Jan 25, 2001

Zim Zim (Marilyn Manson) - Interview

By Bob Suehs

www.rocknrollexperience.com

If you're a regular reader of Rock N Roll Experience, you're probably familiar with our great working relationship with Zim Zum, former Marilyn Manson guitarist & leader of Pleistoscene. Pleistoscene is a very vivid, bold new musical entity that incorporates standard elements of rock with technology to create a new standard that casts a very large shadow for others to follow. I've said it before, & I will say it again...if you've never had the pleasure of dealing with Zim Zum on a personal basis; he is one of the nicest & most sincere people you will ever meet or deal with & that is rare in the music business which is very rare. Pleistoscene has a new version of their web site up, 1 full length song available on their site & many snippets of new songs hidden on their site that will surprise you. Pleistoscene is:

Nyxon Ashur: Vocals/Rhythm guitar

Taylor Barrett: Bass/Background vocals

H.L. Finn: Drums/Background vocals

Tate Channing: Synths, Piano's and Background vocals

Zim Zum: Guitars/Vocals and everything else

I think I've drooled enough, so I'll let you read the latest scoop on Zim Zum & Pleistoscene Rock N Roll Experience: Was the song "Who Will Save Us" recorded in one piece, or was it pieced together?

Zim Zum: Everything is written as one piece, recorded is always different on each of the songs...I think that one was done in large pieces, it wasn't recorded as a performance piece...if we would have done it that way we would have recorded it live. Each instrument was done separately, most of the songs start with recording the drums first & typically it goes to bass & then guitar, keys or piano & then vocals & any leads or anything last, but "Who Will Save Us Now" & the majority, well actually, every single one of the songs, it's just Nyxon & myself. I record all the instruments & then Nyxon comes in & lays down the vocal tracks.

Rock N Roll Experience: Did you write all the lyrics too?

Zim Zum: "Who Will Save Us Now" is a split between him & I, I think there's probably about 4 or 5 songs where Nyxon & I went back & forth on them...we tried to, like with all of the music, all of the sounds, all of the vocals, lyrics, the ones that Nixon & I did together as far as lyrics go, we tried doing things that were just non-traditional because it's not a deadline or a schedule or a release date or anything like that, so we did things like he would write 2 words of a sentence & I would fill in the next 2 words & he would do the next 2 words....just trying things that were a little bit different to break up the traditional writing style. Some of the songs I would just sit down & maybe in the course of an hour an idea lyrically would pop into my head & I'll write the guitar around it & then an hour later the entire song is done, it's usually different, but it's some sort of non-traditional approach

Rock N Roll Experience: Is the song "Who Will Save Us Now" about someone in particular?

Zim Zum: No, it's not...I don't think any of the songs really point at anyone, or they're not really about anyone...they're introspective in the thought process & I've kind of tried to explain this...it's sorta a strange way of going about it, but within the course of about 12 months of being in a room, this room is maybe about 15 X 10, so it's a fairly small room to do recording in now, or it's inducive to writing, but recording is a little bit harder but what it is, is that like some of the stuff you say to yourself in your head that you don't vocalize, like in certain situations where it may be like a stressful situation & everybody kind of tells themselves in their heads to relax or breathe, or something like that...what I did was I just sat down & anything that I would say to myself, because after a month, let alone 6, or 8, or 10 months, I was spending alot of time talking to myself ha ha, so there were alot ideas that came out that way & I think most of it was, without being influenced by the media or media being music, entertainment, anything that was sorta pop culture at the time I was writing, I had a clearer thought process of certain things that I wanted to say, everything through the course of the album in all 13 of the songs...it's very focused on saying certain things, it's very therapeutic in flushing things out of my system...things that I needed to say, things that I needed to approach, or even confront, so "Who Will Save Us Now" is just sorta..it's not necessarily a feeling of being lost, it's around a feeling of...a constant struggle of knowing exactly how one individual fits into the scheme of things...it's sarcastic to a point because there isn't ever going to be one person that is gonna save any of us, so when you look at it that way it's more introspective in that I'm not really looking for that, the only person that can really save you is yourself so it's broadened the spectrum, but it's very introspective in it's meaning.

Rock N Roll Experience: Is "Ugly & the SS" about Nazi Germany?

