Garbage s Shirley Manson on

Garbage music Band

Few things have aged well since the halcyon days of the 1990’s but what has still shines as brightly as it ever did. The Matrix. Playstation 1. Ghost In the Shell. All couldn’t have come out of any other decade but still hold up in this one, and it doesn’t get more gloriously 90’s than Garbage. A band whose mix of raucous grunge and dark hued electronica came at exactly the right time but was still purpose built for the outsider in all of us. It was a combination that made them global rock stars in a time when a band in the U.K could get signed by playing a single Wonderwall sound-alike in the right Camden pub and God only knows what was going on in the states at the time.

The world needed them at the time and they still sound as fresh as they ever did over twenty years after the band formed, originally as a duo of bassist Duke Erikson and drummer Butch Vig. The pair had already worked together in a bands called Spooner and Fire Town, the latter of whom future Garbage guitarist Steve Maker was also the sound engineer for. However, Vig started seeing more success as a producer, leading to the breakup of Spooner and Vig getting hired by Sup-Pop to produce some album by some guys called Nirvana, you might have heard of it, it was called Nevermind.

Of course, working on albums like that all the time can take it out of you, and Vig, Maker and Erickson reconvened in 1994, originally to work on remixes for the likes of Depeche Mode, U2 and Nine Inch Nails. However, their remixes saw them work with real instruments in a rock band set up, and inspired them to form a new band in which they, in Vig’s words, "wanted to take (the) remix sensibility and somehow translate it into all of the possibilities of a band setup." It didn’t come together overnight however, but the band were nothing if not savvy, and they named themselves after one early comment that the band’s early work sounded “like garbage”.

There was still something missing though, and since the rest of the group had only ever appeared in all-male bands, they decided to hunt for a female singer to front them. While Marker was watching an episode of 120 Minutes, he happened to chance upon the only showing of the video for “Suffocate Me”, the debut single of an Edinburgh based indie band called Angelfish. The band were looking for someone with the kind of voice that would go against the rock singers of the day’s tendency to scream every other line and actually sing with passion and feeling. Marker saw everything they were looking for in the form of Angelfish’s frontwoman, Shirley Manson.

Manson was put in contact with the band but couldn’t join them full time due to her commitments to Angelfish, who were scheduled to tour the U.S as support to the band Live. Vig, Marker and Erickson all caught Angelfish live in Chicago, and were so impressed that they invited Manson to formally audition the same evening. This audition didn’t go at all well, however the four members did connect on their shared taste in music. Angelfish disbanded at the end of their American tour and Manson called the band, asking to audition again.

Manson is critical of their first session together to this day, but they left with demo versions of future hits “Stupid Girl”, “Queer” and their debut single “Vow”, so the boys asked her to join, officially forming the Garbage that we know and love. Cannily, the band sent out their demo tapes without a bio, so that they could be judged as a band and not “Butch Vig’s side project”. Fortunately the band signed to Mushroomhead UK for worldwide distribution except in North America, where they signed to Almo Sounds after “Vow” was released. By May 1995, the single had started to pick up some serious rotation and it eventually charted on the Billboard Hot 100 before they even had an album out.

In August 1995, they released their self-titled debut, which was a top five hit in Australia and an immediate top twenty hit in the U.K, gaining them BRIT Award nominations for Best New Band and Best International Newcomer. Since then, the band became one of the biggest deals in Alternative rock, performing the theme to the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, selling out arena tours and headlining Glastonbury’s Other Stage in 2002. The band went on hiatus in 2005 but returned in earnest in 2010, and have since got back to doing what they do best, rocking faces like no-one else in the world can. It’s great to have them back. Highly recommended.

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