Butch Vig of Garbage Talks About the Album That Defined the Band

Garbage plays Thursday night in Dallas.
Garbage plays Thursday night in Dallas.
Mike Brooks
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Almost 20 years to the day of the original tour date in Dallas, Garbage will play here again, spotlighting all of the songs from their sophomore album, Version 2.0.

Back in 1998, they played the Bronco Bowl on Oct. 15. This week, they play the House of Blues on Thursday, Oct. 11.

For Butch Vig, the band’s drummer (and legendary producer of albums for bands like Nirvana, Sonic Youth, L7 and Smashing Pumpkins), he’s happy to look back on what Version 2.0 did for the band. It was proof they weren’t some fluke studio band who found their singer through MTV’s 120 Minutes and got lucky with some hits. Version 2.0 was the band, which includes Shirley Manson, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker, in full form.

“I think it’s the record that we really came into our own,” Vig says from his home in Los Angeles neighborhood Silver Lake. “The first record was very much an experiment when Shirley joined the band and we had no idea we would have the success we did with it. When we went in to make Version 2.0, we did not want to reinvent ourselves. We wanted to take everything we did on the debut album and make it bigger, stronger, better songs, up the production value. I hear the record as a band that’s very confident, especially Shirley’s singing. She really came into her own as a lyricist and a singer.”

Garbage has a good relationship with Dallas. The band was happy to come to Dallas on their first tour, promoting their self-titled album, mainly because of the weather. Prior to playing Deep Ellum Live on that tour, they rehearsed in a warehouse in Madison, Wis., where it was so cold the toilets were clogged. They had to pee on the sidewalk and see their pee freeze within 30 seconds.

“We were really, really excited when we got to Dallas because it was still chilly down there, but it was 60 degrees warmer than what it was in Wisconsin,” Vig says.

Though they were a popular group with their debut, Version 2.0 gave them a career.

“I think it defines us as a band,” Vig says. “All of the records have a bit of a different sound, but if someone would want to tell people what Garbage sounds like, I think that’s the record that defines us.”

One thing that is different from now and then is how much they want to tour off the album’s anniversary. Unlike an 18-month tour cycle, the band prefers to do 30-40 dates.

“We don’t want to beat it into the ground,” Vig says. “We want to make it something special. Just acknowledge it and go out and do it.”

The band hopes to finish a new record next summer, so now is the right time to revisit Version 2.0, and that includes the non-album tracks that were later released as B-sides. The band plays those songs, including their covers of the Seeds’ “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” and Big Star’s “Thirteen,” on this tour.

“It was quite a learning experience in rehearsals, because half of the songs we haven’t played for 20 years,” Vig says. “Some of the B-sides we never performed. It was a pretty steep learning curve.”

Don’t expect to hear a few of these rarities on future tours, so if this is the era of Garbage you prefer, go to this show.

“It’s a really dynamic roller coaster of a set,” Vig says. “I think it works pretty well.”

Garbage plays Thursday, Oct. 11 at the House of Blues. Tickets are $35-$64.

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