When Garbage reunited in 2012 following a seven-year hiatus, the band returned with new outlook on how to make music together. They released Not Your Kind of People only to return home and immediately begin working on its follow-up. After a slight delay due to drummer Butch Vig’s work with the Foo Fighters and a tour that celebrated the 20th anniversary of the band’s debut album, Garbage is finally readying Strange Little Birds, out June 10th via their own imprint Stunvolume. Singer Shirley Manson spoke with Rolling Stone about the band’s preparation for their sixth LP, what pulled them apart after Bleed Like Me in 2005 and how they mended the tension.
Since this album comes right after a retrospective tour celebrating your debut, did that tour and going back to where Garbage began affect the creation of Strange Little Birds?
Actually, the entire record was written before we went out on tour for the retrospective, so it didn’t really have much bearing on the new record, if the truth be told. We just came home to mix it and master it [after the tour]. It’s terribly unromantic of me to say so, but I don’t think it really played a role in what we were doing now, which I think is probably for the best. I believe that as a creative person, or a creative group, you really shouldn’t spend much time looking back and trying to chase a zeitgeist. I think that’s a really dangerous mindset to have.
When did you actually start writing these songs?
We’d been touring our last studio record, Not Your Kind of People, and we were really surprised by the response that we had when we came out with a new record after seven years away [following Bleed Like Me]. We really didn’t expect the reception that we enjoyed at all. It buoyed us up, if the truth be told. It gave us a lot of confidence, and we were excited to go straight back into the studio once we got back off tour. But Butch [Vig], our drummer, had a record to complete with the Foo Fighters, so we had to wait longer than we would have liked until he was ready. We basically started writing almost immediately coming off tour.
We have a funny way of working now because one of the reasons why we took a hiatus was we’d really gotten to a point where we weren’t getting along that well. I think one of the reasons for that was we had these historically intense, ridiculously long studio sessions, for want of a better word, that just went on and on and on, basically for years [laughs]. It drove me fucking out of my mind.
So now we have really short, concise two-week breaks where we go in, we work in the studio, and then we take two weeks to a month off, and then we go back at it. That seems to work really well for everybody. We’ve developed a really harmonious working relationship again, which is really lovely to have, because we always got along really well as people. So it was great to be able to readjust that balance in the studio.