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“We’re Losing Working-Class Bands”: Shirley Manson (Garbage)

Published / Tue 9 Apr 2024

Photo: “We’re Losing Working-Class Bands”: Shirley Manson of Garbage  /  Credit: Brian Ziff

Shirley Manson, the enigmatic singer of Garbage, recently spoke with NME about the reissue of their 2005 album “Bleed Like Me,” the changing landscapes in the music business, and how working-class people are being pushed out of music.

The reissue marks the album’s debut on vinyl, accompanied by a collection of b-sides, remixes, and rarities now available on streaming platforms for the first time. Despite featuring popular singles like ‘Sex Is Not The Enemy,’ ‘Why Do You Love Me,’ and ‘Run Baby Run,’ “Bleed Like Me” received mixed reviews and did not achieve the level of commercial success of the band’s earlier works.

Shirley Manson Speaks Out

Speaking about the initial release of the album, Manson was brutally honest:

“To be quite honest, I never had a particularly good relationship with that record until relatively recently. We were releasing it during a time of immense strife within the band and, honestly, with dwindling interest from our record label and the general public.”

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Addressing the disparities within the music industry, Manson also expressed concern over the diminishing presence of bands and artists from working-class backgrounds and those willing to take creative risks. She highlighted a growing divide, with success increasingly dependent on pre-existing wealth.

“But now what you have are musicians who are independently wealthy, or perhaps they come from a rich family, and they can start to carve out a career in the music industry for themselves. The old-timers who recorded records before the year 1995, they themselves can survive. The phenomenal success also lets artists survive. What gets lost in the process are the baby starter bands coming from working-class beginnings and any middle-class of musicians. They are not the ones making really accessible, mainstream-sounding music, but the ones who take risks. Maybe they’re making heavy music, super heavy—esoteric and weird.

You can hear that capitalist and economic strain in today’s music. It’s nonsense, and it’s a heartbreak. Everyone loses. What’s been going on, and may I say, the underlining “young” has been an absolute bloody outrage to these young musicians. Somebody in government should go and help them out, ’cause this is not right; it’s abusive.”

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