Wiser and independent, Garbage's return to music a 'thrill'

In the mid- to late-1990s, Scottish singer Shirley Manson and her Wisconsin-based band Garbage were alt-rock darlings, MTV rotation regulars, platinum chart-toppers and a band that had little problem selling out headlining tours.

The rush of success that came with two massively popular albums — 1995's self-titled debut (featuring "Stupid Girl") and 1998's follow-up "Version 2.0" (featuring "I Think I'm Paranoid") — raised the band's profile and the expectations of Garbage's record label, Interscope. According to Manson, it was the latter that eventually caused the band to walk away mid-tour in 2005.

"Certainly we were chasing our label's expectations to the detriment of our own well-being," Manson said recently. "I think that is why we just put the brakes on for a minute. We were quite literally making ourselves sick."

It was longer than a minute or even a year. Manson and her bandmates — including bassist and keyboardist Duke Erikson, guitarist Steve Marker and renowned producer and drummer Butch Vig — took an indefinite hiatus that lasted seven years.

In 2012, Garbage, which plays the Fillmore Silver Spring on Sunday, returned, free of the major-label system. "Not Your Kind of People," the group's fifth studio album and first since 2005's "Bleed Like Me," was released on the band's own independent label, StunVolume.

"The smartest thing we ever did was save a lot of money," Manson said. "We didn't go nuts and buy ridiculous cars and mansions. Everyone maintained a small, realistic lifestyle. As a result, we had a recording budget."

Garbage's return to music has gone better than any of the members ever expected, she says. Not only are the members proud of the record, but also the subsequent tour rejuvenated them. Shows now are a far cry from the meltdown of 2005, and Manson credits age and reflection as the difference.

"To take seven years off ... you can sit and take note of what it means to you to be a musician," she said. "I think we all came back to the live discipline and really came at it from a completely different perspective than we had in the past. The result of that is we're playing the best shows of our career."

Manson, a fiery frontwoman and a person never afraid to speak her mind, is aware that bands from the '90s that return from long breaks can be met with trepidation.

"I sometimes watch bands coming back and they feel like the world owes them something," Manson said. "Like, 'We're really successful and we should be respected, and we should be this and that.' "

She insists this version of Garbage lacks that type of baggage, which is one of the main reasons the group is thriving again creatively.

"All you really have as a band is what you create together and what the chemistry is like together," she said. "It's very small. It's not about something larger or about being talked about."

The band plans to carry the momentum from "Not Your Kind of People" and its tour into the studio. There have been preliminary talks about recording this summer, Manson says, but nothing is concrete. Regardless of when it happens, there is another Garbage album planned. It's further proof the band is fully committed to its return.

"That surprised me — how much everyone wanted it, and how much everyone was enjoying the challenge [of returning]," Manson said. "It was like, 'Can we get this thing back up? [Expletive] yeah, we can do it!' When you do that, it creates a crazy amount of momentum. It was a thrill. You can't ask for more than that as an artist."

If you go

Garbage performs Sunday at Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Road in Silver Spring. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35. Call 301-960-9999 or go to fillmoresilverspring.com.

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