Shirley Manson, 49, Is Back (And Never Really Went Away)

Photo by Joseph Cultice

Photo by Joseph Cultice

"That band might be a thing of the past, but Garbage most certainly is not. Manson has helmed the band throughout its two-decade career; they released their sixth studio album, 'Strange Little Birds,' on June 10. From the start, Gianni Versace and Marc Jacobs were itching to dress Manson, and Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Florence Welch are all artists who credit her as inspiration. In short: the longevity is no accident.

Manson grew up in Edinburgh amid the popularity of music she calls 'jingle jangle,' a sort of sanitized, sparkly, 'bright and breezy indie pop' — a sharp contrast from Garbage’s sound. As grunge began to take off, the band saw its 1995 debut album go double platinum in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, and the star treatment came with it. 'It was in the heyday of large label records with money to spare,' Manson recalls. 'Everything was very luxe. We drank Champagne, and we’d go out for these long Italian lunches in posh restaurants.'

They may be viewed as alternative, but the band has had a clear strategy throughout its career. 'We’re very tenacious as a band. We have toured and toured and toured way past a lot of our contemporaries,' Manson says. 'When a lot of our contemporaries went home, we carried on. And I think that forges a connection with people that is very difficult to break. [Live shows] make magic. You’re chasing that flame always.'

The flame continues to burn on 'Strange Little Birds,' which she claims is their best record yet. 'I feel like, as a band, we’ve broken new ground, which after 21 years is a real challenge,' she says. 'We’re going into some other, uncharted territory, which I’m not entirely sure what it is, but that’s all you can really ask of yourself.'

They aren’t charting that course alone. 'We’ve had fans who have been with us since 1995,' Manson says. “I know their names, I know the names of their children. And we also, miraculously — and I’m not quite sure how this has occurred — but we have some very young fans, too, who literally were not even born when our first few records came out. It’s spectacularly odd.'" - Leigh Nordstorm via WWD