It's fitting that the first concert Brian Warner attended was a 1979 KISS show. Warner, later known to the world as Marilyn Manson, was 10 at the time.
Like the iconic glam-rockers before him, Manson has been vilified by the Christian right, backed by First Amendment advocates and dismissed by rock critics as a style-over-substance novelty artist. Also like KISS, the persona of Marilyn Manson perhaps the most divisive, controversial music industry figure of the past decade was created as a response to a world of self-loathing and anti-conformity.
Albums such as 1996's Antichrist Superstar, 1998's Mechanical Animals and 1999's The Last Tour on Earth propelled Manson into the alternative metal universe, but his image (and shocking videos) often overshadowed the music. Not until his latest album, Eat Me, Drink Me, invariably his best and most focused, did the true creative spirit of Marilyn Manson finally emerge.
"I got to a point where I thought I had nothing that I wanted to say before making this record," Manson says by phone from New York. "I can look back now and see I was sinking into a real black hole of depression, and I didn't want to be me."
While writing Eat Me, Drink Me, Manson went through a highly publicized divorce from burlesque artist Dita Von Teese. The two had been together for seven years, and their separation left him crippled, creatively speaking. It had been a few years since Manson's last studio album, the forgettable 2003 The Golden Age of Grotesque, and the split forced the goth/alt-metal artist to question his artistic future.
Then a change occurred in two places.
First, his guitarist-bassist, Tim Skld, suggested the doom-and-gloom singer write about his experiences and feelings. One of his first efforts was the lead Eat Me, Drink Me track "If I Was Your Vampire." It begins with the chilling lyrics, "6 a.m. Christmas morning / No shadows / No reflections here / Lying cheek to cheek in your cold embrace."
"That's exactly when I wrote it," Manson says. "It's like a diary in a sense, and I guess it's just a different style for me. I realized that I had spent most of my career writing about what was going on outside of my shell, and I hadn't turned it back inside and looked at what was going on for me."
The other change in Manson's life came when he started dating 19-year-old actress Rachel Evan Wood. The pairing shocked many Hollywood insiders, thrusting Manson back into his familiar spotlight position of shock and awe.
Now the Antichrist Superstar is upping the evil quotient in the form of a co-headlining tour alongside Slayer. Manson says his current show, highly theatrical, harkens to his mid-'90s glory.
"It was such an unlikely pairing," Manson says. "Although Slayer has a completely different type of music, I think we both share a sentiment that we're both willing to stand behind hardcore as we do, and that's why both bands are still doing it."
Marilyn Manson and Slayer
Coors Amphitheatre, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., Englewood
Saturday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $18 to $60; visit ticketmaster.com.