Butch Vig

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Butch Vig
Butch Vig in Madison's Smart Studios.
Background information
Birth nameBryan David Vig
Also known asNevermind Man
Born (1955-08-02) August 2, 1955 (age 63)
Origin Viroqua, Wisconsin, United States
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active1978–present
Associated acts

Bryan David "Butch" Vig (born August 2, 1955), nicknamed the Nevermind Man, [1] is an American musician, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the drummer and co-producer of the alternative rock band Garbage and the producer of diamond-selling album Nevermind by Nirvana. [2]

Alternative rock is a style of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widely popular in the 1980s. In this instance, the word "alternative" refers to the genre's distinction from mainstream rock music. The term's original meaning was broader, referring to a generation of musicians unified by their collective debt to either the musical style or simply the independent, DIY ethos of punk rock, which in the late 1970s laid the groundwork for alternative music. At times, "alternative" has been used as a catch-all description for music from underground rock artists that receives mainstream recognition, or for any music, whether rock or not, that is seen to be descended from punk rock. Although the genre evolved in the late 1970s and 1980s, music anticipating the sound of the genre can be found as early as the 1960s, with bands such as The Velvet Underground.

Garbage (band) rock band from the United States

Garbage is an American rock band formed in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1993. The band consists of Scottish musician and lead singer Shirley Manson and American musicians Duke Erikson, Steve Marker, and Butch Vig. All four members are involved in songwriting and production. Garbage has sold over 17 million albums worldwide.

<i>Nevermind</i> 1991 studio album by Nirvana

Nevermind is the second studio album by American rock band Nirvana, released on September 24, 1991 by DGC Records. A number of labels courted the band, but Nirvana ultimately signed with Geffen Records imprint DGC Records based upon repeated recommendations from Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and their management company. Produced by Butch Vig, it was the band's first release on the label, as well as the first to feature drummer Dave Grohl.


A native of Wisconsin, Vig had been based in Madison for much of his career, from studying at the University of Wisconsin, to performing in local bands Spooner and Fire Town, and then to setting up his own recording studio, Smart Studios, with bandmate Steve Marker in the town. [3] After becoming well known as a producer, he formed and played drums with Garbage, who sold 17 million records over a ten-year period. Vig returned to producing full-time once Garbage went on hiatus in 2005. The band reconvened in 2010 to record material for their fifth album.

University of Wisconsin System

The University of Wisconsin System is a university system of public universities in the state of Wisconsin. It is one of the largest public higher-education systems in the country, enrolling more than 174,000 students each year and employing approximately 39,000 faculty and staff statewide. The University of Wisconsin System is composed of two doctoral research universities, eleven comprehensive universities, and thirteen freshman-sophomore branch campuses.

Spooner was a Midwestern rock band formed in 1974 in Madison, WI, by keyboardist/vocalist Doug Erikson, songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Bob Olsen, and guitarist/vocalist Dave Benton originally as an acoustic/electric trio. Between 1975 and 1978, the group had undergone several line-up changes, including adding Butch Vig as a drummer. Extremely popular in Madison, and able to draw in crowds in other Midwestern cities, Spooner released two well-received albums, Every Corner Dance and The Wildest Dreams and toured intensively throughout the Midwest to promote them.

Smart Studios

Smart Studios was a recording studio located in Madison, Wisconsin. It was set up in 1983 by Butch Vig and Steve Marker to produce local bands. The studio produced bands such as Killdozer, The Smashing Pumpkins, L7, Tad Juster, and Nirvana. After initial production and remix successes, the building became the focus of operations for Vig and Marker's own group, Garbage, who released their debut album in 1995.

In 2012, Vig ranked number nine in NME 's Top 50 Greatest Producers Ever. [4]

<i>NME</i> British weekly music journalism magazine

New Musical Express (NME) is a British music journalism website and former magazine that has been published since 1952. It was the first British paper to include a singles chart, in the edition of 14 November 1952. In the 1970s it became the best-selling British music newspaper. During the period 1972 to 1976, it was particularly associated with gonzo journalism, then became closely associated with punk rock through the writings of Julie Burchill, Paul Morley and Tony Parsons. It started as a music newspaper, and gradually moved toward a magazine format during the 1980s and 1990s, changing from newsprint in 1998.

Early life

Butch Vig was born Bryan David Vig to Dr. DeVerne and Betty Vig, [5] a music teacher, [6] in Viroqua, Wisconsin. [3] Vig has two siblings, Chris and Lisa. [6] Vig acquired the nickname Butch as a child, due to the severe crew cut his father gave him. [3] Vig studied piano for six years. After seeing The Who perform on The Smothers Brothers , he swapped his piano for a $60 drum kit. [3]

Viroqua, Wisconsin City in Wisconsin, United States

Viroqua is the county seat of Vernon County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 4,362 at the 2010 census. The city is in the town of Viroqua.

The Who English rock band

The Who are an English rock band formed in London in 1964. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist and singer Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide.

Moving to Madison, Vig enrolled at the University of Wisconsin to study film direction.[ citation needed ]


Early musical career

While a student at the University of Wisconsin, Vig met his eventual Garbage bandmate Steve Marker. Vig contributed several electronic music soundtrack pieces to low-budget films, including one song on Slumber Party Massacre , a Hollywood B-movie. This soundtrack work stirred Vig's interest in the manipulation of sound. Vig joined a number of garage pop bands, including Eclipse, [7] and in 1978 formed Spooner with Duke Erikson, Dave Benton, Jeff Walker and Joel Tappero.

