The name of Marilyn Manson's new album - "Born Villain" (Hell Inc./Cooking Vinyl) - neatly sums up the make up-wearing, headline-generating metal rocker's career.
To Manson - who performs 9 p.m. Friday, May 4, at the House of Blues at Showboat Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City - being a "villain" is a good thing.
"I've always found the villain to be the most important character in any story," Manson tells the Toronto Sun. "I don't mean the bad guy necessarily; to me, the villain is the catalyst that makes change in the story, that moves into Act 2. Maybe I'm in Act 2 of my career right now, and this is where it gets good."
For this new chapter, Manson, like many veteran artists, opted to go the independent route in order to assert more control over the final product. He was relieved to cut his former record label - Interscope - out of the creative equation for "Born Villain."
"I've always had control over what I created, and in the past once I turned it over to the record label, what happened wasn't always to my liking," Manson tells Billboard magazine. "A lot of it was more their stupidity, trying to fit me into a hole I didn't belong in, and that would of course make you confused about what you're supposed to be as an artist, not even just as a person. So getting off Interscope gave me the ability to think exactly how you would when you're starting out."
With the new music, the self-described "Antichrist Superstar" wanted to challenge himself - and his audience - by using broken xylophones and playing a slide guitar with brass knuckles to make the sound more spontaneous.
"When I started this album, I just felt I wasn't living up to my potential as a person or as an artist as much as I wanted to," he tells the Toronto Sun. "I didn't want to be who I used to be. I wanted to be the person I was supposed to be."
Manson also collaborated with musicians he knew well and close friends, including actor Johnny Depp, who recorded a duet of "You're So Vain."
"I just wanted to create stuff to play to people closest to me," Manson tells the Toronto Sun. "So I would have my friends around, but I was isolated while making music. So this record sounds what it's like to know me as a person. It has my sarcasm. And my evil charm."
Working with Depp helped cement a friendship that dates back several decades. The two recently had matching tattoos on their backs that take their design from Baudelaire's "Flowers of Evil."
"(Johnny) called me up a couple months ago and said, 'Hey, do you want to get together and record something?' We recorded 'You're So Vain' because we thought the song would be an amusing complement to the record - not a piece of the record as a whole but, as a bonus track, it really states the obvious about where he and I both are as artists."