I can still remember the first time that I heard Shirley Manson’s voice. I was a teenager, living in Orlando and their hit single, “Only Happy When it Rains” pumped through my tiny Aiwa speakers, as a Central Florida thunderstorm pounded the windows around me.
Needless, to say, it left an impression.
Through the years, the band has put out a several acclaimed albums and logged countless hours on stages the world over. With Shirley Manson, Duke Erikson, Butch Vig and Steve Marker, Garbage has molded an eclectic sound, marrying elements from multiple genres.
Before their show in Indy on Friday, I spoke with Steve Marker about the new album, Strange Little Birds and the band’s current world tour.
When asked about the time between albums, Marker explained that Garbage is “slow in the studio,” but after the album is released, their goal is to tour as long as possible.
“Even when we take breaks, you can get restless. We love working together,” Marker said.
Within Garbage, Marker and the rest of the band all carry the weight of an album’s production. Since the beginning, the band has not let geography interfere with songwriting and Garbage has approached new material in an organic way. This has included each member writing individually at their respective home studios and, “going in to the studio [together], with a glass of wine to write.”
For their newest release, Marker told me that the band made a real effort to write Strange Little Birds together. That meant “two weeks in Butch [Vig]’s basement.” As a group of producers and multi-instrumentalists, each member of Garbage covers different parts. Steve: “Sometimes Shirley [Manson] knows exactly what she wants. Sometimes Butch will take lead, or I will. There’s no set way things work.”
Marker mentioned that several of the band’s European concert dates had memorable moments. A highlight was at the Mad Cool Festival in Madrid, Spain. “It was about 11 at night and we played after The Who. We were going on right after “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” As for pressure, Marker told me, “It doesn’t get more intimidating than that.”
Speaking about the new material, I asked him if there were any favorite tracks to perform. His answer was the song “Blackout” because “there’s a certain excitement because you’re not certain if you can pull it off.” Another standout was the album’s second release, “Even Though Our Love Is Doomed.” Marker described what it’s like to play live, “it’s dark, but there’s a cinematic, visual atmosphere.”
As a long time guitar shop flunky, I felt it was my duty to ask about his current touring rig. For Marker, the Guild Bluesbird has been a long time favorite, and several of those guitars travel with him along with a Henman Mod model. “What’s really made touring and life in general better, is the Line 6 Helix,” he said.
Given the band’s lead singer is Scottish, and that Garbage just finished up a European leg of the tour, it seemed fitting to ask about the United Kingdom’s recent “Brexit” vote, too. “We got home right before [it happened]. I think they didn’t take it seriously enough. I think that it’s a wake up call about what’s happening in our country. Educate yourself.”
If you go:
Garbage with Kristin Kontrol
Friday, July 15, 7 p.m.
Egyptian Room at Old National Centre, 502 N. New Jersey St.
prices vary, all-ages