The Spooky Kids had a couple of side projects: "Satan on Fire" and "Mrs. Scabtree". Satan on Fire was a fake Christian death metal band, consecrated with the intention to infiltrate the Christian "club scene". They had radio play for a song (that I have never been able to find) called "Mosh For Jesus". Mrs. Scabtree was referred to as "not even performance art, just art". Apparently they had a song where all they would do is name the women around town whom they knew had herpes. They would paint their faces black and wear dresses, and insult the crowd most of the time.
Murder Your Marilyn (64 minutes - many more links below the fold!)
The Spooky Kids' newsletters for their fan club insinuated joining"The First Church of The Chocolate Cow", and they included phone numbers for their fans to prank call, "white trash groupie of the month", and pornography. Their flyers, for instance, had cartoon characters like piglet ("Kill The Pigs") or Scooby Doo mixed with pornography, drug references and occult images.
In short, it may be a good way to get attention, but it hardly seems the way to get a major record deal and go on to sell millions of records. Nevertheless, they did receive offers from Maverick and other labels, but went with Trent Reznor's subsidiary on Interscope, Nothing Records. Their first major album "Portrait of An American Family" (originally was supposed to be called "The Family Album") saw their name shortened to simply "Marilyn Manson", and it was heavily censored. The cover was going to have a painting by John Wayne Gacy and a naked childhood picture of the band's singer. What followed that was a partially forced remix EP, "Smells Like Children", although it ended up being damn near an hour long, more than half of it a unique and insular brand of nihilistic, drug addled studio fuckery. Surprisingly, though, what was born from it was also their first hit single, a version of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)", which was lumped into the middle of ominous organ drones, fake orgasm collages, a telephone conversation with a stroke victim, and (before it was recalled) recordings of groupies being bound to rudimentary torture devices.
Marilyn Manson (born Brian Warner) certainly had a strong business sense, and a knack for self-promotion. He started out interviewing bands for a magazine called 25th Parallel (Marilyn Manson's first interview was with Brian Warner), and decided to be on the other side of the recorder. Personally, though, he was an incredibly bright and creative character, dare I say an "outsider", with a bizarre array of interests ranging from the occult to John Waters, Christian evangelism, TV talk shows, prosthetic limbs, and children's memorabilia. Marilyn Manson is probably best known for the controversy that was stirred up around goth make up, scaring suburban moms, and being blamed for school shootings, but in so many words, he was also a kind of poster boy for "individuaity", and not just to pay lip service to it. While rock n' roll is a relatively limited field of expression, and many of the songs are very accessible, a lot of others clearly came from a place that was bountiful and murky by comparison to the popular artists of the time.
Even their first platinum album "AntiChrist Superstar" was recorded during strange Crowleyian trance states of sleep deprivation and depravity. On some nights, recording at Nothing Studios in New Orleans, Manson would lurk the streets with his bandmates wearing nothing but a chicken mask and a toilet paper roll around his penis, accosting homeless people (according to his biography). One of their tracks was recorded with 97 layers of guitar, and the whole album is laden with backwards masking, and bizarre effects.
The level of self destructive behavior got to a point where in one instance, the band were throwing their own puke at each other, setting their gear on fire, and as a result, some of the drum machine tracks on the album were recorded through a boom box. The finished product is a strangely crude but lively, organic, and wholly original album. Later releases would see more pristine production, but not without an array of hidden sites to accompany them, and enhanced CD messages that used to automatically pop up on a PC.
Another album that was number one on the charts, and largely accessible/mainstream in content, also incorporated field recordings of raccoons underneath a porch, subsonic frequencies, percussion with a bucket full of knives, and supposedly pianos being set on fire. The aforementioned outing, "Golden Age of Grotesque" came with a bizarre film that included women with prosthetic nude elements sewn onto their private parts, among other things, while Manson did stream of consciousness poetry for nearly an hour.
The song "Beautiful People" might be in the company of songs like "Electric Avenue" or "Born In The USA";; songs that had an element of social commentary which was marginalized and diminished by the fact that it was played at sports events and malls, but it still sounds strange to know that it is played on wrestling television shows. To me, Manson seemed to match, if not eclipse, the sort of secret archetype of rock stars like Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper, Jimmy Page, Jim Morrison, and Roger Waters in terms of being reputedly intelligent and surprisingly articulate behind the typical veneer of sex and drugs. Most of his albums are concept albums (some have called them "rock operas"), more notably the "triptych", that have the complexity and depth of any illuminati freemason conspiracy cryptogram. "AntiChrist Superstar", "Mechanical Animals", and "Holy Wood" function as a three part story, each with their own chapters, that could be interpretted in both directions; chronologically or otherwise. Throughout there are allusions to biblical references, Nietszche, the kaballah, alchemy, Greek symbology, Freemasonry, world history, and popular culture spinning an ornate web of multi layered meanings through every crevice of these recordings. My words do not do this work justice, and it could be another series of posts on its own, but I personally have never seen anything that's matched its level of involvement in this medium. It may also be something that 15 year olds head bang to, but fundamentally it is a profound artistic triumph that a lot of people callously dismiss as pretentiousness.
Aside from music, Manson has created a great deal of art made specifically with an Alice in Wonderland watercolor kit, somewhat obscure movies (Jodorowsky is his favorite director), and written an as yet unpublished book that to dreadfully oversimpify, seems to be inspired at least partly by Huxley, cyclic death/rebirth, and transformation. Also festering on the cutting room floor is his horror movie "Phantasmagoria" inspired by the life of Lewis Carroll. His website used to pretend that it had been taken over by "The Celebritarian Corporation" (a rouse based around the premise that the public cares more about people that die while they're in the spotlight, and in essence worships death), with an elaborate series of secret passages based on where you clicked or hovered your mouse.
My point is, we may be talking about one of the last rock stars, with all of the narcissism and hype that comes with it, but we are not talking about your average rock star, not by a long shot. I'm going to share here with you an hour plus long telephone recording that was released some time in the early 90s, with a young Brian Warner talking to a woman who claims to be a psychic, while he suspects her to be a friend of a woman that has been stalking him. In the midst of discussing noxzema, sex, and astrology, we get to hear a somewhat shy and sensitive, albeit perhaps offputtingly self-confident to some, 22 year old future mega celebrity shooting the shit with a sex obssessed armchair psychologist from his bedroom, probably at his parents' house in the suburbs of Florida. For what it's worth.
I'm also including links below of the more creative work that the various incarnations of the band have done, and omitting for the most part, the typical basement rehearsal jam demos that you might expect.
*most have profanity*
Number Nine (Part One) (profanity)
Number Nine (Part Two) (profanity)
Number Nine (Part Three) (profanity)
Justify My Love (rumored to be Satan on Fire)
*hotline messages and spoken recordings*
*rumored to be fake but still worth sharing*
*from major label releases*
Autopsy (enhanced CD bonus video)