2015 – the rapid-fire snare intro to Garbage’s debut album, garbage, hits the auditory complex with spine tingling energy. This year marks the album’s twentieth anniversary – two decades since alt-rock ruled supreme, since guitarist Duke Erikson teamed up with drummer Butch Vig and guitarist Steve Marker, since they saw lead singer Shirley Manson on MTV and brought her to Madison, Wisconsin to record some tracks. The result would be sonically groundbreaking. To Manson, the idea is hypnagogic; “I was shocked when someone pointed out that it was twenty years since garbage. My biggest fear when we started was that the band would last two minutes, so this anniversary of ours feels very celebratory.” garbage went on to sell over four million copies world wide and was certified double platinum in five countries including the USA and UK.
Penned, literally, in a cabin in the woods, early versions of Stupid Girl, Vow and Queer were deliberately written to skirt around grunge, the genre that had made the names of all but Manson. “We used to describe our sound, our production as “Sci-Fi Pop” because we took so many musical elements and mashed them together,” says Manson. The band took, amongst other things, components from trip hop, sulky 12-bar blues, technological glitches and the futuristic optimism of the sixties and created a pitch-shifting wall of sound that snaked around the confrontational lyrics of Manson and her emotionally rich voice. “We believed we had hit on a fresh sound. Now looking back in retrospect, we weren’t wrong.”
Twenty years of anything can be a grind, and the band took a pause in 2005. Seven years later, Manson and the band got back together, despite reservations about their ability to do so. “I didn’t think I had it in me. I wasn’t sure any of us did. It takes a lot to stand back up… to get back to the point where you can go out there and do it again. You have to have an artist’s mindset. You have to be prepared to drop your vanity, be prepared to be humble, to throw yourself to the lions and accept defeat. And only then can you do the things that you never thought you’d do. As an immature Scot who thought everything could be robbed of me in seconds, that’s a weird realization.”
The band is going to be playing a few select shows this autumn, performing the album in its entirety. Several songs from the record have never been performed live by the band before. The 20th Anniversary of their debut is also being marked by a remastered reissue with accompanying B sides and remixes which will arrive before the end of 2015.