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Garbage: After An Absence, Always The Oddball

"I wanted to make loud, guitar-driven rock again," says Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson, on the band's reunion. (Courtesy of the artist)

In the mid-1990s, the moody rock song "Only Happy When It Rains" was all over radio and MTV. Now, after a hiatus, Garbage returns with a new album, Not Your Kind of People.

"Their music was always really ahead of its time," says Jancee Dunn, who wrote for Rolling Stone at the time and interviewed Garbage after the release of its first record. "Their debut album sounds modern to me even now — always very forward-thinking, intelligent."

"We used to describe it as sci-fi pop, because we felt it was taking a futuristic approach," says Garbage singer Shirley Manson.

The band's debut sold millions of copies. Manson became an alt-rock sex symbol.

"Every guy who ever loved alternative music and had a gas-station shirt in the '90s had a crush on Shirley," Dunn says. "She was amphibiously pale and had this flaming, carroty, beautiful hair."

Garbage recorded three more albums, which yielded more hits. The band even recorded a theme for a James Bond film.

Then, in 2005 — after years of exhaustive touring and disagreements with its record label — Garbage announced an indefinite hiatus. Drummer Butch Vig, who'd produced Nirvana's landmark Nevermind in the early '90s, worked on albums for various bands and won a Grammy. Manson played a role on a TV show. She also worked on solo material.

"I made that record because I wanted to get really quiet," Manson says. "And I wanted to get rid of all the loud guitars. And I wanted to get away from all the pressures my band was under. And then years passed, literally. And then I wanted to make loud, guitar-driven rock again."

So Garbage reunited and recorded a new album.

"With this record, I think we just accepted we are who we are," Manson says. "We have outsider status. We're always going to be oddball, and that's OK."

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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Now, to a band making a comeback. The band Garbage first made a splash in the mid-1990s with its moody alternative rock and songs like this one.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONLY HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS")

GARBAGE: (Singing) I'm only happy when it rains. I'm only happy when it's complicated.

MONTAGNE: Jancee Dunn interviewed Garbage for Rolling Stone Magazine back then when they came out with their first album.

JANCEE DUNN: Their music was always really ahead of its time. I mean, their debut album sounds modern to me even now. Always very forward-thinking, intelligent.

(SOUNDBITE OF "STUPID GIRL")

GARBAGE: (Singing) Don't believe in anything that you can't break. You stupid girl. You stupid girl.

SHIRLEY MANSON: We used to describe it as sci-fi pop, because we felt it was sort of taking a futuristic approach.

MONTAGNE: That's Shirley Manson, the lead singer for Garbage. The band's debut album sold millions of copies. And Shirley Manson, a Scot in a band of Americans, became an alt-rock sex symbol. Here's music writer Jancee Dunn.

DUNN: Every guy who ever loved alternative music and had a gas station shirt in the '90s had a crush on Shirley. She was amphibiously pale and had this flaming carroty, beautiful hair.

MONTAGNE: She, along with Garbage, recorded three more albums, which yielded more hits. They even recorded this theme for a James Bond film.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH")

GARBAGE: (Singing) The world is not enough, but it is such a perfect place to start, my love.

MONTAGNE: Then in 2005, after years of exhaustive touring and disagreements with their record label, Garbage said it was taking a break indefinitely. Drummer Butch Vig produced albums for various bands and won a Grammy. Shirley Manson played a role on a TV show. She also recorded as a solo artist.

MANSON: I made that record because I wanted to get really quiet and I wanted to get rid of all the loud guitars and I wanted to get away from all the pressures that I felt my band was under. And then, years passed, literally. And then all of a sudden I just wanted to make loud, guitar-driven rock again.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: So Garbage reunited and has now recorded a new album. Its first in seven years.

MANSON: With this record, I think we just accepted, you know, we are who we are. We have outsider status. We're always going to be oddball and that's OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AUTOMATIC SYSTEMATIC HABIT")

GARBAGE: (Singing) And you're so good at it, oh it comes automatic. Lies more lies, I can tell they're lies. I can see right through. You have see-through eyes.

MONTAGNE: Shirley Manson of Garbage. The band's new album is Not Your Kind of People. It's out today.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AUTOMATIC SYSTEMATIC HABIT")

DUNN: (Singing) Not for you, not for me, not for your other lover. I won't be your... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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