For The Love Of Garbage

Excerpted from the magazine for

Call it the eight-year itch.

After recording and touring together since 1995, the four members of Garbage nearly called it quits two years ago.

"We were on the verge of collapse," Garbage drummer and noted producer Butch Vig says.

He says that when the band began recording its fourth album in early 2003, the process quickly spiraled into a black hole. Months later, "we bottomed out, with me walking out of the studio," he adds. "Any kind of optimism ran out, and we took a long hiatus."

In hindsight, Vig believes the band should have taken more time off after its 16-month beautifulgarbage tour.

"We lost our personal lives," Vig notes. "We also lost any sense of a common ground. We were burned out on each other. So, each one of us looked in the mirror to see what we needed to do. And thoughts of losing the band made us realize that we loved it too much."

Fast-forward to March 2004. Vig and his bandmates —- Shirley Manson, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson —- returned to the studio. "We felt a desperation. So we played fast and furious —- as if our lives depended on it," Vig recalls.

And perhaps, in a way, they did.

The end result, released April 12 in the United States via Geffen (one day earlier internationally), is Garbage's fourth studio album, "Bleed Like Me." The album's lead single, "Why Do You Love Me," recently went top 10 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Sophie Mueller directed the video for "Why Do You Love Me," and shot the video for second single "Bleed Like Me" April 12 in Los Angeles.

Written and produced by the band, the album eschews much of the electronic-leaning production of "beautifulgarbage" and "Version 2.0" for guitar-drenched rock. Infused with the fierce energy of the band's live shows, "Bleed Like Me" recalls Garbage's 10-year-old self-titled debut. (Dave Grohl guests on opening track "Bad Boyfriend.")

"We've almost gone backward with this album," Vig offers. "It's us getting back to a more primal sound—guitars, drums, bass and Shirley's voice."

But before deciding on this approach, Vig attempted to come up with something completely new and fresh for the project. "I was beating myself up trying to figure out a new sound for the album," he says. "And then I simply went back to getting great sounds from guitars."

In the process, the band recorded its most spontaneous album, Vig notes. "There is more first-take singing from Shirley. And there was a conscious decision to turn up room mics on drums so that everything was not perfectly balanced —- and not so electronic."

An avalanche of radio, media and fan interest in the band's new work has been welcome, particularly considering the lackluster performance of "beautifulgarbage." According to Nielsen SoundScan, the 4-year-old album has sold 384,000 copies -— compared with 1.7 million and 2.3 million for "Version 2.0" (1998) and "Garbage," respectively.

Having completed a three-week promotional tour of Europe, which included shows in Paris and London, Garbage is in the midst of a brief North American tour that will wrap May 10 in Cleveland. Another European run will follow.

Despite the band having barely spared itself from implosion, Vig is not worried that months of promotion and tour will again push the band to the edge. "Because we were on the verge of losing it all, we made the album of our career," he says. "We feel completely rejuvenated."

Excerpted from the April 16, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to subscribers.

For information about ordering a copy of the issue, click here.