Fuse Q&A: Garbage's Butch Vig Talks New Album, Learning From Foo Fighters

Fuse Q&A: Garbage's Butch Vig Talks New Album, Learning From Foo Fighters

FUSE TV - Fuse Q&A: Garbage's Butch Vig Talks New Album, Learning From Foo Fighters

The last time Garbage released an album—2005's Bleed Like Me—Twitter didn't exist, Facebook was invite-only and Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi topped the charts. The band's co-founder Butch Vig hasn't exactly been bored since then, though. The 56-year-old produced Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown, Jimmy Eat World's Chase This Light and Foo Fighters' Wasting Light, among others, but reunited with Shirley Manson, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker on the band's upcoming, self-released album Not Your Kind of People (out May 15).

Vig spoke to Fuse about defusing band tension and shunning major labels, and fielded one question that he never wants to be asked again.

It’s been seven years since Garbage’s last album Bleed Like Me. You’ve been busy since then as a solo producer, but is it fair to say, “Welcome back”?

Well, we definitely went on hiatus for a long time. I’ve been working on records full time as a record producer, but now I’m back in a band again. I always wore two different hats: Either I’m producing someone or I’m in a band where I’m more of a musician than a songwriter.That’s definitely what mode I’m in at the moment.

When did the band start recording again?

It was a little over a year ago. [Singer] Shirley [Manson] was the one who got the ball rolling; she made a solo record and gave it to her label and they were not interested in releasing it at all. It was way too dark and left field. They wanted her to make a pop record and they kept trying to get her to write with these pop producers that work with Katy Perry and Rihanna. Whatever. And she told them, “You know who I want to write with? I want to write with Butch Vig, Duke Erickson and Steve Marker. She suggested we get together for a week at a studio in Los Angeles, so we felt free because we had been dropped by our label, we were between management and there was nobody telling us what to do.

Did the band go in with any expectations?

There were no expectations; no one even knew we were recording. So it was all under the radar and pretty casual and we all felt inspired after having that amount of time off. Any sort of tension or frustrations that had built up had all dissipated and when we started writing songs, they came fast and furious. We probably wrote 24, 25 songs over the course of a couple of months. 

Can you describe the first day meeting together? Did it feel like old times or was there any weird awkwardness?

Yeah, it took a little while; we didn’t know what to do. Our engineer had taken all our gear and set up two drum kits, a bunch of guitar amps, a piano and a bunch of microphones. There was no plan; nobody brought in any songs. Sometimes a song will start with me bringing in a chord progression or a lyric idea or a beat or something. This was nothing. So for the first three or four hours, we just started telling the crazy stories that happened to us. “Do you remember when Butch fell down the ramp in Barcelona and fell in the bull ring and slid down the thing right before he went on stage?” We just drank a lot of wine and loosened up and after a while said, “Let’s go f**k around.” And we just started jamming. We’re not a great jam band because we’re not amazing players; we all have limited skills, but I think we know how to use those skills to the best we can.

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