Zim Zum: No, no, the SS part definitely play off of...there's a reoccurring SS theme that seems to run through Pleistoscene in that adding 2 s's, the second s to the name & initially it was just around the original spelling of Pleistoscene only had s it & I wanted to add a second s to sorta of just set it apart from the original meaning & to add something more to it. When I think of a militant vibe, something that is a call to action, not necessarily a call to arms, the ss evokes an immediate feeling, whether....you can say that to anybody & they'll have a clue to what it is & not know know everything about it, they might just think Nazi Germany, Hitler, but it's not about that at all, it's the organized militant effort of the ss, the song isn't about that, the ss in "Pretty Ugly & the SS" stands for Superficial Sufferheads...it's "Pretty Ugly & the Superficial Sufferheads", & there is no doubt that I had to make that title shorter by making it ss because I don't think that the song title would actually fit on the back of the CD

Rock N Roll Experience: You told me before that you sing lead on one song on the Pleistoscene CD..what song it that?

Zim Zum: "A Sense of Urgency", we split it back & forth, my original idea behind some of the stuff for some of the songs was to approach these songs kind of in a very old school way of how I would see a band like the Beatles...4 people in a band that come together & make something completely amazing, but yet each of those 4 individuals is a persona & a stand alone entity in themselves, so I never got the chance to see the Beatles live, other than on like video tape, but you can focus on any one of them but still completely appreciate the vibe of all 4 of them being completely talented & coming together...there was no egos, it wasn't about this has to be the face, this has to be the person, this has to be the way it is, it's not like that at all, so with approaching a song like....some of the other songs, "Care Less" was one of them that I sang all of the choruses on, but with certain songs, to me, I did want to focus on playing the guitar & leaving the vocals to Nyxon, but "A Sense of Urgency", that was just one that...just to do something different on a song, to switch it up & I was thinking live in that song to, people tend to focus on certain individuals & expect certain things to come from them in a live format...even on a recorded format, so with switching it up like that, live, the first 2 verses & the bridge I sing, but the one thing is that it's hard to tell the difference between Nyxon singing & me singing, especially in that song because what happens is that because I sat down & I wrote & alot of the original demos versions of the songs I had put the vocals down on alot of the parts just to make it easier when a singer did come in to do the vocals...it just made the whole process run alot easier, I wouldn't have to explain the melody part or the way the lyrics or the vocal changes go, so that's initially how it started because I had no desire whatsoever to be the singer of a band, to be a singer, guitar player, I didn't want to do a Zim Zum Experience, it was the last thing on my mind, I really made an effort to make this as much of a band as possible, that's just one of the songs that sorta kind of carried through on & we just decided to leave my vocals on that part.

Rock N Roll Experience: Tell me what you set out to create with Pleistoscene

Zim Zum: I found myself in the car on the way to somewhere, I can't remember where it was, but it was the first time in a while that I had actually thumbed through radio stations to see if there was anything on & there wasn't anything, it was just frustrating, so I shut the radio off & then that's what spawned all of the songs, something for me to listen to in the car, something that was completely different, I figured, I'm a musician, I can do this, why can't I do this if for no other reason than to entertain myself, something to listen to in the car, & if I can actually do something like that & I am probably my biggest critic, so if i can actually take something that I've done & listen to it & enjoy it & separate myself from being a part of it, just being a listener, then that is the best accomplishment right there, I really wasn't looking too far beyond that point

Rock N Roll Experience: Do you have any touring plans for Pleistoscene yet & will you be at Ozzfest 2002?

Zim Zum: The Ozzfest thing came up last time it came around & it was something that, yes, there are alot of people that go to Ozzfest, but in turn, yes there are alot of bands on Ozzfest, alot of different bands & I guess it depends upon what you're in to, it's Ozzfest, so naturally it's gonna fall within a certain type of guideline of what type of band you're gonna be hearing, whether it's hard rock, or metal, or something in between, new metal, rap metal, whatever, word/adjective & then metal, you can fill it in, but I'm not so sure that is really the outlet for this band, again because it is pigeon holing to a certain point, but I think ultimately what it's going to come down to is that we are gonna have to create our own venue, our own kind of tour & then take bands that in the same sort of situation that we are, & this is something that I have really sat down & talked to about 5 or 6 bands, I talked to them about a year ago, some of the bands being like Bile or Uranium 235 was one of the other ones, talking to bands that do it themselves, they have a certain kind of music that they wanna do & it's not about music as product, it's music as art & they find a way to get the music out to the fans, they do the shows, they do the tours themselves, they group themselves together on the tours & the idea, but I guess it's along the same lines as the original Lalapalooza, you saw a mix of bands that no body had ever really seen together in one day, so that is an idea that, doing a sort of alternate tour, not an alternative tour, but an alternate tour, something that the bands don't have to be like each other, you don't have to have the same political or social views, it's just about music, music is art & people that are passionate about it. I think we had played around with the idea of doing 4 shows, whether or not those 4 shows will fall under what I just talked about as far as the alternate tour type thing, that remains to be seen, but touring is something that we really wanna do as a band, each of the guys really wants to show people that yes, it's extremely different when you hear it recorded, but it's even more than that live because the musicians that are in the band are very improvisational, they are very talented, experienced musicians so to take this to the next level, each of us is extremely interesting, there are certain aspects that people might not quite expect, like you'll hear something on a disc & then when you see the band live it's going on, but where is it coming from? It's not physically being played, but with Pleistoscene there is Cello, there is Violin, there is alot of sounds in things, but everything will be physically done live, I guess it really comes down to the venue to, how far we can take it, but there's an initial 4 shows, Chicago, Detroit would be the other one, Toronto would probably be the 3rd one & New York would be the 4th one for now, & as far as these dates being booked, we sorta scouted venues for the right place to do this, but there are no dates that are booked

