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Shirley Manson

Shirley Manson, promoting Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles in September 2008
Background information
Birth name Shirley Ann Manson
Born 26 August 1966 (1966-08-26) (age 43)
Origin Edinburgh, Scotland
Genres Rock
Occupations Musician, lyricist, songwriter, actress, model
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, guitar
Years active 1995–present
Labels Radioactive (1993-2007)
Geffen (2008)
Associated acts Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie

Shirley Ann Manson (born August 26, 1966) is a Scottish musician and actress, best known internationally as the lead singer of the rock band Garbage. For much of her international career Manson commuted between her home city of Edinburgh to the United States to record with Garbage but now lives and works in Los Angeles.[1] Manson gained media attention for her forthright style, rebellious attitude, and distinctive voice, which also won her fans throughout the world.[2]

She began her musical career in the early 1980s, performing backing vocals and keyboards for Scottish band Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie before being signed in 1993 as a solo artist, recording as Angelfish. After seeing Manson in an Angelfish video on MTV, Garbage invited Manson to record with the band for one album: the multiple Grammy Award nominated Garbage.[3] Manson remained with Garbage, writing and recording a further three studio albums and touring worldwide, racking up 17 million record sales over ten years.[2]

In 2006, Manson began to write and record solo material after Garbage was put on "hiatus" and in 2008 was cast in her first professional acting role on the second and final season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as series regular Catherine Weaver, a liquid metal T-1001 Terminator.[4]


Early life

Shirley Manson was born in 1966 to John Mitchell and Muriel Flora Manson (née MacKay) at the Queen Mary Maternity Home in Edinburgh, Scotland.[2] John Mitchell, a descendant from the fishing community of Northmavine, Shetland, was a university lecturer while Muriel was a big band singer, who had been adopted by a Lothian-based family at an early age (and took on the family name MacDonald).[2] Shirley was named after an aunt who was herself named after Charlotte Brontë's novel Shirley.[5] She was born with two years between both older sister Lindy-Jayne and younger sister Sarah,[6] and was brought up in the Comely Bank and Stockbridge areas of the city.[7] Manson attended Presbyterian church until the age of 12, where her father was also her Sunday School teacher.[8]

Mansons first public performance was in 1970, at age four, with her older sister, in an amateur show held at the local Church Hill Theater.[2] Enrolled at Flora Stevenson Primary School, Manson received instruction in recorder, clarinet and fiddle, and learned ballet and piano from extramural classes at age seven. Manson was a member of Girlguiding UK throughout this period of her youth as a Brownie and a Guide,[9] Manson would later attend the City of Edinburgh Music School, the music department of Broughton High.[6] While at Broughton, Manson became an active member of its drama group, performing in amateur dramatic and musical performances such as The American Dream and The Wizard of Oz, while also singing with the Waverley Singers, a local girl choir.[2] Other notable members of the drama group included Hilary MacLean, Rebecca Pigeon and Sara Stewart;[10] while a production of Maurice the Minotaur (in which Manson played a prophet) during the 1981 Edinburgh Festival Fringe was awarded a Fringe First award by The Scotsman newspaper.[2]

While Manson had enjoyed primary school, Manson was bullied while in her first year at secondary school, causing her to suffer from depression and engage in self-injury: she carried a sharp object in the laces of her boots and cut herself when she felt low self-esteem, stress, or anxiety.[11] The bullying stopped when Manson associated herself with a rebel crowd - which resulted in her rebelling herself; playing truant for most of her final year at school,[7] smoking cannabis and sniffing glue, drinking, shoplifting, and on one occasion breaking into Edinburgh Zoo.[12] Manson's first job was volunteer work in a local hospital's cafeteria, then as a breakfast waitress at a local hotel before spending five years as a shop assistant for Miss Selfridge, beginning on the make-up counter.[12] Manson was eventually moved into stockrooms for her attitude to customers. Manson became well known throughout Edinburgh's clubbing scene, and making use of free samples from Miss Selfridge, styled hair for a number of local bands.[13] Despite her own feelings towards her look, Manson also briefly modeled clothing for Jackie magazine.[14]

Music career

Manson's first musical experiences came from briefly singing with local Edinburgh acts The Wild Indians and performed backing vocals with Autumn 1984.[13] While she was acting in her group, Manson was approached by Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie's lead Martin Metcalfe to join his band. Manson embarked on a relationship with Metcalfe initially, but remained involved after splitting from him and became a prominent member of the group, performing keyboards, backing vocals and becoming involved in the band's business side. Manson's first release with the Mackenzies was a YTS release of "Death of a Salesman" in 1984.[13] The group signed a major label record deal with Capitol Records in 1987, and they released their first album Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, and their only UK Top 40 hit "The Rattler". In 1990, the group's contract was transferred to Parlophone, another EMI label, but after two singles failed to chart Parlophone declined to release the groups second album Hammer and Tongs.[15]

