"Goddammit!" growls Marilyn Manson as he picks up the phone, though his playful tone indicates that this is just a very Manson way of answering a call from Revolver. "I'm sorry you're not here in person to torment like I usually do," he chuckles.
The notorious shock rocker is actually in fine spirits today, having just overseen the final edit of the video for "We Know Where You Fucking Live," a track from the upcoming Heaven Upside Down, Manson's 10th studio album. Co-written and co-produced with film composer Tyler Bates — who similarly collaborated with Manson on 2015's The Pale Emperor — Heaven Upside Down is slated to drop on October 6th. And having recently returned from a triumphant 15-date string of European festival performances, Manson and his band (which includes longtime bassist/partner-in-crime Twiggy Ramirez, Stolen Babies/Team Sleep drummer Gil Sharone and guitarist Paul Wiley) will be hitting the road on September 27th for a North American tour, which will climax on November 5th with an appearance at Ozzfest Meets Knotfest in San Bernardino, California.
It's taken a while for Manson to get here, however. Last summer, he announced that the album, then known as SAY10, would be released on Valentine's Day 2017; but that date came and went without a new record, and several more rumored release dates subsequently passed, as well. Manson tells Revolver that a number of factors — including the illness that eventually took the life of his father, Hugh Warner, on July 7th — were involved in the delay, but that it was ultimately all for the best.
"There were a couple of bumps in the road," he says. "Because of touring, and Tyler's having to do other musical projects, and the unexpected illness of my father, it kind of got in the line with some of my ability to make the record. But nothing really stopped it. I think that, for whatever reason which will eventually be revealed to me, it was meant to come out right now. If it had come out when I originally planned on making it, it would not be called Heaven Upside Down; it would not contain the song 'Heaven Upside Down,' it would not contain the song 'Saturnalia,' and it would not contain 'Revelation #12,' and I think those songs are very important in defining the album."
I WAS SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR FATHER'S PASSING.
MARILYN MANSON As you and I have talked about in the past, my dad and I had a different type of relationship, but he taught me a lot of things. My father is very present on the record, even before I knew that was going to happen. And when I finished the record, I was excited to play it to him. I didn't get to do that, but I know that he would want me to be stronger, and not to be weaker. It's not something that people need to say "Sorry" for, or go easy on me because of it. It is strange — the last record was dedicated to my mother dying, and this record's dedicated to my father. The day after we finished "Saturnalia," the last song we wrote for the album, I found out that my father was dying. So I flew to Ohio, and I was with him when he died, and I fortunately got to say goodbye to him.
YOU SAY HIS PRESENCE CAN BE FELT ON THE RECORD — HOW SO?
There's a lot of visual imagery in there, and I notice that there are things that reference experiences that I didn't have, but maybe were passed on through things that I heard growing up around my dad. So that's where his presence shines through. When I listen to it objectively now, I think I let the unconscious part of my mind have the driving force on this, and the subconscious part of my mind was delivering information to the conscious part of my mind, so that I could physically sing it. So I think I was working on all different levels … I have never looked at time in the same way that anyone else does. It's something I never thought to explain, because I've never known how other people look at time. I have a hard time looking at a calendar, reading it and figuring it out. It's not because I have some form of dyslexia, or some inability to do so. I just look at it in a three-dimensional sense. I felt as though there's times on the record where it's not the same time that the rest of the world around me is experiencing.
THE ALBUM HAS A MUCH MORE ANGRY AND AGGRESSIVE TONE THAN THE PALE EMPEROR, WHICH YOU ALSO WORKED ON WITH TYLER BATES. WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS ANY DIFFERENT FROM THAT ONE?
The lyrics on this record were a little bit different than on the last one. It was maybe a little more akin to Holy Wood — a lot of it was written as prose. I don't remember if you've seen the chaos that is my notebooks, but usually I have about 10 of them at all times, because I can't remember which one I'm writing in. But strangely, this time I managed to write down all the lyrics in one notebook. And then Tyler would have a musical idea, and I would have my notebook open sitting there, and he would literally score it. We sit across from each other — that's how we work, with headphones on. We look each other in the eye when we're writing, so it's a very intimate, very personal experience between him and I. I don't go into a vocal chamber, or anything like that — lot of the performances of mine that are on the record are one-takes, because I wanted it to feel live, I wanted to perform it. A lot of the music that Tyler scored around me, I feel as if it's almost a movie — each song is a different scene, and it leaves you on the edge of your seat, wondering what the fuck is going to happen next. There are some extreme experiments with sound. We were very particular in not allowing someone else to master it, who might accidentally eliminate them. We've got some very intense, alchemical, scientific, binaural sounds that sometimes even make me have a panic attack while I'm listening to it!
I WATCHED SOME CLIPS FROM YOUR EUROPEAN GIGS THIS SUMMER, AND I WAS IMPRESSED BY HOW NATURAL AND STRONG THE NEW SONGS THAT YOU PERFORMED — "REVELATION #12," "WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE" AND "SAY10" — SOUNDED IN THE CONTEXT OF THE REST OF YOUR SET. IT WASN'T LIKE, "HEY, HERE'S A TENTATIVE STAB AT SOME NEW MATERIAL ..."
