Shirley Manson on Garbage, Azealia Banks and being a CEO


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Seven years ago, Garbage broke up. The band that brought us the chart-toppings anthems “Stupid Girl”, “Happy When it Rains” and “Supervixen” was done with the music industry that helped them sell millions of records and bring their music to the masses. The 90s alt rock band was formed by Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson, three American musician-producers (Vig was best known as the producer of Nirvana’s 1990 album”Nevermind”) who invited Scottish singer Shirley Manson to front the band. Success came quickly, including numerous awards, sold-out stadium shows, and even a James Bond theme song (“The World is Not Enough”). The band was overwhelmed and soon the fun was gone. So they broke up. But now, after a seven-year hiatus, the band is back with a rollicking new album, “Not Your Kind of People”.

Shirley Manson took some time out of her schedule to chat about the 90s, the benefits of running your own company, and being an outsider who sold over 12 million records:

Your band went on indefinite hiatus in 2005, why was now the right time to get back together?

I don’t know why. It just felt like we were ready and had something to say. We felt regenerated and ready for the next phase of our career. I guess we felt excited to work together again and all those reasons made it the right time.

How does it feel to be with the old band again?

It’s amazing. We’re having the time of our life right now. We’re privileged to be playing again and to be playing sold out shows to packed houses. We’re very lucky to still have fans like that, especially in this day and age when there is incredible ADD among fans, that our following has shown they are still curious about what we are doing and what we have to say.

Now you are back and …it kind of sounds like you ever left.

Is that a question or a statement?

Both, I guess. Do you think people will buy the album out of nostalgia or do you think it will appeal to new fans?

Kind of a mixture. But we’ve been surprised to see how young a lot of our audience is. We’ve made a classic sounding Garbage record, for sure, but it’s a competitive record for sure. It fits in with radio programming right now. We want to reach a new audience and we think it will. We don’t sound like anyone else on the radio. Much to our surprise there hasn’t been another band like ours since we came off the road. We have a unique sound and we hope the new album will result in a whole new generation of listeners.

Do you think your sound has been influenced by other bands that have come up during your hiatus?

I’m sure we have. I think there’s a lot of music that’s come up in the last decade that has excited us for one reason or another. I think young artists are always inspiring because they are coming at worlds from a different point of view.

Do you think you’ve matured as a band?

I don’t know if we have matured as a band per se. We definitely have matured as individuals and we view our role in a different way you now. When you’ve had a long career it feels different coming back and playing festivals, meeting other musicians or meeting bands who have been influenced by our music. It’s amazing to meet to meet artists who grew up listening to us. That’s an incredible privilege.

What made you release the album yourselves?

I think we just decided it made more sense for us philosophically. A lot of collective experience lead us to believe that we could do a better job getting our music out to our international audience than a label that was indifferent. We could self propel ourselves. Plus it’s fun to be a CEO.

Do you give yourselves a lot of coffeebreak? Good benefits?

Very good benefits, naps and lots of coffee breaks.

What does the album’s title, “Not Your Kind of People”, mean to you?

I think it’s just a call to arms in a way to anyone who feels like we do about the world. Just to a human being trying to figure life out. As a band we’ve come from a weirdo oddball place. We’ve never fit into a music scene. In my life I’ve never been an insider. I was a redhead and a middle child, both can make you feel excluded. It’s like fighting to be included, in the swim of things. After a while you start to develop a bit of a victim mentality, which isn’t great for a happy life. So this time our attitude has changed. It’s great. It can be great to be outsider.

You say you were a band of outsiders, but you sold over 12 million records. So are you insiders or do your fans think they are outsiders?

I think it’s a bit of both. At the time we sold that many records there wasn’t anything like us on the radio. We had a sound like no one else and I think it resonated with people. We did attract a huge following, internationally too. I just think it was a case of a lot of people identifying with our sound and what we were saying. I think a lot of people in their lives feel like they don’t fit in, even if it looks like they do. People feel like outsiders even if others think we the lives we live have everything. If they are popular or they have everything they are supposed to have. Even then people still don’t feel quite included.

So …we are all outsiders?

Yeah, man is an island. That phrase doesn’t come from nowhere. I think it’s inherent in human nature to feel a little lonely or maybe alone is a better word for it.

In the 90s there were a lot of female-fronted acts like Garbage, No Doubt, Alanis Morissette, and Hole. Courtney Love. Do you think it has changed the face of rock? Or is the glass ceiling still in place?

I feel like my generation burst through the glass ceiling. But, arguably since September 11th, radio programming has become very conservative. Now, there’s a proliferation of pop music from women. Pop music seems to be the way radio programming has chosen to support female artists. They have chosen not to support a more provocative voice from women, which I find disappointing.

The only women being heard right now are the popular girls, the cheerleaders, the pretty ones. There are a lot more voices to be heard. That’s not to say I don’t like pop. There are a lot of pop stars I like. I really like Beyonce and Rihanna and I admire what Lady Gaga and Katy Perry do. The radio just needs to play other voices.

What about the rise of female rappers like Kitty Pryde or Kreayshawn?

My favorite out of those is Azealia Banks. The first time I heard “212” I almost died. It felt dangerous and exciting and really fresh and I have a little crush on Kreayshawn, too. But I don’t know if those girls are getting time on the radio. It’s great that they are getting played via YouTube or Tumblr, but I want them on the radio. Like in the 90s when Missy Elliott was getting played. You know, it’s hard out there right now for women with attitude.

Where did the song Blood for Poppies come from?

It’s come from a lot of things. It’s really an analogy for a story I read about Afghanistan and the opium wars over there. Actually it’s from a few stories, one about a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan and the other about the opium wars. I use that as a backdrop for a story about maintaining sanity in an out-of-control place.

Check out the video for “Blood for Poppies” by Garbage:

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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