Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube mix of music by Garbage.

Although Garbage didn't release their critically acclaimed self-titled debut album until 1995, their story dates back to 1983 when Steve Marker (1962) and Bryan "Butch" Vig (1959) decided to open Smart Studios, a small recording facility in Madison, Wisconsin. Actually before that, Vig, a drummer, Marker, a guitar player, and Doug "Duke" Erikson (1954), also a guitar player, had been involved with a band called Spooners, formed in the early 1980s when they were together at the University of Wisconsin.

By the early 1990s Vig had gained a solid reputation in the independent label circuit, and began working with bands from the (then unknown) Seattle-based Sub Pop label. Vig was soon catapulted into the throes of success after producing the bible of grunge, Nirvana's monumental sophomore effort, "Nevermind." The phenomenal impact of "Nevermind" established Vig as one of the most sought after producers in rock music and led to his involvement with bands like Sonic Youth, and Smashing Pumpkins, among others.

However, in the midst of Vig's skyrocketing production career his attention turned to the music he, Steve Marker, and Duke Erikson had been creating all the while. While experimenting with 10 years worth of various remixes, tape loops and samples, from the likes of U2, Depeche Mode, and Nine Inch Nails, they decided to start their own band.

They already had a name, inspired by Marker's comment, "this sounds like garbage!" his reaction to the weird sounds that would eventually become their music. The original idea was to bring in various lead singers for an album, but after seeing the irrepressibly sassy Scottish singer Shirley Manson (1966) in a music video aired on MTV's 120 Minutes, the three knew they'd found the perfect fourth member. Having performed in bands since the age of 15, Manson was a well-seasoned veteran of the industry and logical choice for the position.

As luck would have it, her band Angelfish was splitting up and within months the 30-year-old was flown to the Wisconsin studio to begin work for the band's 1995 debut Garbage. Her fiery magnetism and smoldering vocals gave the band its necessary edge, while her outspokenness and repellent public behavior added a dangerously alluring element to the bands geeky techno pop image. Featuring the singles "Stupid Girl", and "Only Happy When it Rains", Garbage went on to become one of the year's most critically acclaimed and commercially successful releases.

After several months of touring, Garbage began production of their second album, Version 2.0 which was finally completed in the spring of 1998. Critics hailed the release as even better than the first. Tracks included (approved) sampling from many of the group's influences such as The Pretenders and, believe it or not, the Beach Boys. Unlike the first album, whose lyrics were written collaboratively, Version 2.0 was entirely authored by Manson while Butch and the boys engineered the music.

Much of Garbage's success has been in their ability to deliver a stylish and meticulously produced accessible but edgy techno pop. Here is a current discography of music by Garbage on AllMusic

Page author: A.E.