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'90s modern-rock pioneers return


  • Garbage

Good things come to those who wait. And patient fans of ’90s music are finally getting their reward in the reunions of No Doubt, Ben Folds Five and Garbage—who, in April, made Utah fans wait just a little longer, thanks to the last-minute postponement of their Salt Lake City show.

But they’ve been keeping busy. After missing Utah and a few other dates in the Southwest due to a family emergency, Garbage jumped back on their worldwide tour in support of Not Your Kind of People, their first new record in seven years.

The band’s initially scheduled show would have brought them to town before the album’s release, but fans have now had five months to spin the band’s fifth album. Fresh and of-the-moment, yet deeply reminiscent of the band’s heyday in the ’90s, Not Your Kind of People, released on the band’s own label, hit No. 13 on Billboard’s Top 200 after its May release.

“After being gone for seven years, we had no idea if we still had any fans,” says drummer Butch Vig. “[But] the love from our fans at the gigs has been overwhelming.”

A heady mix of pop, proto-goth, electronica and alt-rock, Garbage has sold 13 million records over the course of their career, despite never fitting snugly into any single one of those definitions. Their first two albums achieved mainstream popularity off of that unique Garbage sound— featuring frontwoman Shirley Manson’s sometimes-growling, sometimes-haunting, always-sexy vocals.

But despite the popularity of songs like “Only Happy When it Rains” and “Special,” Garbage was “tugged by certain desires to try something new on the later records,” says Duke Erikson, who contributes guitar, bass and keyboards.

Those new sounds—such as a Phil Spector-inspired track, “Can’t Cry These Tears,” on 2001’s beautifulgarbage—didn’t quite pay off for the band in the early 2000s, when the airwaves were dominated by the likes of Lifehouse and Matchbox Twenty on one end of the spectrum and Destiny’s Child on the other.

2005’s Bleed Like Me, a more straightforward rock effort that sees Manson channeling Chrissie Hynde, had a moderate hit with the angry “Why Do You Love Me,” but also led to the “indefinite hiatus” of the band.

“We were connected at the hip for 10 years, pretty much nonstop. We were on some really serious tours and some incredibly long stints in the studio,” Erikson says. “We just needed to rest and be apart for a while.”

But there’s just something about the dynamics of the foursome—Vig, Erikson, Manson and guitarist/keyboardist Steve Marker—that keep them all coming back. A few phone calls about possibly doing a one-off show in Los Angeles “for the heck of it,” Erikson says, evolved into talks about a few gigs, then the possibility of “a couple” of new songs.

“We were getting along really well—over the phone anyway—then next thing you know, we’re making a record,” he says. “It just kinda made us miss the whole thing.”

But what about now that they’ve been connected at the hip again for months?

“We’re playing really well right now, maybe the best we ever have, and Shirley is a tour-de-force when she takes the stage,” Vig says. “The band is getting along really well; I think we don’t take Garbage for granted anymore. We feel like it’s a celebration when we go onstage every night.”

It’s a celebration of both the band’s past and its present, which aren’t so far apart. Some of the material from earlier albums has been rearranged for the tour to keep them fresh for the band, and NYKOP echoes the vibe and energy of the band’s first two albums. It’s a result of the band deciding to just “do Garbage” again, Erikson says.

“We kind of went back to just allowing ourselves to do what we do and not think too much about it,” he says. “We were going to make a record that feels like something we would do without consciously trying to venture off or do something completely different.”

But then again, Garbage’s sound has always been a little different, a little hard to pin down, something Erikson says is actually becoming more the norm.

“I think everybody’s kind of doing that now, really. When we started doing it, we were one of a handful that were trying that kind of thing. Nobody does it like us, though—we have Shirley Manson singing. For us, though, no matter what the stylistic approach to the song is, it’s about the song—if the song is any good, the core of it, the melody, the lyrics, the skeletal arrangement of it. That’s most important.”

In the Venue
219 S. 600 West
Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.
$32.50 in advance, $35 day of show

Rachel Piper Twitter: @RachelTachel