Gary Kurfirst, who managed Talking Heads and Deborah Harry, bought the Mackenzies contract and issued their second album through his own label Radioactive, a subsidiary of MCA. After another single failed to chart, the group were persuaded to leave Radioactive by their management.[15] The Mackenzies continued to write material; Manson was also given the opportunity to record lead vocals on a number of tracks planned for the band's third album.[16] Although MCA had no desire to further their commitments to Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, the label expressed interest in recording an album with Manson, and after hearing several demos, Kurfirst signed Manson to Radioactive as a solo artist, with the remaining Mackenzies performing as her backing band to circumvent the band's existing deal with MCA.[15] Manson's contract obligated her to deliver at least one album and, at the sole option of Radioactive, up to six additional albums.[3]

Manson performing during the Bleed Like Me Tour.

Recording under the name Angelfish, and using some of the newly written material and a previously released Mackenzie b-side, Manson and the group recorded the tracks that would make up the Angelfish album in Connecticut with Talking Heads' Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth.[15] A lead in track "Suffocate Me" was sent to college radio where it was well received. Angelfish and second single "Heartbreak To Hate" followed in 1994.[13] Angelfish toured the United States, Canada, France, Belgium, and co-supported Live on a tour of North America, along with Vic Chestnutt. The music video for "Suffocate Me" was aired on MTV's 120 Minutes. Producer and musician Steve Marker caught the broadcast and thought Manson would be a great singer for his band, Garbage, which also featured producers Duke Erikson and Butch Vig.[17]

Vig invited Manson to Smart Studios to sing on a couple of tracks. After an unsuccessful audition, she returned to Angelfish.[17] At the end of the Live tour, Angelfish imploded and Manson returned to Smart for a second try. She began to work on the then-skeletal origins of some songs and the band invited her to become a full-time member of the band and finish the album.[17] In August 1994, Radioactive gave their permission for Manson to work with Garbage.[3] The band's debut album Garbage was released in August 1995, and went on to sell over 4 million copies, buoyed by a run of high charting singles including "Only Happy When It Rains" and "Stupid Girl." Manson quickly became the public face of the band over the course of a tour that took the band through to the end of 1996.

Manson became the band's chief song-writer for the follow up record Version 2.0 which equaled the success of the band's debut record after its May 1998 release. During the two year tour in support of the record, Manson modeled for Calvin Klein and the group recorded the theme song to the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough, becoming the third Scotswoman to sing a Bond theme after Lulu and Sheena Easton. In the accompanying video, she portrays an android assassin. For the recording of Garbage's third record throughout 2000, Manson became one of the first high-profile artists to write a blog online, while she decided to improve her guitar playing for the band's next tour. Their third album, beautifulgarbage, featured Manson's most forward and personal lyrics to date. The album did not sell as well as its predecessors, but Garbage performed a successful world tour in support of it. Manson's lyrics became more overtly political for Garbage's fourth record, 2005's Bleed Like Me, which after the surprise success of lead-in single "Why Do You Love Me", posted some of the band's highest chart positions upon release. Garbage began an extended hiatus in October 2005.

Shirley Manson performing with Garbage in Copenhagen.

A few months into Garbage's hiatus, Manson began writing a solo record, collaborating with songwriter Paul Buchanan,[18] producer Greg Kurstin,[19] soundtrack composer David Arnold,[20] and Garbage drummer Butch Vig.[21] Manson presented some of her work to Geffen Records in 2008, who found the material "too noir", prompting Manson and Geffen to mutually terminate her contract.[22] Manson continues to write material while without a record deal, writing some material with Rivers Cuomo[23] and has contacted David Byrne and Ray Davies in hope of potential collaborations.[1] In 2009, Manson posted a demo written by her and Kurstin titled "In The Snow", on her Facebook profile.[24]

"I had taken some of my solo music into the record label. They didn't really care for the direction I was moving in and I found it really disheartening. They wanted a pop hit, which I understand in terms of making money. I get that. But what they were going to ask of me was something I wasn't prepared to deliver and I felt kind of trapped. I just stopped writing. I just stopped. It was stifling."
—Shirley Manson[22]

