Interview:1998/12 Metal Edge
|Zim Zum Speaks
|Interview with Marilyn Manson
|Metal Edge 
Zim Zum Speaks
The Ex-Marilyn Manson Guitarist on Mechanical Animals and Why He's Out
by Gerri Miller
He didn't have a lot to say while he was in MM, chiefly because mastermind Marilyn didn't let him do interviews. But now that Zim Zum, who played on the band's new album MA, is out of the band, he's talking - about the album, the band and why he's no longer in it.
"There isn't any bad blood or anything like that. It was never anything about business. We never really talked about anything like that. It's not that it went sour or anything." Zim began when we sat down to talk poolside one July afternoon at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood. "It was a mutual thing. I wasn't fired," he insisted. "I didn't want this to be anything negative and neither did they. There's no problem with any of them," said Zim, who lives with Madonna Wayne Gacy, but I'd gotten these offers to play on other albums that I'd turned down and I kinda looked at the next 18 months worth of touring and didn't want to spend it in a hotel room. I would go back to the studio, maybe even go back on tour with them, but right now I just felt that this was the right thing to do."
By the time he left he was satisfied with the finished MA and his contribution to it. "I'd say that there were only 2 or 3 songs I don't play on," said Zim, who had a hand in writing at least half of those, though he'd heard the same rumors I had about Twiggy redoing some of his parts. "I don't understand why they'd have to do that, They'd gone into the studio armed with quite a few songs written before and during the tour and we just jumped into it. It wasn't about planning anything. We just went it and started recording. Everyone was open to my contributing." Said Zim. "When we first came into the studio it was really comfortable. We did like a song a day, recording as fast as we could because all we wanted to do was play em for anyone who wanted to come in the room." 9 months in the making with producer Michael Beinhorn, the 14 song album "is a lot different from the last one, a little more down to earth," Zim characterized the cd, "it's a completely different band. And I think the name of the album has as much to do with it concept as much as ACS having to do with the theme of that album. It's another chapter and each one could be a movie or a book. I think it's really good, that's why I'm comfortable stepping away from it."
While shock and the controversy have surrounded the band and their music, Zim believes that this album will prove there's more to Marilyn Manson than that. "Anybody who's ever said that it's all abut just shock and make-up and it's all gimmick, I'm curious to see how they're going to have anything to say about the album", nothing that as a result of the tour, "Everybody got really good and we got comfortable with the idea of being a band. If we wanted to set a foundation for longevity, this is the time to do it." At the same time, they approached it as if it was to be the last album they'd ever do, "and we didn't care if anyone else liked it. We took a chance and didn't think about repercussions. We really did some things beyond what we even had planned on doing," said Zim, and with that "anything goes" attitude came a kind of freedom of reinvention "that went over onto the album." Theme-wise, "We're just dealing with more human nature kind of levels this time around. WE proved the point that we wanted to on the last album as far as waking people up to things that they tend to see every day and just take as the truth. I think it's more introspective and I guess kind of depressing to some people." Zim said. "I think it's just about dealing with life in the way we kind of had to as 'those people on tv', when we are really no different than anybody who comes to our shows."
Song inspiration aside, touring the world with a band that moved in a vortex of attention and controversy was a new experience for Zim. "It was obvious to all of us that we had no control over what was happening. I would go to my hotel room because I was escorted there by 2 security guards that were staying outside my door. I'd turn on the tv and we're on the news. The death threats, bomb threats, all that stuff started coming in regularly. We had to deal with politicians in every state, city officials, police officers," said Zim, uneasily recalling the time they played at a ski resort in Salt Lake City and did soundcheck before "a row of police that saw our shirt with the cop with the gun to his head on the back." But it was all way out of proportion, according to Zim. "Obviously if we were doing some of the ridiculous things that they tried to stop the shows because of, we would have been in jail. There's no way we could have functioned under those circumstances." On the other hand, incidents described in LHROOH are accurate, Zim confirmed, allowing that some events such as encounters with some celebrities were left out. "If people knew what really went on...," he smiled.
Zim has great memories of playing Giants Stadium in New Jersey, an "amazing show" in Spain, looking out and seeing "75,000 people who were like us" in South America, and playing "500 seat clubs in Japan with no production." Will he miss that? "I'll miss the things like the 16 hour ride on the tour bus after a show. The kind of normal things, I guess. The shows, the fans, But I don't think I'm going to be able to miss it because I have the feeling that I could be again." Zim said, confirming that the door "absolutely is" open for future recording and touring. "But right now there's just some things that I had to get out of my system. I wanted to do this and they understood because I think a lot of them have the same feelings as far as there's things they want to do." One of those is the opportunity to play with people like buddy Dave Navarro, with whom he's collaborated and maybe join in his Spread project (Dave might switch to bass), and he was tapped to play on a remix of Korn's "Got the Life." He'd like to get involved with soundtracks and even try acting, but his priority is "starting my own band. I've got all the songs and I'm contacting people I like and want to play with. Anyone who wants to come in and be creative is more than welcome but it's gonna come down to me, I'll play bass, play guitar, sing" he said, though he may get other to vocalize as well. "I don't plan on this taking a long time,"he said, confident in the material that got him the Manson gig in the first place and in his ability to get it released. "I made the right kind of friends over the last couple of years. Being the quiet guy in that situation has helped quite a bit. Didn't make any enemies either."
But if one of his heroes, like David Bowie, invited him to tour, Zim would go in a heartbeat, especially since rumor has it Bowie is reviving his Ziggy Stardust character. "I remember ruining my mom's Ziggy Stardust tape," said Zim, who picked up the guitar for "something to do" at 13, attended his first concert with his "hippie" single mom (Billy Squier & Ratt) and appropriated all her albums and 45s. "if she reads this I"m gonna have to give 'em back," he laughed.
Zim, n' Michael was raised in Chicago with an older "jock" brother by his mom and a grandmother who was supportive but questioned the viability of a career in music. (He has sent her tapes of Manson shows, but figured the live experience "would probably be a little too much for her. Seeing 5000 people like me at once can be a bit weird.") Playing in Life, Sex & Death, fronted by a singer who looked like an unwashed maniac, gave him his first taste of controversial attention, but he didn't want to go along when the band moved from Chicago to LA. He figured something else would come up, and one day he saw an ad in the paper that proved him right. He became Zim Zum taken from Tzim Tzum, which Pogo found in the Kabala: "We were looking to get away from serial killers." (At one point he revealed, the band considered changing the name from Marilyn Manson to Antichrist Superstar.) He's keeping the name, and is eager to make it even more well known. "Everything has come to this point. It all led up to me joining the band and me doing an album with the band. And now I'm on the album. It's permanent, it's there forever. This is exactly what I was working towards since the day I joined the tour. I'm leaving on a positive note." he said. "I think for the first time in a long time I'm content.
Response from Manson
In response to Zim Zum's comments in the Metal Edge interview, Marilyn Manson retorted that Zum was dismissed by the band, participated in 7 percent of the writing for Mechanical Animals, that Twiggy Ramirez played the majority of the guitar work on the album, and that he refused to work with Zum again in the future.
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