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Mechanical Animals era - 1998 to 1999

Marilyn Manson
"We used to love ourselves, we used to love one another..."
Marilyn Manson band
Ginger, John5
Twiggy, Marilyn Manson, Pogo

Mechanical Animals album - September 1998
The Last Tour on Earth album - November 1999

Rock Is Dead Tour October 1998 to August 1999
USA - Europe/UK- Japan - Australia - Canada

The Mechanical Animals era sees MM embark on a form of hard-edged glam, tarting up their image likewise and taking most of their fans by surprise. In a sense, the band become 'Omega and the Mechanical Animals'. Think of 'Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars' by David Bowie and it's a similar theme, visually.

"The story of Omega is one of an exaggerated rock star lost in fame and drugs and the isolation that follows." - MM

With the band at it's most mainstream pictureseque, a host of fashion and magazine snappers play an eager role in promoting them. But what's it all about?

"Antichrist Superstar was like falling from heaven. Mechanical Animals is about what happens when you hit the earth, where you go from there, how much more there is to be discovered." - MM

In February 1998, Marilyn's biography, 'The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell', is published. It becomes a best-seller in America and reveals a lot about him, the band and their associates up to 1997.

Whilst the 1998-99 touring era is a success in many ways, an apparently unconnected but dramatic event in April 1999, in a place called Littleton, Colorado, USA, is soon to have an adverse affect on Manson and band.

What happens is that two bullied teenagers at Columbine High School in Littleton decide to shoot fellow pupils and then themselves. A reporter gets the idea that these two were Marilyn Manson fans and it becomes an invented and repeated news item that MM songs encouraged the shootings! They weren't fans at all but it still wouldn't have justified the anti-manson onslaught even if they had been.

The misplaced and unrelenting media pressure finally takes its toll on Manson, and the five remaining USA concert dates are cancelled.

Concert dates in Europe and Japan are fulfilled, however, and in August 1999, with the tour complete, the band return to Los Angeles. The welcome breathing space allows them to concentrate on writing and producing songs for Holy Wood, the final album in Manson's trilogy. Shunning the limelight for months, Marilyn is determined to create a powerful album that fights back at his detractors. The homage to glam is over but the third and final beast of the triptych is on its way.

MA themes and influences

Drug excesses - emotions - pretty boy era - cynicism - the adrogynous alien - David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust inspiration - glam rock - Gary Numan - Rose McGowan - Iggy Pop - Omega the rockstar - glam-style immaculate makeup and costumes - loneliness - isolation - alienation - self irony.

In December 1999, Marilyn recaps:

The persona of 'Omega' has always been a satire and an exaggeration of what 'commercial America' thinks a rock star should be and act. However, my album MECHANICAL ANIMALS has never at any point been insincere. I stand by those songs and every song I've written 100 per cent and consider each to be a piece of a greater work. If being 'Omega' managed to capture the attention of a few MTV viewers during a godforsaken, rockless year of rap-metal-hip-hop bullshit and I opened their minds just a crack, my job was done.

Track five of Mechanical Animals is a song called Disassociative. Somebody posted a related description online about this. Originally written by angelynx I believe:

The fear that those around you are not true humans but zombies or machines is typical of disassociative disorder, specifically of depersonalization disorder, which also lends a sense of detachment and unreality. It's commonest in those who are already suffering through substance abuse or withdrawal, pain, fatigue, or severe stress...or combinations thereof.

A roboticized narration (set to music) from Manson and on the album goes:

In the end I became them and I led them / After all none of us really qualified as humans / We were hardworn automatic and as hollow as the 'o' in God / I reattached my emotions cellular and narcotic / From the top of hollywood it looked like space / Millions of capsules and mechanical animals / A city filled with dead stars and a girl I called Comawhite / This is my Omega.

Very poetic. The line: 'From the top of Hollywood it looked like space' refers to a night spent recovering from a party. After trying a particular (tranquilizer?) drug, Manson develops near paralysis and has to be carried home. Looking out over the city from his home in the Hollywood Hills, feelings of helplessness, remoteness and isolation engulf him, and the memory of this night influences the Mechanical Animals album.

The text quoted above is from the hidden 15th untitled track. To access it, you need to play the CD on your computer. A flash file opens, shows two of Manson's paintings and plays music by Pogo and Manson, with Manson narrating. And it loops until you click 'quit'.

Mechanical Animals Timeline

1997
4 September 1997 - MTV's Video Music Awards takes place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Marilyn Manson close the show with a live performance of The Beautiful People.

1998
January 1998 - 'Dead to the World' video of the Antichrist Superstar tour released. An hour of live performances, with behind-the-scenes footage too.

14 February 1998 - Manson's autobiography, 'The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell', is published, becoming a best seller.

Now this is funny. On the Fresh Air radio program, Marilyn gets shirty about the Internet, saying:

In the wrong hands, the Internet can be a dangerous tool. It's the CB radio of the '90s, but it's being interpreted as a legitimate source of news, which it's not. I think eventually there will be some sort of laws that will deal with that.

