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Garbage Stick Together This Time

Apr. 3, 2013
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Garbage have been on the road for a long time now. By the time they finish their tour behind their latest album, 2012’s Not Your Kind of People, later this month, the veteran alt-rock band will have been touring for over a year. The last time the group toured so extensively, in support of 2005’s Bleed Like Me, they completely burned out—both on the band and on each other—leading them to declare the indefinite hiatus that resulted in a seven-year wait between albums. At this point, fans are all too familiar with the band’s cycle of recording, touring, then nearly breaking up, so it’s understandable that they might worry about what the end of this stint on the road means for the band’s future, but this time, drummer Butch Vig insists, things are different. Shortly after this tour ends, Garbage will head back to the studio to begin recording a new album.

The band hasn’t written a scrap of new material yet, but Vig says that’s never stopped them from recording in the past. “I can’t say too much yet, but we want to make a different-sounding record and record it in a different way, too, so I think the approach we’re going to take will be interesting,” he says. “It’s hard to say exactly how it’s going to turn out, especially since we haven’t written any songs yet—sometimes you think a record is going to go one way, and then you get in the studio and it takes its own path—but we’re going to try to get in the studio in June and see what falls into our lap.”

If Garbage really does manage to turn around another album as quickly as they plan to, it’ll be a testament to the resilience of a group whose future has often been uncertain. After the taxing tour behind Bleed Like Me, the band members went their separate ways, with Vig spending time with his newborn daughter and rededicating himself to the gig for which he’ll probably always be best known, producing. He says that he never considered Garbage dead during those years he spent working on albums by Green Day and Foo Fighters, but admits that the longer the band’s hiatus dragged on, the more unlikely a reunion seemed.

It was a tragedy that ultimately brought him and singer Shirley Manson back together again.

“A friend’s son died from cancer and Shirley and I went to the funeral, which Shirley sang at,” Vig explains. “It was just incredibly sad. Afterward we were having a meeting with some other people, and Shirley and I started talking about how it felt like we had unfinished business together, and how life is short and we want to get back to making music. That was sort of the spark that got us thinking. The next day Shirley called Duke [Erikson] and Steve [Marker] and said, ‘Do you want to get back to writing songs?’ and the next week we were back in the studio recording.”

The end result of those carefree sessions, Not Your Kind of People is an endearingly minor affair, the first Garbage record since their 1995 self-titled debut that hasn’t concerned itself with reinvention. It’s also easily the breeziest record the group has made since that first one.

“There was a looseness and a lot of experimentation going on with Not Your Kind of People, which was a lot like how we made the first record,” Vig says. “We didn’t know what we were doing when we made the first Garbage record. We wanted to use samplers, and try to blend all these genres and styles of music together, and the end result was a composite of all those ideas. So we tried to use that same approach with this one, blending all these bits of music together, like electronica and beats and fuzzy guitars and pop melodies and whatever. So there was a lot of experimenting, but it’s not a very meticulous album.”

As has often been the case for the group, touring was a bigger hurdle than recording, but this time, Vig explains, Garbage’s long run on the road has actually left them reinvigorated.

“We felt good about the album, but we were apprehensive about how it would be received, and if anybody would even care,” Vig says. “And we were interested to see if we could get back on the horse and go play live shows again. That’s probably the toughest thing for me, to mentally and physically gear yourself up for touring. When you hit 50 years old, it’s not easy to get your ass dragged all over the world. But the response from the fans has really jazzed us. It’s been pretty incredible to walk on stage and get that feedback. I’m happy to say we have a pretty healthy, small but hardcore fanbase that’s coming out to the shows and being overwhelmingly supportive. We think that’s quite remarkable since we were gone for seven years; we’re really lucky in that regard.”

Garbage headline the Eagles Ballroom on Saturday, April 6, at 8 p.m. with openers Io Echo.


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