a live photo

As the Worm Turns

Bassist Twiggy Ramirez of Marilyn Manson

Interview by Darren Kerr
Live photography by Rodney Gitzel

"They are shit. They have nothing positive to offer anyone. Their message is evil and they will cause today's youth nothing but harm." So quoth Granola Boy, hippie protector of the public good, champion of jock and roll. He speaks, of course, of Marilyn Manson, the band that has lit a fire under the ass of Mr. and Mrs. Bland America and musical pacifists every where across Canada. You either love 'em or loathe 'em -- either way, they revel in your reaction.

band promo photo When Marilyn Manson unleashed Portrait of an American Family, the album was condensed meanness, pitch black comic metaphor mixed with brutal violence and ill will, like a home invasion in a Disney mask or an obscene phone call in a cartoon voice. Songs like "Lunchbox," "Cake and Sodomy," and "Snake Eyes and Sissies" only hinted at the fully realized macabre work that is 1996's Antichrist Superstar CD.

I recently spoke to Twiggy Ramirez, bassist and voodoo candy striper, and found him to be soft-spoken, articulate, and definitely not a baby eater. "When we created Antichrist Superstar, it was almost like a diary, like a story kinda like The Wall. It was sort of telling the future like Ziggy Stardust, so it was a diary of something that happened but hasn't happened yet. There's a lot of stuff on the album that will be understood gradually as it happens."

It doesn't take a psychic friend to tell me that the world is going to hell in a trundle buggy; but if Twiggy and Co. are going to wax prophetic, I think people should listen. Marilyn Manson are more than just a Florida aggro band recasting Lizzie Borden in the role of Mary Poppins. They are a fashion statement. Legions of alienated teens adopting the long-sleeved t-shirt over black dress look, powder makeup with spiderweb eyelids. There is no greater bugbear to a father than watching his 17-year-old son head off to school wearing a mausoleum wraparound skirt with torn fishnets. He can't believe that Blue Oyster Cult are playing top 40 rock houses, or that crack, smack, and the letter E have replaced hash, pot, and acid as the drug du jour. Wrong era. Sapphire and Moonbeam, thou no longer have the power or the wigdom... and the parents scream, "Oh Man!! Could it be Satan?!?"

live photo "I think it's parents and decaying values," retorts Ramirez. "Kids don't feel at home with their families so they listen to Marilyn Manson records or they play Dungeons and Dragons and it's fine, it's a source of identity, something to do. Kid goes out and kills somebody they're not going to blame the kid or the parents, they're gonna blame Marilyn Manson or Dungeons and Dragons because the parents aren't strong enough to take the blame.

"Show me everybody naked and disfigured, nothing shocking." - Perry Farrell

Dysfunctional psychotic behaviour sells as a TV movie of the week. if not a home game, G.G. Allin brought the Sennheiser enema to the stage and cornflake seductress Tori Amos even breastfed a pig on her last album cover. Alice Cooper doesn't have it anymore. It's been years since the Coop sang of "a stumbling, demented child king" or a "generation landslide." He's becoming a caricature of his former self, the next generation's Rip Taylor. The time is prime for Marilyn Manson to bring ghoulish rock and roll back to the forefront.

cover of 'Antichrist Superstar' "The whole part of nothing being shocking anymore forces people to do all sorts of crazy stuff," Ramirez agrees. "As far as shock coming back, I think it's just a cycle. We're highly influenced by bands like Alice Cooper, David Bowie, the Stooges, a little bit of KISS; it's all intended to shock but we're also shocking ourselves because it can all get boring. Instead of being a nostalgic band who rips off a sound or a look like some bands have done, we wanted to take our influences and put 'em in a package that kids today would understand and that wasn't retro."

"Don't touch that!! That's highly concentrated eeevil" - Time Bandits

Televangelists, bloated old money decadence and tabloid journalism as morbid petting zoo. Are these solely American forms of bile? How does the whole furshlugginger thing play for the tea and crumpet set or those residing in the land of the maloccchio (evil eye)? "You know, most Europeans actually understood us better than most Americans do. I thought they might not understand because Marilyn Manson is such an American band, full of all these things that are so American. Europeans can look at America like a sitcom or a talk show. I think that they can find it so entertaining because they look at America like we do. At home, I think people are so ignorant to everything because they're so used to us."

The bottom line is that Marilyn Manson are not infecting the children, they are informing them. The world is not a place conducive to naiveté. "Well, that's why parents get so angry at bands like us because we give away the big secret. You go and raise a child and you don't want them to know the truth, so you go and hide them and shelter from everything instead of helping them."

First published in Drop-D Magazine on March 15, 1997

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