Australian Tour 1996

From Alternative Melbourne

By Carmine Pascuzzi

Garbage, being the first major worldwide signing for Mushroom Records UK (excluding USA and Canada), have recently been presented by Frontier Touring Company in Australia for the first time. Their self-titled debut album has been an enormous success around the world and it has already spawned five singles.

The band consists of:

SHIRLEY MANSON (vocals, guitar)
DUKE ERIKSON (guitars, bass, keyboards)
STEVE MARKER (guitars, samples, noise)
BUTCH VIG (drums, loops, sound processing)

It was therefore a huge delight for us to have the opportunity to attend their media conference in Sydney on 2 October. It was a very relaxed atmosphere to a small gathering of media, and their easy-going nature made it a very entertaining and informative session. Here are some excerpts from the conference.

Q. Did you have any pre-conceived ideas of the direction in which you wanted the band to head, and has the enormous success changed the ambition?

A. (Butch) There were no pre-conceived ideas on what we were going to do. We knew we wanted to make a cool, pop record. We've now been on the road since last October. We just wanted to connect to an audience, play live when appropriate, and then everything will come together. As we said, the band that eats together, records together. But now we've got no idea on the future; we're still making it up as we go.

Q. In regard to signing to Mushroom UK and Almo Sounds in the USA, did Mushroom have the foresight into the band's ideas and was the Herb Alpert factor a big influence?

A. (Butch) The Herb factor was very strong in us signing to Almo. The first single was actually released on Discordant prior to the album, but we didn't want to get into a bidding war, or try to do anything silly like that. So when we did four songs, we presented the tape as Garbage. It covered a wide territory.

The people at Mushroom were into our ideas as far as packaging was concerned. Europe, UK and Australia are more into 7" vinyl releases and cool packaging. The Americans don't do that as much. We wanted to do that as much as possible. We're lucky to have the support of both labels. It's real good.

Q. The packaging of your product is very innovative, with the rubber sleeve for "Subhuman", the metal pack for "Vow", the bubble-wrap sleeve for "Queer" and the cloth bags for "Stupid Girl". Who takes the credit for these?

A. (Duke) We always intended to put the product on vinyl. It's fun from a collector's view and it's something we really wanted to do. We came up with a few ideas and the label did also and you can see the result. It turned out to be very innovative. Wait until you see the "Milk" product. (The next single out soon).

Q. Who did you grow up listening to?

A. (Shirley) My mum got me into some of the old legendary female soul singers. As I got older and into rock 'n' roll, I got into Chrissie Hynde and Patti Smyth. That was my staple diet. Now I listen to anybody and anything. The great thing to me about Patti is that it's all been about her voice and words. It's always particular at that time.

Q. Were you nervous in joining up with the three guys in the band?

A. (Shirley) I was a bit nervous coming over from Scotland. I didn't know anybody. It took a long time for me to get comfortable, so much so that I didn't feel like part of the scene. It was then that the guys said, "You're not going to quit this!". Then I felt like one of the boys.

Q. Do they gang up on you?

A. (Shirley) Sometimes they do, but I hold my own.

Q. Who chooses the remixes?

A. (Shirley) We all feel that DJ's do the most exciting work and it's all something we were interested in doing. The boys got together as the plan for Garbage to do a series of remixes. It's some excitement for us to have our music "mangled", "mashed" and "f**ked around and cut up", and we were keen to have our music remixed and were fans of Red Snapper. We've just done remixes on "Milk" (she didn't divulge who did them).

Q. Considering the long tour you've been on, what's happening as far as new material goes? Do you find time to write and how's that going to be different after?

A. (Steve) We're going into the studio at the beginning of next year as we'll still be on the road for the rest of this year. It was very important that this record was a product of how we were feeling at the time. We have been writing songs piecemeal here and there. We really want to wait till we get into the studio and do everything at once. We carry around tape recorders where we put down ideas. We're very excited about the next record.

Q. The video for "Stupid Girl" is fantastic in its originality. It reminds me of a 1920s style silent film. How did it come about?

