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By Trevor Bach
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The following week, the band debuted Bier/Gacy, who'd finally purchased a keyboard. The Spooky Kids were strapped in and ready for takeoff.
Reznor brought music-industry credibility -- after his first Nine Inch Nails album remained on the charts for a year, record companies looked at industrial rock with dollar-sign eyes. Interscope Records gave Reznor his own record label, and he opted to make Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids his first signee. Manson brought controversy to the equation. The band built up a massive following at clubs such as the Plus Five in Davie; Squeeze, Rosebud's, and the Reunion Room in Fort Lauderdale; and the Button South in Hallandale Beach. In November 1992, Reznor flew Warner out to L.A. for strategic talks. The next year, the rest of the band joined him to begin recording their first album, Portrait of an American Family. They dropped the Spooky Kids surname.
Next, bassist Brad Stewart would have to go too.
Gidget Gein in rock-god mode
Why the long face, Bri-Bri?
"It was Christmas of 1993," Putesky recalls, "and Brad -- Gidget Gein -- was being fired for the second or third time for being a junkie and not showing up. And playing really horribly live. But Brian just loved him. He was his little pet. It just killed him to have to fire him."
An appendix to Demystifying the Devil features an interview with Stewart. He admits to having been addicted to heroin and even says he OD'd twice.
Today, Stewart maintains that while he hasn't seen Demystifying, "I'm glad I'm not in the band anymore. I'd be dead now, probably." Stewart says he's been clean for three years.
He was replaced by White, one of Warner's best friends. In fact, throughout Long Hard Road, Warner doles out affection for Stewart, White, and Bier at length (Bier is the sole original Spooky Kid with the band today), but by the time the band was firmly under Reznor's wing, Warner seemed to have doubts about Putesky.
"At first, it was a friendly but casual, professional relationship," Putesky says. "When labels started looking at us and we developed a following, though, I think any friendship aspects left Warner's mind."
Today, Putesky isn't on speaking terms with any of his old bandmates.
"I don't have anything against him," Tutunick says of Putesky. "We're just not friends."
Of course, Stewart and Putesky were rivals from the beginning.
Apart from these schoolyard concerns, a musical rift had developed. The conceptual leap from lunch boxes to anti-Christ superstars notwithstanding, Putesky wasn't part of Warner and Reznor's inner circle, which had taken control of Marilyn Manson. This is painful for Putesky to talk about, but he does, cautiously. He readily admits that Warner's sheer force of will had catapulted the band into the headlines and 20,000-seat arenas.
And Reznor, with the Nine Inch Nails juggernaut at its commercial and critical peak -- was the Svengali/sherpa who took Marilyn Manson the rest of the way.
"Reznor was friendly to everyone," Putesky says, "but his concern was Brian."
As the band's ascendance continued, Putesky says his alliance with Warner deteriorated. Long Hard Road Out of Helldetails much of this. A two-night stand at Madison Square Garden allowed Putesky to live the dream of every wannabe rock star, but the memory is tainted, he says. "That was great. But as far as my relationship with him went, I felt things crumbling. After the shows, there was a big VIP gathering, and lots of celebrities were there. I mean, David Letterman and John F. Kennedy Jr. were there watching Nine Inch Nails. But it was just Trent and Brian. The rest of the band was shut out of the festivities."
During another show, Putesky contends, Warner broke one of his guitars and pushed him off the stage.
The final meltdown happened at Reznor's compound in New Orleans, where the band assembled to work on the second Marilyn Manson album.
"At first, I was being shut out of recording sessions. And when they were in there working on songs that I co-wrote," he says with a brittle laugh, "that doesn't make you feel very good."
His bandmates, fueled by cocaine and bad vibes, began a more overt campaign of harassment. First, the four-track machine used on the old demos was destroyed. "Somebody -- nobody will take credit for it -- put it in the microwave at the studio in New Orleans," Putesky says. "And the drum machine, they literally threw it out, or lost it somehow." His monogrammed Daisy Berkowitz guitar picks were mysteriously fused into a melted mass.
During the sessions for Antichrist Superstar, more of Putesky's equipment was ruined. A beat-up copy of a Fender Jaguar was his favorite -- he'd glued it together after it'd been broken, and it was featured in the band's video for "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This.)"
"It was a unique guitar to have," he says. "I was in the studio, and they were all in the control room, and I'm playing guitar," Putesky relates. "At the end, Trent says, 'Do it again, but do it more like this.' We went through this three times, and he says, 'Hold on. I'll come in there. Let me show you what I'm talking about.' So I take my guitar off, hand it to him -- and he smashes it. Just to fuck with me. Then he laughed and left the room."