Shirley Manson: ‘Rihanna is the closest thing we have… to a rockstar’

The 2013 Scottish Music Awards

Shirley Manson and her band, Garbage, are in the midst of a career resurgence. And I, for one, welcome our new Scottish ginger feminist overlord. Garbage is heading out on tour this summer with Blondie, plus Garbage has a new coffee table book coming out called This Is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake. It does feel like we’ve been in having a lot of 1990s/grunge nostalgia, and I’m really feeling it. That era was awesome. Shirley Manson is awesome too. She sat down with New York Magazine and sprinkled throughout the piece are quotes from fans and other grunge-feminists about how Shirley was one of the few women from that era who never disappointed, never sold out, never stopped resisting and telling her truth. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

The last of the rock stars: “[Debbie Harry and I] are some of the few women left who do what we do in the way that we do it. We’re getting rarer and rarer. I think people understand that this breed is dying. Literally dying…. I was having a funny conversation with Karen O about this at a party the other night. We were like, ‘We’re the last of the rockers!’”

On Rihanna: “Rihanna is the closest thing we have in the pop world to a rockstar. If Rihanna wanted to make rock music, I’m sure she could. But unless you’re playing rock music, you’re not a rockstar.”

Early success: “When success occurred to us, it didn’t feel personal… I understood logically that this was a zeitgeist moment. We were in the right place at the right time and we were making the right kind of music. I’m the right kind of voice. I had the right look. It wasn’t that we were brilliant. I have friends who could have peed all over our talent.”

She’s never been a Taylor Swift: “Now, our culture doesn’t value anything that’s not massive. It seems like people are in awe of mass consumption. The bigger the artist, somehow the more special. That’s just not what I was brought up to believe in at all. I’ve never been a Taylor Swift, I’ve never been that famous. I can’t begin to imagine what that must be like. But you don’t get to that level accidentally — you court that level of success. The generation that I was brought up in, we were embarrassed if you were successful, (which was also f–ked up, by the way). We found that vulgar. Nobody wanted to sell out — but now everybody is happy to.”

She can admit she was wrong: “When I was 30, I thought I had everything sussed out. I thought I knew everything. Then I hit 40, and I looked back at 30 and thought, ‘What a clown. I knew nothing.’ I thought I was ancient at 40, but now I’m 50 and I realize I was really just a young woman. You can change your f–king mind. I want to be able to be agile enough and brave enough to say I was wrong.”

She’s even more outraged as a feminist today: “To me, [feminism] is about equality. It’s nothing to do with whether we like makeup or don’t like makeup.” (Manson does.) “Feminism has nothing to do with whether you have children or not.” (She doesn’t.) “It’s really just: How about you pay me the same f–king amount that you just paid him? I just did the same f–king job. If your husband gets this, so do you. If your boyfriend is doing this, and you want to do that, then you get to do it, too. It’s that simple.”

[From The Cut]

I enjoyed everything she said here. She says she’s a Rihanna fan and she listens to a lot of pop music, but Rihanna isn’t technically a rock star, which I agree with. Rihanna lives like a rock star and has that rock swagger, but Rih is a pop star (which is not a diss). Shirley’s point about mass consumption and Taylor Swift is on point too: society currently values the mass-appeal more than the niche appeal, homogenization over everything, especially in music.

Garbage perform at Usher Hall on their '20 Years Queer' tour

Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

30 Responses to “Shirley Manson: ‘Rihanna is the closest thing we have… to a rockstar’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Nancy says:

    Swift is a sell out, Rihanna is a rock star. She just about said it all right there.

  2. QQ says:

    *playing cup of coffee on Repeat today* It does me good that Real recognizes Real! (im sure this post will have a High sodium content cause Rih Rih but Shirley is Correct, Even the NYT praised her fashion force emergence /new business model, great article about the Bad Gyal!)

  3. Lucy says:

    Love everything about this!! Shirley is amazing.

