Shirley Manson of Garbage Talks "Not Your Kind of People," Debut Album, Dogs, and More
Tue, 29 May 2012 12:50:06
On Not Your Kind of People, Garbage once again embrace their inner freak.
As a result, the album comes to life with a vitality and vibrancy that's currently unparalleled and unmatched in alternative rock. They're just not like any other band on the planet, and it's a goddamn wonderful thing.
Living up to its moniker, Not Your Kind of People exists within a world where heavy soundscapes and dark lyrical musings entwine, seamlessly. In essence, the group has perfected its patent style, while tapping into unbridled emotions of the moment. There's the lush yet haunting "I Hate Love", and then there's the rapturous roar of "Battle in Me".
"We've untied ourselves from a lot of our old concepts and ideas, and that makes for a really exciting experience," smiles legendary Garbage singer Shirley Manson.
Unfettered and unique, Not Your Kind of People remains a milestone for the band.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Garbage singer Shirley Manson opens up about Not Your Kind of People, talks movies and books, reminisces about their self-titled debut, and tells us why Jack Russell Terrier mutts rule…
Is there anything that ties Not Your Kind of People together for you?
Yeah, we love sequencing. We take it really seriously. We did want it to feel like an old school LP. As a result, that's probably why it feels that way. That's how we love to listen to records. You get to the end of them, and you just want to start listening all over again. There is some kind of logic, which probably defies description. As a band, we have an idea of where it is we want to take the listener.
Does storytelling figure into your writing at all?
To be honest, the more I write, the more I want to just capture a feeling rather than be descriptive. I still consider myself to be a bit of a novice. If anything, on our first few records, I was trying to tell more of a story. Now, I want to try to capture a mood or sensation of something.
That definitely comes through on "I Hate Love", which is both elegant and primal.
I think that's a really beautiful song. It's funny. The title is obviously quite provocative, but the sentiment behind the song is really beautiful, gentle, and vulnerable. It's a universal feeling that we all endure at some points in our lives. It's that horrible feeling when you love someone and they don't love you back.
The song makes the feeling palatable though. Your voice sounds pristine as well.
Thank you very much young man! I appreciate the compliment [Laughs]. You've made my morning.
It seems like a lot of the Garbage sound relies upon those juxtapositions.
Yeah, that's definitely something we've done historically since day one. We try and juxtapose atmospheres with words and play around with people's perceptions and how they respond to something. Life is like that. Our experiences are like that. Somebody can be really ass-y to you, but it's only after you walk away that you realize it because they had a big smile fixed on their face. Or, situations you find challenging can end up being the most enriching or educative even if at the time they're not pleasant. We like to play with those ideas on record.
Where did "Beloved Freak" come from?
In a funny way, I think that's a song to ourselves. As a band, we've always felt a little misunderstood, and we realize, even with this new record, it's sort of the same situation. We're just oddballs, and we always will be. At this point in our lives, rather than feel like victims of being left out, we're like, "Fuck it!" We're renegades. We're doing things on our own terms, and that's fine. Whenever you do choose to live in a way that's different from other people, they're very fast to call you a freak, weirdo, or oddball. That can feel very exclusive. As a human being, you have to invert that idea and say, "We're doing things on our own terms. This is how we see things. I will do what I think is right not what everybody else tells me is right, and that's okay."
Does that become easier as you grow up?
I don't know. Maybe, I don't mature as fast as everybody else, but I feel like it remains a challenge no matter how old you become. To me, it feels like a challenge to fit in and connect with people on a meaningful level. Maybe, I feel out of step. I don't know if it does get easier. I think your understanding of it gets deeper and therefore it's not as torturous. I have a feeling I will remain an oddball for the rest of my life [Laughs]. No matter how old I bloody well get [Laughs]! I'll be rocking the pink perm and I'll still feel out of things! Who knows? Who cares at this point?
Well, by saying "Who cares at this point", you embrace it more than ever, and that's cool. At the end of the day, every facet of Garbage shines through on Not Your Kind of People.
I think it's a really good record, and I think you're right. It plays to who we are, what we are, what we've done, and what we will do. That's all you can ask of yourself as a band. Beyond that, everything else is completely out of our control. We're amazed by the welcome we've gotten coming back after seven years. It's incredulous to us that we're still able to play sold out shows. That's mind-boggling. Clearly our fans feel the same way as we do so that's great.
The record still possesses an edge during "Battle in Me" and "The One".
I love those heavier tracks on the record. I love it when the guitars are loud and roaring. There are quite a few more aggressive-sounding tracks on the record. I'm kind of an aggressive girl, not to have anything like that representing on the album would be folly, I think.
Outside of music, do you tend to read a lot or watch a lot of movies?
I love movies. I love music. I love reading. I'm a big reader. I've gotten into theater lately. I read a lot of plays, and I've studied with an acting teacher. I love anything beautiful. I love fine art. Living in Los Angeles, there's an amazing array of incredible art you can go see on any given day. I love hanging with my dog and hiking.
What authors do you come back to?
I love William Boyd. I love Julian Barnes. I love Michael Ondaatje. There's a host. I love to read, and I always have since I was a little girl.
What kind of dog do you have?
I have a Jack Russell Terrier mix. He's some kind of ginger little terrier [Laughs]. I really am dog crazy. They're the fucking best. A Jack Russell mix is the ideal companion in life to me.
If you were to compare Not Your Kind of People to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Now you have me on the ropes! I will go for something like Melancholia by Lars von Trier. In that movie, there's so much beauty and so much darkness. You never know what you're getting because the two are infused as one.
When did you come up with the album title?
That is a question for Mr. Butch Vig. He came in and his eyes were literally as bright as little buttons, and he said, "I've got a great title for a song!" I asked, "What is it?" He said, "We're not your kind of people", and he looked really pleased with himself [Laughs]. I responded, "That is a great fucking title! We need to write that song." We thought it would also make a great title for the record. By default, even before the track was written, I think it was the working title. It stayed that way too. It seemed to be the perfect sort of war-cry.
What do you remember immediately when you think of the first Garbage album?
I guess how much of a surprise it was. I don't think any of us ever imagined it would take off the way it did. It sort of exploded. "Vow" got played as a sampler track on a CD from a magazine called Volume. Literally overnight, it was all over the world. We got dragged by our coattails into this whirlwind of madness. It was a crazy ride. I do remember being terrified the entire time. In that regard, it wasn't as fun as it is now. I don't feel scared now so much. People wanted our autographs, were taking our pictures, and coming to shows. I'd been in a band since I was 15 for a decade where nobody ever came to our shows or took our pictures. Nobody wanted an autograph. It was an extraordinary experience.
We're committed to touring for most of the rest of the year! We're playing and we're having an amazing time. I know we're playing the best shows of our career. We feel liberated in a funny way. If it continues how it's going, I think it will be our most enjoyable and memorable tour maybe of our lives.
Have you heard Not Your Kind of People?
See our review of the album here!