Shirley Manson: Garbage third album 'triggers bad memories of marriage break-up'

Edinburgh singer Shirley Manson said Garbage's third album “triggers a lot of bad memories”, as it was recorded during the break-up of her first marriage.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 12:25 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 1:23 pm
Shirley Mason was brought up in Edinburgh's Stockbridge area and attended Broughton High School.

It comes as the American-Scottish alt-rockers prepare to mark the 20th anniversary of 2001's Beautiful Garbage with a reissue.

Written and recorded over the course of a year, the sessions for Beautiful Garbage offered Stockbridge-raised Manson an escape from her failing marriage of four years to Scottish artist Eddie Farrell.

“It is, of all our albums, the one that triggers a lot of bad memories, truth be told,” said the 55-year-old former Broughton High School pupil.

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“It was a very, very difficult time in my life. My first marriage was breaking up while I was making this record.

“Anyone who’s been through the shame and the pain of a divorce would understand just what that means.

“So I have funny feelings associated with this record.

“Because when you are going through pain and you’re writing music it’s so cathartic and it’s such an escape and it’s such a joy.

“It’s the only moment really in your day when you feel good.”

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As well as the break-up of her marriage, Manson says Beautiful Garbage will forever be tied up in her mind with the September 11 terror attacks.

“It was an international trauma,” she explained.

“We were really excited about releasing this record. But two weeks before it got its debut the world changed.”

The band was grounded at their studio in Madison, Wisconsin, just as they were meant to fly to London to begin promoting the record.

Manson recalls: “We were trapped, of course, like everybody else – all Americans. We couldn’t fly.

“The toll it took on the world and also on us, and also on our record”.

Beautiful Garbage was neither a commercial nor critical failure – but it didn’t quite make the impact the band had hoped.

But Manson and her American bandmates – Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig – have revisited the record on the 20th anniversary of its release.

“We had enjoyed such a fantastic trajectory as a band,” she said.

“We had 16 playlisted singles on Radio 1 in the United Kingdom, which of course is my country so it means so much to me.

“That all came to a stunning end with the release of the first single of Beautiful Garbage, which was Androgyny.”

As a female singer in the male-dominated rock industry, Manson faced scrutiny from the public and press contemporaries such as Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan did not.

“When I came out in the 90s I was one of a few women in music that was very outspoken,” she said.

“Now it seems to me, which I very welcome, that almost every single pop star and rock star is awake.

“They are speaking out and they are unafraid to use their voice and their platform, so I think that in itself is a change.

“It’s exciting and it can only continue.”

The 20th anniversary reissue of Beautiful Garbage is released on November 5.

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