Garbage Brings the Noise in a New Book

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Photo: Joseph Cultice

“In a band you can make noise,” writes Shirley Manson, grunge goddess and front woman of Gen X rock band Garbage, in the opening of the recently released This is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake, published by Akashic Books. “You can make a mess. You can make mistakes. You can travel. You can show off. You can shut up. You can speak out or speak up for those who cannot. It is the best thing that ever happened. It is the most exciting, selfish, generous, surprising, reckless, challenging, revelatory, and celebratory thing you have ever done. That is, if it doesn’t kill you first.”

The book, titled after a lyric in Garbage’s 1998 single “Push It,” comes as the band embarks on a U.S. tour with Blondie to promote its sixth album, Strange Little Birds. It tracks the band’s rise from its genesis in 1993, when guitarist Steve Marker heard Manson — then a member of the small Scottish band Angelfish — croon the words, “Suffocate me with burning love” on MTV. He rallied old friends and bandmates Duke Erikson and Butch Vig, making remixes for rappers like House of Pain, before recruiting Manson to join the band. In shoddy handwriting on lined paper, Vig wrote in 1993, “I hope that all this garbage will become something beautiful.” What ensued was a new name and an undying legacy.

The band brought grunge flavor to the pop-dominated landscape of late-‘90s radio, combining elements from other genres to produce commercially successful yet wholly rock-and-roll hits like “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Stupid Girl.” Unlike predecessors Nirvana and Soundgarden, however, Garbage brought a female voice to center stage. In the book, Manson is seen with a bob cut and smudged black eyeliner, power posing for magazines and shredding guitar solos onstage. You’ll also find candid interviews, cocktail recipes (one reads “fill your glass with garbage”), and hundreds of archival photos from the road.

This is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake

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Garbage Brings the Noise in a New Book