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At the same time as this, Garbage – Vig, vocalist Shirley Manson and guitarists Duke Erikson and Steve Marker – were working toward the completion of their sixth studio album, Strange Little Birds. Vig recalls the process of putting the album together fondly, as he feels the band have a much clearer idea of both how to make music and what it is they want to get out of it. “The writing sessions are pretty casual,” he says.


“We crack open a bottle of wine, Shirley sits down on the couch with a microphone and then Steve, Duke and myself wander around to different instruments – guitar, bass, keyboards, drums – and see if anything we strike up hits our fancy. We’ll work for a couple of weeks, take a couple of weeks off; go back and forth like that. We did this for about a year after we stopped touring Not Your Kind of People, and soon enough we had about 20 songs. Garbage being Garbage, we recorded a lot of different things. When it came to mixing the album though, we stripped everything back. I think that’s what you hear on this record – by drawing everything back in, the songs are able to get right up in your face.”

Eschewing the traditional origin story of being friends in high school or replying to a ‘wanted’ ad, Garbage began in the early ‘90s initially as a studio project for some like-minded music industry types that were disenfranchised with what surrounded them. Vig, in particular, is perhaps the most famous member of the group. Away from his drumming duties, Vig is a record producer of some note – having worked on albums by the likes of Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters and AFI. Interestingly, however, he is not the sole-credited producer on any Garbage record – those, as the liner notes will testify, are produced by Garbage as an entity.


“A producer is someone with an opinion,” muses Vig when queried on what the other three members of the band are like from a production standpoint. “All four of us are very opinionated. We butt heads every day in the studio. We’re lucky that we share a sensibility that has allowed us to work through differences. At the end of the day, I think we get to a point where all four of us have a clear idea of what we need to do. It’s not always easy, but we try. It’s always going to end up sounding like Garbage. Even if we tried to make it different. That comes back to our sensibilities – the way that we play, the music we like, how we think things should sound. I think that’s one of our strengths, and the reason we’re still here after 20-something years. We’ve been together long enough to know when to let things go and not take them personally.”


Vig speaks both fondly and often about the ‘Garbage sound’, which is an interesting topic of discussion when one looks at the songs that have come to shape the band’s career. From straight- up sugar-rush pop (‘Cherry Lips’, ‘Special’) to big-guitar rockers (‘Why Do You Love Me’, ‘I Think I’m Paranoid’) all the way through to lush, quiet moments of intimacy (‘Queer’, ‘Milk’). The so-called ‘Garbage sound’ exists, paradoxically, because there is no ‘Garbage sound’ – it is a conscientious effort on behalf of Vig and co. to constantly reinvent, adapt and evolve across a chameleon-like state of sonic shifting. This is something Vig himself is inclined to agree with, assessing what has defined the band from Garbage all the way up to Strange Little Birds.


“On our first album, we blended a lot of different styles,” he says. “We had pop beats, electronica, techno, punk-rock fuzz guitar, big melodies and harmonies. At the time, it really caught people off-guard. We’re lucky to have a singer like Shirley – she has such a strong persona, so it was easy for us to write songs as different as ‘Vow,’ ‘Queer’ and ‘Stupid Girl.’ We’ve carried that with us. Every record we’ve done shows that every song has its own unique stamp. Shirley is what holds it together – she can keep the focus and glue it all together.” 



Strange Little Birds is out now via Liberator Music. For more details, head to