'the CB radio of the '90s', lol, ten-four rubber duck. He blamed the net for circulating many of the wacky rumours about him. Really it's certain people who are to blame, as usual. I'm sure he views the internet a little more kindly now, or differently at least.

June 1998 - A planned tour of seven European summer music festivals - beginning 25th June in Denmark - is cancelled when Ginger falls very ill with mononucleosis. The others spend extra studio time on the Mechanical Animals album.

July 1998 - Guitarist John Lowery replaces Zim Zum. Manson gives him the band name John 5. The timing means that Zim Zum was studio guitarist for Mechanical Animals, whilst John5 plays guitar for the MA tour.

10 September 1998 - The band performs The Dope Show at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. This is John 5's performance debut. Manson's outfit shows off his bare bum cheeks. Just like last year.

15 September 1998 - Mechanical Animals album released and goes straight to number one in America. And if you can't stop them, join them: the official MM website is launched at www.marilynmanson.net. Later it becomes a 'dot com'. Also launched is online retail store marilynmansondirect, run by Artist Direct.

October 1998 - Mechanical Animals tops the Billboard 200 Albums chart for a week. Officials in Syracuse, New York State, try to stop the MM concert planned there.

Marilyn Manson and DMX team up on a remix of 'Damien' from DMX's debut album. It appears on DMX's album 'Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood'.

21 November 1998
At the Poughkeepsie Civic Center, the band reportedly set a t-shirt ablaze in a dressing room, and trash four hotel rooms at the Sheraton hotel, after a weekend show in New York. No charges are filed but money is paid over. Manson's manager, Tony Ciulla, calls the bills for damages 'inflated and exaggerated'.

And the following Monday, Manson is accused of setting his bodyguards on Craig Marks, a Spin magazine editor.

Mechanical Animals reaches Gold sales levels (500,000 units) after two months of release.

December 1998
The Dope Show is named as Best Video of the Year by Rolling Stone magazine. Also nominated for European Music Award's Best Rock Video, it wins two Billboard Video Music Awards for Best Clip (Hard Rock/Metal) and the Maximum Vision Award.

The video for 'I Don't Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)' is released.

19 December 1998 - Manson has a Christmas feature in NME and is Kerrang's Christmas issue cover feature. He's also on the December issue cover of UK gay magazine, Attitude.

1999
January 1999 - Taken before he was famous, nude photos of Marilyn Manson appear in gay adult magazine Honcho. The photographer didn't ask his permission but I expect Manson was philisophical about it.

Later this month, Manson stops an Australian concert after morons hurl objects onstage.

The executive editor of Spin magazine attempts to sue Manson for $24 million after an alleged assault by Manson's bodyguards in November 1998.

Manson makes a brief appearance in the film Jawbreaker, which stars his then girlfriend, Rose McGowan. He sports a cheesy moustache and blue suit and plays a sleazy character in a bar. He's in a brief sex scene too.

February 1999 - The Dope Show is nominated for a Grammy Award, for Best Hard Rock Performance.

March 1999 - 13th March at Anaheim, California, Manson sprains his ankle. It's made worse on the 14th at Ingelwood, which means the San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix shows are cancelled. Support band Hole leave the tour, citing 'production problems', but there was also unease between the bands. Monster Magnet replace Hole beginning Houston, Texas on 21 March.

Did Jack Off Jill support them at shows from 25 to 30 March in Florida? Yes they did, as someone who was at the Tampa Bay date tells me: 'Jack Off Jill did perform first (to an unapproving crowd especially when the poor singer fell on her ass during the performance), then Monster Magnet and then Manson'. Thanks for that.

April 1999 - Nashville Pussy become support act on 2nd April.

The Mayor cancels concert at Red Rocks, following Columbine school shootings where two students shoot a teacher and twelve other students. Media hysteria implicates Manson in the tragedy and he issues a statement: 'It's tragic and disgusting anytime young peoples lives are taken in an act of senseless violence. My condolences go out to the students and their families.' The band cancel remaining American tour dates and travel to Europe.

Thursday 29 July 1999 - Marilyn Manson Fan Conference. Fifteen fans - contest winners - speak with Manson directly over the telephone during the conference, which is webcast. This is when the official site is marilynmanson.NET, and part of the Artist Direct network.

September 1999 - the 'Coma White' video is finally released. Recreating JFK's assassination, its release was delayed because of the death of John Kennedy, Jr. in a plane crash. The video for 'The Dope Show' gets a Best Cinematography nomination for an MTV Video Music Award.

October 1999 - Best Rock Artist nomination for Marilyn Manson for an MTV Europe Music Award.

2 November 1999 - God is in the TV video is released.

16 November 1999 - A live album, The Last Tour on Earth, becomes a welcome and well-regarded addition to the band's studio-recorded accomplishments. Helping fans to cope with the band's unexpected 'exile', it places an upbeat ending on a year that had become even more controversial than usual for Marilyn Manson.

Holy Wood era, 2000 to 2001»