Marilyn Manson is an American alternative metal band based in Los Angeles, California. Advocates of nonconformity, and often utilizing controversial imagery and lyrical content, the band is commonly described as shock rock. It is difficult to categorize the band, as it displays influences from many genres of hard rock, including industrial, heavy metal, glam rock and gothic rock. Each album thus far has had a distinct and individual sound, and the band and frontman endeavor to devise and use a unique image and aesthetic for each album's era. The band was formed in 1989 as "Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids". The band's uniquely theatrical performances gathered a local cult following that subsequently developed into a worldwide fanbase. The band's lineup almost always changes between album releases. The current members of the band are the eponymous lead singer Marilyn Manson, bassist Twiggy Ramirez, drummer Ginger Fish, keyboardist Chris Vrenna and guitarist Wes Borland.
Marilyn Manson's reputation has likewise grown, with the band now considered one of modern music's most widely-known and most controversial; this has been due, in large part, to eponymous lead singer Marilyn Manson — born Brian Warner — and his frequent clashes with religious and political figures. The name of each band member was originally created by combining the first name of an iconic female sex symbol and the last name of an iconic mass murderer or serial killer, doing so to demonstrate the odd dichotomy of society. In recent years, new members of the band have strayed away from this formula and used their own names. The members of the band dress in outlandish makeup and costumes, and have engaged in intentionally shocking behavior both onstage and off. Their lyrics often receive criticism for their anti-religious sentiment and their references to sex, violence and drugs. Marilyn Manson's music and performances have frequently been called offensive and obscene, and, more than a few times, protests and petitions have led to the group being banned from performing.
As this controversy began to wane, so did the band's mainstream popularity. Despite this, its many devoted fans have made Marilyn Manson a consistently high-profile group: three of the band's albums have been awarded platinum certification and three more have been awarded gold, and the band has seen four of its releases debut in the top ten, including two number-one albums. In June 2003, Jon Wiederhorn of MTV.com referred to Marilyn Manson as "the only true artist today".
In 1989, Brian Warner was a college student working toward a journalism degree, and gaining experience in the field by writing music articles for a South Florida lifestyle magazine, 25th Parallel. It was in this capacity that he was able to meet several of the musicians to whom his own band would later be compared, including My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. He met Scott Putesky shortly afterward and, after showing him some lyrics and poems he had written, proposed that they form a band together. Warner, guitarist Putesky, and bassist Brian Tutunick recorded their first demo tape as Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids in 1990, taking on the stage names of Marilyn Manson, Daisy Berkowitz and Olivia Newton Bundy, respectively. They were soon joined by Stephen Bier, who called himself Madonna Wayne Gacy; Bundy was replaced by Gidget Gein, born Brad Stewart. In 1991, drummer Fred Streithorst joined the band, with the stage name Sara Lee Lucas.
The stage names used by each member were representative of a concept the band considered central: the dichotomy of good and evil, and the existence of both, together, in every whole. "Marilyn Monroe had a dark side", explained Manson in his autobiography, "just as Charles Manson has a good, intelligent side". Images of both Monroe and Manson, as well as of others equally famous and notorious, were common in the band's early promotional materials.
The Spooky Kids' popularity in the area grew quickly, largely because of radio DJ Scott David of WYNX-FM, an early fan who eagerly played songs from the band's demo tapes on the air; and because of the band's highly visual concerts, which drew from performance art and used many shock techniques. It was not uncommon to see onstage "naked women nailed to a cross, a child in a cage, or bloody animal body parts"; Manson, Berkowitz, and Gein variously performed in women's clothing or bizarre costumes; and, for lack of a professional pyrotechnician, they would occasionally set their own stage props on fire. The band would dramatically contrast these grotesque theatrics with elements drawn from the culture of the members' youth in the 1970s and 1980s: characters from that era's children's television made regular, often somewhat altered, appearances on Marilyn Manson flyers and newsletters, and were frequently sampled in the music. They continued to perform and release cassettes — shortening their name to Marilyn Manson in 1992 — until the summer of 1993, when the band drew the attention of Trent Reznor, who at the time had just founded his own record label, Nothing Records.
