Shirley Manson recalls how Garbage came to call their new album "Not Your Kind of People."
"Butch came in one day and he said, 'I've got this title for a song that I think you're really going to like. It's we're 'Not Your Kind of People.' And I was like, 'Ooh yeah, I do love that title. Actually, I think that would make a great title for the record!'"
"Not Your Kind of People" would also become a mission statement for the post-grunge quartet's first CD in seven years.
"I think we've come to the realization that it's OK to be a bit odd," said Manson. "It's OK not to fit in, and actually, it's OK if you're not cool."
Manson was 28 when she burst out of the Madison, Wisconsin, music scene in 1995 with guitarist Steve Marker, bassist Duke Erikson and drummer Butch Vig. As the man who produced the Smashing Pumpkins' "Gish" and Nirvana's "Nevermind," Vig may have had the name, but it was Manson who became the face of Garbage: a flame-haired Scottish vixen who prowled the stage in boots and a minidress, taking "Stupid Girls" to task and pouting that she's "Only Happy When it Rains."
The group's subversive wit and sonic collision of pop, alternative rock and electronica placed them squarely outside the mainstream, yet it was the mainstream that embraced them. Over the course of four CDs, they sold 13 million albums worldwide.
But there have been tensions, too. In 2003, the band took a break. The next year, they re-grouped and released another record, only to call it quits in the midst of their "Bleed Like Me" world tour of 2005.
"It wasn't the touring that we really had a problem with. It's just unfortunately all the issues that we had culminated whilst we were touring," Manson recalled.
She blamed many of those problems on their old record company.
"We were an indie band signed to an indie label, and then we got sold as a commodity to a major label that had very little interest in us, and it was a miserable experience for us."
"Not Your Kind of People" was released May 15 on the group's own label, Stunvolume.
"Free at last!" Manson exclaimed. "We are signing the checks on absolutely everything, which is terrifying, but I think nothing ventured in life that doesn't require a little risk is not worth taking. I think this time around, what is different is that we're not tied to making ridiculous amounts of profit. That's just not what we're interested in, and it's certainly not why we joined a band in the first place."
Manson is now 45. With her signature red hair and creamy complexion, she's as appealing as she was in the mid-'90s. The new record picks up where Garbage left off seven years ago, not veering too far from their meticulously crafted layers of goth-tinged pop-rock.
This is a band that knows it sounds different from everyone else, and doesn't care to conform.
"We took some time off. We just felt a little burnt out, if truth be told. And then I guess we just had enough life happen that we felt ready to create again," she said.
"I called the band up and said, 'Are you into this?' And they said, 'Yup! We're in. Let's do it.'"