Music Midtown Day Two: 1 p.m.-11 p.m. Sept. 22. (Garbage plays 2:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m.) Piedmont Park. $55-$1,000. www.musicmidtown.com.
Garbage played Music Midtown ten years ago, then Garbage and Music Midtown went on hiatus in 2005. The festival returned last year, Garbage got back together last year, and now you're playing the festival again. So it seems like the two of you have an oddly parallel history.
Maybe so. That's a good way to look at it. We're really looking forward to coming back. It seems like the bands that are playing this year are huge.
Garbage has a long history with Atlanta going all the way back to shows at the Point (now the Clothing Warehouse) in Little Five Points. What are some of your favorite things about playing in Atlanta?
The Fox Theatre's there, right? We played there once on our first records and we were on Top of the Pops, which broadcast in the U.K. It was a pretty big TV show at the time. We actually performed our single "Melt" at the Fox Theatre and they broadcast it in the U.K. So we had to do it at a certain time because we weren't able to get over thereand I remember that being pretty weird.
But I have nothing but good memories of Atlanta. The Point was in Little Five Points and that was in our very early days. I remember there was a lot of super cool sort of hippie-ish restaurants and stuff. Nothing but good memories from Atlanta, that's for sure. And I remember the last Midtown we played was pretty cool and it's an awesome city. Butch [Vig, drummer/producer] spent a lot of time there working with the Smashing Pumpkins. They recorded Siamese Dream down there.
For the band, Music Midtown is part of a worldwide tour that been going on for a few months. How has that been going, considering that you guys hadn't played together for several years?
It's been totally amazing. I don't really know what the secret is, but somehow we've figured out how to do it and not just totally kill ourselves where we end up all dragged-out and tired and bitching at each other as maybe happened in the past. With our first couple of records, we'd put out an album, then basically hit the road and keep going until we dropped. With Version 2.0, we were on the road for 18 months almost without even going home or doing anything other than playing. It got to be too much, so this time we're playing so we actually have a little time to see the places we go to, which makes a huge difference. I've been home for a few days, then I go down to Atlanta on Friday. It's a much more sane way to do it and it's just been really fun. We've been to some amazing places all over Europe all summer and we just got back from Mexico last week. A couple of weeks ago we were in Singapore, Japan and Taiwan, now we're going to Atlanta, then we go to South America, where we've never been. So we're really excited about that because that's supposed to be a really amazing experience that we haven't had yet.
We made the record and didn't really plan on going all over the world. We knew we wanted to play some shows, but we didn't know what the response would be at all. But the record's doing pretty well and the concerts have been going great and people keep asking us to come back and play some more. So we couldn't be more thrilled about how it's going. We've realized how lucky we are to be able to say that this is what we do and we're able to play shows and have people show up to see us. That's pretty hard these days. I have lots of friends who play in bands and never even get to go out of town, so for us to be able to see the world is pretty amazing.
During the band's downtime, Butch Vig was busy producing other bands (including the Foo Fighters, who are also playing Music Midtown on Friday). What was the rest of the band doing during this time?
Shirley [Manson, singer] took up acting pretty seriously. She was on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show for two years. Duke [Erikson, bassist] and I both work on music all the time, so we've been writing music. Duke's got a big project that isn't public yet, but we should be able to talk about it soon. It's pretty amazing.
One thing I did was for a big, giant pharmaceutical company. They were building a campus in Washington, D.C. for their headquarters and I did all the music for that and programmed all this surround sound ambient stuff. That took about two years to do. It's an urban art installation type of thing with ambient music that recreates itself using computers and is sort of composing itself on its own after a while without ever repeating itself.
But we've just been writing music and living our lives. It was good to get off the road for a while. And right now it's really working for us to do Garbage again full time. I think it was smart for us to take that time off because it helps us appreciate what we have with the band. I think we may have lost that sense of specialness along the way maybe ten years ago and we've got that back now.
How soon do you think we might see Garbage performing in Atlanta again after Music Midtown?
We haven't done a full-on U.S. tour yet, so we certainly hope that we come back soon. We love playing these festivals, but I think the fans would rather see us doing our own show in a smaller theater. Hopefully we'll get back to do that sometime early next year, maybe. We're kind of making this up as we go right now. We don't have any long-range plans, but we're going to keep playing as long as people want us to. We're our own record company and everything now, and we hope to be doing another record in the beginning of next year. So we'll have to see how that goes.
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