A reunited Garbage to make Aspen debut on Wednesday
If You Go …
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 8:30 p.m.
How much: $55-$95
Tickets: Belly Up box office; http://www.bellyupaspen.com
After a seven-year hiatus, Garbage reunited in 2012 with a new album and a tour that was greeted with widespread celebration by fans across the U.S. The reinvigorated band has been at it full-speed since then.
A tour supporting the band’s sixth studio album brings Garbage to Belly Up Aspen tonight.
The concert will mark Garbage’s local debut (a Belly Up gig on the 2012 tour was canceled the day before) and is something of a hometown gig for guitarist Steve Marker, who has lived in Carbondale since 2006.
“It’s pretty amazing,” he said of finally playing in the valley. “I’ve wanted to for years.”
Marker is a regular in the audience at Belly Up. He points to shows by B.B. King, Los Lobos and Tom Morello as highlights of his local concert experiences.
“It’s kind of a perfect size,” he said. “We just played a huge arena in Mexico City, and it can be a little impersonal. It’s a totally different thing. Something like Belly Up, when the audience is right in your face, is something special.”
Marker, drummer Butch Vig and bassist Duke Erikson teamed up in Madison, Wisconsin, more than two decades ago to form what would become Garbage. In search of a singer, Marker spotted Shirley Manson — the bold Scot who would become the band’s standard bearer and a cultural icon — on MTV performing with the little-known band Angelfish. The band invited her to Madison and Garbage was born.
The band tore up the mid-1990s post-grunge era, topping charts and getting Grammy nods with its aggressive, intimate songs and its innovative combination of rock, pop, electronica and industrial sounds.
Last year, Garbage celebrated the 20th anniversary of its watershed self-titled debut album with a tour that included playing the album in full along with its b-sides. The tour coincided with the band finishing up its new album, “Strange Little Birds,” which was released in June. That deep dive into its earliest material appears to have had an influence on the dark and acclaimed new album. The album touches on romance, loneliness, emptiness — the usual for the band best known for “I’m Only Happy When It Rains,” “Stupid Girl” and “Queer.” Recorded, in part, in Vig’s Los Angeles basement, the album has a raw immediacy that recalls the band’s early days.
Marker said revisiting the “Garbage” recordings on analog 24-track tape helped them simplify the making of “Strange Little Birds.” The advent of ProTools and digital recording has allowed the musicians to indulge in limitless takes and a sometimes stifling perfectionism.
“For us that’s like being kids in a candy store and can lead to a lot of wasted time and maybe some more unfocused direction,” Marker said. “But listening to some of that old stuff … we tried to apply that a little bit to the new album: Let’s do it a little but like a live band would do it, to not overthink it, to be more immediate.”
Some of Manson’s vocals on the new record are from her first takes. And the band’s instrumentalists, all of whom also work as producers, opted to keep it simple and not overindulge in overdubs and digital manipulation. The result is a visceral piece of work that solidifies Garbage’s place as a (still) vital rock band in 2016.
On the current tour, the band has been playing a handful of the new songs alongside a mix from their whole catalog and all the early hits that fans are clamoring to hear.
“We’re lucky that we were able to keep going and we’re not just a cover band of what we were 20 years ago,” Marker said.
They broke up in 2005 after nearly 10 years of constant touring. Along with massive mainstream and critical success came commercial pressure from record labels. That soured the band on the industry. But, Marker said, they still loved Garbage and still itched to get back to making music and touring together. When they did four years ago they founded their own independent record label, through which they released the comeback record “Not Your Kind of People” and the new album.
“We just missed it,” Marker said. “It’s the most fun thing. We’re like a little gang. We have a family-type relationship between the four of us. It was a drag not having that in our lives.”
The band members are getting along well these days. During their last day off on tour, they all went to an Anish Kapoor art show in Mexico City. With the extra day they’ve planned for Aspen, Marker is planning to lead Garbage on some local hikes.
“We still enjoy each other’s company,” he said. “I’m thrilled we were able to sort things out and get back together. … It’s sad when you see bands that just can’t get along.”
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