Garbage Interview: The Band Is Back on Its Own Terms

Oct 24, 2012 5:00pm

Garbage exploded onto the alternative rock/grunge scene in 1995 with several edgy, catchy singles, notably “Queer,”  “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Stupid Girl, “off its debut self-titled album.

But the band decided to take a break after touring for its 2005 album “Bleed Like Me.”  When the band members reunited years later to start writing music again, they said it was as if they’d never left.

AudioFile had a chance to sit down with Garbage members Butch Vig, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker to talk about the making of “Not Your Kind of People.”

 

Just don’t call it a comeback. The band affirms it never officially broke up, and considers the new album a continuation of where the band left off.  Butch Vig explains: “When we walked off stage on the last tour, I think we all thought it would be about a two-year break, and then everyone got busy doing their own thing. It quickly stretched into seven years.”

Duke Erikson jokes: “We just needed to sleep. … We’re the Rip Van Winkles of rock.”

Garbage broke from the constraints and expectations of a major record label by self-releasing ”Not Your Kind of People”  under its own Stunvolume label. Leading up to the band’s seven-year hiatus, band members say they felt stifled creatively, and had limited interest in becoming the money-making pop outfit it was expected to be.  Butch Vig explains: “Any time we would try to do something that we thought was a little bit outside the box, it was impossible.  The corporate labels would say, ‘We don’t understand why you want to do that.’”

The first album’s success might be attributed partly to the creative environment from which it sprang — a group of people discovering how individual musical talents could alter the airwaves together, writing songs wrought with a raw, unapologetic energy. Duke Erikson likens the atmosphere to the bands’ early days together. “Our first two records, well, especially with our first record, we had no idea what we were doing,” he says.  “We were just starting from scratch, and we kind of felt that way on this record. So I think that’s the best way for us to work.”

 

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Garbage band members Steve Marker, Duke Erikson, Butch Vig are on tour in 2012 for the album "Not Your Kind of People."

Steve Marker described how liberating it felt to record an album outside a major label:  “It’s a little more work, but a lot more rewarding. We sort of reclaimed some of the initial joy that we had with the band when we first started out.”

With no strict timetable or budget for the completed record, the band members took their time writing and recording the songs, taking weeks off from the studio to work separately at home, emailing mp3 guitar riffs back and forth, and then returning to the studio when ready.

Overall, the songs on the 2012 album seem more optimistic, less rebellious than what Garbage was writing 17 years ago, but this change can be interpreted as a sign of growth and maturity in the band’s material, rather than a softening of its edge.  Duke Erikson said:  ”A lot of the songs on the record are addressed to people who feel like they live on the outside.”

 

What’s in the future for Stunvolume?  Butch Vig says it’s not considered a label exclusively for bands. ”It could be maybe getting into film soundtracks, maybe just doing collaborations, electronic music.  Maybe  just releasing some seven inches with some cool punk bands that we find. … I think we want to look at Stunvolume as a creative vehicle for us to do whatever we want to do over the next five or 10 years.”

 

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