Garbage is currently celebrating the twentieth (!!!) anniversary of their sophomore record, Version 2.0, with a string of North American gigs. They played two sold out nights at Lincoln Theatre earlier this week, and they’ll bop around the East Coast the next few days, with stops in Boston, Philly, Atlantic City and finally Brooklyn (for a show at Kings Theatre on Saturday, 10.27), which I could not be more stoked about. I was also pretty excited to be able to hop on the phone with Duke Erikson a few weeks back to talk about the format of the commemorative set, what it’s like to look back on twenty years of Version 2.0, and what’s ahead for the band. (Spoiler: first they’re voting, but after that they’re getting straight to work on a new record!) Read up on our full conversation below, and be sure to grab tickets to any/all shows that apply to your geographical location.
BYT: What’s the set list looking like to celebrate this pretty monumental Version 2.0 anniversary?
DE: We’re doing every track from the record, and also every B-side that was released around the record. So it’s a pretty jam-packed show.
BYT: The last time you and I spoke was back in 2015, and you were telling me about how you guys had to kind of set about “re-learning” a lot of the tracks from the debut record, because some of them you’d not played in quite some time. Was it similar with this process?
DE: Absolutely. There were even more things to re-learn after all this time, a lot of tracks I hadn’t listened to in twenty years. And I don’t even know how many B-sides there are…maybe eight total? But it was a bit of a challenge to put it all together in three weeks; there’s such a variety of songs between the album tracks and the additional songs. It was somewhat challenging to put a set together, but I think it’s one of the best sets, best shows we’ve put together in a long time. It’s really diverse, and it has a different kind of flow to it than our past shows. Our past shows have been…I don’t know, more “rock”. This has a bit more diversity and variety to it. It’s been going really well, and being a musician in the band, I’ve enjoyed it immensely. It’s been quite lovely, and the crowds have been amazing. I think they’re digging it.
BYT: Did any memories come flooding back during the rehearsal process? Anything you’d forgotten about surrounding writing and touring Version 2.0?
DE: A lot of times in re-learning the songs, we just kind of feel surprised about some of the musical decisions we made in the middle of a song, or, “Why did we decide to put this little piece right here in this song?” [Laughs] It’s not that it was a bad idea, it just maybe isn’t the way we think right now. It’s been that kind of thing. And mostly, I think all four of us have developed a new appreciation for the album, and we’re pretty proud of it. We think it holds up pretty well, even today. I don’t think it sounds all that dated or anything, which makes things easier, gives us a bit more confidence to go out and present it to folks twenty years later.
BYT: Absolutely. And tell me how it feels to be touring it now, as opposed to when it was first released? I would imagine it’s immensely easier in a lot of respects, but maybe not all? Probably a lot less pressure, right?
DE: There’s absolutely no pressure no compared to what it was then. Back then, we’d gotten together, Shirl came on board and was pretty much a stranger, and we got together in a dark little studio in Madison, Wisconsin and made that first record. We had no idea how successful it’d be, or if we’d even stick together at all. And we had no plans to tour or play live at all. I think Shirl was the most adamant about that. I think she didn’t want to tour at all. But then as we got to know each other and we’d done a video or two together, we decided it could be fun, so we decided to tour. And the tour was pretty successful as well, the record sold pretty well, so all of a sudden we were under an immense amount of pressure to follow that up somehow. The whole music biz thing, the sophomore slump curse and all of that. So it was a crazy time, and we did feel a lot of pressure. There was a lot of drinking, Megan. A lot of drinking. [Laughs] But we managed to make a record that we’re proud of to this day, and I think that first record and that first tour really kind of cemented us as friends, really, and we gelled as a band. So this record was the culmination of that, and here we are!
BYT: Exactly! And let’s talk about some of the more recent stuff you’ve been working on as a band – I loved Strange Little Birds, and I think I read somewhere that you’ve been working on new stuff?
DE: Yeah, we spent a couple of weeks in Palm Springs, just camped out in a house there, had a mini mobile studio, and just improvised, jammed for a few hours every day. We came up with quite a few good ideas, I think. We’ll get back to that early next year, and hopefully will have something out late next year or early 2020. Pretty excited about it. There’s a lot of good stuff. I think we’re going to follow Strange Little Birds up with something really good. (I probably shouldn’t have said that out loud.) [Laughs]
BYT: Very exciting! Do you feel like it just continues to get easier and easier after all these years to make music together? Obviously that’s not the case for every band, but it seems like the magic continues to flow with you guys.
DE: Yeah, definitely. We’ve been touring, and playing live…you know, even though we’re just kind of playing “the hits” and the occasional new song, it really does feed your brain with ideas about maybe what you can do on the next record. You start talking about what the next record should be like, you start getting ideas, and touring has always made us want to get back in the studio as soon as possible. Touring always makes you want to get back in the studio, and being in the studio always makes you want to get back on the road. [Laughs] One thing feeds the other.
BYT: So (finally) will you dive immediately back into the studio when you’re done? Or what’s the plan for the potential interim post-tour and pre-studio?
BYT: First we’re going to vote, and then we’re going to have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and January off. But maybe after that we’ll go back to Palm Springs, directly to the studio, I don’t know. But we want to get right back to it. We’ll also tour a little bit next year, but we’ll definitely be working on the new record.