STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
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Releasing a 20th anniversary edition of its double-platinum debut album last year, and touring to play it in its entirety, reconnected Garbage to its past.
And created an appetite for its future.
So the group’s sixth studio album “Strange Little Birds,” which came out in June, charts a different flight path than its predecessors, both in terms of style and sonics. “We wanted to make a record that was different sounding,” the groups’ Butch Vig explains by phone from his home studio in Los Angeles. “We didn’t know what that meant at the time. We wanted to make something that was spare-sounding and more sort of atmospheric and cinematic.”
Concurrently, Vig says that signer Shirley Manson “was writing pretty dark lyrics. ‘Strange Little Birds’ is by far the darkest album we’ve recorded as a whole. But the drummer and producer — who co-founded Garbage after producing key albums for Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Foo Fighters, among others — doesn’t think “Strange Little Birds” is a downer.
“Somehow we find solace in that darkness. We feel good within it,” says Vig, 60. “We don’t look at it as being a pessimistic record. We think there’s optimism in that darkness, and I think it comes through in a way people can relate to it.”
“Strange Little Birds” gives Garbage fans other reasons to be cheerful, too. It’s the quartet’s second set of new material after a seven-year hiatus that ended with 2012’s “Not Your Kind of People.” The break was necessary, according to Vig; “Quite frankly, we were super burnt out,” he recalls. But the break did the trick, and with several songs already earmarked for a next album, Vig expects Garbage to be piling up material for the foreseeable future.
“We feel very revitalized,” says Vig, how’s also working on “The Smart Studios Story,” a documentary about the recording facility he and Garbage bandmate Steven Marker started in their native Madison, Wisc. “We’re already working on song ideas for another album that we’ll probably get to some time next year, and we want that to be different sounding, too.
“Again, we don’t even know what that means yet, but I know we’re excited. We’re pretty jazzed as a band about where we are right now. If we keep our heads screwed on straight and are still enjoying it, there’s no reason we can’t go on as long as we want. So…fingers crossed.”