Christmas and New Year have long been associated with life in a time of death and a general sense of rebirth, a resetting of priorities, values and calendars. By now, it’s safe to say that most lessons or promises made during that season have been forgotten or broken by now, lives finally getting back to ante-seasonal levels, but every now and again, something happens over the holidays that sticks with a person.
It may sound like Hollywood pandering, but it does happen. And while most onlookers couldn’t see it happening to a more unlikely pair than Marilyn Manson and Twiggy Ramirez, so it did.
On the eve of the final North American leg of the Rape Of The World tour, the Manson camp announced that Twiggy, the group’s most iconic member aside from their namesake ringleader, would be rejoining the ranks in place of his original replacement, Tim Skold.
It’s a long way from where Manson was a few short years ago, ready to hang in the towel on the music business with the retrospective Lest We Forget. But after last year’s Eat Me, Drink Me and now rejoined with Ramirez, things seem clear for Manson for the first time in years, with his long awaited film, Phantasmagoria, finally on the horizon, a new album and several other projects already in the works.
How is rehearsal for the tour going?
It’s amazing. Obviously, we’ve switched the lineup around but it’s kind of like it used to be and in a way it’s kind of completely new. The reason why I decided to get back together with Twiggy is because I knew we missed our friendship and that always translates for positive creative output and we’re doing songs that we haven’t played in seven or eight years and I think everyone’s going to be really blown away by it. It will probably be, even for us, looking at each other on stage, we’ll probably end up setting ourselves on fire and stabbing each other. (laughs)
How did the reunion, so to speak, come about?
We ran into each other before the end of the year, and it was a complete coincidence. We ran into each other in a bar at a hotel I was staying at, and we just kept in contact while I was in Europe, e-mailing each other. Then I went and saw Led Zeppelin, and I saw the way Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were looking at each other, and I thought, ‘I miss having that look with somebody, like that.’
So, I think we were all in the dressing room, everybody but my guitar player [Tim Skold] that I just split with, of course, and we called him up and we said, ‘Hey man,’—we’ve all known him for years—‘let’s get back together in the band.’ And he said, ‘Fuck it, we’ll do it.’ And we came back, and it just automatically fit. I walked in and these guys have probably only been rehearsing for one day, and it’s probably sounding better than it ever sounded.
Was there ever a consideration to retain Tim on guitar and have Twiggy on bass?
That was a possibility, but I don’t think that things would have flown right with those two guys because of the tension and the fact that Tim had replaced him. I think out of respect for Tim, I told him what I wanted to do, and he understood to a certain degree that our parting was for the time being and it was amicable, and this was something I really wanted and had to do. I think it would have made things very unpleasant if those two guys were together. It would have just been awkward.
Well, as a result of the new lineup, are you going to be focusing on Holywood and before for the setlist for this leg of the tour?
Yeah, absolutely. Without giving anything away, we’re playing three songs off the new record. Everything else is songs that Twiggy and I wrote together. We’re playing quite a few songs, songs that I’ve never played before, like ‘Coma White’ and ‘Coma Black.’ We’re playing ‘1996,’ haven’t done that since the Antichrist Superstar tour. It’s kind of like new songs, they’re just old, we haven’t played ’em in a while, so they’re new again. (laughs)
I remember not too long ago, there was serious talk of Lest We Forget being a farewell record. What was going on at the time to spur that?
I think you have to go through things to get a perspective, and I guess looking back, my friendship with him [Twiggy] disappearing from my life, and I think maybe my focus, not having so much enthusiasm about music anymore and not realizing why. I tried to convince myself that that wasn’t the case, and then my marriage, I think, probably had to be some sort of replacement in the back of my mind somewhere for my friendship with him. And it just couldn’t be. And I think that that relationship was, somehow—I don’t blame her—but I think that the relationship was responsible for me not wanting to be myself anymore.
I think I was convinced that it wasn’t good to be me, that I had to become something more responsible or something like that, and I associated that with music. So, I realized that if I try to separate who I am from what I do, both things will die. This last album was sort of me finding myself again, and now that I’m back, and now that I’m back with my best friend, we have more of an agenda, so we’re ready to make a new record right away. We’ve already started messing around with ideas, just by ourselves in the hotel room, and I think we will have something completely different to say with this new record.
Has the tone of your relationship with Twiggy changed? There’s a lot of years going back there, you’re not really fucking with him on MTV anymore.
(laughs) Well, we were on Loveline last night, and I’m not really ever going to bring him on an interview anymore. I remember why. It’s because he’s like a bad little brother. He was dispensing advice about unprotected sex and drugs and they really probably didn’t like that that much. Ah, they probably did like it.
Anyway, I kind of compared him to a bad disease that you think is gone but it comes back later. I think he compared our relationship to a bicycle, you just get back on it. It’s the same as it always was. I think he needs me right now as a friend in the same way that I would have loved to have had him a year ago as my friend still when I was going through such a dark period and he’s kind of in the same place with this tour. More than being about the music, just being about what we need from each other as friends.
So Eat Me, Drink Me was a product of that dark place. Even the approach that you took with it was different; rather than being created as a band it was just you and Tim. Is that set up a blueprint for future work?
No, I think that that’s what I had to do at the time because I didn’t know how to really get myself out of the place I was in and those songs are me not just writing about it after it happens, but it’s me writing as it’s happening. Tim had music that sounded like how I felt, and I think that that’s very much a record that marks that period, and I think that period kind of ended when it was a year later on 6 a.m. Christmas morning this year. I was sitting there with Twiggy, and I was sitting there with Evan and my other best friend Rudy, who’s a magician, and just thought ‘I’ve been waiting a year to be able to say “6 a.m. Christmas morning” since I wrote the song last year’ and it felt like some sort of passage, some rite of passage, and it was over. That period was over, all of it. Some for the good, some for the bad, but I don’t want to repeat it.