Garbage released its self-titled debut album in 1995 and watched its success mount with the decade’s alternative rock explosion. The band’s dark lyrics spoke of isolation, fear and loneliness, which resonated then and continue to do so with fans now, nearly two decades later.
Shirley Manson, Duke Erikson, Butch Vig and Steve Marker never broke up, but they did take a seven-year hiatus, which finally ended last year with the release of the band’s fifth studio album, Not Your Kind Of People. Their current tour, which launched in April 2012 and stops at New York’s Terminal 5 for a sold-out show tonight, illustrates a new breadth of creativity from a band that shows no signs of slowing down.
Erikson recently had time to sit down for a phone interview to talk about the imminent departure of one of their own, the band’s grueling tour schedule and staying grounded in the music business after all these years.
Shirley Manson described returning to tour this time around as “both thrilling and terrifying.” What makes the process thrilling and terrifying compared to other tours you’ve been on?
It was terrifying, certainly, because we didn’t know how we were going to come across. We were terrified also because we have been away for too long, and we didn’t rehearse that much either. We weren’t sure anyone was going to show up.
What type of people do you see coming out to your shows now?
We thought it would be a bunch of 30- to 40-somethings, but it’s not. There are kids in the front row of our show that seem like they were barely born when our first record came out. It’s a huge cross of people, and I don’t understand it to be honest, but I think Shirley’s lyrics speak to the kids and young girls.
Jane’s Addiction’s Eric Avery has been playing bass with you guys on tour, but he’s set to leave at the end of your North American leg to go on the road with Nine Inch Nails. Has Garbage found a replacement?
We are really not sure what our plans are after our North American tour. We are going to make a new record. We may do another tour of festivals in Europe later in the summer. We know for sure we are going to make another album. He will be sorely missed. He’s a great bass player and has become one of us. It makes us all a little sad, but we wish him the best.
The band has been doing this for such a long time. How do you keep up your enthusiasm for touring and recording?
It’s about making music. There have been times on this tour that have been really tough. Doing three, four nights in a row can really get to anybody. All the traveling can wear you down, but it’s all about the music. That’s all I know how to do.
What inspired this latest album, Not Your Kind Of People, following such a long hiatus of not making any new material?
I think we come to the table with new ideas. Somebody may come in with a new lyric or new musical idea, and we all kind of dive in. With the first song we wrote for this album, somebody came up with the riff, and the result was “Battle In Me.” That happened on the very first day. That was a pretty good sign. We always write songs about people who are always on the outside—the loner or the outcast. I mean rock ‘n’ roll has always been about that to a degree.
How has the writing/recording process changed over the years? Has the band found new techniques to aid the process?
It’s what we did on the very first album. It’s like we didn’t know what the fuck we were doing. Not caring and worrying about any expectations from the outside and willing to try anything and keeping an open mind. Being away from it for such a long time made us relax about the whole music biz side of things. We wanted to approach it as our art and not our work this time. We were much more relaxed and open on this record.
Shirley Manson had a solo music project coming out. Will that ever see the light of day?
Well, I think she definitely put it back on the shelf. I think her situation with the label at that time wasn’t the best. There were certain expectations on what type of album she can make, and I think she didn’t want to have anything to do with that.
Any big plans for the remainder of 2013?
We are putting out a new album and will be touring behind it.