Pogo - keyboards
one man, many hairstyles
Also called Madonna Wayne Gacy.
Real Name: Stephen Gregory Bier, Jr. Born: 6th March, 1964, USA. Replaced Zsa Zsa Speck in 1990.
Before joining the band, Stephen was an Engineering graduate of the University of Florida.
For the 'EAT ME, DRINK ME' album tour, 2007, Pogo's place on keyboards is taken by Chris Vrenna. He will not be returning.
I did originally say here that he was recruited by NASA - the space agency - but turned down Nasa's job offer to join the band instead. Pogo himself says in a 2010 interview that although he did apply for a job at Nasa, it wasn't the one he wanted. So I don't know if he did take that job for a short while or what. He also said:
I was originally going to be an aerospace engineer and then the space shuttle blew up so no one could get a job. They fired all of the aerospace engineers from Rockwell. That was my goal in life because I grew up in Florida and so the space program is all around you. I saw the Apollo 17 launches, the space shuttle launches and I was just so psyched. I wanted to do that and then it blew up. There was no work so I switched to industrial engineering and got my degree in that.
Shauna O'Donnell of The Gauntlet Interviews Pogo
Another thing he did pre-Marilyn Manson was attend Boyd H. Anderson High School in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida.
In 1989 he befriended Brian/Manson, who asked if he could play an instrument. Pogo said he could play drums, sort-of. But Brian wanted to use Daisy's drum-machine, so Stephen saved up to buy a keyboard.
It took a little while though, which meant that although, in theory, he was in the band from the start, he missed being fully part of the first gigs. Even then, his involvement was sitting playing with toy soldiers onstage. As Marilyn expressed it, he was their, 'keyboardless keyboardist'.
In his biography, Long Hard Road Out of Hell, Manson decribes his first sighting of Pogo:
"One Friday I arrived at the club with a friend from theatre class, Brian Tutunick. I was decked out in a navy blue trench coat with "Jesus Saves" painted on the back, striped stockings and combat boots. At the time I thought I looked cool, but in retrospect, I looked like an asshole. ("Jesus Saves"?) As we walked in, we noticed a blond guy (Pogo) leaning against a pillar with a Flock of Seagulls haircut hanging in his face. He was smoking a cigarette and laughing. I thought he was laughing at me, but when I passed by he didn't even turn his head. He was just staring into space, cackling like a madman..."
Stephen was given the composite name Madonna Wayne Gacy but also uses the nickname Pogo. Pogo was an alias used by the serial-killer he was partly named after - who was also a clown and childrens entertainer.
Pogo in the Spooky Kids days
After the keyboard arrived, an area of the stage became known as Pogo's Playhouse, which he decorated with various bizarre, rude and macabre items.
In two of the mini photos below, you can see a chicken-wire framework surrounding the keyboard. Severed dummy heads seemed to be a favourite decoration.
His interests in Numerology and the Hebrew Kabbalah are also shared by Marilyn. During the Antichrist Superstar era, they incorporated some of their findings into the album artwork and story.
Pogo's mum is catholic and his dad jewish, and whilst he doesn't consider himself religious, this may help explain his interest in ancient religion and mysticism. His parents were both teachers.
I can't imagine Mr Bier being involved in any restful or calming pursuits - I think I can hear his brain whirring away even from here. Up until his mid-teens, he was treated with ritalin for hyperactivity but stopped taking it because of the way it made him feel. People who met the band after a show would sometimes later remark about the way Pogo rocked back and forth when sitting.
Onstage, a lot of his time is spent tussling with his spring-mounted keyboard. He has drums and cymbals too. And no offence Ginger, but I think Pogo would've made a great drummer - definite shades of Keith Moon there. Perhaps the programming and sampling side is more him though. Pogo's playing and computerized samples are certainly a big part of the character of the band.
I remember reading a show review where someone who met Pogo afterwards, said he would be a good person to call if you were on the TV show 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'. He is well known for his literal flows of information, so he may just indeed have the answer to life, the universe and everything. He has also been described as 'an encyclopedia of bizarre facts'.
With me being a David Bowie fan I'm pleased to say Pogo has a credit on Bowie's 'The Hearts Filthy Lesson' for adding 'additional manipulation'. It's a UK picture disk released in 1995.
I'm sure there are other little extras and collaborations for me still to find out about.
Equipment snippets from 2001: Roland AX-1 Strap On, Roland PC200 MIDI, Kurzweil 2500r, Kurzweil K2000r, Ensoniq DP4+.
Is this next part more recent information? - Yamaha CBXK2 Keyboard Controller, Peavey MIDI Master Splitter, Mackie 1604-VLZ Mixer, Premier 15" x 14" floor toms, Premier 16" x 16" floor toms, 18" Zildjian Z Custom China.
I'm not surprised he has something called a 'Strap On' - it fits with the 'depraved' tag Marilyn has been trying to put on him for years. From the equipment information, you can tell he has drums and cymbal onstage - Pogo's Percussion no less. He had drums in the 1995 Smells Like Children era too. Select the 'manson's leg' photo below, to see him playing one back then.
Select mini picture to see the larger version
Pogo broke his right hand/wrist in June 2003 when he was annoyed about something. The plaster cast had 'I'M DUMB' written on it. How did it happen? I heard he punched a wall. Then I heard he threw a bottle down.
Message of love on Pogo's 2001 drumsticks. Pic by Zepp.
But he still managed to play keyboards and drum for 'Disposable Teens'. The beer helps.
He likes Corona or some other Mexican brand beer I believe, and light. But he'll get embarassed if you try to buy him one.
A Spooky Kids flyer, from the early days of Marilyn Manson, gave this information:
- Fave Bands: Black Sabbath, Ramones, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Buffalo Torn, Fear.
- Fave Movies: Brazil, Forbin Project, Mel Brook's The Producers.
- Fave Book: Nietzches's Beyond Good And Evil.
- Heroes: Jeff Dahmer, Arthur Brown, Schopenhauer.
An up-to-date version of that would be lovely.
In December 1995, he did say that the film, 'Dawn of the Dead' scared him.
Article and interview links for Pogo
Australian ACSS era interview. Pogo in part one, Marilyn in part two. It's brief but informative: Marilyn Manson Interview
You know, I remember reading a fan's review of a show where Pogo had his encounter with bits of chicken all over his keyboard. They were all over the stage in fact. I'm sure his chicken foot necklace was inspired by this event.
Seems to be the show on 11 March 1995, at the Alcatrazz club, Columbia, on the last night of a small headlining tour. Support band, Monster Voodoo Machine, set up the chicken fragments onstage. That was also Freddie's (Sara Lee Lucas) last night as drummer.