Garbage’s Shirley Manson on How The Band Escaped The Nostalgia Game

Why is it, do you think, you have been allowed to tour and grow musically without being pigeonholed into being a nostalgia act?

Manson: I think a lot of bands get really attached to their early success, and they don’t want to let go of that achievement. For me and the boys in Garbage, we have let go of everything in the past. We’ve accepted where our career has gone and we’re not trying to remind people that we once were hugely successful. We have just moved through our career and not really looked back. And some of that is fearlessness and some of that is about freedom. You can get really imprisoned by your early success and a lot of artists make the mistake of holding on to what they once were instead of just being willing to jump into whatever new phase awaits them.

What freed you up enough to say we don’t care if we ever have another “Stupid Girl”?

Manson: For me, it was very strange because it actually had nothing to do with music. It was an incredible teacher I studied acting with who really taught me about what it means to be a creative person in the world. I’d done that TV show [Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles], and I was on hiatus with the band. And I went and studied with this teacher [Sarah Chatten], and I just went to school with her and became a student of her. She basically taught me what it meant to be creative, curious and brave from a creative standpoint. That changed my entire view of my career and what it means to be a musician. I also had this moment, I went to Tate Gallery in London, and I saw a Louise Bourgeois retrospective and at the time I think Louise Bourgeois was something like 92 years old, and I saw this body of work this formidable lady had created throughout her life and I was like, “Oh, I don’t actually have to be an entertainer, I don’t actually have to be on Top Of The Pops, I don’t have to be the most popular artist out there. I just have to concentrate on being an artist and trying to concentrate on doing good work and the rest is in the hands of the gods and it’s out of my control.” And once I realized that I broke all the chains that had been clamped on me.