Marilyn Manson is a band based in Hollywood, California that can be described as shock rock, neo-glam rock, and arguably "industrial metal". The lead singer of the band, Brian Warner, also performs under the name Marilyn Manson.
History of the Band
As a band, Marilyn Manson got their start in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1989 as Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids. Marilyn Manson's early presentation had a more demented cartoonish style than the dark, brooding style of their later image. The band received little attention outside Florida until they were noticed by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. Marilyn Manson's first CD, Portrait of an American Family was released on Reznor's Nothing Records label. The only remaining founding members of the band are Marilyn Manson himself (vocals) and Madonna Wayne Gacy (keyboards). Until 1996, the name of each band member was created by combining the first name of a female pop culture icon and the last name of a serial killer, with Manson's own name being a combination of the names of Marilyn Monroe and cult leader Charles Manson. The members of the band dress in often bizarre costumes, and, much like KISS and Alice Cooper, have developed a devoted fan base both for their music and their sometimes shocking behavior.
The band's music and perfomances have frequently been called offensive and obscene, and protests and petitions have successfully had the group banned from performing a few shows. Manson often cuts himself with broken glass before his audiences, and as a result has nearly 500 scars covering his body as a result of ritualistically cutting himself. In 1997, the owner of Calgary's Max Bell Centre had Manson's July 25 show cancelled, citing "immorality" and the band's "use of animals on stage." Another concert in Portland was cancelled a few days later due to Manson's reputation, and the venue's inability to get insurance for the gig. That November 6, U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management and Restructuring held a public hearing on the effect of violent rock and rap lyrics on kids. Manson supporters claim it was merely another salvo in Joseph Lieberman's declared war on the band. The hearing featured the testimony of Raymond Kuntz, of Burlington, North Dakota, who blamed his son's suicide on Antichrist Superstar, which Lieberman denounced as "vile, hateful, nihilistic and damaging."
Manson is often described as a follower and ordained minister of the Church of Satan. This, however, is not strictly true; he was appointed as honorary Reverend by late founder Anton LaVey. Unlike being an ordained minister, a Reverend of the Church of Satan is one who is revered by the Church for some reason – regardless of their connections to it — while a priest or minister is one who dedicates their life to preaching the religion to others. Nevertheless, some fans still refer to him as the Rev. Marilyn Manson, a title that appears in the credits of Antichrist Superstar.
On May 16, 2001, it was announced on the ReligionToday 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."
Manson has released Lest We Forget, a greatest hits album including a cover of "Personal Jesus", a Depeche Mode hit. It also contains a bonus DVD with most of the band's music videos, excluding "Tainted Love". Manson has called this album his "farewell" album, but it is not his last album. At present (April 2005) Manson is performing on his worldwide Against All Gods tour.
Media portrayal and confusion regarding Manson
Following the Columbine High School massacre, there were accusations that killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were influenced by Manson's music, despite evidence that both Harris and Klebold were not fans of Manson, leading many to criticize the media as using Manson as a scapegoat instead of analyzing the underlying societal problems surrounding the incident. Nevertheless, out of respect for the victims, Manson canceled appearances in Denver until the 2001 Ozzfest. In the critically acclaimed documentary Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore interviewed Manson about the tragedy. When asked what he would say to the two if he had a chance to talk to them before the killings, Manson replied "I wouldn't say a single word to them; I would listen to what they have to say, and that's what no one did."
It was following the Columbine incident that the media began routinely tagging Marilyn Manson as "goth rock" despite the fact that Manson's music had little relation to gothic music or sub-culture. In 2005, the media once again cited Manson and the unrelated goth-rock in articles relating to a school shooting that occurred in Red Lake, Minnesota. While there is no evidence to refute that Jeff Weise, the gunman in the shooting, listened to Marilyn Manson, information known about him through his blog and internet writings suggest that his like for Manson was hardly more relevant than his apparent love for '60s stoner rock. Yet, several media accounts, including that of nationally circulated columnist Ryan Bakkan stressed the relation of Marilyn Manson, with the connection to gothic sub-culture.
Manson on the Internet
Manson frequently broadcasted messages and interacted with his listeners on his official website from the release of Mechanical Animals until some time after Holy Wood was released. Fans could expect a short film to be available for download every few weeks. Often these films were monologues by Manson responding to fan questions or media announcements, and other films were obscure recordings from his studio. His participation gradually dropped off and since The Golden Age of Grotesque, almost no new content has appeared there.
Manson also released companion websites spawned from his concept albums. Mechanical Animals was companioned by Comawhite.com, an interactive online maze which led users to various drug and rose themed graphics, and links to hidden sections of his main website.
Holy Wood was companioned with the website Celebritarian.com, which featured a provoking questionnaire and a diagram showing that a human does not have a soul until age 10. An additional website, [ThisAsValentinesDay.com], featured a headline announcing JFK's death.
The Manson BBS was opened up after Mechanical Animals and was a very active forum in subjects other than the band. Discussion of art, politics, news and current events raged on in classic message board style. There was much debate on the meanings and interpretations of various lyrics, diagrams, or pictures featured in his album cover art--especially that of Holy Wood. Manson would occasionally interject on discussions along these lines.
For reasons unknown, the BBS was removed, then reintroduced a few months later, and removed again. The user base sharply declined and its uniqueness vanished as many classic members never returned.
Marilyn Manson (Brian Warner) - Vocals,
Chris Vrenna - Drums (Temporary),
Madonna Wayne (M.W.) Gacy a.k.a Pogo (Stephen Bier, Jr.) - Keyboards & Alt. Drums,
Tim Skold - Bass Guitar,
Mark Chaussee - Guitar (Temporary),
Ginger Fish (Kenny Wilson) - Drums.