Manson also worked with a number of artists outside of her solo project, including reciting a verse of a long poem for a Chris Connelly album,[25] recording duets with Eric Avery[26] and Debbie Harry[27] and performing backing vocals on a Gavin Rossdale track.[28] Although not recording material with them, Manson also performed on-stage with The Pretenders, Iggy Pop, Incubus and Kings of Leon in Atlantic City,[29] with Gwen Stefani[30] and a further twice with No Doubt[31] in Universal City. Manson also performed in an uncredited role as a dominatrix in the music video for She Wants Revenge's single "These Things".[32]

While Garbage are still on official hiatus, Manson has performed with the band at a benefit show,[33] to record new material and film a music video to promote the band's Absolute Garbage greatest hits compilation[34] and most recently, recorded a new track for a charity album.[35] Garbage have expressed a desire to record an acoustic album in the future.[34]

Musical Influences

Manson's earliest musical memories were of her mother, who sang with a big band when Manson was a child. Manson was exposed to classic jazz records as she grew up and work by Nina Simone, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald.[36] Early in Manson's teenage years, she became a fan of Siouxsie and the Banshees albums The Scream and Kaleidoscope, and taught herself how to sing listening to those albums, later stating "many of the songs of those two albums were massive loves of my life".[37] Vocalist Siouxsie Sioux embodied how Manson aspired to be as a teen.[36] Manson would later write the foreword to Siouxsie & The Banshees: The Authorised Biography.[38]

At nineteen, Manson discovered Patti Smith, and specifically Smith's Horses album, which she admits made a "strong impact" on her.[39] Manson was inspired to learn guitar by Chrissie Hynde, while also appreciating the style of Debbie Harry.[36] The majority of Manson's influences were female musicians, however she also notes David Bowie[36] as an inspiring male musician. Manson also grew up listening to Ian Brown, Nick Cave, Frank Sinatra[5], The Clash and the Velvet Underground.[7],


Shirley Manson as Catherine Weaver in her debut appearance.
Shirley Manson in September 2008 during an event with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Manson was cast in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles in May 2008,[40] after being asked to appear by series creator Josh Friedman and enduring a multiple audition process, beating out other actresses including Julie Ann Emery.[41] She debuted in the season two premier episode "Samson and Delilah" as Catherine Weaver, a CEO of a technology company, ZeiraCorp. At the conclusion of the episode, Weaver is revealed to be a liquid-metal T-1001 Terminator. Manson also performed and co-arranged a rock and blues version of the gospel song "Samson and Delilah" for the episode's score.[42]

As the storyline has progressed, the T-1001/Weaver character has acquired "The Turk" chess-playing computer, and allowed it to develop and grow; after enlisting FBI agent James Ellison to capture a Terminator unit for her, she uses the endoskeleton as a physical body for the Turk, known as John Henry. The T-1001 has learned to mimic the actions of the human Weaver, whom it replaced prior, and is also bringing up Weaver's daughter, Savannah. The T-1001 has been shown to have the same morphing abilities as the T-1000, seen in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and has used those abilities to kill and deceive in a number of episodes. The T-1001 eventually comes into direct contact with John and Sarah Connor at the end of the second and final season. Manson cites actress Glenn Close and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as her acting influences for the ambiguous character.[43] Manson also played the human Weaver in archive footage viewed by the T-1001 in the episode "The Tower is Tall, But the Fall is Short".[44]

In 2009, Manson made her first venture into the videogame industry by becoming digitally mapped to create an avatar of herself for the Guitar Hero franchise. In the fifth game in the series, Manson is an unlockable character, while the game also features a licensed Garbage track.[45]

Year Title Role Notes
2008 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles T-1001 17 episodes, as a liquid-metal Terminator impersonating Catherine Weaver.[46]
Catherine Weaver 1 episode, "The Tower is Tall, But the Fall is Short", shown on in-universe archive footage.[44]
2009 Guitar Hero 5 as herself Videogame, appears as playable character, for Garbage track "Only Happy When it Rains".[45]

Charity work

Manson has used her and Garbage's profile to raise awareness and funds for a number of causes, commissioning a Garbage branded lipgloss online, with all proceeds from the sales split between Grampian Children's Cancer Research and cancer treatment institutions at Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital in Scotland and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York.

Shirley Manson donates £51,000 to Waverley Care on behalf of M•A•C AIDS Fund.

