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Garbage’s Musical History Celebrated in THIS IS THE NOISE THAT KEEPS ME AWAKE

It’s safe to say that once rock bands hit the 20-year mark, there are usually more skeletons in their closet than good vibes. This isn’t the case with Garbage–well, at least not entirely. The four members–Shirley Manson (vocals), Steve Marker (guitars, keyboards), Duke Erikson (guitars, keyboards), and Butch Vig (drums, loops)–proudly wear their skeletons on their sleeves in their first oversized, autobiographical book This is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake via Brooklyn-based publisher, Akashic Books.

Die-hard fans and alt-rock aficionados, prepare for 208 pages of archived photographs, studio memories, cocktail recipes, and candid tour moments from their 22-year history together, as well as their individually careers, all leading up to the creation of their own label, STUNVOLUME, and the release of their sixth studio album, 2016’s Strange Little Birds. Accompanying the members’ trips down memory lane are helpful tidbits supplied by music journalist Jason Cohen, making for an especially informative super-long chill studio session.

garbage this is the noise that keeps me awake

The band’s vast discography of singles, B-Sides, and albums are all given equal attention in This is the Noise, which takes its title from a lyric from”Push It,” one of the band’s most popular singles off their 1998 album Version 2.0. Chapter one opens with a line from Vig’s personal studio notebook/journal from 1993, “I hope that all this garbage will become something beautiful,” obviously the impetus for the band’s name and later the title of their third (and most underrated) studio album, BeautifulGarbage (2001).

Across the book’s eight chapters, each member recalls their fears and struggles alongside the rising tide of the Digital Age in the music industry. Additionally, an epilogue covers the enthusiastic first stages of the recent Strange Little Birds era. It’s all compressed between Garbage-themed cocktail recipes with wicked names like “The Vodka with Everything” and “Bad Boyfriend Sauvignon Blanc” and random full-page factoids like that one time Manson was a badass T-1001 doubling as Zeira Corp CEO Catherine Weaver on the Fox series The Sarah Connor Chronicles.


Among the book’s more poignant memories is the following anecdote: Eleven-year-old Ruby Maker and five-year-old Bo Violet Vig–Marker and Vig’s daughters respectively–laid down the background vocals for the chorus of the title track. Young Ruby eventually found herself standing on stage with her father, Aunt Shirl, and the rest of the guys, singing that outsider’s anthem to an awe-struck crowd in Berlin. Manson says in the book, “Ruby kept me sane in the middle of a close-to-a-nervous breakdown. She was just a little girl, and I used to come over to Steve’s house, and she’d be so excited to see me. All my troubles went out the door.” If that doesn’t melt your metal heart, I don’t know what will!

For a band that didn’t initially want to tour after their debut album was released, Garbage is a group best served by live performance. The last pages are lined with every single tour date up to December 17, 2016–spoiler alert, they’ve toured A LOT since 1995. These were bittersweet pages for me as I looked through all the Houston, TX dates, silently cursing the rock gods for all the times I missed them growing up and giving thanks for having finally caught them live during their Twenty Years Queer tour in 2015. Trust me when I say you won’t want to miss them with Blondie for their epic Rage and Rapture Tour this summer.


It’s clear from the start of this trip down memory lane that Garbage is a family affair between four flawed but extraordinary misfits. Manson states towards the end of the book, “We all said ‘I do’ twenty years ago. We had a honeymoon, a trail separation, and now we’re back again together–for better or worse!” Through thick and thin, break-ups and illnesses, Garbage thrives on their connectivity to one another, their worldwide fans, and their background support system of family and friends. And even though the years ahead look bleak and troubled, we’ll always have Garbage to remind us that we’re all strange little birds of a feather inside this big, bright world.

This is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake goes on sale July 4th. There’s also an extremely limited edition bundle (see our featured image) with the book and a 12″ vinyl featuring six never-before-released live tracks from the past decades.

Images: Akashic

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