Shirley Manson: 'In the 90s I was described as a crazy, angry feminist'

Garbage's Shirley Manson
(Image credit: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images)

Since Garbage formed in 1993, they've been a vessel for change, encouraging conversations about social issues with biting lyrics and an attitude perfect for ruffling the feathers of misogynists. Now Shirley Manson, the voice behind the band, has revealed that Garbage's affinity for tackling these topics has seen her framed in a less-than-positive light, with many, over the years, dismissing her as a "crazy, angry feminist".

When questioned as to whether it feels "demoralising" to continually revisit the same topics across her lengthy career, Manson tells Classic Rock's Alex Burrows, “No, because I feel that more and more people have added their voices as the years have gone by.

"I was described in the nineties as a crazy, angry feminist. And I was quite unusual in that, it wasn’t commonplace.

"Every now and then I get a little despondent that we’re still having to go over this old ground over and over again," she adds. “But I feel like, incrementally, each decade that follows is very fractionally better. I believe in evolution.”

Garbage's latest album, No Gods No Monsters, released this year, covers contemporary feminist themes such as the Me Too movement.

Speaking of the musical influences behind their latest album, which include Roxy Music, Gary Numan and The Cure, Manson explains, "All musicians, whether they like it or not, are tied to each other. We’re all out there vying with each other for the connection of an audience, and that puts you all in the same swimming pool.

"And when you’re all in the same pool, you’re going to brush up against one another.
I’m inspired by anyone who’s willing to push up against the status quo and try and shake the tree. I do not want to go to my grave feeling like I’ve watched all this injustice unfold in front of me and never having raised my voice.”

You can read the full interview in the latest issue of Classic Rock, out now. It's an end of year review, looking back on everything from the best albums of the year to the best reissues. It also includes conversations with the artists who ensured that rock kept rolling throughout 2021. Plus, it arrives with two free gifts: a 2022 Rock Icons wall calendar, and a classic rock colouring book featuring Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden and more. 

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.