Redefining The Sound: An Interview with Zim Zum

Zim ZumA couple of years ago, if you listened to Marilyn Manson, you probably heard of a guy named Zim Zum (born Timothy Michael Linton). At the time, he was the guitarist for the band and helped write some of their best material, but after his stint with Manson was over, Zim Zum took on a new challenge. Instead of jumping into a new band and rolling with the wave of trends, he stepped back and took another look at what he really wanted to accomplish, and then he started a whole new path.

From there on, his life began to change. He took an entire year away from the world and separated himself from the music industry to focus on his goals and approach it all with a clear mind. Now, after working for over two years, he’s getting ready to let the world in on his fresh, little secret… Pleistoscene .

It’s a new band, with fresh new faces (that are still kind of a secret) and as of yet, they’re still unsigned, but that’s not what Pleistoscene is all about. As Zim Zum put it, this is a band about music and not about any of the usual trendy crap that most bands are living off of today, and pretty soon, Zim Zum and the rest of the band are going to let the world know what they sound like, why they’re here, and how they’re going to change the face of alternative, aggressive music.

Being a realist, I don’t want to get overexcited just yet without hearing the bands music first, but after checking out Pleistoscene’s website, I have to say that I’m really impressed and dying for a chance to hear more than just a few simple background samples. In the meantime, I got a chance to interview Zim Zum and ask him all about what’s been happening and what’s going to happen in the coming months. Now, anyone ready for a little taste of something different?

Why did you decide to keep using your name from Marilyn Manson?
“It’s because coming into this situation and then coming out of it too, it was the same amount of effort so it wasn’t necessarily a Marilyn Manson entity so leaving with it; it only seemed right.”

Are you and ‘the man himself’ still friends?
“… we don’t speak or anything like that. Every now and then there’s a little talking back and forth via the press, but it’s nothing personal.”

When do you expect to get things rolling?
“The basic ball itself is rolling already… since leaving Marilyn Manson I spent almost the entire time building a studio and constructing an environment around me which just made is easier to do exactly what I wanted to do, and that was record. Write. Record. Those are my entire days. As it should be, for me. It might not work for everyone.”

“So what I did was I took a room in my house, basically turned it into a studio and sat down and started writing and recording and working on the general directions and the things that I wanted to deal with, with the music and finding the people in the band. You know, just basically putting it together. We’re recording, even though like there’s more than enough songs to do more than four albums right now.”

“The state of the music industry right now is a little weird. Even though the attention that Pleistoscene is getting is really good and really positive and extremely widespread, there has to be an element of caution moving into any record deal. Especially with the way things are right now; the kind of music that is being pushed right now that evidently people are buying.”

“It does seem like if I turn on MTV or any of those related stations like that, it’s one kind of music and it’s not the kind of music I’m really into. So, I think it’s time for a change and that’s the most positive thing about Pleistoscene and the music is that initially when I sat down to record I pretty much cut off ties with everything. A year and it was sort of… a social experiment but I guess it’s more of an anti-social experiment… [I wasn’t] leaving the house, for the first time being back in Chicago really since I had joined Manson.”

“The first thing that I think everyone expected me to do was to get sort of reacquainted with everybody who was here and what was going on and I didn’t. I pretty much just locked myself away… there was at least three-week spans where I didn’t leave the house. And it was just recording, no outside influence of music whatsoever.”


“I didn’t buy a single CD for a year. I didn’t have cable TV, so there was no MTV no influence other than maybe watching the news… so I mean that was really the only influence. Basically, looking at everything from outside – in, but without being involved in it. So it was, it was kind of strange because if you take that really, my only communication was with one person, and that was my girlfriend, it was like, it was a really weird social experiment but it turned out really well because the music was the important thing. The mental effects might not have been the most positive thing, but the music was the thing that really mattered. I paid absolutely no attention to what the trend was for almost an entire year and then that made it easier for what I wanted to do. Coming off of almost 2 ½ years of touring and recording and especially at that time and with ‘that band’ and then to completely lock myself away for a year, umm, it was strange but you know, I would do it again.”

