Alt-rock pioneers, Garbage will release their long-awaited seventh album 'No Gods No Masters' this Friday (11 June).With tracks touching on themes ranging from global unrest and encroaching climate change, to the Black Lives Matter movement, the Me Too movement, sexism and misogyny, the record is overtly political and socially charged in a way that the band has not been before.
The seeds for their first record in five years were sown over two weeks in the US summer of 2018, when the quartet convened in the desert in Palm Springs at a home belonging to one of guitarist Steve Marker's relatives.
Drummer and co-producer, Butch Vig, who first melded musical minds with fellow Midwesterners Steve and Duke Erikson (guitarist) in the '80s before inviting Scotswoman and frontwoman Shirley Manson to join them in 1994, explains: "We just jammed, and they were really low-key, relaxed sessions.
"And it's funny because the songs at the time had a very kind of relaxed, sort of expansive vibe – almost orchestral or symphonic – and the record does not sound anything like that."
Going their separate ways post Palm Springs, the band members took the demos to individually tinker with before reconvening in the Los Angeles studio of engineer (and Shirley's husband) Billy Bush, where they finished their last day of proper recording together as a band on 15 March, 2020, right before they went into lockdown.
"Once we started finishing the songs and Shirley started writing about the world that she saw and that we are all seeing everyday – all the craziness and then COVID kicking in in early 2020 – the record just took a hard detour and it became much more social political and very much more of a reflection of just the insanity that everybody is dealing with, not just here in the US, but everywhere around the world," Butch says.
"It's the most social-political record we've made, but I think we're really extremely proud of it.
"We know we're not a pop band anymore. We're not going to get played on Top 40 radio, and it was an important record for us to make. For better or worse, it sounds like Garbage."
Since releasing their self-titled debut album in 1995, Garbage have garnered worldwide critical acclaim, amassing numerous hits as well as 7 Grammy nominations and 17 million albums sold.
Describing the band's sound as electronica, punk rock, orchestral music, pop songs and fuzzy guitar riffs, Butch adds: "We are very lucky as a band that we have a strong sonic identity, and I think a lot of that has to do with the sensibilities that we share and how we play as musicians, and also because of Shirley.
"She has such a strong presence as a singer [and] that allows Duke and Steve, and me to go off on tangents musically, and yet she still controls the vibe of the song front and centre. And we've known that for a long time.
"She's the MVP of Garbage. She has the presence to rein us in or blow us out, and she gives us a lot of leeway."
The band are impatient to return to the stage to test drive 'No Gods No Masters', with tours already scheduled for the US and UK.
A tour down under is also on the cards, and this is in large part to honour the late Australian music industry giant Michael Gudinski, who launched the Scottish-American band when he signed them to Mushroom Records in 1995. "Michael was a champion of Garbage for 25 years," Butch says.
"He had heard the new record about a week before he died, and he had talked to Shirley a couple of days before he died, and he was like, 'Oh, this record is fantastic!'.
"And so we want to come back to Australia and play a tour if nothing else because we wouldn't want to let Michael down.
"[And] we love our Australian fans and we've had great tours there. So hopefully early next year from late January through February and March, we might be coming down there to play some shows, so fingers crossed."
'No Gods No Masters' is released 11 June.