Garbage's Butch Vig on Upgrading Version 2.0 After Two Decades

Garbage revisits Version 2.0 at the Marquee Theatre this SundayEXPAND
Garbage revisits Version 2.0 at the Marquee Theatre this Sunday
Joseph Cultice
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You can't help but feel an invigorating emotional release when revisiting Garbage’s hit anthem “When I Grow Up.”

The single, which is from the 1998 record Version 2.0, features singer Shirley Manson reassuring herself during the chorus that she will lead a “stable” life and shake things up. The world may be falling apart around us, but the optimistic energy of that single can breathe new life into the listener’s ongoing fight against responsibility and authority into adulthood.

The four-time Grammy-nominated Version 2.0, which has sold over 4 million copies worldwide, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and Garbage marked the occasion with a deluxe re-release in June. In late September, the group began a small American tour playing Version 2.0 in its entirety – along with its B-sides – including a stop at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Sunday, October 7.

The amazing response from fans to Garbage’s recent performances of Version 2.0 in Europe floored the band's drummer Butch Vig. The musician from Viroqua, Wisconsin, recently spoke to Phoenix New Times from his home in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

“It’s really astounding how this record has meant so much to a lot of our fans,” says Vig. “Some songs in particular, such as ‘The Trick Is To Keep Breathing,’ help people get through extremely difficult times. It’s touching to hear how it has impacted people.”

The quartet, who also include musicians Duke Erikson and Steve Marker, is playing many of the songs on their setlist in concert for the first time, in some cases reworking them for live performance. For example, the band stripped down the instrumentation on their B-side “Soldier Through This.” According to Vig, the song took on a darker tone that really fit with Manson’s powerful vocals.

“It’s very much a dynamic roller-coaster ride,” he says. “For us, it’s fresh to play a set like this. It’s been exciting.”

The record's success is partially due to its brazen references to the best of '60s rock, the punk and goth rock of the '70s and '80s, and the boundary-pushing trip-hop and electronic music flourishes from the '90s, influenced especially by Portishead and The Chemical Brothers according to Vig. It all comes together beautifully when Manson soothingly sings a snippet of The Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby” over a throbbing techno beat on “Push It” or when she channels The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde at the end of “Special.”

With Version 2.0, Garbage was also beta-testing ProTools and other production software that's considered the standard today. Vig says there was some trepidation in following-up their successful debut by utilizing a technology that was unproven at the time, but that grappling with the record for over a year led to the album’s sheen and gave the band a larger palette to play with.

“We always like painting in the cracks and corners of the song by adding atmospherics and textures,” Vig says.
It doesn’t surprise Vig that Version 2.0 still endures. His nonchalance doesn’t come from a prideful place. He just knows music has the power to connect with listeners 20 years later and feels lucky that some of the music he’s worked on still sounds as fresh as it did when it originally came out.

“You see reunion tours from bands in every style of music,” he says. “It’s just going to continue because it’s something that music fans will always crave. They want to experience the nostalgia from that song they heard years ago.”

Garbage. With Rituals Of Mine. 8 p.m. Sunday, October 7, at Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue,Tempe; luckymanonline.com. Tickets are $45 via Ticketweb.

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