In 2001, Manson became an ambassador for the M•A•C AIDS Fund, fronting a two-year marketing campaign alongside Elton John and Mary J. Blige, beginning with the launch of the VIVAMAC IV lipstick in March 2002, in which all proceeds of the sale of the lipstick goes to charity.[47] While touring, Manson visited several AIDS charities in Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Toronto, New York, San Francisco and Madison to make several donations totalling over $300,000 on behalf of the M•A•C AIDS Fund.[48]

In 2003, the M•A•C AIDS Fund linked with the Elton John AIDS Foundation to produce the White Bedroom campaign,[47] where both Elton John and Manson recorded PSAs promoting condom use and stating facts on AIDS.[49] By 2007, the combined six VIVAMAC campaigns had raised over $100 million U.S. dollars,[50] and as a former ambassador Manson accepted a cheque for £51,000 on behalf of HIV charity Waverley Care from the M•A•C AIDS Fund on 10 April 2008 at Harvey Nichols Edinburgh store.[51] Manson had become a patron of Waverley Care in October 2002[52] and previously hosted a fund raiser auction to raise funds for the charity in January 2004 which raised £45,000. A Fender guitar owned by Manson raised £1,050, while other items auctioned included contributions sourced by Manson herself, from Elton John and Kylie Minogue.

Manson is also a keen lover of animals. In 2007, Manson fronted an international poster campaign for PETA Europe, holding the carcass of a fox under the headline "Here's the rest of your fur coat".[53] Manson has also adopted a rescue dog, a terrier-mix named Veela,[54] named after the fictional beings from the Harry Potter books.[55]

In 2008, Manson became involved with the Pablove Foundation, a charity founded by Dangerbird Records head Jeff Castelaz, whose son Pablo succumbed to cancer the following year. Funds raised for the Pablove Foundation directly supports the pediatric cancer community in and around Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Manson reformed Garbage to contribute an exclusive track, "Witness to Your Love", to a charity album for the Foundation; signed off a Pablove poster for auction on eBay; Manson also hosted a fundraiser headlined by the Silversun Pickups, and performed acoustically on-stage at a second fundraiser with Butch Vig and Tom Gabel (for a rendition of "Witness...") and with Greg Kurstin (for a cover of David Bowie's "Life on Mars?", which she had previously performed with Charlotte Martin at Pablo's funeral).


Studio albums

Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie (credited with backing vocals and keyboards)

Angelfish (lead vocals and guitar)

Garbage (songwriter, lead vocals, and guitar)

Compilation albums and E.P.s

Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie

  • Fish Heads and Tails (1989)
  • Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie (1991)
  • Live on the Day of Storms (1995)
  • The River Sessions (2005)




  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)


Year Track Artist Credit given Appears on
1998 "Korean Bodega (Aero Mexicana mix)" Fun Lovin' Criminals Guest vocals A's, B's and Rarities (2004)[56]
2004 "You Got A Killer Scene There, Man..." Queens of the Stone Age Sultry vocals Lullabies to Paralyze (2005)[57]
2006 "Maybe" Eric Avery Vocals, lyrics Help Wanted (2008)[26]
2007 "The Trouble I'm In" Gavin Rossdale Vocals Wanderlust (2008)[28]
"Forgiveness and Exile, Pt.3" Chris Connelly Orator Forgiveness and Exile (2008)[25]
2008 "Samson and Delilah" Bear McCreary Vocals Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)[58]
2010 "Maneater" The Bird and the Bee Backing vocals Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates (2010)

The first time Manson contributed her vocals to a project separately from any of her bands was in 1998, when she performed vocals for the chorus of a Garbage-produced remix of Fun Lovin' Criminals 1999 single "Korean Bodega".[56] Due to litigation problems surrounding Manson's contractual obligation to Radioactive Records, further collaborations with both Fun Lovin' Criminals[59] and Moby[60] were unable to proceed.

Manson teamed up with Marilyn Manson and Tim Sköld in 2004 to record a cover version of the Human League's "Don't You Want Me"[61] but both felt the track inappropriate for either acts upcoming albums, and remains unreleased.[22] Later that year, Manson and Brody Dalle contributed backing vocals to a Queens of the Stone Age track.[62] In 2006, Manson planned to record a John Lennon cover version for the Amnesty International Instant Karma charity compilation with bassist Eric Avery,[63] however a scheduling misunderstanding left them short of time and unable to record the song.[64] Manson and Avery eventually co-wrote and recorded "Maybe", a ballad duet for Avery's album Help Wanted.[65]

