Tell Me About That Album: Not Your Kind of People

Garbage guitarist Duke Erikson talks about the band's first albums since the Bush years.

SW: You haven't made a record in seven years, and styles and trends in music have changed since then. Does that make things more challenging, or do you guys not pay so much attention to what's current and what's not?

Duke Erikson: The whole approach to this album was not really giving a damn about what was going on. We came together with really no idea of what we were going to do, and just sort of let things flow. After making the last few records, we were maybe paying a little bit too much attention to what was going on and let it affect how we work.

I think we felt pressure from record labels [to meet] a certain way records were sounding at the time. I think that crept in now and then. I don't think we completely changed the Garbage sound or how we write exactly, but I think that maybe in the production, we allowed some of that pressure, some of that influence to creep in. And I think that was unhealthy for us. This time we set up our own label and just went in like we did on our first record, not really knowing what we were going to do. We just started working. We put our heads down and just started working, and I enjoyed it immensely.

How was the process different this time?

When we first got together after this long hiatus, we all showed up at the studio and sat in the lounge and drank wine for a couple hours. We laughed and settled back in and reminisced. We didn't even talk about music, really. Then we went downstairs where all our gear was set up and just started playing. Somebody would just start a riff or an idea or a chord progression, and Shirley had some lyrics that she'd been keeping over the years, and it was just a jam. That first day, I think we wrote "Battle in Me" from beginning to end.

Is the production process as collaborative as the songwriting? It's rare to have a band with as many producers as Garbage has.

Butch's expertise certainly contributes a lot. We all listen really hard to what's going on, and we all have an opinion.

Is it democratic?

Dysfunctionally so. Sometimes it gets a little weird. It sounds kind of nightmarish when you're discussing it like this, but we actually have fun talking and trying different ideas, and on this record, anytime somebody had an idea, we'd try it. Once you run something up the flagpole, usually we're all on the same page and we all salute. And if we're not, we'll work it around a bit to maybe make it work for whoever isn't liking it. I'd say every song, however it comes into the band, is made better by the time it's run the gauntlet.

You always seem to book a very ambitious run of dates. Do you enjoy the time on the road as much as the time at home, and how grueling is it for you at age 61 as opposed to 31?

We're trying to do it in a much more civilized way.

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