Rock N Roll Experience: Are you playing any cover songs?

Zim Zum: Covers are a weird thing, I think we could really do some & so them well, but do them differently, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that there are alot of bands that do covers & you never hear from them again, so if we do do a cover, it's not going to be anything that we do outside of a live show, we'll do them live, but stay away from recording them for a while is best with this band, because I don't want people to think that has any influence on what we do as music because there isn't any bands that have influence on what we do as music, there isn't music that has any influence on Pleistoscene as music, so the cover, it could be there, but it'll just stay within the live show

Rock N Roll Experience: On your website you have a picture of yourself holding this really odd shaped guitar, what type of guitar is that?

Zim Zum: It's a Norton guitar..I really pride myself on finding companies that are not the norm, they're not the mainstream, initially when I started working with Fernandez about 6 years ago they were a small company, almost no artist roster, very small, unknown, & the best thing about it was that they could actually do the things that I needed & they could get these things done in a relatively small period of time & it was creative, they were making quality instruments, so as Fernandez sorta grew into something alot bigger than that I started to search for something different, as soon as something gets big, I always look for something else...it's just kind of the way I do things & you can kind of pretty much parallel that to quite a few things I've done, but with Norton, I think I had just seen it in the very back pages of a guitar magazine & it was one of those really tiny & small adds in black & white, & it was the picture of a guitar, & it was one of the python guitars, that's the guitar I have in one of the pictures, so it was just the matter of making a phone call & sort of touching base with these guys & then when I found out it was literally a company of 3 guys I knew it was perfect, they sent me out one of the guitars & it was based on a design that I had never seen done in a guitar, it was completely outside the box & it's built on a mainframe, where just about everything is attached to a plate that's attached to the neck & there are 2 tubes that come out that are called the mainframe that everything attaches to, so you can, within a matter of seconds, you can move the pick-ups anywhere you want up & down the mainframe, you can take to pick-ups out, anything you really wanna do with the pick-ups & you can take the body off & change the body in a matter of minutes, so it's a completely inter-changable guitar for people who I guess work on a budget, it's kind of an interesting guitar too because you don't have to buy a new guitar if you get tired of the old style, you can just clamp a new body onto it. The sound is amazing too, because what you're dealing with is not an excessive amount of weight, it doesn't weigh anymore than a Les Paul, a Mahogany Les Paul, the Mahogany Les Paul that I have is about 10 pounds, it's a pretty weighty guitar, but with the metal that's on the guitar used for the mainframe, & it being bolted onto the neck, the sustain is amazing because you have continuity between wood & very sustained oriented material, like where the metal is on the guitar, & then when you combine that with different kinds of woods that are clamped onto the body & the right kind of pick-up or the right kind of tail piece on it, 3 tuners on each side, it evenly distributes the sustain from the top 3 strings to the lower 3 strings rather than having all 6 on one side which tend to leave more sustain to the higher strings because you have more string coming off of the high E & the B & the G, & wit having 3 on each side & a squared off headstock with a slight tilt back to it, the sustain is amazing, you can pretty much make the guitar whatever you want, because it's sort of a canvas that's there, move the pick-ups, change the pick-up, change the body, anything goes

Rock N Roll Experience: Do you have any pets?

Zim Zum: I have 4 cats

Rock N Roll Experience: What are their names?

Zim Zum: Sidney, Sidney is the one that has been in the studio for every single song that we have recorded, he's sort of kind of the pseudo engineer, he'll make it known if the song just isn't quite there yet, then there is Milo, Sabrina & Paris