Q&A with Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage

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Shirly Manson of the Scotland band, Garbage

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Q: [Scottish band] Travis are now finding a bigger audience over here.

A: Well, there's a Chemikal Underground record label that has great acts. Like Travis, the Delgados, and Idlewild — they're all Scottish bands.

Q: Is Belle & Sebastian Scottish?

A: Yes, Belle & Sebastian, they're also — I think, if my memory serves me right — on Chemikal Underground, along with the Delgados. They're just a lot of creativity and much more diversity now than there was when I was fifteen.

Q: Do you feel that Scotland is being better represented?

A: I think it goes in waves. I think it becomes fashionable for the record companies to come north of the border to find a different slant on the music scene. And at the moment, I think Scotland's enjoying a sort've renaissance in that sense.

Q: I remember when I was in college in the mid-80's, two of the more exciting bands were Cocteau Twins and the Jesus & Mary Chain.

A: Absolutely. Two of my favorite all-time bands, ever. They're Scottish. Whenever I meet people, the hairs on the back of my neck bristle when people say "oh Scotland, that's Simple Minds and Big Country!" I say "NO, that's Orange Juice, that's Cocteau Twins, that's the Jesus & Mary Chain, that's Primal Scream!" I think there's a lot of great things that have come out of Scotland.

Q: Do you feel a strong affinity for current Scottish bands?

A: I do in a way. I'm sure they'd be horrified to hear me say that. I feel a certain admiration, because I know how hard it is to get noticed in Scotland. Like I alluded to earlier, you really still have to go through London, and you need to cause a splash, and it takes a lot of work. Anyone who's succeeded whose come out of Scotland has worked their arse off, truly. Because it's really hardcore, and I think people still think in London that Scotland's this country of half-breeds. Hahahaha. That might be a little chip on my shoulder, but I always feel a sort've swell of pride whenever I see anyone from Scotland doing well on an international level. My hat is tipped to them.

Q: How do you answer the opinion that the UK music scene has been so compartmentalized by artists from different regions like Wales, Ireland and Scotland?

A: I think just in the past there hasn't been so many artists from Wales or Ireland — like Ash — or from Scotland who have had enormous success in the British charts. I think that's quite a new thing, to have such proliferance. I do think that is the UK scene, I don't know how else to describe it.

Q: Do you still go out and see local bands?

A: Well, I'm never really at home, unfortunately. My home is still in Edinburgh, Scotland, but I'm very rarely home at the moment, and I certainly haven't had the time to go out and check local artists, but they always catch my eye. In the media, if I see the word "Scottish," my eyes are borne to the page and I gobble up the details and I check out the records. There is some kind of expatriate sentimentality that obviously enters into my psyche.

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