I'm glad that you saw it that way. The new songs had a strange immediacy to them that surprised me, and it made me think of things exactly like I thought about Antichrist Superstar. I wasn't trying to make an album that was reminiscent of Antichrist Superstar or Mechanical Animals. I was trying to have the same attitude that I did then. I think the band has come into a very strong place. They feel the same force, I think, that I felt during the era of Antichrist Superstar. There's a difference between someone who has nothing to lose, and someone who has everything to gain. When you're facing something that's really dangerous ... I think that there will be chaos. That's what I am, that's what I'm here to bring back, and I'm here to show it. It's not just trying to put out a great record — it's about fucking shit up. That's what I'm here to do. This record's not trying to be heavy, or trying to say things that are pointedly political, pointedly religious or pointedly sexual. It's laying out a story that you fit into. I really feel like it's meant to be a movie for the listener, and the ending is clearly how you want to perceive it.
THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF EXPECTATION — PARTLY FUELED BY YOUR "SAY10" TEASER VIDEO BACK IN NOVEMBER — THAT THIS RECORD WOULD BE A REACTION TO TRUMP AND THE CURRENT STATE OF AMERICA. BUT FROM WHAT YOU'RE SAYING HERE, THAT'S ACTUALLY NOT THE CASE AT ALL.
Well, most of it was written lyrically before [Trump was elected]. And I could have seen that coming, because it points out the stupidity of Americans being mad about something that they did themselves. It's no different than Bush, and everything else that's come in the past — it just helps me look more intelligent to Europeans, because I seem to them like the voice of reason. [Laughs] But I'm not talking about the President of now or of the past. I have had quite an obsession about pointing out the relevance of the assassinations of JFK and John Lennon, and how all that had an effect on what would become the era of my life. But that wasn't talking about something that was current. Because if you're talking about something that's current, it also dates your record, in a sense, and I wanted this record to be very much immortal. And I wanted it to be not what people expect. I don't want to write something that bores me. I wanted to make a record that I could put on and listen to myself.
DESPITE THE "FUCK SHIT UP" ATTITUDE OF THE RECORD, I THINK YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR IS MORE APPARENT ON THIS ALBUM THAN THE LAST ONE.
You see the smirk — you see the smirk in the shadows.
YEAH, YOU COULD SAY THAT.
I don't know what that means, but that will probably be the headline of your article — the Smirk in the Shadows. [Laughs] Lily, my beloved cat who you met, she passed away last year. She was my spirit animal, and that was so hard to lose her. So I got two new boys, and they are little demons, they truly are. Their names are William "Bright Boy" Manson and Rusty Manson. They're both Devon Rexes like Lily, and these two may have had an effect on the album, as well. Because they like to just look at me and knock something over. They'll stare into my eyes like, "You see what I just did?" So I think the "fuck shit up" thing can also be related to the animal world. We can attribute some of the blame to the animal kingdom. If people get upset about the effects of this record, they'll also have to be angry at cats. If you want to hate on me, that means you also hate cats — so, you know, you're a bad person! [Laughs]
Marilyn Manson Tour Dates:
Sep. 27 - Silver Spring, MD - The Fillmore Silver Spring
Sep. 29 - Pittsburgh, PA - Stage AE
Sep. 30 - New York, NY - Hammerstein Ballroom
Oct. 02 - Boston, MA - House of Blues - Boston
Oct. 03 - Huntington, NY - The Paramount
Oct. 05 - Toronto, ON - Rebel
Oct. 08 - Columbus, OH - Express Live!
Oct. 10 - Chicago, IL - Riviera Theatre
Oct. 11 - Milwaukee, WI - Eagles Ballroom
Oct. 17 - Tulsa, OK - Brady Theater
Oct. 19 - Denver, CO - Fillmore Auditorium
Oct. 20 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Complex
Oct. 23 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theater
Oct. 27-28 - Las Vegas, NV - House of Blues
Nov. 14 – Stockholm, Sweden – Annexet
Nov. 15 – Elsingnore, Denmark – Hal 14
Nov. 16 – Hamburg, Germany – Sporthalle
Nov. 18 – Munich, Germany – Zenith
Nov. 19 – Prague, Czech Republic – TIP Sport Arena
Nov. 20 – Vienna, Austria – Gasometer
Nov. 22 – Turin, Italy – Pala Alpitour
Nov. 23 – Zurich, Switzerland – Samsung Hall
Nov. 25 – Berlin, Germany – Velodrom – UFO
Nov. 27 – Paris, France – Accor Hotels Arena
Nov. 28 – Eindhoven, Netherlands – Klokgebouw
Nov. 28 – Dusseldorf, Germany – Mitsubishi Electric Halle
Dec. 01 – Nancy, France – Le Zenith
Dec. 02 – Brussels, Belgium – Forest National
Dec. 04 – Manchester, UK – O2 Apollo
Dec. 05 – Glasgow, UK – O2 Academy
Dec. 06 – Wolverhampton, UK – Civic Hall
Dec. 08 – Newport, UK – Newport Centre
Dec. 09 – London, UK – SSE Wembley Arena