Garbage is an American rock group formed in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1994. The band consists of Scottish vocalist Shirley Manson and American musicians Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig, and has counted worldwide album sales of over 14 million units.
Garbage released a string of increasingly successful singles in 1995?1996, including "Stupid Girl". Their debut album, Garbage, was an unexpected smash, selling over 4 million copies and certified double platinum in the UK, USA and Australia. Garbage won the Breakthrough Artist award at the 1996 MTV Europe Music Awards.
Garbage spent two years working on follow-up album, Version 2.0, which topped the charts in the UK upon its 1998 release and the following year was nominated for two Grammy Awards, Album of the Year and Best Rock Album. Version 2.0 went on to match the sales of its predecessor. Garbage followed this up by performing and co-producing the theme song to the nineteenth James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough.
Despite being named one of Rolling Stone's Top 10 Albums of The Year, Garbage's 2001 third album Beautiful Garbage failed to match the commercial success achieved by its predecessors. Garbage quietly disbanded in late 2003, but regrouped to complete fourth album Bleed Like Me in 2005, peaking at a career-high #4 in the U.S. The band cut short their concert tour in support of Bleed Like Me announcing an "indefinite hiatus", emphasizing that they had not broken up, but wished to pursue personal interests. In 2006, Vig returned to producing while Manson recorded a solo album. Garbage ended their hiatus in 2007, and released greatest hits retrospective Absolute Garbage, with a view to record its fifth studio album in 2009.
Erikson and Vig had been in numerous bands, including Spooner and Fire Town (with Marker as a sound engineer). In 1983, Vig and Marker founded Smart Studios in Madison and Vig's production work brought him to the attention of Sub Pop. A short-term reformation and album from Spooner inspired Erikson, Marker and Vig to form a band: tired of using their own work for remixes, they decided to keep the material for their own project. An early comment that their work sounded "like garbage" inspired the band's name.
Manson had been performing with the Edinburgh rock band Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie since 1984. In 1993, several band members, including Manson, changed their name to Angelfish. Their only release, the self-titled Angelfish, did not do any better than the preceding albums by Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, selling only 10,000 copies.
Initial sessions with Vig on vocals, and the member's past work with all-male groups led to the band's desire for a woman on lead. Marker was watching 120 Minutes when he saw the music video for Angelfish's "Suffocate Me". He showed the video to Erikson and Vig while their manager Shannon O'Shea tracked Manson down. When Manson was contacted, she didn't know who Vig was and was urged to check the credits on Nevermind, the popular Nirvana album which Vig produced.
On , Manson met Erikson, Marker and Vig for the first time in London. Later that evening Vig was informed of Kurt Cobain's suicide. Garbage was put on hold, until Angelfish were touring North America in support of Live. Erikson, Marker and Vig attended the Metro Chicago date; and Manson was invited to Madison to audition for the band. The audition did not go well, but Manson socialized with the men while there and they found they had a similar taste in music. Angelfish disbanded at the end of the Live tour. Manson called O'Shea and asked to audition again feeling that "it would work out".
Manson began to work on the then-skeletal "Stupid Girl", "Queer" and "Vow" (ad-libbing the line "I can't use what I can't abuse"). Manson had never written a song prior to this session, nevertheless, this time she was invited to join the band. Lyrics were penned at a cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin, while the batch of songs were recorded at Smart Studios. Conscious of the grunge genre that had made their names, particularly Vig's, the band made every effort to avoid sounding similar, deliberately striving to make a pop record.
Garbage sent out demo tapes with no bio, to avoid a bidding war over Vig's production history. Garbage signed with Mushroom U.K. worldwide (excluding North America) and secured the band a Volume magazine compilation inclusion. The only potential candidate for release was "Vow," as it was the only song for which the band had completed production. When released in December, "Vow" began to receive radio airplay on XFM and from Radio 1 DJs Steve Lamacq, John Peel and Johnnie Walker. Word-of-mouth on "Vow" took the track back to the U.S. On , Garbage signed to Jerry Moss's label Almo Sounds for North America. Manson was licensed to both Mushroom and Almo by Radioactive Records for a single album, with no compensation from any of Garbage's labels.
Garbage hadn't even considered "Vow" for inclusion on the album or even as a single. Due to the exclusive licensing to Volume preventing a full commercial single release, on , 1995, Mushroom issued "Vow" in a limited