Not Your Kind of People
Garbage, the '90s alt-rockers consisting of three producers and sultry Scottish siren Shirley Manson, have not put out an album since 2005's Bleed Like Me. Naturally, fans were excited when the band recently announced a new one, Not Your Kind of People, would hit stores next month.
According to Garbage's Steve Marker, the band is just as enthused. On the phone last week, the guitarist/keyboardist was eager to discuss People's conception — a process during which the band severed ties with their former label, and thus created one of their very own.
"We didn't necessarily set out to make an album when we went into the studio," Marker recalls. "But it became clear that it was turning into one pretty quickly."
"We're excited about this record," he boasts. "Because it was made out of our love for music."
Having spent most of their career on major labels including Geffen and Interscope, Garbage was moved to reconnect with their early, more independent roots. Not Your Kind of People marks the band's first release on their own label, STUNVOLUME.
"We were paying for the record ourselves," Marker explains. "We wrote it on our own schedule and our own terms."
The band has flourished without a record label directing their moves.
"It's been liberating," Marker admits. "We kind of got 'sold' between different companies going out of business, and ended up in this weird place where we were competing with the biggest bands in the world."
"That's not us," he continues. "We're never going be a U2, and we don't really want to be."
From major-label puppets to indie entrepreneurs, Garbage's future is wide open.
"It's fun again," he adds. "It's like an experiment, and we'll see how far we can take it without any set infrastructure — not to mention any record-company experience whatsoever!"
Marker talks about his band like an excited kid who's just rediscovered his favorite toy.
"People who have heard [People] say it reminds them of our first album," he notes. "I don't think it sounds exactly alike, but there's definitely a vibe that's reminiscent of that early time. The records were made similarly, in the sense that we were just having fun, without that looming expectation of success."
Marker is graciously complimentary of his bandmates, especially front woman Manson.
"She's distinctive," he says. "That's our great advantage: We don't have some generic-sounding vocalist that we have to make up for by pretending to be sonically interesting. Shirley's voice is always our focus."
Garbage also boasts impressive production experience among its members. Although it's been closed since 2010, Marker and Garbage drummer Butch Vig opened Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1983. Vig produced and mixed some of the biggest rock records of the '90s (Smashing Pumpkins' Gish, Everclear's Sparkle and Fade, Garbage's 1995 self-titled debut) within its walls.
Marker and Vig may be studio bigwigs, but the guitarist insists Garbage operates with total collaboration.
"We all engineer," he says. "Butch obviously has the greatest success as a producer, and we respect that, but we all put in our two cents' worth."
The band appears to function harmoniously both in and out of the studio. Marker ponders the glue responsible for holding the band together over the past two decades.
"We feel like siblings in a way I think a lot of other bands don't," he says.
"Maybe it's our geography that works," he wonders out loud. "Maybe our personalities mesh because we came from Wisconsin and Scotland, instead of New York and London. We've always had a sort of 'us against the world' feeling."
Perhaps more responsible for the band's amity than their geography is their take-charge front woman.
"The guys in the band are quiet," he admits, laughing. "We're shy Midwesterners, and we're bad at vocalizing our opinions. But into that, you throw an incredibly outspoken, opinionated Scotswoman, and it works.
"If it wasn't for Shirley, we'd probably still be working on our first record," he concludes, laughing. "She's the energy that brings it all together."
Garbage, whose members now reside in California, Wisconsin and Colorado, clearly missed that "energy" during the band's hiatus.
"We're lucky to have this bond," Marker reflects. "That's why we've chosen to make a new record together, and get back on the bus."
Back on the bus indeed. Garbage kicked off their tour this month in L.A., and have already sold out several dates, including Friday at House of Blues.
"We love Texas," Marker notes. "One time, we met an astronaut at our show in Houston. He told us he actually took one of our records up into space with him!
"So, thanks to Houston," adds Marker playfully and methodically, "Garbage has been to outer space. How's that for an end-quote?"
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.