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the AU interview: Steve Marker of Garbage (Wisconsin)

After seeing Garbage for the first time at Soundwave this year, I ticked them off my list of acts I'd wanted to see at least once in my life. Never did I think I'd be interviewing one of the band's members three months later. Steve Marker is on the phone from the States, where the band has just wrapped a mammoth amount of touring to chat about the past year or so, and One Mile High...Live, the first ever full Garbage concert DVD, released at the end of May.

Thanks so much for your time Steve – how are things with you at the moment?

How are things here? Well, we just got done doing over a year of touring…over 130 shows we did.

Amazing.

We’re kind of done with that now and we’re looking forward to getting back into writing songs for a new album!

Exciting! Now, just before we go any further, I have to take this opportunity to thank you and the band for the show you put on at Soundwave this year. I didn’t think I’d be in the position to actually tell you, but it was honestly one of the best shows I’d seen in such a long time.

Wow! [Laughs] That’s really nice to hear, thank you!

It was my first time seeing the band as well, so it was just fantastic.

That was quite an experience – we kind of felt a little out of place at times, but it turned into a great experience. So you’re in Adelaide?

Yep.

Oh cool, I’m glad you had fun too!

Yeah it was heaps of fun; from where I stood, it didn’t look like you guys were…you know how sometimes you’ll see a band performing near the end of a tour and they’ll look a bit tired and over it? I saw none of that with Garbage.

Cool! I think we just feel so lucky to have people that want to come see us. It would really suck to go out there and look bored, you know?

Totally. Now, I was sent through some info on the live DVD that has recently been released…have you had to do much press on the One Mile High…Live recording so far?

Well I haven’t! [Laughs] I don’t know, it’s something we wanted to get out…we’ve never really recorded anything live before and playing live is always a really big part of everything we’ve ever done.

For sure. I was thinking about it earlier, not only is it documenting Garbage returning to live shows after that break you had away from the spotlight, it’s the first full-length concert of the band’s that been documented. That’s a pretty cool thing to have in the bag.

Yeah! From what I’ve seen online, a lot of the fans are really excited about it.

It was filmed at the show in Colorado last year – in terms of the way it was set up to be filmed, did you find yourself being more aware than usual of cameras and all that extra tech set up to essential monitor the night?

Maybe one good thing about it was that it wasn’t like a…we did this other concert for MTV last year, and it was so intrusive with the cameras – it was more to do with how the lighting had to be for the TV, to hell with what you usually do, you have to do this, this, this and this. This show was just in a small club in Denver and I don’t even remember seeing cameras, so they were really good at hiding what they were doing.

That’s a good thing, I suppose, even as a fan. I find myself getting more and more annoyed going to shows these days where people will spend the entire time watching the gig through the camera on their phone. I imagine that must be noticeable when you’re onstage, let alone having bigger cameras being obviously there. That’s good it wasn’t intrusive.

I hate going to a show that you know is going to be on TV and you can tell that all they really care about is what’s going on with the camera. I think that they’ve tried to avoid that, with this one.

Well that’s good! Just coming back to what you were saying before about coming to the end of touring for the last album; now that the dust has settled on Not Your Kind of People, the album’s circulating, you’ve been all around the world with it…what are your thoughts toward the last year or so? It kind of brought Garbage back, guns blazing, as it were.

Well we did try to do it, but this time it was totally on our terms. It was a lot more special to us because we didn’t have a big record label behind us, really. We made the record just to please ourselves. We turned it out in the way we thought would be good to release it and hired a friend as a manager, made up this record company and put it out. Releasing it around the world, obviously, there were other people helping us but I don’t know…it was a really satisfying experience. We sold a bunch of them and got to play all over the world and a lot of people really liked it!

It’s not like Garbage have been kicking around for the last five years or so; you guys are seasoned touring musicians as you are seasoned recording musicians, so was this last year or so of touring as much of a whirlwind as it has been in the past?

It was a little more less of a whirlwind and a little more fun, because if we didn’t feel like doing something…sometimes when there’s a giant international corporation paying your way to go play in a city somewhere, they expect you to show up at certain parties and talk to certain people and do the song and dance. We just said that, ‘We’ve been around long enough, so if we don’t feel like doing something, we’re just not going to do it’. Everything we did, we really wanted to do it, so it was really fun. We’re just having fun!

As I said before, you can definitely see that come through at the shows. Again, I suppose now that the album has been showcased to a decent extent, how would you say that has affected the way the set lists have come together? At the show I saw you at, I remember the new record being given a good amount of love, even though it was a festival set, as well as the rest of the catalogue.

Yeah, you know, I think we lucked out in another way in that it’s not like people hated this new record. We are eternally grateful to our fans for embracing it…sometimes, you’ll go see a band and the last thing you’ll want to hear is side two of the new record. We’ve done okay, but we’ve also realised that we need to play the songs that people know too.

I suppose that’s another good thing about having been in the game as long as you have, with the amount of memorable material Garbage has, there’s always going to be a wealth of classics to choose from.

I think you’re right, I hope you’re right!

There must be something there if you’re still able to be touring and doing what you do now and still have the same effect on crowds all over!

Yeah! You are right. [Laughs]

Always trust the journalist, isn’t that it?

[Laughs] Always.

Okay, so can you tell me a bit about what you’re all working on the moment or is it still very early to comment yet?

Right now, it could totally go in any direction and we’re starting to email ideas around and start talking. Everybody is really excited. When you’re in the studio for six months of the year or whatever, making a record, you’re really excited to get the hell out of there and get on the road and play live. At some point, after about a year of living in hotels, you’re really excited to go home and write some new songs and get back in the studio and record them. It’s a good cycle, right now we’re just really excited about writing new stuff and I have no idea what it’s going to sound like!

That must be one of the great things about doing what you do, being at that stage where everything is still so new and fresh that you’re finding out what direction you’re headed in as you’re working it out.

It really is, I think it’s really important to keep that ‘anything goes’ atmosphere. You know, we have this weird way of working, the four of us…eventually it’s going to sound like the band anyway, so we just throw caution to the wind and see where we take it.

Awesome stuff. Can’t wait to see what comes out of it all! Thanks so much for your time Steve.

It’s so nice of you to say and it was lovely talking with you.

You too, hopefully it won’t be as long before we see you guys over this way again.

Alright, well hopefully we get back to Adelaide soon! Thanks so much.

Garbage's "One Mile High...Live" is available through DVD and Blu Ray and is out now through Shock.