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Shirley Manson: ‘Greta Thunberg is a brightly coloured little bird in a coalmine sounding the alarm for others’ | Shirley Manson


Born in Edinburgh, Shirley Manson, 55, was in the bands Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and Angelfish before she relocated to the United States to become lead singer of Garbage. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1995 and went multi-platinum, and in 1999 they recorded the theme tune for the Bond film The World Is Not Enough. Last year, they released their seventh album, No Gods No Masters. Manson is also an actor and hosts The Jump podcast. She lives in Los Angeles with her second husband, the sound engineer Billy Bush.

What is your greatest fear?
Dying of the same awful disease that took my mother – a particularly aggressive form of dementia called Pick’s disease.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Greta Thunberg, a brightly coloured little bird in a coalmine, desperately sounding the alarm for others while laying her childhood to waste.

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Describe yourself in three words
Red-haired beast.

What would your superpower be?
I already have a superpower. It’s called sensitivity.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My hands. They are like ugly little spades.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
My mother.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A ballerina. I remain rather disappointed that I became a rock star instead.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I like to pee outside in the open air. It drives my husband mad.

What scares you about getting older?
I do not want to end up in nappies.

What was the last lie that you told?
“This is delicious.”

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Eating an entire Terry’s Chocolate Orange for breakfast.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Myself. I have never been harder on anyone else.

What does love feel like?
Like a cosy cloud of softness coupled with an orthopaedic mattress underneath.

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
Oh God, no.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something significant?
When the great minds of Ericka Hart and Ashlee Marie Preston schooled me on my own white privilege and on the vile racist history of the first-wave feminist movement. It was a life-changing moment.

How often do you have sex?
As often as I like.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My dog’s trust in me.

What has been your closest brush with the law?
I have never even been close to being caught.

What keeps you awake at night?
Climate change. That is the single most important calamity in the making that I obsess over.

Would you rather have more sex, money or fame?
None of the above.

How would you like to be remembered?
I don’t care if I am remembered or not.

What happens when we die?
Who cares? Game over.

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