Band has its fill of industry garbage

The terrifically fun band Garbage made a ton of dough from their huge hit songs in the 1990s. Then they did something totally crazy with that money: They saved it.

So last year, Garbage — who perform Friday at the Palms’ Pearl — were able to self-finance their new album, “Not Your Kind of People.”

“We were smart in how we ran our business,” singer Shirley Manson tells me.

The band planned for a long time to become independent of the record company system.

“And we made sure we had a recording kitty for a day that would come like this, where we would be able to self-finance,” she says. “It’s such a relief to be independent of all that nonsense.”

If Manson sounds fed up with record labels, you can’t blame her. In addition to dealing with record execs because of Garbage, Manson also tried for years to put out a solo album, only to bury it.

“What saddens us is,” Manson says, “we were one of the lucky few (bands) in that we were very smart in how we went about our business. We saved money.”

She says too many bands are in the terrible position of having to kowtow to the music industry — while simultaneously being strapped for cash.

“It’s a tough spot for musicians who don’t want to play the game the way the game is played,” she says. “If you don’t want to play nice, you’re in a lot of trouble now, and that’s depressing.”

Manson says even bands that earn good opening slots on concert tours aren’t making much money.

“The Screaming Females toured with us this year, and it was difficult for them just to survive day to day,” Manson says.

It’s expensive for a band to be on the road, especially compared with today’s popular DJ-producers, Manson says.

“A DJ can show up. He’s one guy. He gets paid pretty well for one night,” she says.

“You try doing that for a minimum of two or three members of a band, plus a crew, instruments and the upkeep of instruments. It’s expensive.”

So, she says, a lot of bands are “getting squashed” economically.

Fortunately, Garbage isn’t broke, nor should they be after creating their string of alt-rock classics — “Only Happy When It Rains,” “Stupid Girl,” “#1 Crush,” “Vow,” “Push It,” “I Think I’m Paranoid” and “Special.”

Manson has influenced a range of singers, from rockers to pop stars as big as Katy Perry. Manson says she’s grateful for that.

“I just met Hayley Williams from (rock band) Paramore, and she said, ‘I saw what you were doing, and I wanted to do it.’ That’s thrilling for me, you know?”

Manson used to be judgmental about other bands, particularly acts whose music she didn’t like.

But as she grew older, she came to realize musicians are protagonists.

“No matter who you are — and no matter what kind of music you are making — if you’re doing well in the music industry, you are one tough (expletive),” Manson says.

“Make no mistake, even the (music stars) who make it look like it’s an accident, or like they’re just cute and unthreatening — they’re hard-core.

“I respect everybody forging a career in the music industry because it is not easy.”

What is easy these days, apparently, is touring while free of the strain of record label execs.

“We’re playing the best shows of our career for whatever reason. I’m not 100 percent sure why,” Manson says.

“But we’ve definitely had a blast on this tour, and it’s been surprising to us and exciting.”

Doug Elfman’s column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at He blogs at

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