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.”
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.
Photos courtesy of WENN.