In October 1993, Reznor agreed to rework the production on Marilyn Manson's album, taking them and their tapes to The Record Plant in Los Angeles. Gein, who had been hospitalized after an overdose, was not invited. After seven weeks of mixing, remixing, and rerecording, the album — now titled Portrait of an American Family — was ready to be presented to Interscope Records. Even as the first single "Get Your Gunn" was beginning to receive radio airplay, Gein received a letter declaring his services "no longer needed" by Marilyn Manson after he overdosed on heroin for the fourth time; he was replaced by Twiggy Ramirez, then known as Jeordie White, of Miami thrash band Amboog-a-Lard. In December 1993, Ramirez first performed as the band's new bass player on a week's worth of headline dates through Florida with then girlfriend Jessicka's band Jack Off Jill opening. Half way through the tour, Manson and singer Jessicka spent a night in jail when they were arrested after a concert in Jacksonville, Florida, after being accused by the town's Christian Coalition for breaking the town's adult entertainment codes. Both singers were charged with misdemeanors. On the first date of a fourteen-week national tour opening for Nine Inch Nails, Ramirez made his national touring debut. It was during this tour that Manson had occasion to meet with Church of Satan founder Dr. Anton LaVey. After a cordial meeting, LaVey honored Manson with the title of "Reverend" — meaning, in the Church of Satan, a person who is revered by the church, and not necessarily one who dedicates his life to preaching the religion to others, as with a priest or minister.
In March 1995, the band began its first national headlining tour, a two-month outing with Monster Voodoo Machine as support; this would be drummer Sara Lee Lucas's last tour with the band. Tension between Lucas and Manson had apparently grown as the tour wore on and, on the next-to-last night of the tour, Manson secretly decided to end the show with a flourish: during a performance of the then-current single, "Lunchbox", he doused Lucas's drum kit in lighter fluid and set it ablaze — with Lucas still attempting to play on behind it. (Manson apparently forgot that the band had one more date to play.) Lucas quit the band after the final gig the next night. Less than two weeks later his replacement, Ginger Fish, joined the group, Marilyn Manson was touring again, this time on a bill with Danzig and Korn. That tour ended in summer 1995, after which the band relocated to the new home of Nothing Studios in New Orleans, Louisiana to begin work on the third single from Portrait of an American Family, "Dope Hat". Accompanied by a music video which featured Manson in the role of Willy Wonka in a shock-horror version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the proposed single for "Dope Hat" eventually developed into an hour-long Remix album, Smells like Children. The album's fifteen tracks of covers, remixes, and bizarre sonic experiments also included the band's version of the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)", which would prove to be Marilyn Manson's first legitimate hit: the video was placed in heavy rotation on MTV (in stark contrast with the "Dope Hat" video, which MTV had banished to late-night airplay only a few months before) and the mainstream music press was suddenly clamoring to cover the group. A five-month headlining tour followed, from September through February, during which the band began to debut new material like "Irresponsible Hate Anthem", "Minute of Decay", and "Smells like Children". Rumors of a new album circulated widely during this time, and were confirmed when the band returned to Nothing's New Orleans studio in early 1996 to perform what Manson termed "a musical ritual designed to bring about the Apocalypse".
Marilyn Manson's second full-length studio album, Antichrist Superstar, was released on October 81996. It was recorded at Nothing Studios with Trent Reznor himself acting as executive producer; the process of making the album was reportedly a long and difficult one, highlighted by experiments allegedly involving sleep deprivation and near-constant drug use in an effort to create an environment suited to the album's moody and occasionally violent content. During this time, antagonism between band members was high, which caused the departure of guitarist and founding member Daisy Berkowitz. With Berkowitz out of the band, Twiggy Ramirez performed lead guitar for much of the recording of Antichrist Superstar, and the group placed an ad seeking a new guitarist for its upcoming tour; Timothy Linton, of Chicago band Life Sex and Death (LSD), auditioned for and was given the position. Breaking with the six-year tradition of icon / killer naming structures, the newest member was dubbed Zim Zum – a name derived from Kabbalah, one of the major sources of inspiration for the album.
The album's first single, "The Beautiful People", made a fairly major impact on the alternative rock charts, and created enough anticipation for Antichrist Superstar that the album debuted at number three on the album charts. The year-and-a-half long Dead to the World Tour in support of the album followed; it was the band's longest and widest yet, and included Marilyn Manson's live debut in Alaska, Hawaii, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, South America, Asia and Australia as their fame spread to all corners of the world. In the United States, however, the band was receiving more attention than ever before, and not all of it was positive.
