This is a big summer for alternative rockers Garbage. The band has released a coffee table book, “This Is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake,” written with journalist Jason Cohen, and is kicking off a tour with Blondie Wednesday night (July 5) in Saratoga, Calif.
To mark the occasion, Variety spoke with Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson, who has become an outspoken feminist activist for a new generation of female musicians — and collaborated with Blondie’s Debbie Harry on a song for the Starz show “American Gods” — and drummer Butch Vig, a respected producer (Nirvana’s “Nevermind”), and frequent Foo Fighters collaborator, about memories of their past and visions for the future.
A big anniversary — and new music — is coming…
Shirley Manson: “We’re thinking of doing a ‘Version 2.0’ anniversary tour [to mark the album’s 20th anniversary] with all of the album tracks and B-sides, so there will be a lot of songs that we have not even played before that we’ll be trying next year.”
Butch Vig: “We’re working on new songs right now, and we’re already talking about another album that we want to start recording later in the year.”
Debbie Harry made for an unforgettable first rock star moment…
Manson: “My very first experience [with a rock star] was Debbie Harry. I was in a band in Scotland called Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie and we were opening for Debbie’s ‘Debravation’ tour. And we had been told do not speak to Debbie Harry unless you are invited to speak. Cut to day one and we were in a hotel elevator — me and my band — and in walks a bodyguard and Debbie Harry in full workout gear, wearing shades, and looking like Debbie Harry. And I literally thought, ‘Oh my f—ing god.’ I turned to the side and almost collapsed into myself, at which point she took her time and looked over all of us in the elevator. She pulled off her shades, smiled, and said, ‘Hi.’ I literally pushed into the corner at this point quivering and I think we all managed in unison to say, ‘Hi.’ That was the end of the experience.
Following their collaboration on Starz’s “American Gods,” Debbie Harry says appearing onstage together would be “remarkable.”
Manson: “Ooh, that’s news to me. I love it. She knows I’m her Huckleberry. I’m in for anything she ever asks me to do.”
New song “No Horses” paints a grim picture of the future.
Vig: “‘No Horses’ started as a jam, hardly any music, like a lot of these weird noise loops, and Shirley sang this amazing line over it. It’s very Patti Smith stream of consciousness, very pertinent politically to what’s going on. It’s coming out in July and then it took us a while – Duke [Erikson], Steve [Marker], and me – to figure out the music to go behind it. We just finished mixing and mastering it. I think it sounds pretty cool. We’re going to rehearse it so we can try and play it on the tour.”
Manson: “It’s actually a song that’s very un-Garbage like. I was driving through the Scottish countryside last year and looking at these fields of horses and thinking, what will happen to them when we don’t need them as much as we once did? When they’re no longer working beasts, what will happen to the horses? So it’s an imagining of the future where the authorities destroy anything that doesn’t make large amounts of money.”