MILAN, Italy -- For Garbage singer Shirley Manson, computers were all
well and good when it came to engineering albums, but as personal tools and
creative aids, they were just not her speed.
She wasn't even much into surfing the Web, e-mailing friends via the Net or
playing games on computers -- until last year, that is. That's when she got her
own personal computer.
Nothing has been the same since.
In fact, Manson and the rest of Garbage have spent the better part of the past
year parked in front of a computer or two or three. Tweaking buttons and
experimenting with the latest available sounds, this merry band of electronic
rockers has assembled its sophomore album, a project characterized by
computer samplings and appropriately titled Version 2.0.
"I became obsessed with [my computer] and with the Internet," Manson recalled.
"My computer was almost my only friend."
Indeed, Garbage's Version 2.0, due May 12, gets heavy on computer
sampling, heavier even than the band's quadruple-platinum 1995 debut album,
which spawned such sample-driven tracks as the single
All this computer interaction led the band to name its album after an imaginary
software program, Manson said. "It's kind of tongue-in-cheek," she added.
"Computers almost completely ruled our life for a year. In the studio, at any
given moment, someone would come in and find the four of us in front of the
Taking advantage of their new obsession, the bandmembers managed to pack
120 audio tracks into some songs during the final mixdown. " 'Push It,'
'Hammering In My Head' ... they don't all have 120 tracks, but there are many
recordings to each track," explained the red-haired Manson, who was in Milan
on Wednesday to talk about the album. "You can still hear a band playing."
"We used a digital ProTools system to record on computer, and that allows you
to do as many tracks as you want," she said. "Then we mixed it on [an] analog
tape [deck], which allows you just 14 tracks. So the computer was like a bank of
samples from which we took songs and melodies. We just chose what was best
on that given day. I'm sure if we mixed each song on a different day, it would
have turned out different."
One of the multi-track songs is the single "Push It," which has already started
getting radio airplay. The song initially had a sample from the early Beach Boys
hit "Don't Worry Baby," but the band eventually replaced it with the same line
sung by Manson. "We have no ties to California music, but the great thing about
the Beach Boys is that their music was universal," she explained.
In fact, Manson and the band had initially intended to use the Beach Boys as
background vocalists on the song. "We sent [Beach Boys songwriter] Brian
Wilson a tape and we were thrilled that he liked the tune. [After] we actually
sampled the Beach Boys ... they were freaked out at the record company,
because they thought our record would get delayed for legal problems, so we
took it off."
The band also got in touch with Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde. At the end
of the song "Special," Manson said she slipped in a line from the Pretenders hit
"Talk of the Town." She then phoned up Hynde and asked her if it would be OK
to use the sample. Hynde gave the band permission to use the tune, but just in
case, Manson sent a tape of the song to Hynde.
"I said I'll send you the song, anyway, and if you like it, we'll keep it. And about
10 minutes later a fax arrived saying 'I, Chrissie Hynde, swear that the rock
band Garbage can sample my songs, my voice or, indeed, my very ass,' "
recalled Manson, laughing about the episode.
The band has no problem using such a diverse variety of samples and
sources. "We tried to make the record sound timeless," Manson said. "We took
from different times, so you don't really get a sense of where it's coming from --
the '90s, the '80s, the '70s or the '60s -- mixing it up ... with genres: drum & bass,
Despite the technical difficulties that the band could have attempting to re-create the sound of the album on tour, that is exactly what Garbage expect to do
on their upcoming North American six-city mini club-tour, which begins in San
Francisco on May 20 and includes shows in Los Angeles, Toronto, Boston,
Washington, D.C., and New York. "We're gonna cheat," Manson joked. "We
have a very sophisticated set, and, in fact, the men in the band are not here
because they had to go back and read the manuals again."
To help facilitate their highly technical sound, Garbage will use cutting-edge
equipment that allows drummer/producer Butch Vig to trigger a lot of samples
manually from his drum kit. Also, guitarists Steve Marker and Duke Erikson
have samplers connected to foot pedals with switches, so that they can change
from guitar to keyboard sounds and back.
"It's gonna be a headache," Manson said. "Obviously, we can't re-create the
record, but we can bring the essential of the songs."
And in case you're wondering, the band might do a remix album, "but we won't
call it Version 2.1," Manson promised.