A. (Shirley) We had just seen the movie "Seven" and everything was scratched up in the opening sequences. We told our producer that we wanted the video to look like that. So the producer shot us playing live, then he took it back and developed the film in the bathtub and mucked around with it. Each frame had been cut up. We shot the video for four hours. He nearly had a breakdown. He sent us the video after two weeks. We were very pleased. He's an amazing cinematographer. We were in good hands. I'm glad you liked it. Wait till you see the video for our next single!

Q. Have you been approached to do films?

A. (Shirley) Well, I have been asked funnily enough. I'm not sure about it. I missed my chance in "Trainspotting". I must have been the last person in Scotland, in fact, to see the film. It was brilliant. It was funny that I'd been to a lot of the places where they shot the film.

Q. How do you feel being an international band?

A. (Butch) We didn't start off thinking that way at all. We just found Shirley because of her voice. We didn't know she was from Scotland. It just turned out that way. Naturally, we spend most of our time in the USA, in Madison, Wisconsin because we have our studio there. It's a long way for Shirley to call home. But it's her second home now.

Q. How did you feel playing in Glasgow earlier this year?

A. (Shirley) We had an absolute blast in Glasgow. We were really excited. I was so nervous. The boys all wore kilts for the show. A little gesture of love for my homeland. The fans went crazy and screamed forever. It was great fun.

Q. What other places have you enjoyed playing and what are your influences?

A. (Butch) Our recent show in Singapore was great. The fans went hysterical, screaming so loudly. It's cool to go to places where there's no cultural barrier. The kids were really smart. They knew a lot about us from the Internet. People think that we're European, rather than American, because of a lot of technology and samples involved. We have influences from all over the place though. A lot of the English bands we grew up listening to were a bit more adventurous than US bands. We listen to so much different stuff, like Oasis who have the knack of making an old style sound fresh.

Q. Do you miss being a producer for hire?

A. (Butch) Not necessarily. I miss being in a studio. However, it's more gratifying working on your own stuff and I think that, when it comes to doing our second record, I can't think of anything better and exciting to work on next year. We don't have limitations in our style and I'm just looking ahead with Garbage.

Q. What can Australian audiences look forward to when you're adapting the studio-based sound to the live show?

A. (Steve) It was actually a tough thing to think about. Do we make it sound like the record? There was too much thought into reproducing the studio sound at first. We use a lot of technology on stage. Butch has got his whole drum set all wired up with samples. Duke plays some keyboards and, with the guitars, we have loops and samples. (Butch then sums it up "It's a huge mess") Somehow it works though. We have a lot of fun and it adds to the way the songs are on the record.. They're more extreme and louder. We've played them for so long now and we add some variations. It's an exciting thing. We love it.

Q. I've read about your love of Frank Sinatra's music and his attitude. What other people in the world appeal to you, and influence your singing and writing?

A. (Shirley) So many old singers inspire me. I was into Sylvie Tucker, a late 1920s/early 1930s singer (a real Yiddish mama). She preceded Mae West and Madonna. At a time when society was so restricted, she expressed herself. She was a feminist at an unusual time. Attitude shines through on so many individuals. My granny is a great inspiration to me. So is my Mum.

Q. With the album's popularity, do you think that you've set a benchmark in the production of pop music?

A. (Steve) I don't think that we're anything but a band that just enjoys doing something that we enjoy. It would be pretentious to say anything like that about yourselves. Hopefully, it's pop music that sounds cool and maybe different from other things you hear on the radio. Hopefully, people like it.

That understatement brought the media conference to a close. We did discuss a couple of other things with the band individually. Shirley told us how she supports Glasgow Rangers and how she's amused at some of the messages that come through the Internet. Steve mentioned that they sometimes get several hundred messages a day. He also told of the unfortunate situation where their show in Hong Kong had to be cancelled because of something "weird" about the venue. Somehow, it's Government-sponsored and wasn't considered stable.

The members of Garbage were great to talk to, and keen to relate to those interested in their music.

Отредактировано eyedol (23.03.2007 16:59)