Garbage’s third album Beautiful Garbage, which topped the Australian charts, contains monster hits such as Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!) and Breaking Up The Girl. Following a gruelling 20 months spent touring off the back of their preceding Version 2.0 record (1998), Garbage’s three American band members returned home while their self-appointed MVP, Shirley Manson, went back to Scotland to address her mental health issues.
After enlisting the help of a therapist, Shirley opened up about her self-harm battle, publicly, before returning to Wisconsin, Michigan to pour her emo heart into Garbage’s gothic-pop masterwork Beautiful Garbage, which was released three weeks after the September 11 attacks.
An extra drummer was brought in to add swing
Drummer Butch Vig wasn’t happy with his performance of a 6/8 groove within the ‘50s-girl-group-inspired Can’t Cry These Tears, so Matt Chamberlain (Bowie, Dylan) was called in. Matt’s trademark bitchin’ funk was also utilised on two more Beautiful Garbage album tracks: Cup Of Coffee and Confidence.
Shirley’s buzzcut was mistakenly viewed as a cry for help
While promoting Beautiful Garbage in 2001, Shirley lopped off her trademark ranga locks and dyed her ‘boy-short’ ‘do platinum blonde (partly to spite their record label). “People went nuts… like, literally,” she recalled to journalist Roberto Reyes. “I got phone calls from the record company when they saw me on Letterman, I think it was, and they were freaking out, saying, ‘F-ck, what are we going to do about your hair? Tell us what we can do to help!’ and I said, ‘I don’t want any help. I like it’.”
Garbage’s Breaking Up The Girl video was premiered on Daria
Remember the Is It College Yet? TV movie that concluded MTV’s cult animated series Daria – a Beavis And Butt-Head spin-off – back in January, 2002? Well that was also the final ep of the show that birthed this cartoon spokesperson for Gen X apathy. Garbage’s Breaking Up The Girl was synced to Is It College Yet? and although widely regarded as the show’s ‘theme song’, that honour actually goes to College Try (Gives Me Blisters) by NYC riot grrrls Splendora. Have you seen the animated versions of Garbage band members that the Daria team created to also appear in this episode? So effin’ cute!
Butch, Duke Erikson (guitar, bass, keyboards) and Steve Marker (guitar, keyboards) formed Garbage, but soon realised they needed to recruit a charismatic singer. While watching MTV at 2am one night, Steve clocked a clip by Scottish band Angelfish (which Shirley fronted), showed it to his bandmates and the rest is history.
Nirvana’s paradigm-shifting second album Nevermind (1991) was produced by Garbage’s Butch Vig.
In 1996, Nellee Hooper and Marius de Vries remixed Garbage’s #1 Crush (initially a b-side) for Baz Luhrmann’s Leonardo DiCaprio-starring film Romeo + Juliet, which became the group’s only US #1 single.
Shirley was rejected by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, but went on to be cast as Catherine Weaver (for which she is said to have based her character on Margaret Thatcher) in the second season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Garbage supplied The World Is Not Enough theme song for the Bond film of the same name (1999).
Shirley hosts The Jump podcast, for which she interviews internationally acclaimed artists – such as Patti Smith, David Byrne and Courtney Love – about a song that changed the course of their career.
Prepare to covet the remastered and expanded editions of Beautiful Garbage – containing b-sides, previously unreleased recordings and remixes – which drop next month to mark 20 years since its release!