a Muppet. He and I did a song together that we tried to use for ‘Sons of Anarchy’ but I still have his 8-track recorder at my house and I’m not sure if it’s his guitar or his father Waylon Jennings’ guitar in my house but … we met faithfully and I think everything happens for a reason at this point. Usually things happen for a reason but sometimes they’re for bad reasons. I think everything’s happening for the correct reasons now for me.
I had been listening to him on my playlist. Before I go onstage a secret, don’t tell anyone, all the people listening, but I spend about three hours before I go on stage simply listening to music, playing guitar, sitting in my dressing room. It takes me about 5-10 minutes to put on my makeup, get dressed. But I like to spend three hours just getting away from the rest of the world, and on my playlist was two Shooter Jennings songs. One was ‘All of This Could Have Been Yours’ and ‘F–k You, I’m Famous.’ One from ‘Californication’ and one from ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ So the irony of [me boing on] both shows, it’s not something you can ignore as being anything less than fateful. So when he and I met each other and became friends we were instantly best friends. He was another brother that I had never had and there are very few people that I meet like like that. I’d never had siblings so it’s difficult for me to try and associate them, but anybody who’s willing to lay down their s–t or throw off their leather jacket or punch somebody for you — if they have to. Not in a drunken bar fight kind of way but someone to defend your honor and defend you as a brother. It means a lot to me and that’s what I found with Shooter.
Then it just starts to become a thing with everyone who I met and that became, for me, a rule of thumb or a moral code which I’ve always had. If you love something, you have to defend it. Doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not. If you have morals, people consider me amoral or immoral, I believe that if you care about something, you will defend it in any way possible. Maybe that makes me a real villain. In any story the hero is completely a straight line, he just does what he’s told. The villain is always the catalyst, the Part III. Act III is where it brings the catalyst to change. The person who will bend the rules, break the rules for passion. For love. That’s probably who I find myself most likely to be as a person.
It’s an honor to talk to you. If I can get fan girl for just a second, when I was 15 or 16, I lied to my parents about where I was going, when I lived in New Jersey. And I went into Manhattan and went and saw you on that tour with Nine Inch Nails and that group Fem2Fem.
Oh my god, that was an unusual time. That was actually Fergie [in that band Fem2Fem].
No it wasn’t!
Yes it was!
No, are you kidding me?
That was Fergie!
Wow, she was nasty!
But did you ever jacket off or jacket on?
[Laughs] Anyway, that was great times.
I appreciate being the harborer of teen escape.
[Editor’s Note: We checked Wikipedia and the rest of the Internet, and there’s no record of Fergie ever being in the group Fem2Fem. She was in the girl group Wild Orchid in the early ’90s. Maybe that’s who Marilyn Manson was thinking about. Who knows?]
Thanks to Marilyn Manson for the interview. You can pre-order ‘The Pale Emperor’ via iTunes ahead of its Jan. 20 street date. You can also catch him on tour in 2015 at these locations. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie and Tony LaBrie’ Monday through Friday 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.
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