We’re happy to present our latest Audacy Check In with host Megan Holiday joined today by singer Shirley Manson of Garbage, who have just released their seventh studio album, No Gods No Masters.
Shirley Manson, who tops our list of the fiercest redheaded rockers of all time, has been the singer of the band Garbage since its inception in 1993 along with bassist/keyboardist Duke Erikson, guitarist/keyboardist Steve Marker, and of course drummer/famed record producer Butch Vig. Announcing work on the new record in mid-2020, Shirley said the band would be finishing up the album and moving into the planning stages for 2021. Now that release day is here, we're thrilled to hear more of the group's first music since 2016's Strange Little Birds, and speak to her about the new offering.
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“I am feeling pretty good today, I have to say,” Shirley tells Megan. “It’s a pleasure to talk to you, I’ve got a new record, my band are all healthy… life is good.” With the new album officially on shelves and streaming, Shirley explained how there was quite a lot of time and work put into No Gods No Masters, which got it’s start way back in 2018. “Actually, the record was almost completely finished about a week before lockdown. So, it was kind of crazy.” As far as the inspiration behind the release, “it’s funny, of course,” Manson says, “because a lot of the themes I lyrically touch on, are issues that we as a society have been facing literally for centuries. But it seems to have come to a head during COVID, where everyone’s had the time to sort of stop and really reflect on what’s going on, what our society looks like, and who are we as people. I address the ‘Me Too’ movement; I address the Black Lives Matter movement; I talk about climate change; I talk about misogyny and sexism; a little bit of ‘mansplaining,’ and also just general personal things, personal issues and developments in my own life. The record is just sort of a view of the world from my perspective as a human being. What I’m seeing out there and what bothers me, frustrates me, excites me, depresses me, scares me… It’s actually a pretty simple record, but it’s not an easy record. It’s a complicated, complex, somewhat challenging record in many ways -- but there’s lots of good tunes on there.”
As a longtime fan who fully expects Shirley to “go there” in her music and lyrics, Megan was happy to see the band take on topics such as cancel-culture and growth in a song like “Wolves,” from the new release. “I always go there, Megan! Always go there -- I wish I didn’t, but I do,” Shirley laughs. “I’ve always been outspoken, but it does surprise me that people think it’s a political record; it really isn’t… I’m not here to lecture anybody or tell them what to think. I’m just saying ‘this is what I think,’ and you can be in disagreement with me. That’s cool, I can handle it. If you don’t agree with me, cool, let’s agree to disagree. It is a personal record, but of course, the band has a lot to do with it too. Lyrically, it has a real perspective, but it has a real musical one too. I’m really lucky that I have a band that are willing to go with my outspoken attitude. They’re comfortable sitting in it… I don’t know if everybody would be.”
Shirley attributes the band’s sharing of her point of view as a large part of what has kept them relevant, and continue working together for the past quarter century. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve managed to negotiate a 25-year ca