So, do you intend to do it again for any future albums then?
“Yeah, because the process is that you sign to a major label, you re-record everything for them – I don’t really see that we would have to re-record for them but I guess it’s just the thing that you do – so when we do that, the thought is generally moving to some place [quieter], because we’re smack in the middle of downtown Chicago. So it’s hectic here and especially with moving into a professional studio and stuff like that, to record for a major label that you’ve got a bunch of suits and stuff kind of hovering… it takes away from the entire vibe and way that we record.”

“There have been some thoughts of like where we could go to stay away from everything because I mean the minute, you know, the word gets out which label we sign to – the press is already ridiculous now so at that point it would be even crazier – so, to find a place that would be secluded enough to where all 5 of the guys in the band and a couple of engineers could move into and just sleep and eat and do everything there so that there’s no on-and-off time. So when I do finally decide to sleep, umm, you know, sleeping is the thing that I do in-between recording, it’s not the other way around. So, to find a place that’s secluded and that we can continue with the same atmosphere might be kind of difficult but… we’ve thought of maybe somewhere in Canada doing it. I’ve spent a lot of time in Toronto, so maybe somewhere up there because I think we can be a bit more low-key than smack in the middle of downtown Chicago. I don’t think you can really go to a Burger King here without somebody taking notice that you’re not the norm. So, maybe just a completely secluded atmosphere that plays off more a mental state of mind and mood, mood swings, umm… emotions. That’s everything that the music is based on… one verse to the very next piece that comes after that could almost be two different songs but that’s because each part was written with a different mood and it directly reflects on the music. To me, that’s the most important thing.”

What does the name mean and what effect do you see your band and your idea of the band having on the music scene?
“I don’t know so much that I want to change the scene as much as I want to change what people call music because these days it seems pretty easy to call something a band. You know, apply a gender before it and band after it… that doesn’t make any sense to me because I don’t see anything ‘band[like]’ going on. So, to change what people think or what people allow themselves to actually call music.”


“You know, the kind of music that I listened to was like, Queen and Roxy Music and David Bowie and Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson. You know, I can go all the way down the list but I mean, that’s music. Some of the stuff that’s going on now, it’s almost like everybody is just drugged. Because it really doesn’t make any sense. I know it’s only a matter of time before people are going to wake up and they’re going to think, ‘geez, why did I ever buy this album.’ And you know, there’s a lot of them that they probably own.”

“As far as the Pleistoscene name… I had sat down and I was looking for something that personified what I was going for. The moods and the emotions and it was something that would hold up over time… to take one word or maybe two words or a series of words that has to encapsulate all that, I mean, it’s not an easy thing. So I was reading a manifesto on the internet that was written by the guy to have claimed to have created the internet and about halfway down it mentioned the word Pleistocene.”

“It was the original spelling… I looked it up and I wanted to see what the full meaning of it was and the meaning… [researchers] found polychrome paintings on cave walls, so it’s the first ever recorded art and it was also the first ice age and the very first mass extinction. So the picture that it painted was that everything was freezing, everything was cold and desolate and yet in the middle of this people actually created art. People were creating and doing things that were personal, even though, I mean everything around them was dying. It also corresponded with man’s first move into what we know now as the New World.”

“So all those things kind of put together, there was almost a direct reflection because I could look out the window of my house and see, you know, I live in Chicago, and there’s snow and everything’s frozen. With the 21st century, people moving into technically a new world, creative possibilities, umm, people dying. There’s mass extinction going on right now, but it’s just that it’s in a different way. So everything seemed to really sit well with that. Naturally I added a second ‘s’ to it to make it a little bit different.”

“When I played around with it I wanted a somewhat militant feel to it so the immediate thing was to add a second ‘s’ to it. Pleistoscene, with two s’s. ‘SS’. It’s not a Nazi theme, but it’s a militant theme. You say two letters together to anyone, you say ‘SS’ and it’s an instant militant theme. It’s something that’s in everyone’s subconscious whether they really know what the ‘SS’ is or not. It’s there and they know it has a militant vibe to it so the addition of the second ‘S’ made it a bit more exclusive, especially with securing the name and stuff like that. I think there were museums all across the world that already had pretty much secured Pleistocene, so we pretty much had to add an ‘S’ to it.”

Are you afraid of being blamed for certain violence in society, especially among teenagers? What attitude do you think you’ll bring towards that?
“I’m not worried at all about what people try… the blame people try to place on somebody that has absolutely nothing to do with it. I’ve been through all that, I mean I was in that band. The only thing to me is that it was extremely frustrating in that the media likes to say, ‘okay, well maybe you are to blame.’ Or, they’re basing it off of the parent saying, ‘yeah they did own this CD.'”

