Every now and then we like to look back on some of the albums that inspired us through the nineties here at Finbar Hoban Presents and when we heard that GARBAGE debut album was turning 25 years old this weekend we felt obligated to write a piece on the album, but the question we are asking has the album aged well? It most certainly has left an impression on us over the years, In a recent interview lead singer Shirley Manson was recently quoted as saying,
“I wouldn’t recommend the way our band came together to any other young woman,” chuckles Shirley Manson, as she and her bandmate Butch Vig sit with Yahoo Entertainment, reflecting on the unusual way that she came be the frontwoman of alt-rock supergroup Garbage a quarter-century ago. “You know, traveling from Scotland to Madison, with no money in my pocket, no way of really getting home, no way of touching base. I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone. But I was very lucky that they weren’t creeps. They could have easily been creeps, and at least one of them could have been a weirdo, but they were really great. And we still get along really well, for all our squabbles over the years.”
Their debut album, Garbage was critically acclaimed, sold over 4 million copies, and was certified double platinum in the UK, US, and Australia while accompanied by a string of increasingly successful singles in 1995–1996, including “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains”
There are really two sides to Garbage on their debut: the alternative rock poster band and the trip-hop experimenters. Their image supports the former. With a name like Garbage, paired with Shirley Manson’s orange hair, the band exuded a punk ethos. Add in the fact that drummer Butch Vig was riding high after producing Nirvana’s Nevermind and Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream, still two of the highest-regarded rock albums of the era, and it’s hard to imagine the band being anything else. Yet Garbage only feels like this at certain moments.
Shirley Manson had been performing with the Edinburgh-based rock band Goodbye Mr Mackenzie since 1984.
In 1993, several of the members, including Manson, formed the side project Angelfish. Their only studio album, the self-titled Angelfish, was as commercially unsuccessful as preceding albums by Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, selling only 10,000 copies.
Initial sessions with Vig on vocals and the members’ past work with all-male groups led to the band’s desire for a woman on lead.
Marker was watching 120 Minutes when he saw the one-time airing of the music video for Angelfish’s “Suffocate Me”. He showed the video to Erikson and Vig while their manager, Shannon O’Shea, tracked Manson down. When Manson was contacted, she didn’t know who Vig was and was urged to check the credits on Nirvana’s album Nevermind, which Vig had produced. On April 8, 1994, Manson met Erikson, Marker and Vig for the first time in London. Later that evening Vig was informed of Kurt Cobain’s suicide.
The album was met with critical acclaim and was viewed by some journalists as an innovative recording for its time. It reached number 20 on the US Billboard 200 and number six on the UK Albums Chart, while reaching the top 20 and receiving multi-platinum certifications in several territories. The album’s success was helped by the band promoting it on a year-long tour, including playing on the European festival circuit and supporting the Smashing Pumpkins throughout 1996, as well as by a run of increasingly successful singles culminating with “Stupid Girl”, which received Grammy Award nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group in 1997.
Garbage debuted at number 12 on the UK Albums Chart in October 1995 with 9,409 copies sold in its first week, eventually peaking at number six in April 1996. So for us here at Finbar Hoban Presents we still feel most of the album holds up okay and every time we hear a single from the album on the radio we are transported back to the nineties.
Manson actually auditioned in a laundry room (“I just assumed it was a ‘man cave,’” she shrugs), and she confesses that the experience was a total disaster. “They just said, ‘OK, we’re going to play some music and you’re going to just come see what you come up with, see what comes up off the top of your head.’ And I had never done any writing before in my life up to this point, but I had lied to them, saying yes I was a writer, because I thought if I was honest and said I didn’t write, I wouldn’t get a chance of auditioning. .. I think they were like, ‘Oh my God, who’s this loser?’ And I went home, and their management called me up the next day and said, ‘I hear the audition didn’t go so well yesterday.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, it was terrible. But I feel like maybe if we had another go, it might go better.’” Thankfully, Manson’s future bandmates felt the same way.
And so, with Angelfish on the outs, Manson took a major risk by relocating to the Madison to join a new band and stay in a spooky old hotel, while she and her bandmates — who were still barely more than strangers at this point — got to work on what would be their self-titled debut album, which eventually came out on Aug. 15, 1995. Vig, Marker, and Erikson were well aware that Manson was in a vulnerable position. “We kind of looked out for her,” says Vig. “I think we just felt like, ‘We’ve got to make sure she doesn’t go crazy, being stuck at night in the hotel here in the dead of winter when it’s 20 below zero. Because especially that hotel, it did take on a bit of a Shining quality. I think [Manson was] the only person living in this particular wing of the hotel. So it was a little bit creepy there too.”
Interesting to hear how the recording process album proceeded to say the least!
But is all this good enough or will the album become a nostalgia record for most?
We feel it definitely has a nostalgia impact but it will most certainly be interesting to hear the publics thoughts?