Upon hearing the playback of producer/drummer Butch Vig's loops and samples, a band member commented, "that sounds like garbage." Wouldn't you know, the name stuck.
Vig and Duke Erikson (guitars/keyboards/bass) were part of Spooner. Along the way they met guitarist/bassist Steve Marker, producing three albums. Then they became Firetown, which produced two more.
Both Vig and Marker had music production backgrounds. Marker had bought recording equipment, which he used to record Spooner. Vig had developed an interest in electronic music, synthesizers and production. He went on to produced Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Sonic Youth.
Often bands are missing a key element and go looking for it in another band. Garbage got their lead singer from Angelfish. Vig, Erikson and Marker first saw Scottish born Shirley Manson on MTV's "120 Minutes" and hooked up with her when Angelfish toured the States. She went through what was termed an "introductory recording session" or audition and joined the band.
In '95 Garbage released their self-titled debut album which sold four million copies worldwide. The song that hit first was "Stupid Girl." The CD also included the haunting "Queer," and the thickly textured "Only Happy When It Rains." They also contributed "#1 Crush" to the Romeo & Juliet soundtrack.
May, '98 saw the release of "Version 2.0." The CD had singles "Push It" and "I Think I'm Paranoid." The band also earned various video awards.
"BeautifulGarbage" arrived in '01. After a four year break Garbage returned with "Bleed Like Me."
Though "Why Don't You Love Me," the lead single from "Bleed Like Me," did little on the assorted charts the album landed in the Top 10. The group's supporting European tour was cut short because they had "somewhat overextended themselves." Once off the road, Garbage announced that they were going "on indefinite hiatus."
The career encapsulating (to date) "Absolute Garbage" was released in '07. An accompanying DVD contained fifteen Garbage videos and a documentary film titled "Thanks For Your, Uhhh Support."
During the downtime, Manson tried her hand at acting and appeared as a regular in the second and final season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Vig may have initially sought a lower profile but he turned up front and center. He produced Green Day's eight studio album, "21st Century Breakdown," which sold over four million copies worldwide and won a Grammy for Best Rock Album.
Though Garbage had performed at an '07 charity event and conducted some intermittent studio sessions, they didn't get serious about recording a full-length album until '10. While in production Vig told a reporter he was interested in making an album that was "primal and stripped down." But many people who heard the album said it sounded like their debut - an impression both Manson and Vig addressed. 'It doesn't sound anything like the first record,' but there is an energy there that's, I think, reminiscent of the first record; a sort of hungriness is there," said Manson. "I think you can hear some energy and a vibe in the tracks that sounds refreshing - a little bit more to me like the first two records," stated Vig. "Somehow we have a collective sound."
With their label commitments completed, Garbage released "Not Your Kind Of People" on their own label. "We're looking at this as free agents," said Vig of the group's first full-length album in seven years.
It was another four years before Garbage had a follow-up. "Strange Little Birds," the group's sixth album, arrived in '16. Like "Not Your Kind Of People," the set was issued through the StunVolume imprint.
1998 Version 2.0
2001 Beautiful Garbage
2005 Bleed Like Me
2012 Not Your Kind Of People
2016 Strange Little Birds
Out of the box Garbage demonstrated enough innovation to instantly build a huge audience and garner impressive sales for their self-titled debut. Chalk full of hits "Garbage" is their premier effort. Singer Shirley Manson is in top form while the group, working under drummer/producer Butch Vig's direction, delivers the trademark jangle/clutter sound. "Only Happy When It Rains" and "Stupid Girl" are pulsating Rockers. "2.0" is the aptly named follow-up that is more of the same but not as strong. "Push It" with a nice Beach Boy - Don't Worry, Baby" refrain, comes off as the best track.
There's also "Special" with a light pop/Rock surface, jangle guitars and melodic vocal harmonies.
"BeautifulGarbage" proves the concept is still viable but the group's ability to dazzle is slipping.
You could call "Bleed Like Me" Garbage's "clean" album. That doesn't refer to lyrical content but rather the production. Those dense sound montages that marked Garbage's earlier work are gone. They've given way to a solid, if generic, Hard Rock sound. There are several reasons to get this CD including the title track, "Run Baby Run" and "Why Do You Love Me?" It's good but it's not the same. Once Garbage pulled the mainstream their way, now they've vaulted into the fray. There's less garbage in Garbage.
"Not Your Kind Of People" is reminiscent of early Garbage. Manson's snarling vocals, not to mention intricately dense pre-"Bleed Like Me" arrangements and stellar production, are right where they left them. That's most obvious on "Automatic Systematic Heart," "Felt" and "Man On A Wire," with the latter being the set's highpoint. However, Manson's moment is her intensely vicious take on "I Hate Love."