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: Does Garbage record in Wisconsin exclusively?

A: No, we've recorded in Canada and London, but mostly we've recorded in Madison, Wisconsin.

Q: Do you like Wisconsin?

A: Yeah. Again, it's strange for me because not only am I Scottish — so going to the American midwest is kind of strange — but I was a city girl. I grew up in a very beautiful, culturally rich city that's got incredible architecture, fantastic museums and galleries of great art, and a rich historical background. To go to the Midwest to basically a very isolated town in the middle of farmland was very bizarre for me.

Q: Do you still feel a clash between your European/Scottish sensibility and the rest of the band's American sensibilities?

A: Well, we've had a long talk about this. I think strangely enough, as a Scottish person, I come from the northern hemisphere, and Wisconsin sort've falls into the Northern Hemisphere in some ways, and I think that affects your psyche, and sort've binds up together in some ways. We're Northeners. The midwest of the America which is very far from the metropolises of Los Angeles and New York. I think being Scottish, I've always felt a sort've separation and isolation from London; so I think we feel en masse as a bunch of outsiders in some ways. So I think that's really helped bind us together as a unit, but of course there are massive cultural differences between us. The boys refer to Madison as a city, I refer to it as a town. Right there you've got an immediate difference.

Q: Have you ever suggested recording in Scotland to the rest of the band?

A: I don't they're hard enough for Scotland..hahaha I think they'd be miserable in Scotland. I think it's more more easy for a European to travel and be outside their national boundaries than it is for an American. I think such a high percentage of Americans never traverse outside their national boundaries. Europeans are accustomed to crossing over national boundaries all the time, and we're just a little more comfortable with moving around and not being at home.

Q: Are there any artists today you feel particularly interesting? Where do you think the most vital music it being made today?

A: Oh were do I start. I've got such a broad, diverse taste in music. Of course I have so many enthusiasms. I don't think you can pinpoint it. I think we as a world tend to want to put people in boxes and really close down the circle so that we can feel we have some sense of control or that we can create some order in our lives. The glorious thing is that I don't there is a way of pinning down creativity. There are these short blasts of brilliance all over the world at different times, and when an artists comes to the fore that really catches our imaginations, it's really a collision of stars. I think it's great talent — but it's also their place and time in our culture, and the mood of society that dictates the success of an artist.

Q: How was recording this new album, Beautiful Garbage?

A: Oh my god, it was a magnificent, scary record to make in some ways. I think we really feel we've made a great record. It's maybe the first time we feel that we've really pushed ourselves and managed to capture on record the sound of what we consider to be the essence of the band. It's a very diverse record, and I think we've really pushed the extremes. A lot of the songs are a lot more melodic, but some of them are much more hardcore in some ways. Every track isn't quite what it seems on initial listening. I think its one of these records that the more you play it the more it reveals it layers.

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