To be a true rock star, you gotta give yourself over. Completely. It's gotta start from a real place that's got nothing to do with fame or money. It's gotta be messy - Iggy Pop messy. You gotta stick a tube inside the ugly places and spew it all over. You gotta damn the consequences.
Which is why rock has left the building.
And exactly why the band Garbage and its front woman, Shirley Manson, are the final holdouts. The final holdouts, at least, that don't sound quaintly outdated. That aren't on a reunion tour. The only ones left that matter.

Shirley Manson is not a prepackaged virgin-'till-married. Manson's career was never manipulated by boy-band impresario Lou Pearlman; Manson never auditioned on a show like Popstars. Manson never learned to shut her trap.
Shirley Manson is pretty fucked up. Shirley Manson is a rock star.
At age 34 (she has some trouble remembering - "I'm 33; no, 34, wait..."), her two very different sides - the yin and yang of Shirley Manson, if you will - are in a constant pitch. You never know which one you're going to get.

The side most publicly acknowledged is the yang; the tough chick, tough rock girl - attached like an umbilical chord to a not-to-be-fucked with attitude. The one who uses sexuality as a weapon: "Please me, tease me, go ahead and leave me," she spits on the song "I Think I'm Paranoid" on Version 2.0. It's also the side unafraid to unleash jagged comments about those she disdains (run for cover Ms. Aguilera - run). Yang Shirley.

Yin Shirley, however, is vulnerable, thoughtful, sweet even - she's the one who knows it'd be best to not talk about all her intimacies and vulnerabilities, but simply can't help herself. It's the Shirley who's insanely likeable, energetic, powerful and feverent about her fans.

And today we have... Yang Shirley. It's Thursday, mid-February, at lunchtime. A man sitting behind her leans over and touches her by the arm, and Manson goes rigid in her chair. It's as if the innocuous touch - her's pointing out that her black leather coat has fallen to the floor - sent a current of electricity into the red-haired rocker.

She does not like to be touched.

"I really don't," she says, the Scottish lilt curling around her vowels. "I used to be very dramatic and kissy-kissy, 'Oh, darling." Her voice goes cold. "I stopped doing that. When you're in a rock band, everybody wants to touch you. I want to choose who touches me."

It's the proverbial morning after. We're inside Pastis, a restaurant in Manhattan's meatpacking district (an area with not-so-wholesome smells). Manson has a sensible, wheeled travel-bag with her (very flight attendant), as she's flying back to deep frozen Madison, Wisconsin, where the other three members of the band live, and where they're recording Garbage's third album. Manson looks tired. Her eyes are bloodshot, and she's fretful.

"I feel paranoid and neurotic this morning," she says. The easy back-and-forth we'd enjoyed the night before is gone. And the positivity she's displayed then is now banded and clipped. "I do this even with close friends," she murmurs. "I just feel...weird after sharing personal stuff."

Which seems strange because, on the yin side, Manson's propensity to share is legendary. In one magazine, she said she wanted to pee in a man's belly-button. She posts her studio diaries on the band's website, the include ruminations on masturbation and her period. One entry says she's "dreading" the thought of flying to New York - to do this photo shoot. "All those make-up artists, hairdressers and stylists who are used to working with supermodels, all huddled around you in a trailer eyeing up your fatty bits. Oh God help me."

The night before: Manson invites me up to her hotel suite. It's supposed to be the newest, most chic spot in town, but the room could only be called a suite by New York standards, where space is an absolute commodity. And the carpet is ugly. A bottle of unopened Piper champagne sits in a stainless-steel bucket on the table. The ice is melted. I sit down on the couch and eye it. Manson smiles, and we agree to pop the bottle. Manson's energy is immediate; it reminds me of Garbage's songs - full, manic, barley throttled. Instantly likeable. She zips out to the hall to get ice with an admonishment not to look at her private things. "I don't mind getting the ice," I yell after her.

"But I know where it is - you don't," she replies.

Glasses filled, Manson sits in a chair, legs tucked under her. She's saying it's unfair that female musicians are supposed to look hot for photos. "Scott Weiland can just show up in a T-shirt and sit there, and it's okay. But the expectations on a woman can drive you crazy. That's why someone like Fiona Apple locks herself in the bathroom afterward, crying. If Jennifer Lopez could write songs like Fiona's, she wouldn't have to spend so many hours in the gym.

With Manson, everything is about music. It is the main engine to her existence, streaming throughout the conversation and washing over each and every topic. Everything from sex to relationships is couched in terms of music, like an invisible sounding board to which all things must be compared. It is an inviolate subject. Which would explain why she doesn't have a Carson Daly-like water-off-my-back attitude toward bubblegum bands.

"There is a place for manufactured pop," she says. "It's fine, as long as the bands don't masquerade as something else. I love Brittany Spears Baby One More Time. It's when they start taking themselves too seriously and speak about themselves as artists that I get angry. They get this smugness." I comment about 14-year-olds running the airwaves, and she says, "I'm all for the power of 14-year-olds. If 14-year-olds were actually running it, it would be fantastic. But it's the 40-year-olds who are behind the music. It's like a sophisticated pedophilia ring. It's yucky."

She used to hate Brittany Spears, but changed her mind. The 16-year-old panty wearing Spears on the cover of Rolling Stone disturbed her. "But now that she's older and has a sense of humor about the whole thing, I like her. Out of all of them, she seems the most real. Everybody eventually ends up liking Brittany. You can't help it. Now Christina Aguilera..." She gives an arch look.

Manson has scrubbed the makeup off her face, and her skin is Casper white. Her hair is cut in fashionable layers (her web diaries talk about how she took the scissors to herself trying to make "improvements" - apparently it grew in.) But in that pale panorama of her face, her green eyes are amazing. Their depth and beguiling color aren't aptly captured by film or video.

There is no talk tonight with Shirley about reviling her own looks. (Tomorrow, though, I'll ask her about her appearance and she'll say, "I've always hated the way I look, but I'm trying not to talk about that anymore.") "I don't measure myself by the desire of men," she says, "I've never felt that as a motivational force. Besides, it doesn't take much to attract men."

She met her husband, an artist who she married in '96, when he was sculpting her for an LP cover. "It's so Demi Moore-Patrick Swayze," she sighs. How did she know that he was the one? "If I hadn't met him, I think I would have killed myself," she says bluntly. "He turned me around. He changed my point of view 180 degrees." Manson's lyrics are soaked in roiling, bruised sexuality. Interview after interview (probably because all us horny journalists ask about it) she mentions her ability to give amazing blow jobs. ("Great head," she affirms.) In her web diaries, she complains that rock 'n roll is supposed to be sex and drugs, but that drugs don't work for her and she's not getting sex. But she's firm about her fidelity to her husband. "A few hours of sex isn't worth it."

Between touring and recording, though, the two are more often apart than together (he lives in Edingburgh). Temptations? She says, "When I meet somebody, it's never on a level playing field. Even if I would think a guy is hot, often he has a chip on his shoulder. An attitude like, 'I'll show her.' Or it's the opposite; they're already completely infatuated with me.

"A man has to have a stronger sense of my emotional being then my physical being. If he doesn't sparks fly. If he doesn't understand that 'Leave me alone' means 'Rip my pants off and rock me up the ass' then it doesn't work."

It was always about the music. As a teenager growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland, Manson's manic energy and black emotional swells - hormonally supercharged - found a place to berth within the bosom of rock chickdom. Namely, original riot grrls like Siouxie Sioux and Chrissie Hynde. Manson was disaffected throughout high school, and says she was teased relentlessly. In 1985, she joined the band Goodbye Mr MacKenzie as a backup singer and keyboardist at the invitation of lead singer Martin Metcalfe, who mostly wanted to shag her. The ensuing relationship with Metcalfe, both romantic and professional, was chaotic, as he indulged in all the rocker's addictive cliches. In 1994, several members of MacKenzie splintered into another band named Angelfish, with Manson as it's charismatic head.

But to Manson's thinking, things were complete shit, and despair was about neck-level when drummer/producer Butch Vig (who produced Nirvana's Nevermind), guitarist Steve Marker and bassist Duke Erickson saw an Angelfish video on MTV. They were looking for someone to front their band, and arranged to meet Manson in London. Manson put on a bit of attitude, disagreeing with a lot of what the "boys" said. The boys liked it. They invited her to Madison to record a song. Things gelled. Garbage and their eponymous, platinum-selling album, with hits "Queer" and "Stupid Girl" followed.

Version 2.0 was released in 1998, and went straight to No. 1 in the Brit charts and was nominated for two Grammy's. The album crystallized the band's tough-but-catchy sound. In many ways their sound is pop rock, but pop rock with the dents and scrapes of real life scattered throughout. Manson complains about the boys inveterate knob-twiddling - "Days and days pass with them looping drums," she says - but it lends the songs an exacting, tight exterior that you could bounce a quarter off of.

Comparatively speaking, the band suffers little friction. The men are older than Manson, and happy to leave the spotlight to her, "No Doubt and Gwen Stefani had a huge tension in the band," Manson says. "But they were in another place in their lives. My band is different. It's filled with ease."

The new album, expected this summer, distills the elements of their sound even farther. According to Manson, the influences are more exaggerated. It veers a little more to electronica; the random ballad is thrown in; and there is an 80's feel to some of the songs. But, dammit, it is rock.

Rock bands are delicate entities. We're one of the few trees still left in the forest," Manson says. "I'm amazed when people say that they're relived that rock is dead; that the day of hero worship is over now that DJ-led, spiritual dance music is in. To me, the DJ is a dictator, an individual leader. DJs are more dictorial than a band could ever be. It's the glory of self. It's not any worse, but it's not any better.

The musicians that Manson speaks highly of are inevitably the knocked-about, lived-the-life rockers. Courtney Love, Billy Corgan, Iggy Pop and Fiona Apple, even Dolly Parton earn Manson's respect. And Eminem. "Eminem's last album is one of the great records of the decade. He's like John Lee Hooker or Hank William's. It's folk, but it's dressed up in a different way. The first time I heard, it made the hair stand up on my arms.

One need only check out Garbage's website to realize they're not a band of pretensions (they do it themselves, and answer fan mail). When they do run up against the industry's dark side, strangeness ensues. Manson was once thrown out of the way by on of Whitney Houston's bodyguards who was clearing the hall for the diva during an awards show. Anyway, it isn't about power for Manson - it's about playing live. "Being on stage is like coming for two straight hours. I call it the most expensive drug in the world, since it's like 20 grand to put on a show." Asked what her other favorite thing is, she replies, "Orgasms."

We order another bottle of champagne from room service. "Did you always know you'd be doing this?" I ask.

"I thought I'd be a writer and journalist."

I stand up, pull her out of her chair, and trade places, leaving my notebook on the couch. She takes it up, precedes to ask me personal questions while taking notes. "All your questions are about sex," I say.


"It's hard being a human being." It's a refrain she repeats throughout the night, sometimes apropos to nothing. "Everything seems great now, after a bottle of champagne," she says. "But tomorrow I'll wake up and it'll be different." It must be hard, I say, to sacrifice time with husband and family for music. Manson gives a long, hollow look. "Lonely," she finally says.

But, as much as rock defines her, as much as she has sacrificed for it, it is also something she resists. She says she often rewrote lyrics to take out their emotional sting. This album, she's leaving them as they are. She's also in therapy. "As I get older, I realize that I have to accept what I do for a living. The truth is, only when you really give yourself up can you make great art. I've never really done that before this album."

"It comes with a risk. Everyone who brings art to the public forum desires to be liked. If people reject it, it is a horror. And no matter what, not all people will like it." Does rejection bother her? "It didn't used to. But I realize now that I always had just one foot in the camp."

Отредактировано eyedol (23.03.2007 15:09)