Formed in 1994 by veteran record producers Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson, and Scottish ingenue Shirley Manson, Garbage first surfed the decade's alternative wave with initial hits such as "Only Happy When It Rains" and "Stupid Girl." Before long, the group's studio wizardry, songwriting skills and charismatic, waifish singer made it an MTV darling and multiplatinum seller.
"Two stick in my head. Part of it is because of the extremes of the gig. One, we did a radio show on the first tour called Snoasis, which was in Upstate New York at a ski lodge in front of 20,000 kids. It was this outdoor festival and all the kids were in parkas. Oasis was supposed to be the headliner -- there were 10 bands each doing a half-hour set -- and they canceled when Noel Gallagher said, 'Fuck it. I'm not going to sing in 20-below weather.'
"It was absolutely freezing out. They said, 'You guys have to go on and play a longer set.'
"So we went on, and we couldn't keep the guitar strings in tune. I was wearing a parka and gloves -- you can't really play drums in that. Shirley had a complete face mask. It could have been anybody singing. You wouldn't even know it was her until you heard her voice. It sounded so bad that after two or three songs the kids were getting impatient because they wanted to rock out and we kept stopping and changing guitars. Finally, we just played a couple punk covers, and after 15 minutes onstage we bailed. Then the kids started throwing snowballs. It was an absolute disaster.
"The other extreme is we played the Fuji Fest in 1998 right before Korn, in front of 30,000 kids that were moshing like crazy. But the Japanese mosh more politely, so it was a different vibe. But it was so fucking hot. It was 110 degrees out and 95 percent humidity. It was just sweltering.
"We went onstage and we're playing with a pretty intense cest la vie, and about halfway through the second song we were all crushed by heatstroke. Shirley had to sit on the front of the stage. There was no escape from the sun. It was like 3 or 4 in the afternoon and the sun was right in our face. There was nowhere to hide from it. I remember one of the crew guys brought out an umbrella to hold over her. I was having water poured over me between every song. We made it through an hour set, but we were all beet red. I thought Steve -- who was still valiantly trying to thrash on the guitar -- was going to have to be hospitalized. He looked like a lobster. Shirley was sunburned. Even though she put on sunscreen, it just melts and goes in your eyes.
"Physically, it was a terrible show. We're not a band that likes the sun. If you're a Blink-182 from California, you can go onstage and jump around in your boxer shorts. But we're from Wisconsin and Scotland. We like mood lighting. We need all the mood lighting we can get."
— Butch Vig, Garbage