“Everybody is intelligent enough to see something that’s just completely ridiculous. Like, ‘My son or my daughter is dead now and I’m going to blame it on them having your CD’ or ‘I’m going to blame it on your music or what you’re saying in your music.’ And that’s ridiculous, because it’s like okay, you’re the parent and I’m not. This is your kid. Your kid is dead and you’re still denying the fact that you didn’t take responsibility for the kid in the first place. To me it’s not a reflection on me it’s just a reflection on how distorted and sick society generally can be sometimes. If people just took responsibility for their own actions things would be a lot easier. You can take whatever you want out of the music and you can take whatever you want out of the message behind the music, but ultimately what you do with it is your choice.”

“I’m not going to recommend that people kill themselves but if that’s their choice then I’m not going to be one to argue with it and I’m not going to question it after it’s done because it’s not my life.”


How do you feel about media and all this interest? Do you gate it or find it annoying?
“I don’t hate the interest and no it’s not annoying. I’ve dealt with the industry… you see the approach that we’re taking is completely different, we’re establishing what we are without backing, without the major push. This is the music, this is the band, we can go on tour any time that we want and we can sell out the places that we play on tour and this is on our own. This is the band running the band. No outside influence. I just want to approach it in that direction.”

“Anybody can do it on their own, I mean we live in the age of the MP3. So it just shows that anybody can take something, upload it to the internet and get a couple 100,000 downloads and then that changes the playing field… extremely. Coming out of Marilyn Manson, multi-platinum, the whole deal, I’m in that position times ten. I’ve learned from my experience the first time around and need to take it on my own terms this time and basically that’s what we’re doing. I’ve worked out plans to do sort of a reinvention, a modern version of Lolapalooza, and I’ve already got all the bands that would come out and do it with me.”

“So, the interest, I like. I’m only human. Naturally, if people are interested in what I’m doing that’s fine with me. The interest, to me, I mean, it’s funny. They’re so interested in an image and a product but we’ve not really given out any pictures. I don’t think there’s ever been a picture of all five people in the band together and we’ve only basically given snippets of the music. So I know at this point, and everybody that’s in the band knows at this point, that if they’re interested now… wait until we give them everything. We’ve only given them little pieces at a time to sort of pacify and pique the interest a little bit more, but, you know, there’s five people that are in the studio every day and we know exactly what’s going on and we know exactly what’s going to happen and there’s really no cap on what can happen because we’ve waited… for the right opening because I didn’t want to come out in the middle of this Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears flood because, as good as [our music] is, people won’t pay attention because they’re just too spoon fed at that time.”

“To take a mass audience that’s been spoon fed for a year and feed them something that’s much more than they’re used to… it was just waiting and looking for the exact opening and planning everything a good year, a year and a half, two years ahead of time. It’s going to work out really well. Interest is good and I know it’s only going to get crazier.”

Do you intend to have a controlling ‘producership’ of the album?
“Yes, I have talked to a few producers of albums that I have liked as far as maybe doing something co-production, but the co-production would be from a sound point. Somebody who is a huge gear head and is familiar with digital and analogue equipment that can really… handle more of the technical aspects so that the band can still stay in the creative aspect. It’s definitely, it’s either going to be a full production or a co-production with somebody who is sort of cutting edge with sound.”

Maybe you working with Trent Reznor?
“That thought has crossed my mind and it has been asked to me before. It’s not something that’s completely out of the question it’s just how completely out of control is this going to get?”

What about working with The Chemical Brothers or Moby?
“I don’t know, people like that do interest me because of use of sound. Moby, Chemical Brothers, I’ve worked with the Dust Brothers in the past… yeah, I would say something like that isn’t completely out of the question because I’m not going for traditional and I’m not going for what’s expected. So to use somebody who is cutting edge with sounds and experimental type music, that’s definitely not out of the question.”

W. Andrew Powell lives, sleeps, eats, and breaths movies and entertainment. Since launching The GATE in 1999 Andrew has enjoyed being a pest to any publicist who would return his calls. In his "spare time," Andrew is also an avid photographer, and writes about leisure travel and hotels around the world.