As the tour was getting underway, the band found itself the target of congressional hearings, led by Senator Joseph Lieberman, to determine the effects, if any, of violent lyrics on young listeners. Lieberman would later go on to refer to Marilyn Manson as "perhaps the sickest group ever promoted by a mainstream record company". In addition, nearly every performance on the tour was picketed by religious organizations, pleading with fans to not see the musician who once said "I think every time people listen to this new album maybe God will be destroyed in their brainwashed minds. . .".
On November 10 1997, the band released a remix/live EP, Remix & Repent, featuring new versions of Antichrist Superstar's four singles, "The Beautiful People", "Tourniquet", "Antichrist Superstar", and "Man that You Fear", alongside songs recorded live on the U.S. leg of the Dead to the World Tour. Two unreleased songs from the Antichrist Superstar recording sessions were contributed to film soundtracks: "Apple of Sodom" to David Lynch's Lost Highway, and "The Suck for Your Solution" to the Howard Stern biopic Private Parts. As the year ended, Manson made the announcement of the upcoming publication of his first book, the autobiographical Long Hard Road out of Hell; the book was released in February 1998, along with another live document of the world tour, a home video entitled Dead to the World. The release of the follow-up to Antichrist Superstar was, according to the band, also imminent, accompanied by early rumors of the involvement of Billy Corgan and The Dust Brothers with the as-yet-untitled album.
Less than three weeks after the tour resumed, two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado killed thirteen people; early media reports declared them fans of "violent" music and video games. On April 28, out of respect for the victims, Marilyn Manson canceled the remaining dates of the Rock Is Dead tour, and would not reappear in Denver until the 2001 Ozzfest. Manson's song The Nobodies was directly inspired by the shootings.
On May 16 2001, it was announced on the Marilyn Manson website that Manson planned to quote the Bible at his next concert, to "balance out" his violent lyrics, "so we can examine the virtues of wonderful Christian stories of disease, murder, adultery, suicide and child sacrifice. Now that seems like entertainment to me". On June 21 2001, Manson did indeed read from the Bible onstage in Denver, Colorado, presenting such passages as Leviticus 20:9 ("For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death") and Psalm 137:9 ("Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones") as a means of comparing rock sensationalism with religious texts on a parallel platform.
Another world tour, the Grotesk Burlesk, followed, which furthered the album's Weimar Republic-inspired theme by adding elements of German Kabarett to the group's performances. Elaborate artwork by Gottfried Helnwein appeared in the band's stage dressing, and the members began appearing both on-stage and off- in designer suits and with fashion superstars.
It has been speculated that Manson's "farewell album" comment may be an indication that the membership of Marilyn Manson may no longer be permanent, and that the musicians who record the albums and play live may, in the future, rotate, as has been the case with Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM. Manson's 2007 album, "Eat Me, Drink Me", was recorded by the core Manson and Skold.
On January 9, 2008 Marilyn Manson posted a bulletin on MySpace confirming that former bassist Twiggy Ramirez was rejoining the band, and Tim Skold had parted ways with the band. The duo have apparently started writing new material already. Future collaborations with Skold haven't been ruled out as of yet.
On November 29, 2007 at The Heirophant, it was reported that Marilyn Manson planned to begin writing songs for their seventh studio album in January or February (2008). Manson said "after my greatest hits album (Lest We Forget: The Best of) came out I took a long break from music because it was a period where I was not sure who I wanted to be. I left music for a while but that's not an error I want to repeat in the future," and mentioned Kerry King, James Iha former guitarist of The Smashing Pumpkins, and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as likely contributors. On January 11, 2008 in the interview Everyone Will Suffer Now at MansonUSA, Manson said "I just feel like there is a big change happening now. It's going to be the one. Eat Me, Drink Me is opening the window and this is going to be the Hurricane Katrina."
Since Manson parted company with Skold and reunited with Ramirez, the two, along with Fish and Vrenna are working on the album in Los Angeles ahead of a planned December 2008 release following soon to be announced tour dates. In a recent interview with Steppin' Out, Manson described the new album as, "very ruthless, very heavy, and very violent".
On August 14, 2008, it was announced by Manson at a public interview in Seoul, Korea that former Limp Bizkit guitarist and current Black Light Burns frontman Wes Borland has joined the lineup, replacing Holliday. The band attended the ETP Festival and are wrapping up production on the new album.
The band also played a secret show for Hot Topic workers on October 5th.
