Garbage – Shirley Manson’s epic band is anything but



Garbage are an incendiary indie band, at least partly due to the talent of frontwoman Shirley Manson.

Musical style: Female-fronted electronica/rock/hip-hop beats/pop melodies with noise and guitars (official site)

Few modern, female-fronted rock bands have stood the test of time but Garbage is one of them.

Garbage are currently having a break but they’ve just released their first ‘Best Of’ album, called Absolute Garbage. From the indie dancefloor filler Stupid Girl to rock anthems like Only Happy When It Rains and I Think I’m Paranoid, this ‘Best Of’ shows why Garbage has been a force to be reckoned with in the last twelve years.

Garbage is a Scottish/American rock group which formed in 1994. It’s made up of Duke Erikson, Steve Marker, Butch Vig and – of course – the flame-haired scawtish firecracker Shirley Manson.

Ah… Shirley Manson! What an absolutely brill example of rock divinity. The music magazines have always touted her as the woman both straight girls and straight boys fell in love with, and she has a huge cult following among the LGBT community, too.

At school, Shirley Manson was regularly bullied because of her red hair and large eyes. She sometimes returned home after school bloody and bruised from being beaten up. The incessant teasing and bullying led her into a deep depression and drove her to self-harm. Also as a result of the bullying, she dropped out of school and began working at Miss Selfridge in central Edinburgh. She was probably very good at being a shopworker but fortunately for us all she ended up as lead singer of Garbage…

Shirley was a proper Scots girl and sparky with it. After joining Garbage (following 2 audtions) Manson immediately set about rewriting the lyrics to the band’s already written songs. The resulting collaborative efforts became Garbage, the band’s debut album, which would go on to sell 5 million copies worldwide. Manson also showed signs of musical good taste by citing Siouxsie Sioux from the post-punk band Siouxsie & the Banshees as a main influence.

By the time their second album, Version 2.0, was being recorded in the band’s own studio, Manson had become the band’s primary lyricist. But she was still regarded by many as simply the face of Garbage. As a regular musical contributor and guitarist (her orange Fender Stratocaster is named ‘Rita’), she felt great disappointment at the general perception of her role in the group.

After her brief role as a model for Calvin Klein and the confidence that composer David Arnold had shown her while co-producing the theme for James Bond film ‘The World Is Not Enough’, Shirley began to write more self-reflective lyrics, which ended up on the band’s third album, beautifulgarbage.

One of the things we at Mookychick love about Shirley Manson (apart from the great music) is that she’s always been about female empowerment – she’s loved the men, but has always supported her sisters. On July 6, 2006, Garbage concert broadcast on PBS’s SoundStage she said: “Thank you, girls! Now go and start some bands, okay?” – to the young women in the front row (who sang and danced along to all the songs).

Absolute Garbage – Pop facts

Sometimes bands aren’t just about the music, they’re about the mystique and the rock’n’roll. So here are some almost completely non-music related bits and bobs about our Shirley…

Animal-lovers will be pleased to hear that in spring 2007 Shirley Manson became the new face of the latest PETA campaign (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Clad in a Stella McCartney evening gown, Manson holds up the skinned carcass of a fox beside the caption: “Here is the rest of your fur coat”.

Shirley Manson wrote the foreword of the official Siouxsie and the Banshees biography in 2003.

As of July 22nd 2007 Garbage’s latest single, ‘Tell Me Where it Hurts’, has failed to make the UK Top 40. Garbage are proper indie so it’s understandable – but they’re also tip-top and need your money, so please buy this single and rectify the situation IMMEDIATELY!

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