The following year, Manson performed backing vocals on a track for Gavin Rossdale's solo album Wanderlust,[28] worked with long-time friend Chris Connelly, orating part of a long poem on his eighth album Forgiveness and Exile,[66] and worked on a duet with long time inspiration Debbie Harry[67] which remains uncompleted.[68] Upon her taking on the role of Catherine Weaver in Terminator... and on the encouragement of series' composer Bear McCreary, Manson was asked by show runner Josh Friedman to perform and co-create a gospel arrangement of "Samson and Delilah" for the opening episode of the second season.[69] After much interest, the track was released on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles season one soundtrack at the end of 2008.[58] Manson also contributed to a Dusty Springfield tribute album, due for release in 2009.[70]


In 2002, electronic group West London Deep sampled Manson's vocal from "You Look So Fine" in their white label track "You're Taking Me Over". Manson refused clearance for the sample and the track was scrapped. By that point the track, and remixes by Inner City, Problem Kids and Desyn Masiello & Leon Roberts had already been circulated.[71] The song was reworked and re-released the following year as "Gonna Make You My Lover", without Manson's vocal.


  1. ^ a b "The Changing Face of Shirley Manson". Sunday Herald. April 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Information gleaned from exhibition research and materials showcased at Famous Scots Exhibition held at New Register House, Edinburgh; Shirley Manson leg ran from May 25th-July17th 2009, under the Homecoming Scotland banner
  3. ^ a b c 153 F.Supp.2d 462 RADIOACTIVE, J.V., Plaintiff, v. Shirley MANSON, Defendant. No. 01 Civ.1948(SAS). United States District Court, S.D. New York. (29 July 2001)
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  6. ^ a b "No Place Like Home For Shirley". Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
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  29. ^ ""Iggy, Incubus to Salute The Pretenders'". Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  30. ^ "Amid backlash, Stefani thrills mainstream fans". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
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  33. ^ ""Garbage, Raitt Lead Benefit For Veteran Drummer"". Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  34. ^ a b ""Garbage Interview"". Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  35. ^ Shirley Manson, as quoted on KROQ radio on September 8, 2008
  36. ^ a b c d "Rebellious Jukebox". Melody Maker, by Dave Simpson (reproduced on Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  37. ^ Shirley Manson, foreword of 'Siouxsie & The Banshees The Authorised Biography', Mark Paytress, Sanctuary 2003, page 8
  38. ^ Paytress, Mark. Siouxsie & the Banshees: The Authorised Biography. Foreword by Shirley Manson, Sanctuary, 2003. ISBN 1-86074-375-7
  39. ^ "The Immortals - The Greatest Artists of All Time: 47 (Patti Smith)". Rolling Stone, by Shirley Manson (on April 15, 2004). Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
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  41. ^ "Everything I Do, I Do It For You". Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  42. ^ "Josh Friedman: If He Had His Way". FOX T:SCC producer's blog. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
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  44. ^ a b ""How Goes the Robot Hunt, Mr. Ellison?"". T:SCC producer's blog. Retrieved 2009-11-21. 
  45. ^ a b ""Guitar Hero 5 Xbox 360 Behind the Scenes - Shirley Manson "". IGN. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  46. ^ "Catherine Weaver (Character) from "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (2008)". Retrieved 2009-11-21. 
  47. ^ a b ""MAC Cosmetics announces Elton John, Mary J. Blige and Shirley Manson as the new spokespeople for VIVA GLAM iv lipstick and the MAC AIDS fund"". PR Newswire. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  48. ^ ""MAC VIVA GLAM IV Spokeswoman SHIRLEY MANSON Donates $100,000 To Fashion Cares"". Canadian Fashion Stage. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  49. ^ ""AIDS Ain;t Over PSAs"". Commercial Closet. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  50. ^ ""M.A.C. Raised $100 million to Fight Against HIV and AIDS"". Fashion Monitor Toronto. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
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  55. ^ ""'Harry Potter' Gets Love From Robert Pattinson, Lupe Fiasco, Keira Knightley And More Celeb Fans"". MTV. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
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  60. ^ ""08.04.00 STUDIO DIARY #16"". Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  61. ^ ""02.02.04 Studio Diary #14"". Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  62. ^ ""08.02.04 Studio Diary #19"". Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
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  64. ^ ""FYI Lennon cover song..."". Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
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  66. ^ ""Converse with Chris"". Chris Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
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  68. ^ ""Debbie Harry interview"". Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  69. ^ ""Terminator:SCC - "Samson and Delilah""". Bear Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
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  71. ^ ""West London Deep sample Shirley Manson"". press release reproduced on Retrieved 2008-08-04. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Shirley Manson (born 1966-08-26) is a Scottish musician and the lead vocalist of the band Garbage.


  • I have [done things that other women haven't done]. Well, I've shared a moving vehicle with 18 naked men — not many women do that... fantastic, never felt better.
    • Popworld interview with Garbage in 2005

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