Tyler Bates known here as the wizard behind the success of Marilyn Manson’s album “The Pale Emperor and now of “Heaven Upside Down.” Tyler is not a new face to the industry as he also scored such great movies as 300, Sucker Punch, John Wick and Guardians of the Galaxy (I&II). Schecter sat down with Tyler and talked about his passion for music, and his endearing relationship with Marilyn Manson.
1. How did your relationship with Marilyn Manson come about?
We met through the TV show “Californication,” a few years ago when Manson appeared on the show as himself for a few episodes. I scored the show with Tree Adams, and we needed to put on a concert at the Greek Theater as part of the plot of the show. Manson wanted to participate in the concert, and after an awkward introduction, we performed together a few times. After a year of getting to know each other, we decided to see how we would relate in a creative studio environment. The dominoes began to fall immediately, and within a few short months, ‘The Pale Emperor’ was written and recorded.
2. The last album “The Pale Emperor” seemed to have the texturing and dark romance of “Mechanical Animals” bringing Marilyn Manson into some familiar territory, yet showing an almost vulnerable side we’ve never seen from his music.
When we discussed working together, the one thing I asked of Manson was to divulge a part of himself introspectively and emotionally, that he had not on previous records. I wanted to move past the Mansonisms that I felt were inhibiting his musical expression from growth. I apparently earned his trust because Manson’s performances on TPE are very personal and heartfelt in a way that I had not known him to be previously. We love that record!
3. Your background is mainly in movie and television soundtracks. As colorful as Marilyn Manson songs are do you think that helped with the writing and production of the new album?
I have always been dedicated to music. I never had a back-up plan. I played alto sax until I got my first guitar at 12 years old. I was taken by the guitar from day one. I played in bands and did many low-rent tours. Eventually, Lisa Papineau and I formed the band Pet, and eventually signed to Atlantic records. During this time, I met directors and producers who needed music for their low-budget films. I scored nearly twenty movies while working with Lisa. Once Pet disbanded, I turned my focus to scoring movies. By the time Manson asked me to perform with him live, I had probably played 1000 or more concerts, so playing in front of audiences was already second nature.
The “cinematic” aspect of my work in films, games, and television, is a trait that has developed over time. I had to allow my “guitarist” ego to relax so that I could see the bigger picture of storytelling and emotion that is the purpose of creating music for film and other visual media. It requires me to learn more about my craft, and more about the sensibilities of my collaborators to do my job effectively. I see and feel music in an entirely different way today as opposed to twenty years ago. I think my desire to aptly underscore the projects I have been involved in throughout my career has made me a patient listener. The music Manson and I make is a byproduct of that mentality. I don’t stockpile guitar riffs and turn them into songs. I’m scoring the story of whatever Manson shares with me about his daily experience in real time, while we are together in my studio. I was not equipped or even conscious of working in this way a couple decades ago.
4. Manson being a rebellious figure in the rock industry, did you get a lot of resistance when you first started writing with him?
My job as an artist is to continue to find ways of being inspired to create. I can’t explain why this is the case between Manson and I, but we bring out something very positive in each other. It’s not my business to concern myself with the opinions some people may have about my collaborative partners. People who know me understand that I am sincerely passionate and excited about the possibilities in music and in life.
5. We’ve heard the new single We Know Where You F**king Live off of “Heaven Upside Down” and it almost seems like a page torn from the “Antichrist Superstar” bible. Was that intentional? And will the rest of the album follow in that direction?
I personally wouldn’t reference any of Manson’s previous work as a compass for what we are creating. My business is all about doing your best work now – not in the past. That said, MM and I love many of the same artists, and we vibe off of that. “The Pale Emperor” is an introspective record. This record is about the fire and chaos among us that is a politely packaged commodity that is lulling society into a state of apathetic rage. At its core level, it’s Manson and I’m just fucking shit up because it’s what we want to hear, or what he wants to say. There is an undercurrent of humor throughout the album.
6. Many bands from the 80’s and 90’s era seem to have embraced the nostalgia of becoming a “legacy band.” Manson seems to re-invent himself every album instead of relying on the past. What is your take on that?
We can enjoy reminiscing about the past on a night out with old friends or family, but the past is dead. Relying mostly on one’s work from previous decades promotes the decay of the spirit of an artist. I’m not suggesting to ignore the past, and Manson in particular has a great catalogue of iconic music, but if you allow it to hold too much power in the lexicon of your present, you will most-likely not create anything as potent as you once did. The notion of that becoming my state of being is terrifying.
7. You have some amazing custom guitars, what is your relationship like with the company and how has Schecter Help shape your sound, not just for Manson but all that you do musically?
Schecter has been incredibly supportive of my career since the mid-90’s. Michael Ciravolo is an artist, and it’s apparent in the quality and design of Schecter guitars. Schecter has built many custom Corsairs for me for the Manson tours this past few years. I love the way they look and play. The pick-ups are custom wound for a great dynamic range that I can wield with the volume and tone knobs. I prefer a more analogue performance as opposed to having my guitar sounds and pedal combinations selected for me in Ableton or by an off-stage guitar tech. It’s more punk rock and more exciting to me. The Schecter models I play factor into that type of performance. I love them – even the ones I break!
8. What is your go to Schecter guitar for the studio and what is your pick for Live?
In the studio, I use a black distressed Corsair. I typically use them live, but I also like the Donegan model for live because it handles intense stage volume a bit more predictable, given that it’s a solid body guitar.
9. Seems like the band that backs up Manson on tour is a more solid cohesive unit than ever before. What is your take on the band members?
I think this is Manson’s best band musically, as a cohesive unit. He’s had interesting and talented band members in the past, but this group (with or without me) is really tight as friends, and I think it shows in the live performances. Paul Wiley, Gil Sharone, and Twiggy, are all great at their craft, so we have fun amidst the chaos that can easily distract you from knowing where you are in a song. Haha. It requires a high level of concentration. And since we are all close, we are typically in step together, which makes for a better show.
10. You not only work in the studio but you have toured with them on occasion. Will you be doing more of that on this album?
While the last two albums were written by MM & and I in the studio, Paul and Twiggy really help to take the new material to another level of intensity and expression altogether. It’s fun to see and hear that happen as we introduce new songs into the show.
11. Being on tour with Manson cannot be complete without some kind of crazy road stories, anything you can share with us about the tour antics?
No box-cutters on this tour so far. Haha! Manson just broke his ankle last Saturday night in NYC, when a huge stage prop collapsed onto him. He’s a total fucking maniac on-stage, so it’s not a massive surprise that it happened. We did beat on each other with my guitar in Pittsburgh. That guitar didn’t survive.