In addition, the band's performances have come under fire — the Dead to the World Tour, in particular, was followed by protesters at nearly every North American venue it visited. The band's March 10 1997 performance in Columbia, South Carolina was canceled "in response to growing public pressure by religious, civic and political leaders who criticized the group's image". The owner of Calgary's Max Bell Centre had Marilyn Manson's July 25 show canceled, citing "immorality" and the band's "use of animals on stage." Another concert in Portland was canceled a few days later due to Manson's reputation, and the venue's inability to get insurance for the show. Protesters outside a concert in Greensboro, North Carolina included state senator Mark McDaniel.
The New Jersey date of Ozzfest '97, to be held at Giants Stadium, was canceled by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, who cited Marilyn Manson's performance as its reason; the event was only held after Ozzy Osbourne himself successfully sued the state, which compelled the authorities to allow the concert. Legislation was introduced and passed in South Carolina and Utah allowing state-operated venues to ban groups like Marilyn Manson from performing and, in at least one instance, in Florida, local schools have gone so far as to threaten expulsion for students in attendance of Marilyn Manson concerts.
The controversy connecting Marilyn Manson and American school shootings continued on October 10th, 2007 when 14-year-old Asa Coon opened gunfire on his high school in Cleveland, Ohio. SuccessTech Academy went to lock-down status around 1:15pm, when Coon shot four people; including two students, and two teachers, before turning the gun on himself. Police reports, and student interviews claim that Coon was wearing a Marilyn Manson t-shirt during the rampage. On several occasions, Coon told students and teachers that he did not believe in, nor respect God; instead worshipped vocalist Marilyn Manson. Coon was known for violent behavior, and stood out among a predominately black student body for his appearance -- which included black boots, a black trench coat, black nail polish, and rock t-shirts.
Manson was also influenced by his mentor who raised his notoriety in the Industrial scene, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor. Reznor started Manson on his record label, Nothing Records, as well as allowing him a spot in his touring entourage.
Evidently, Manson is heavily influenced by the shock rock stylings of such artists as Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, Kiss and some of Iggy Pop; however, late influences have come from the glam rock of David Bowie (who Manson claims is his biggest influence), whose chameleon-like ability to shift from one style to another, replete with a new look and musical philosophy, was a characteristic which would also be frequently ascribed to Marilyn Manson by the music press. Such an influence is exemplified in the similarities between the music videos of Bowie's "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" and many of Manson's videos, such as "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)". (Florian Sigismondi has directed music videos for both Bowie (Little Wonder) and Manson (The Beautiful People and Tourniquet)) The hard rock background of John 5 amplified this aspect of the band's sound in live performance; Tim Skold, a former guitarist, bassist, and vocalist in Shotgun Messiah, later blended in that band's mixture of industrial drums and guitars. Both Manson and Twiggy Ramirez have mentioned the influence of Queen on their more melodic work, particularly on Mechanical Animals and Eat Me, Drink Me, the latter of which Twiggy did not work on.
Music is primarily composed by the other permanent band members, who at present are Twiggy Ramirez on studio & live bass and occasional studio guitars; and Ginger Fish, on live drums. Until their respective departures from the band, Daisy Berkowitz and Twiggy Ramirez were chief contributors to the compositions, with receiving "music by" credits on every Marilyn Manson album prior to The Golden Age of Grotesque with the exception of Portrait of an American Family, with Berkowitz having shared many songwriting credits with Gidget Gein. According to the albums' credits, every permanent member of the band has had input, at some point, in its songwriting process.
Marilyn Manson has also become extremely well-known for recording cover versions of songs by other artists; the band's two most successful singles have been a brooding punk-metal version of Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)", and a heavily synthesized "Tainted Love" (as popularized by Soft Cell, though originally performed by Gloria Jones). Notable covers the band has recorded have been by Depeche Mode ("Personal Jesus"), David Bowie ("Golden Years"), Gary Numan ("Down in the Park"), Patti Smith ("Rock N Roll Nigger")The Beatles ("Come Together") and numerous other artists.
Manson has also dabbled in "psychoacoustics", the effect of sound (audible and inaudible) on the mind. These experiments were put to use by Manson when he scored the film "Resident Evil". Of the soundtrack, Manson stated that he used a number of methods to create "tension" in the film, including the use of sounds that, while inaudible to the human ear, still register and affect the brain.