  4. Joannie says:

    Agree with everything she said.

  5. Honey says:

    Rhianna is an awesome singer and performer, but she is not even close to being a rock star

  6. a reader says:

    Shirley is a goddess! I just paid a ton of money to buy the special meet and greet package for the garbage/blondie tour in my town. When i meet her i will probably melt <3

  7. Lexilla says:

    Spoken like a true product of the ’90s, Kaiser! I’m one too and I miss it. Riot grrrl music/heroes, Tori Amos feeling my angst, thrift store clothes, no faces in phones. And no President Trump. My god I sound ancient, but I don’t care.

  8. teacakes says:

    Shirley spoke nothing but truth.

    And it’s always good to see one of the true Queens recognising another, now I really want to see Garbage on tour..

  9. Naddie says:

    They’re all sell out. And it’s great that the rockstar breed is dying, at least on this, society evolved.

  10. serena says:

    I’m so happy Garbage are coming back, I used to love them!

  11. Jennet says:

    Rihanna is authentic which is so rare to find these days in the industry. She is herself and doesn’t apologize
    I think a lot of it had to do with her upbringing and the women she surrounds herself with. Her swagger is awesome, her street fashion verges on ugly lately but she knows it and doesn’t care. She has been making hits for over a decade, she’s a damn hard worker.

  12. Ozogirl says:

    I don’t see Rihanna has a rock star, but Shirley is right that her peers gave in and went pop…like Gwen Stefani.

  13. SM says:

    I loveeee her! My love for U2 and No Doubt passed, but not for Shirley. If I got the chance to meet my teenage idols, I would be the happiest to meet her of all of them

  14. Aren says:

    I disagree, Garbage were HUGE, even if they didn’t “sell out”, they filled stadiums all over the world.
    I also don’t think the rest of the band weren’t talented, they couldn’t have produced for others if they weren’t.
    Now sadly, I don’t think Garbage’s music transcended, it sounds outdated, just like Metallica’s Black Album and many other things from the 90′s, which is a real shame.
    Finally, Shirley is right about Rihanna, but I think the latter is too self-centered for that.

  15. PJ says:

    Wait- Shirley Manson is FIFTY?! When and how exactly did that happen?? 😣 She will forever be the super cool flame-haired 20- something Scottish chick in my mind.

    But seriously, I feel so, so, so blessed to have come of age (graduated middle school in ’97) during the Grunge/bad ass women who rock era! Where are the Shirley’s, PJ Harvey’s, Traci Bonham’s, Veruca Salt’s, The Breeders, and Elastica’s of this age? My girlfriends who are the same age as me (and used to live it up in out Docs and floral dresses) talk about this frequently. It’s almost like, somewhere along the way the Tori Amoses of the world-incredibly talented women with real stories to tell who were unafraid to go HARD- got pushed out of the music industry en masse. It’s devastating.

    I mean, to this day, Garbage’s “#1 Crush” from the ‘Romeo & Juliet’ soundtrack is one of my favorite songs of ALL TIME (the intensity of the lyrics & that voice!). *Sigh* I guess we’ll always have our wonderful memories and ‘Daria’ on DVD : )

  16. Blackbetty says:

    I’ve been a huge fan of Shirley’s and Garbage, ever since the 90s. Respect.

  17. The Mad Zak says:

    The grunge era was the worst decade for music since the birth of radio. People whining about how horrible life is while singing through their noses, talentless musicians that couldn’t play a guitar solo if their life depended on it, performers that dressed like homeless people on stage along with lame stage shows that had few lights and zero effects which made you feel like you got ripped off after spending $50 for a concert ticket…..Screw grunge. Screw the 90′s. And Rhianna a rock star? Her vocal range is about as wide as a human hair, she doesn’t write music, she doesn’t play instruments, she doesn’t choreograph her own dance moves…she is merely a former model that some record producer decided to use to make himself rich.