Butch Vig’s Most Memorable Production Gigs



Butch Vig in Madison's Smart Studios recording studio in 2010
Butch Vig in Madison’s Smart Studios recording studio in 2010

For the past two decades, Garbage has been known as Butch Vig’s main gig. But long before he, Steve Marker, Duke Erikson and Shirley Manson every joined forces, Vig was (and continues to be) a very much in-demand producer. Having gotten his start helming Wisconsin hardcore band Die Kreuzen’s 1982 outing Internal, the Midwestern studio rat spent the rest of the decade into the 1990s working the indie rock fields helming the board for Killdozer, Laughing Hyenas, Urge Overkill and The Fluid before the mainstream caught up and grunge exploded. Vig found himself producing The Smashing Pumpkins (starting with the 1991 debut Gish), Sonic Youth (Dirty; Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star), Soul Asylum (Let Your Dim Light Shine), Helmet (Betty), House of Pain (Shamrocks and Shenanigans), L7 (Bricks Are Heavy) and of course, Nirvana (Nevermind). Given the multitude of seminal albums Vig has worked on, the following are five of the most memorable for him.

GarbageSidebar_102315.AgainstMe1. Against Me! – New Wave (Sire) [2007]
“I love, love, love Against Me! I love Laura Jane Grace and I think they are one of the most killer bands on the planet. That was a really extraordinary experience for me to work on that album and I’m very close to Laura Jane Grace. I think the fact that they are such a powerful band and so socially political and that’s so rare these days to find a band that bleeds out their emotions. I just found it really refreshing to work with an artist like that and I just love the band. I think they’re incredible. I think New Wave is just a great record.”

GarbageSidebar_102315.SmashingPumpkins2. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (Virgin) [1993]
“That was a really epic record to make and really difficult but I think we really set the bar high when we started recording and I think we kind of got there in some ways. I think it still sounds really good when I hear it. There were no computers to manipulate [what we were recording]. It had to be done in real time. It was friggin’ hard but I think it was worth it.”

GarbageSidebar_102315.Garbage3. Garbage – Garbage (Almo Sounds) [1995]
“That was sort of a groundbreaking [record] for me in terms of how we approached the production and we were having fun. We didn’t know what we were doing. There was no pressure because we didn’t realize this was going to be a full-time band, so we were just drinking beer, goofing around in the studio and we made the first record. It was a fun experiment really.”

GarbageSidebar_102315.FreedyJohnston4. Freedy Johnston – This Perfect World (Elektra) [1994]
“[Freedy is] an incredible songwriter and I think that collection of songs he wrote that I produced is extraordinary. I think it’s maybe his best record and I’m prejudiced obviously. It was a departure for me at the time, making a sort of a singer-songwriter album versus a rock record.”

GarbageSidebar_102315.FooFighters.WastingLight5. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light (Roswell/RCA) [2011] and Sonic Highways (Roswell/RCA) [2014]
Sonic Highways was truly one of the most unique experiences that I’ve ever done, traveling around recording a song in different cities. I also loved working on Wasting Light, which we recorded in a garage and that was just a gas. Working with the Foos—they’re incredible musicians and Dave [Grohl] is just awesome to hang with. He’s just so fun and he has such great energy. I love working with the Foos. Both those records I think were really unique experiences.”GarbageSidebar_102315.FooFighters.SonicHighways

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Dave Gil de Rubio
In addition to being editor of Massapequa Observer and Hicksville News, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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