Butch Vig never intended Garbage to be more than a collection of interesting songs. His original hope, along with bandmates Duke Erikson and Steve Marker, was to have a number of different people come to the studio and record the vocals--maybe they'd even sing a few songs themselves. And the trio members were adamant that they were never going to tour.

Shirley manson, an Edinburgh, Scotland native and the creative force behind the band Angelfish, was the first vocalist they recruited.

"Steve saw her on '120 Minutes' and we fell in love with her voice," Vig says. "The first meeting wasn't good. We didn't give her any direction, and she didn't respond very well and wasn't very assertive."

But by some strange act of fate, she returned a few weeks later, and the quartet turned on an eight-track in Marker's basement.

"We recorded the bulk of 'Queer,' 'Stupid Girl' and 'Vow' down there. That was when we knew that there was a sensibility between us. We liked each other, and we liked the fascination with darkness in songs--the ability to have the dichotomy of a dark lyric, or at least a lyric with a bit of depth, married to a shiny, happy, pop melody." Hence, Garbage, the full-blown touring act, was formed. "I think after Shirley joined us, the songs got much more focused and we felt comfortable to the point where we felt like a band. At that point, we wanted to go out and prove to people that we were a band and connect with an audience," Vig says. Despite technical problems, the first leg of the tour sold out everywhere the band played, including Milwaukee's Shank Hall.

"We'll be better when we play Milwaukee this time," Vig promises. "Shank Hall was our second show ever, and we had some terrible train wrecks that night. The sequencer didn't kick in on the intro, one of the loops fucked up, and we were still very stiff on stage. We hadn't found any chemistry working together."

Garbage was created around loops, samples, sound effects and everything from techno and hip-hop to punk rock and pop. "When we set out to make the record, we didn't want to record au natural, and there's literally no way we can translate the record live."

For the second leg of their tour, which kicked off two months ago in Dallas, Garbage reworked all of their material. After finding the basic riffs and chord progressions, they rebuilt the songs in a manner that would be more conducive to a live setting. They sped up tempos, toughened the grooves, changed intros, outros and break downs. they've also taken a lot of the keyboards off the stage, with Erikson and Marker opting for MIDI guitars to trigger samples and sequencing that permeates the album.

With Garbage, Vig and Erikson incorporate more studio sparkle into their songs, something they avoided on their three releases with the garage pop Spooner. "There were bits of things creeping in that I could see would later translate into Garbage--textural things, and using the studio as part of the writing process, but we were fairly naive when we started that band," Vig says.

With their debut rapidly approaching gold sales, a summer tour with Smashing Pumpkins, the usual warm-weather barrage of radio festivals and overseas jaunts, Garbage doesn't need to worry about becoming eysterday's trash. Their sound is just the thing to keep modern music out of the recycling bin.

Garbage performs with Polara, Saturday at the Rave, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave., 342-7283.

By Paul Gargano