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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 21, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 38
Arts & Entertainment
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Hear her roar

Shirley Manson voices her support for Gay marriage - loudly

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Among rock's coolest tigresses is Shirley Manson, the power behind the Grammy-nominated group Garbage. The Scottish vocalist-songwriter has been a Gay fan magnet since the release of her band's self-titled debut, which contained the single 'Queer' - just one of many international hits Garbage has produced in a 17-year career. Though the foursome - Manson, Butch Vig, Steve Marker, and Duke Erikson - have taken extended breaks for various reasons, they retreat to the recording studio every so often to create more great music, such as 2012's Not Your Kind of People.

Currently touring in support of the new album, Garbage pulls into The Showbox SoDo on September 26 for what's expected to be an amazing performance. Go to www.showboxonline.com for ticket information.

By phone, I spoke with Manson for 20 minutes, mainly just freaking out to the sound of her voice. She's down-to-earth, fun, and a strong supporter of Gay rights - yet another reason to love her. So here's what this awesome rock star had to say when she strutted into 'The Music Lounge.'

Rodriguez: Garbage has a large Gay fan base, and they've been loyal to you over the years. Did you guys catch onto that early on?

Manson: I suppose we did. We got such an amazing reaction to 'Queer' when it first came out - that was one of our first singles. I think we understood pretty quickly that we had attracted a Gay audience. I was a club girl, I went out to clubs from when I was 14 and the Gay community was a huge part of the club scene, and I think everybody else in the band associated themselves with having left-of-center tendencies, left-of-center interests, and so we've always felt a kinship with the Gay community and the Gay community has felt a kinship with us, and it's something we are very grateful for because as you just said, they tend to be loyal. If they love you, they love you for life.

Rodriguez: We're optimistic that Gay marriage [Approve R-74] is going to pass here in Washington state in November. If it does, what song would you dedicate to your Gay fans in celebration of Gay marriage?

Manson: Ooh, that is a good question. Well, the song that comes to mind is not the most obvious one, but it is about commitment. It was Jennifer Aniston's song when she married Brad Pitt, 'You Look So Fine.' I feel very strongly about Gays being allowed to get married. I really feel it's a breach of human rights that there are certain members of the heterosexual community who feel that a Gay couple is less entitled to being married than they are. I don't get it, I don't understand it, it makes me absolutely crazy! I do believe in the years to come, if not November, then sooner or later there's going to be such a swell of public support that in a hundred years' time we'll all be appalled that it was ever in jeopardy in the first place.

Rodriguez: You're a fashion icon, among other things. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

Manson: [laughs] Well, first of all I feel like the term 'fashion icon' tends to get bandied around so much nowadays and all this means nothing, aside from the fact that you wear clothes. That said, I'm like any normal girl. I do tend to have a lot of shoes. I'm shoe crazy, and I'm really fascinated as to why women are shoe crazy. I'm a real boot girl. I tend to have more boots than I do anything else.

Rodriguez: Do you shop when you're on tour?

Manson: It depends. If I'm somewhere amazing, like Tokyo, I get a craving to go out and shop because you have to get your hands on stuff that you really can't find anywhere else. In general, I'm not a big shopper. I got to a point in my life when I felt I had so much stuff in my closet. So I decided to stop buying stuff, unless I can't live without it.

Rodriguez: For this tour you have a new album out, Not Your Kind of People. Are you guys playing hits and songs from all of your albums, and does that change from city to city?

Manson: We'll be playing a selection of songs from each and every album. It tends to be a work in progress. We start off with songs that we haven't played in a while, or songs that we think would constitute a good set. Then, on the technical side, we tend to start substituting new songs that we feel would be better, or that we're interested in playing, or that fans have requested. Unlike a lot of bands, we want to play the songs people are dying to hear. The sets can change, but everybody coming to a Garbage show will get what they come for.

Rodriguez: Can you give us a preview of the Seattle show? How many songs in your set, the lighting or visual productions during your concert?

Manson: Our show is very simple - there are no bells and whistles. There are no dancers, there's no pyrotechnics, it's a very stripped-down rock show. We play nearly two hours. We feel like our fans have waited for us for so long that we want to give them a great show with as many songs as we can pull together without our own deficit disorder kicking in. I think we're playing the best shows of our career and the response that we've had on this tour has been amazing from both the public and promoters, so we feel confident that we're giving our fans value for their money.

I feel like everything's gotten very reliant on props and costumes. I feel like everything got very Lion King in a way. We wanted something that was very simple, honest, and effective.

Rodriguez: A lot of people compare Seattle with Glasgow and London, in regard to the mood and climate. Do you agree?

Manson: I do. I actually come from Edinburgh, which is the East Coast city opposite Glasgow. But we're all in the same northern hemisphere and it's very wet, like Scotland is, and moody and unpredictable, which I love. I love that about Seattle weather.

Rodriguez: Do you remember the first record or cassette you ever bought?

Manson: The first record I ever bought was a 7-inch theme song to a TV show from Czechoslovakia called 'White Horses,' which actually I want played at my funeral. It will be the first and last sound I [hear]. And then I developed a more sophisticated taste in music. I believe the first adult record I bought was Aladdin Sane by David Bowie.

Rodriguez: You've inspired many young women to be musicians, and I know you were inspired by artists like Patti Smith and Siouxsie Sioux. Is there anyone in current pop music that has the potential to inspire a new generation of female performers?

Manson: Every generation has its inspirational figures. I think of someone like Beyonce as amazingly inspirational. The only thing I do not see right now is an alternative streak in music. There's a lot of amazing pop stars, but there doesn't seem to be very many voices out there for those who don't relate to someone like Beyonce, who's beautiful, radiant, and popular.

Rodriguez: I know that you went on stage and performed with Kings of Leon. Were you distracted by how good looking they are?

Manson: [laughs] Of course, everybody is distracted by how good looking they are! Luckily, Iggy Pop was also on the stage and Chrissie Hynde, so they were a great distraction because they're equally as gorgeous to look at in their own way. That was an amazing night, actually. We had such a great time. It was a great honor to be asked to perform with Chrissie, who as you probably know is one of my touchstone musical heroes. And I'm a big Kings fan, so it was a good night. [laughs] It was a looong night.

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