Marilyn Manson doesn't want to be shocking. In fact, he feels that's impossible.
"I think the only thing you can be in today's world is chaos and confusing," says Manson. "You can't be shocking. The minute Kennedy was shot on color TV, you can't be shocking. You can be chaos and confusion, [and that] is what brings the interest, the attention."
Attention is what Manson aims to get when he hits the concert stage, and entertainment is what he aims to deliver.
"I guarantee what's coming your way is going to be enjoyable," says Manson, who'll be playing old favorites along with tracks from Born Villain, a 2012 collaboration with guitarist/co-writer Twiggy Ramirez that's been hailed as a return to form. "I'm enjoying it to the point where I can say it won't be anything less — at the very worst — than the best thing happening today in rock 'n roll. That might not be saying much today. That's why I wanted to be a rock star. I was disgusted as a journalist that there wasn't anything happening."
Manson was a journalist back when he was still known as Brian Warner, a kid from Ohio who moved to Florida to go to art school. He met the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sex Pistols svengali Malcolm McLaren. And then came grunge, which wasn't exactly Manson's favorite thing.
"I called it communist rock," he says. "Everything sounded the same."
Meanwhile, Warner had put together a band called Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids. That was in 1989. Four years later, he was discovered by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who produced and released his Portrait of an American Family debut.
Before long, Manson had scored an alt-rock hit with his cover of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams." After that came Antichrist Superstar, which soared to No. 3 on the Billboard album chart and turned him into the rock star that parents hated.
Although Manson would score three Grammy nominations from 1994 to 2004, he gradually became a creature of the tabloids and began to lose interest in music, as evidenced by a pair of listless late-2000s albums.
So he "let everything go," putting all his "monkeys and all the stuff people have heard about" into storage and moving into a spare, warehouse-style Los Angeles space with only his books, paintings, movies, musical instruments and cats.
"It was the first time I'd lived alone," says Manson. "I found it very liberating to do simple tasks, like walk down the street and buy a sandwich. It wasn't that I was spoiled. I'd never had a chance to do it."
Manson also went through a period of depression, which he gradually exited in order to record Born Villain. "I wouldn't say it's a fun record," says Manson. "But it seems like a strong record to me."
Manson says he was determined to make a comeback, not so much commercially as artistically.
"I'd lost interest," he admits. "That was the problem. The edge comes with the desire. I'm like a knife. You're either a butcher knife or a butter knife. It takes longer to cut off your dick with a butter knife. And that's what I was.
"I don't know where that metaphor came from, but I'm sticking with it."