Despite living and breathing the band's upcoming sophomore album for more than a year, Garbage bassist/guitarist/sampler Steve Marker struggled to describe the electronic-rock quartet's eagerly awaited second effort.
At first, all he could manage was a vague comparison to the debut.
"I definitely think it's better than the first one," Marker said on Wednesday, in a rare break from mixing Version 2.0, Garbage's cheekily titled album that's due in late April. But calling from the group's Smart Studios in Madison, Wis., where mixing has gone on for the past four months, Marker soon added, "We're much more confident in what we're doing. [Singer] Shirley [Manson] is at the top of her game. She's really confident, more so even than on the first album."
The group, which also includes fellow multi-hyphenates Butch Vig (drummer/producer/programmer) and Duke Erikson (guitars/keyboards), have five songs left to mix to add to the seven tracks they've already completed, according to Marker. The first single will be "Push It," which will be backed by two B-sides -- a cover of Big Star's "13" and a Garbage original, "Lick the Pavement."
"I'm really happy with it," said Marker, who had just finished listening to mastered copies of a handful of songs. "After we listened to those songs, it was like, 'Wow, this really sounds like a record!' "
Version 2.0, like the band's multi-platinum, self-titled debut, was a group effort, Marker said, with all four members contributing ideas and collaborating on the music, some of which he described as "pushing the electronic angle pretty hard. There's some pretty aggressive, chattery (sic), techno-electronic stuff." One frame of reference that Marker offered was the debut album's propulsive, dark dance-track "As Heaven is Wide," which he said the band expanded on, "but with a more technoey (sic) and dance end."
Also in the mix this time was touring bassist Daniel Schulman, who played bass on all the tracks but is not an official member of the band.
Other tracks scheduled for inclusion are: "Medication," "The Trick is to Keep Breathing," "Hammering In My Head," "Temptation," "Dumb," "Bend Me Break Me" and a track tentatively titled "Special," which Marker said is somewhat of a tribute to Pretenders leader Chrissie Hynde. "It's weird," he said. "It's not really a sample of one of their songs, although it sounds like it might be."
The group sent a tape of the song to Hynde just in case, Marker said, and word came back that the "Tattooed Love Boys" singer loved the track and gave her full blessing.
Another rock legend who gets electronic props is Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson. "We tried to sample the Beach Boys' 'Don't Worry Baby' [on "Push It"], but we just couldn't make it work," Marker said. "So Shirley just sang the line 'Don't worry baby.' We sent a tape to Brian Wilson to ask him if we could use it and he said it was OK, but that he didn't think it sounded anything like the Beach Boys song."
The group was honored anyway, not only because Wilson consented to the sample, but because "he liked the tape we sent him enough to keep it," Marker said. [Thurs., Feb. 5, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]