As provocative album titles go, Antichrist Superstar is amongst the best. You need a lot of nerve to make such a title work for you. From everything I've read about the dawn of this era, the band's very survival became threatened by their own behaviour, but they emerged triumphant.
The ACSS album - recorded in New Orleans - is created against a backdrop of sleep deprivation, substance abuse and self-abuse in general for all of the band. Manson is hospitalized through cocaine use but has time to think things over, ditch the drug excesses and 'choose life', as that film says.
Although every step along the way is a breakthrough in itself, the ACSS album, the single released from it ('The Beautiful People') and the tour of the same era, each of these things helps to put the band into the public eye as never before.
The Dead To the World title for the tour comes from the album track, 'Dried Up, Tied and Dead To The World.' I've become quite fond of the song's "...all dried up and tied up forever, all fucked up and dead to the world" refrain.
Of ACSS, Manson says:
The lyrics and ideals expressed on this album are those of a character called Antichrist Superstar, who is portrayed by me and every other person in America. Those who fail to admit and realize this are the ones who will be afraid and offended. This is what you should fear, you are what you should fear.
I think Antichrist Superstar accomplished everything I set out to have it do. It wasn't just about the album, it was also about the reaction to it and the way it made people think, whether or not they liked it or even listened to it. Everyone in America was talking about it and I think that was important to stimulate ideas. It got people arguing is this right, is this wrong? And that's what I wanted to do.
I learned how seriously people take religion in America. That's why it's so important that I did what I did with that record, because I learned that people really do have a long way to go when it comes to thinking about different ideas when it comes to God. Because people were willing to react with violence and the way that they treated me proved all my points.
We were trying to stand up for something that represented 'judge not and love thy neighbor,' and some people completely disregarded that. Usually the people that I'm criticizing, particularly in America where people lack a sense of irony, go on to prove the point. I don't dislike America. I just like to look at things and talk about things that most people are too afraid to talk about. There needs to be someone who comes along every few years and reminds people that they should evaluate what they believe in.
Antichrist Superstar themes and influencesThese are my haphazard prompt notes: Iconography, metamorphosis, dystopia, totalitarianism, religious mysticism.
Influences the band say they used: Narcotics, the Kabbalah, numerology, computer technology.
ACSS equals the 'scary', 'ugly' era, somewhat gothic - Anton LaVey - Church of Satan - the Antichrist - Bible - Christianity, fundamentalism. MM's look: blue contact lense - smeared, smudged lipstick - scanty feminised underwear kind of clothing.
Marilyn phones film maker Elias Merhige one night to ask for his help with a video. He tells him he mixed all of the Antichrist Superstar album whilst watching his 'Begotten' film on loop, playing it over and over. Merhige tells Manson, jokily, that he is unsure "that that's the healthiest thing for you to be doing."
In case you're wondering, the plot of Begotten (1991) is:
Probably a good match for Manson's mindset at the time though. Manson then sends Elias Merhige the Antichrist Superstar music and gives him complete creative freedom to make a music video. EM also makes an intermission film and does some stage design work for the ACSS tour. He describes that process as being 'a lot of fun'.
The video in question is Cryptorchid (appears on the 'God is in the TV' tape, and the Lest We Forget bonus DVD) but I don't know what the intermission film is, nor what parts of the ACSS stage set he created and influenced. Of the Cryptorchid video, EM said:
The ACSS era saw the beginning of many magazine photo-shoots for the band, and for Manson in particular.
Antichrist Superstar Timeline
April 1996 - the EP 'Smells Like Children' climbs from 115 on the Billboard chart to number 60. The extensive airplay given to the track, 'Sweet Dreams', plays a big part in this. Sales reach the 200,000 mark.
May 1996 - Guitarist Daisy Berkowitz quits the band. He is replaced by Mike Linton/'Zim Zum', who originally blew in from the windy city, Chicago. Zim, and about 150 other guitarists, answered an advert in the Village Voice.
Zim Zum's stagename derives from the Kabbala, an ancient Hebrew mystical work.
July 1996 - out comes a single: 'Sweet Dreams Are Made of This'. Sorry Marilyn but the Eurythmics version will always be the definitive one for me. But yours is fine.
August? 1996 - The Edge in Fort Lauderdale hosts the fifth annual Slammie Awards show. Ironically, one of the invited presenters for the night is Scott Mitchell Putesky (Daisy Berkowitz), who recently left Marilyn Manson.Marilyn Manson win three awards:
- National Release (for Smells Like Children EP)
- Single (for Sweet Dreams)
5 September 1996 - the 'Nothing Night' showcase in New York City (Roseland, Irving Plaza?) is Zim Zum's first live show. Ginger is hit - in the ribs, head? - by a microphone stand, one of the many flying objects during the Mansons' set, and he ends up in hospital overnight.
Trent Reznor - a little upset at Manson - makes a definite point of thanking all of the other groups there except MM. Marilyn had been a naughty boy after all. But didn't Trent used to do those things too?
3 October 1996 - Headlining tour begins in USA ('New York Loose' as support band, at first at least), leading to South America and Europe, right into 1997.
8 October 1996 - The Antichrist Superstar album is released and debuts at number 3 on Billboard's chart, just as Manson had predicted.
1997 March? - New guitarist Zim Zum makes his video debut in the video for the first single from ACSS, The Beautiful People.
Friday 5 September 1997 - MM shows off his bare bum to millions watching MTV's Video Music Awards Show.
October 1997 - 30th and 31st. Genuine MM fans are shocked by people who turn up at the band's Hallowe'en concerts, hoping to see Manson - and perhaps the whole band - commit suicide onstage. The rumour of this came about when some of his remarks were misunderstood.
November 1997 - A Senate panel hearing discuss the effects of today's music on American youth. The father of a 15-year-old who killed himself said he felt MM's music contributed to his son's suicide. Manson's Antichrist Superstar was reportedly playing in the portable CD player the boy was wearing when he was found.
Other speakers at the hearing (which included senators and medical experts) were concerned about possible links between expressive lyrics and violence. Manson's response?
18? November 1997 - Remix and Repent EP released.
"When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed"