With her high-riding crimson ponytail and ultra-mod black eye makeup, Shirley Manson looks like she just dropped in from some exotic planet.

But when she speaks, the siren of Garbage is unmistakably, delightfully human. "I'm starving," she announces in a melodious Scottish lilt. Her face is flushed from the chill wind of this deceptively sunny Boston day. Settling at a nearby table in the hotel restaurant, she talks about the photo shoot she's just finished. "I have to get something to eat," she tells her publicist. "But then I want to talk to you about something."

"Something" has nothing to do with this stop on the Version 2.0 tour, just one more hectic day-in-the-life, which will culminate in Garbage opening for Hole at the historic Orpheum Theatre, the crowning event of alternative station WBCN-FM's annual holiday music festival. She briefly raves about how well the video shoot for the album's fourth single, "When I Grow Up" has been going, but what she really wants to discuss are Marilyn Manson's latest alleged antisocial antics.

Ms. Manson chooses the lunch buffet. "Instant gratification," she quips. She's back in a flash with her selections, including rolls and tuna salad. "Give me your butter, your mustard, and your mayonnaise," she barks. We snatch them off our table and shove them her way. "Thank you," she purrs, accepting them regally. "Now carry on."

In the four years since she rose from obscurity to become the much-celebrated sex-bomb mouthpiece for one of the decade's most innovative rock bands, the 32-year-old singer/producer has admitted to more obsessive behavior than most human beings ever would, let alone most pop stars. All day, she will fret about how she looks on various magazine covers. But she hasn't a clue why any star la star such as her namesake Marilyn would resort to violence over his or her image in the media. "It's ludicrous to care that much," she sensibly remarks.

Shirley doesn't believe in violence, unless someone's really asking for it. Then she doesn't think twice about using any resource at her disposal. Like a few months earlier, on stage at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, when she refiexively threatened an unruly fan with mayhem: "Do that again, and I swear I'll find you!" she screamed, promising to have security tear the perpetrator limb from limb.

"Somebody threw something at me, and I kind of lost my temper," she recalls later, backstage at the Orpheum a couple of hours before showtime. "For me to rage at somebody when I'm up on top of a stage, and they're in the middle of a crowd where I can't find them is ludicrous. But the idea of 20 security men coming for you is kind of scary."

She is finishing up her makeup, painting her lips a bright magenta. Only moments before I had been trying to eavesdrop while she talked with her publicist about yet another cover photo, and instead found myself in the narrow hallway, face-to-face with drummer Butch Vig, who casually introduced himself, along with his fellow producers and Garbage guitarists Steve Markee and Duke Erikson.


The Orpheum dressing room is So tiny, the treadmill she travels with is taking up half the space. "I exercise for my mind, not my body," she explains matter-of-factly. The remaining area is strewn with clothes, magazines, a big silver makeup case, CDs, and a boombox. She's dressed for the workout she'll soon be getting onstage: black cargo pants, black tank top with a yellow diagonal slripe, skinny leather dog collar. Amber sequins glitter along the French braid that runs along the top of her head.

Usually, she says, the only weapon she needs to control the boistereus fans is righteous fury. Even when an audience member once snatched her wedding ring from her hand, she only had to rage. "Somebody out there's got a ring of mine, and I want it back And I want it back RIGHT NOW!" She was trying to be subtle, she says, to ensure the culprit would hand over the precious item. "I knew that if I said it was my wedding ring, I'd never get it back." She got it back.

She made good on her threats only once; when someone spat on her. "I told him to stop," she explains. "But he kept spitting, and I was like, "You know, if you spit any more, I'm gonna get you fucked up." He spat, again, of course. "I saw the direction from which the gob was coming and I literally was tracing him as the gob was flying at me. And of course, I found him. And the rest of the fans in the area scattered and left the guy alone. Then security beat him senseless." Wow. "Well, I mean, spitting is totally unacceptable; isn't it?" she prompts with exaggerated, schoolmannish huetur.. "Billy, isn't it?" she asks the young man whose role, at this moment is to take apart her treadmill and put it back on the bus.

"Yep." says Billy. "Of Course it is."

"This is Billy Bush He engineered our record," she says. "What else did he do? He programs practically everything. He does everything. He is Garbage I'm just the face of Garbage; Billy is the man behind it."

"The man behind the curtain," says Billy. Someone else peeks into the room. "Oh, by God, we're trying to work in here!" Shirley exclaims feigning frustration. "What is it now?" Just our backstage passes. Hers is laminated, mine's a sticker. "Let's see your one," she demands. "Your one is cooler than mine." But yours is laminated! "Yeah, but it doesn't say what it's for. I want it to say Hole, Garbage. That's cool. Ah, I don't knew," she laments. "People have no sense of occasion."

Yeah, it's like this happens every day or something like that, I say sardonically. For some reason, this makes Shirley break out laughing. "Women are ridiculous," she says.

In fact, it is a fairly rare occasion for Garbage to be sharing a bill with Hole, and Shirley is genuinely jazzed about it. "Courtney is a bundle of energy and excitement, intelligence and rage," says Shirley. "It's exciting. I find her adorable." Billy quietly wrestles with the treadmill, and the interview finally gets back on track. Like many rock groups, Garbage has bolstered its global profile and record sales with extensive roadwork. The more than half-year of touring behind 1990's Grammy-nominated Version 2.0 came on the heels of the year-long recording and mixing sessions for that album, which they stared working on only six weeks after the year-long tour behind their self-titled 1995 debut. Well, at least they're used to the punishing grind of the road. It's even been good for them.

"We've improved as a band live, because we've learned to actually listen, as in to sense how the audience is feeling," says Shirley. "That's the excitement of playing live, when you get that kind of commune. So you learn to watch your own energies on stage, as well as the audience's. Thus, they decided to put their stripped-down, traditional-instruments-only version of Big Star's"Thirteen" in the middle of the set, rather than using it as an encore. "It allows us to muster our energies back," Shirley says. "I'm always throwing parallels between the band and an army, but to me it's like waging war. You have to pace yourself."

You also have to take command of your arsenal. Through every second of Garbage's hour-long Orpheum set, the players are in complete control. Steve and Duke fire off stentorian, power-house blasts of guitar, while Daniel Shulman's lively bass work complements both the techno-industrial whizzing and zizzing and Butch's rhythmic thunder: It's a far cry from their early days, when the rigors of reproducing their recordings' rich electronic textures in concert made the musicians appear as mere components of a digital behemoth. Thanks to Bush, Garbage's very own Wizard of Oz, they are no longer chained to the equipment,

"On the first tour, we were really trapped by all the technology we were using," Shirley says. "It ran us. But on this tour, Billy was on top of all the computers and the technology from day one. So when we actually got to the point where we were playing live, it was under control. It's allowed us a certain flexibility that people don't believe is synonymous with machinery.

"I mean, it makes life difficult for Billy," she continues sympathetically. 'He's had no sleep for the past three years, but our life has been made simpler. And there's just more confidence. We're willing to try different things, because he can fix it if anything goes wrong.

"There's also a bunch of new technology, which helps," Billy offers modestly from the floor, still working on the treadmill. "Billy goes to these ghastly conventions and listens to all these computer nerds go on about the newest gadget," Shirley says. "So we were very up on what was hip and happening, because Billy had spent hours at that ghastly place."


Techno-wizardry makes Garbage go, but the human core is what makes this band tick. You might see that as a message in the razzle-dazzle video for "Special" where the quartet zip about in futuristic fighter planes, their arms and legs entwined with the navigation and weaponry (which, at least in Shirley's case, has a definite erotic angle. Or two.) Or you might just see it as good silly fun, as Shirley methodically destroys enemy pilots Duke, Butch and Steve, then blasts off toward the horizon.

Whatever you see in it. the video's slick, high-tech presentation immediately brings dollar signs to mind. "I was like, 'Fuckin' hell, it looks like we spent millions on this thing!" Shirley exclaims. In fact. she says, it cost less than a lot of their other videos. 'Special' was designed and executed by Dawn Shadforth, whose video for European dance band the All-Seeing Eye caught Garbage's attention last year while they were doing promotion in France.

"She'd only done three or four really small-budget videos, but you could see her talent," says Shirley. "Her editing is really musical." Shadforth's 'Special' storyboard was the most creative they'd seen. "It's very, very cutting-edge. It mixes film with computer animation. It's like a Sony PlayStation game, like Tomb Raiders come to life." They also loved the idea because it isn't the first image the song brings to mind. "It was so off-kilter from what we expected." she says. "It's always good to surprise, people."

And so keep them guessing. So, does Shirley the space vixen make it to the rescue beacon or not? "Well, you don't now," she says mysteriously. "I prefer to think that she dies. It would be tedious with girl-kicks-guys'-ass. I like the idea of girl dying kicking guys' asses. I like that she over-powers them. but ultimately she fights it to the end. Rather than that tedious 1980s idea of what feminism is about." Which is?

"I loathe the idea of female power," she explains. "I love the idea of female equality." She takes a dim view of human nature in general, and scoffs at the notion of female superiority. Still, she believes that women are innately less violent than men, partly because they have the biological petential to be nurturers. "Everything that makes you up as a human being plots your future," she theorizes. "Your biology. your genes have a huge input into who you axe and how you view the world. Mind you, I'm a scientist's daughter, so I would say that."

The middle daughter of a geneticist and an amateur singer, Shirley Ann Manson wasn't specifically encouraged to become a musician, but as a kid in Scotland she took piano, clarinet and violin lessons, and sang in a choir. Yet she didn't become involved with bands because she pursued music, per se. It was more that the bands pursued her. "I was a party girl," she says. "I was a big showoff. I used to go clubbing a lot, so I was always at the parties." The lead singer of her first group, Goodbye Mr. MacKenzie, asked her to join because, she says, "he was soft on me. basically."

The group released five albums, charting in the UK at No. 37 with a song called 'The Rattler' in March 1989. Shirley was one of two keyboard players then, though she occasionally played guitar and sang backup. When the vocalist couldn't continue singing for various reasons she says, Shirley took the role. But the band had already begun to disintegrate. She veered off with two other members and formed Angelfish. which, she says, "was really just a desperate attempt to keep making music."

Shirley had already attracted the attention of Radioactive Records head Gary Kurfirst, veteran manager of such seminal acts as the Talking Heads, "He'd always said. 'If Goodbye Mr. MacKenzie goes down the toilet. I want you to come to me. Because I think you're amazing, and I think we could do something amazing together," she says, Angelfish sent him a hastily-made demo, and before they knew it, they were recording an album with producers Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz.

"We found ourselves in the States." she says, on tour with labelmates Live. "I was totally unsure of myself on stage, I was uncomfortable, the band was uncomfortable. It was a nightmare from start to finish."

In the end, her ticket out of the bad dream came courtesy of the band's own video for 'Suffocate Me.' Up in Madison, Wisconsin, Butch, Duke and Steve needed a singer for their ne project. With true rock-legend serendipity, they tuned in to '120 Minutes' and saw Shirley the one and only time tha MTV showed the video. Phone calls were made meetings held, and the rest, as they say, is history.


The Orpheum shudders under the electronic fury of "Hammering In My Head." The air pulses and snaps with an almost feral energy. Shirley is on her knees in the black-and-blue light growling. "I knew you were mine for when I walked in the room," she stage-whispers into the microphone. It's just one riveting moment in a performance that channels the desperate devotion and nagging despair with the offhand ferocity of a natural dynamo. It is hard to image she ever felt uneasy on stage.

Life offstage is more comfortable for her, too. In fact, a girl could almost get used io it. Shirley and I finish talking and join the othdrs in the communal area next to the dressin8 room. In a few minutes, a radio station interview will begin. Duke mixes us each a giant plastic cup of strong citrus-spiked vodka and cranberry juice, "the Garbage drink of the moment," he notes. A large gift wrapped box arrives for the band. "Presents?" Shirley trills from the dressing room. "I'll be receiving the gifts!" She emerges and tears into the box, pulling out bags of candy, a cap, a cheap toy car, and a big tube of hydroxy hand lotion.

She and Duke wander off, leaving me with Butch and Steve. No longer filled with Shirley's fast-paced chatter, the room falls momentarily silent. "Are those Doc Martens?" Butch asks, pointing at my battered, 10-year-old Hawkins. He admires them, says he needs a pair of sturdy, flat-bottomed shoes in which to play drums. He calls his black low-top Simple sneakers ' ugly.' He has even colored the pinkish rubber sides with a Sharpie to make them a little more acceptable. "I had a pair of shoes that were perfect. but Shirley thought they were so hideous, and she hounded me about them so mercilessly, that I finally got rid of them," he says. I ponder just how much hounding one could take from Shirley before caving in. No doubt the members of Garbage have their disagrements over wardrobe and more serious matters yet they treat each other with real kindness and affection. Their camaraderie is born of years spent together in close quarters, both in studios and on tour. But it's also a human necessity. Along with a handful of supporting characters like Daniel Shulman and Billy Bush, these four people are the only constants in their ever-changing universe of highways, hotels, concert halls, fans and journalists.

Indeed, the pro-show partying takes on an almost therapeutic glow. Or maybe it's the vodka cranberry a la Duke. As the room fills up withe well-wishers, business and pleasure cozily collide.

Duke and Butch profess their love for the Nuggets box set, saying it inspired Garbage to record an "acoustic" version of the Seeds' "I Can't Seem to Make You Mine," slated as a future B-side I put down my cup after finishing my second drink, and Duke says, "I've had two of those, too." Mmm. I feel pretty good right now, how 'bout you? He just grins.

Garbage surround their radio station interrogator, who engages them in a funny fast paced chat. All goes smoothly until he questions Shirley about a comment he says he read in which she allegedly proclaimed it easy to get men to want her. What advice do you have he asks for any woman who wants to do this? It's a dumb, loaded question, and Shirley confronts it head on "Just pull your knickors down." she blurts then breaks up laughing and shouts, "Interview's over!" Dashing into the dressing room, she gasps, "I can't believe I said that!"

But she's famous for being blunt, not just about sex but about most things. That's just her nature. "I'm not the kind of person who walks in, a room and sees a steaming pile of shit, and doesn't mention it. She says she like to bring subjects out into the open."

Sure, Garbage's songs are full of sex and imagery, and Shirley's been known to discuss penis girth and other matters of the flesh in interviews. But some male journalists have pegged her frankness as flirtatiousness. "Well, men hear the word 'sex' or 'sexual'-or 'sensual,' an even bigger crime-and it's like, 'Oooh, she's talking about cocks and tits.'" Shirley scoffs. At the same time, she says, "a lot of women imply a sexual meaning to a situation, in order to make somebody feel they might have a chance with her." Men do it, too, she notes, but women are better at it. "I am not at all flirtatious. I don't lead people to believe they are going to have sex with me."


When she wants to escape, Shirley reads, she's a voracious reader. "It's the way to go when you need to shut off," she says. She likes contemporary fiction, and is well-versed enough to have penned an intelligent book review in last April's Harper's Bazaar. Of course, she doesn't see it that way.

"It was incredibly traumatic for me," she moans. "I felt like a pompous arse." Noooo. "Oh, are you kidding me? I felt completely out of my depth. The only reason I did it, and I said that in the article, was because I knew my father would get a kick out of it. He has the arlicle in his study, of course, and he's very proud of it."

She rummages in a shopping bag near my feet. "I'm actually reading this just now," she says, producing a paperback novel by Scottish writer Andrew Greig. "There's a great line in here that I have to read to you, because it's my favorite line," she enthuses. "It's just incredible. I love that, when you start a book and you find a line that you're in love with." She searches for the passage. "I've been reading a lot of Scottish fiction, because my husband brought it over." (They rarely see each other, but got to spend Thanksgiving together.) "I've read The Sopranos by Alan Warnre; and Purple America by Rick Moody, which is probably the last book that I really, really loved."

She keeps looking through the book. "Sorry to do this when you've only got a few minutes," she says. The suspense is killing me, though. I have to know what she's looking for, as much as she has to find it. How did she like Bridget Jones's Diary?

"It is funny," she concedes. "But it began to get on my nerves." She is laughing at herself now. "Why can't I find this? It's somewhere near here. I hope you like it, after all this." More page flipping, scanning. "It's on this page, I know it is. I've gone mad. I can't believe I'm doing this to you." There's another knock at the door: Will Shirley be joining the band for the soundcheck? She'll pass. "Oh, here it is!" she exclaims. At last.

"Basically, he's talking about pain. Or unpleasant things," she explains. The epic instrumental roar of "Push It' wafts through the wall. "And he says, 'These images will not leave me be, and the reservoir is filled up to my throat, even to my mouth, so I must stand a little taller before I dare speak with friends.'" She lowers the book. "I mean, that's fucking amazing."

Her intellectual habits get a lot less attention than her cyber-vamp appearance, but Shirley doesn't mind. Any attention she gets is good for the band. But glossy images of herself seem as maddening as a plague from the devil himself. "Why do I always have to look like a geek on magazine covers?" she laments. "Why can't I look hot?" Finally, she comes across a cover she can admire: a solemn Shirley, gazing straight at the camera. "I look like an alien in this one," she blissos.


If the role of cover model is an uneasy one, the mantle of musician and songwriter is even harder for her to accept. Never mind that she co-produced Version 2.0 with the boys and played guitar on it, not to mention writing almost every, word of the lyrics. "I feel that I'm a charlatan to a certain degree," she says, noting that it's partly because she started so late in life. "A lot of my friends who are creative say the same thing. It's like you constantly live in fear of being 'found out' that you actually aren't good enough."

She will admit that she's getting better. "At the beginning of recording Version 2.0, I knew that, to a certain degree, I had to be the main lyricist," she says. "I had to step up to the plate, and that frightened me." For the first album, the entire group scrutinized and edited her lyrics. With Version 2.0. she simply wrote the lyrics and handed them over.

It still didn't work quite like she had thought it would. Before they started work on the second album, she had accumulated two huge notebooks full of ideas. "I never used one of them," she says, "I just went with the flow. We all got drunk and jammed, and all the lyrics basically came from that." Maybe next time, she says, she'll be confident enough to actually prepare lyrics in advance.

Of all the daunting aspects of what has happened to her because of Garbage, fame itself is perhaps the least distressing. "We've enjoyed extraordinary luck, as all successful people have, she says. "I can accept that I've been lucky. I love the fact that I've been lucky! It's the idea that. I might actually have a modicum of talent that is still very alien to me."

The rewards of fame aren't the privileges or the constant attention, which are absolutely depressing and ultimately very empty and meaningless," she says. "You feel that you have been sucked by the vampire that is the world." But the symbiosis with listeners makes it all worthwhile. "We're ordinary people," she says, not superstars like Madonna was in the '80s.

"People feel that we're just like them, and they like that." Both the players and their audience find self-affirmation in the music. "Other people get off on our music because they recognize themselves in it," she says, "and we get off on it because they're recognizing us in it, or we feel we're being recognized." Humans crave this connection, she says, but "we've lost the ability to communicate. We don't really express ourselves."

Warming to this thought, she begins to talk faster, "So when someone else does it for you, it's like in the olden days, when they used to cut you to release disease." She mimes a slash across her forearm. "You feel released. When you read a line or hear a song, it's getting something out of you that you can't articulate yourself. And you go back to that song, and you have your feelings boxed for you and compartmentalized, and you can look at it. And it makes you feel better. Rather than feeling that you have this tumor eating away inside that's totally ambiguous and intangible .... "

She stops herself and shouts, "Waaaaah! Waa-waaaaaah! Come hear me talk a whole lot of shite!" I want to protest that she's right, that Garbage does make you feel better, that there is little else as thrilling as their melt-in-your-mind grooves and larger-than-life soul. But I'm laughing too hard. When the cackling stops, I ask what it would take for her to not feel a fake. A certain amount of maturity, maybe?

"Yeah," she exhales. "I am still soooo unformed as a human being. Eight months ago, I thought I'd got it all sussed out. As you do in your life, you think, 'Okay, I see the world for what it is.' Six months later, you realize you knew nothing. That's the wonderful, great, amazing momentum in life. Your body deteriorates, your face deteriorates, you lose your hair. But you gain a certain peace and a grace that was not present when you were young. And that's exciting!" She's getting charged up again. "I am more and more energized, the older I get. I'm savage about life, because I feel more alive now than I did when I was a teenager, when I felt stuck in mud. I think a lot of teenagers feel like that. That's the payback for having gorgeous skin."


Garbage's backstage rooms, which were teeming with people less than two hours ago, are quiet. Through the open panel in the hall, Shirley and Billy watch Hole perform, huddling in the dark so the audience won't see them peering out. They make room for one more in the cramped space, and we look on in comfortable silence as Courtney Love alternately praises and berates the fans. On stage, Eric Erlandson bends his blond head over his guitar, scarcely speaking or even looking up. "Melissa is so skinny!' says Shirley. She compliments their new drummer.

Time to get on the bus. Garbage have to leave in about an hour for Hartford, Connecticut, a few hours away. Then it's on to another show, and another. and finally to Detroit after which, when they'll get about three weeks off. Shirley expects to go home, see her husband. But that's as much as she's willing to plan. "I have literally refused to do anything," she says, "because I'm at the end of my tether. I think I'll spend a lot of time in bed."

Home is still Scotland. and will be until someday when she can afford to have a second house, maybe in France or the US. Right now, she finds it's healthy to go back, where her parents are, where people knew her before she became famous. "It's good to go home and have people say, "Hey, how you doing? How's your mum?" she says. "I can switch off, wear no makeup, go hiking in the hills, and forget all about the rest of the world." Home also keeps her humble. "In Scotland, you don't get away with any kind of attitude." she says. "If you're not normal, you're gonna get called on it, to your face, in front of other people." She laughs. "It can be a humiliating experience."

Because the alcohol on the bus is semi-cold beer, Butch proposes that everyone hit the hotel bar for a round or two. "We've got half an hour," he says. Shirley gets carded, but she amiably fetches her passport for the beleaguered waitress. I pick it up and examine the cover: burgundy instead of navy, like American passports. She teases me, "I know you want to look inside." So I do. and, naturally, she derides the photograph. Then the call comes: It's time to leave. There's a warm round of goodbyes, and then the couches and chairs are empty. Garbage is back on the road.

As the Version 2.0 tour keeps on rolling around the world, Garbage haven't even begun to think about recording new material. First, Shirley says, they'll work on a collection of international B-sides for US release since "everybody's yelling for our B sides over here." There are rare tracks and remixes to consider compiling as well. And the boys will probably take up some producing projects. "We just need some time before we start our third record," Shirley says. "We have not stopped for years." Hell, at the rate Garbage has been going, most people would're cracked up a long time ago.

"I'm...yeah," she laughs softly. "I think I'm a monster."

Отредактировано eyedol (23.03.2007 16:19)