Steve Marker American musician

Steve Marker is an American musician, songwriter, and record producer, best known as a cofounder and guitarist in the alternative rock band Garbage.

Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments and circuitry-based music technology. In general, a distinction can be made between sound produced using electromechanical means, and that produced using electronics only. Electromechanical instruments include mechanical elements, such as strings, hammers, and so on, and electric elements, such as magnetic pickups, power amplifiers and loudspeakers. Examples of electromechanical sound producing devices include the telharmonium, Hammond organ, and the electric guitar, which are typically made loud enough for performers and audiences to hear with an instrument amplifier and speaker cabinet. Pure electronic instruments do not have vibrating strings, hammers, or other sound-producing mechanisms. Devices such as the theremin, synthesizer, and computer can produce electronic sounds.

<i>The Slumber Party Massacre</i> 1982 film by Amy Holden Jones

The Slumber Party Massacre is a 1982 American slasher film directed by Amy Holden Jones, written by Rita Mae Brown, and starring Michelle Michaels and Robin Stille. The film follows a high school senior who, left alone by her parents for the weekend, gathers her friends for a slumber party, unaware that an escaped power drill-wielding murderer is loose in the neighborhood.

The following year, Vig helped Marker to build a home studio in Marker's basement. [7] Marker and Vig also started a small label, Boat Records, to release records of both Spooner – which included their 1979 debut EP, "Cruel School" – and other bands they liked, which led to around twenty local acts. The self-producing was later described by Vig as "kind of a trial by fire". [3] [8] [9] [10]

In 1984, Vig and Marker founded Smart Studios in Madison, while still performing drums in Spooner at night and driving a taxi cab during the day. When Spooner lost momentum, Vig formed a band called First Person with Marker and Phil Davis and a side-project called Fire Town featuring Davis and Erikson. Fire Town quickly became Vig's priority, and after their first album were signed to Atlantic Records. [7] Atlantic hired producer Michael Frondelli to work with Fire Town on their second album. While the sessions did not do well, and the resulting record sank, Vig learned a lot of production techniques from the process. Fire Town split, and Vig reformed Spooner for a final album before Vig's production work became a full-time career for him. [3]

Production career

Vig's first high-profile production work was in 1991, when he produced albums by two bands, The Smashing Pumpkins' Gish and Nirvana's Nevermind . Vig incorporated overdubs and vocal doubletracking, whereas Nirvana's previous album, Bleach (produced by Jack Endino) had a more "lo-fi" sound. Kurt Cobain originally refused to double-track his vocals and guitars but Vig reportedly got him to comply by saying "John Lennon double-tracked". Cobain would later criticize Vig for the album's slickness, although this might be due to Andy Wallace's mixing of the album. [11] Cobain said that "Butch Vig...recorded the album perfectly," in a 1993 MTV interview. Billy Corgan welcomed Vig's elaborate production on The Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream . This album met with positive commercial and critical reception, also breaking another indie band into the mainstream. Vig also produced two critically praised Sonic Youth albums, 1992's Dirty [12] and 1994's Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star .

In 2003, Vig worked with AFI to produce their first major label album with DreamWorks, Sing the Sorrow . Vig worked with Jimmy Eat World on their sixth album, Chase This Light , released in October 2007. He is also working on soundtracks for two new movies. His first production for an English band was 2008's All or Nothing by The Subways. He also worked with Against Me!, producing their two Sire Records releases, New Wave and White Crosses, as well as working with singer Laura Jane Grace on her solo EP, Heart Burns . Vig produced the eighth studio album by Green Day, 2009's 21st Century Breakdown , which won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. Recently, Vig has been partnered in duties by his engineer and mixer Billy Bush who also worked on Garbage's albums and live tours.

Vig composed and produced the soundtrack for the film The Other Side . In 2009 Vig recorded two new tracks for the long-awaited greatest hits release by the Foo Fighters, most notably the single "Wheels" and ultimately produced their April 2011 follow-up, Wasting Light . In 2010, Vig produced Muse's single, "Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)," which was featured on the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack.


Butch Vig playing drums for Garbage. Butch Vig.jpg
Butch Vig playing drums for Garbage.

Vig stated, "Part of the reason why I started Garbage was that by the time I'd done 'Nevermind,' I'd recorded – I swear to God – 1,000 bands that were just guitar-bass-drums. I was reading about all these other records that I was getting excited about – like Public Enemy using a sampler in the studio – and I just decided I wanted to do a bit of a U-turn." [13] Afterwards, they hired Scottish singer Shirley Manson and began composing together. [2]

Garbage released a string of singles in 1995–1996, including "Stupid Girl" and "Only Happy When It Rains". Their debut album, Garbage , was an unexpected smash, selling over 4 million copies and certified double platinum in the UK, United States and Australia. Garbage won the Breakthrough Artist award at the 1996 MTV Europe Music Awards. [14] The band then spent two years working on follow-up album, Version 2.0 , which topped the charts in the UK upon its 1998 release and the following year was nominated for two Grammy Awards, Album of the Year and Best Rock Album. Version 2.0 went on to match the sales of its predecessor. Garbage followed this up by performing and co-producing the theme song to the nineteenth James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough . [15]

Despite being named one of Rolling Stone's Top 10 Albums of The Year, [16] Garbage's 2001 third album Beautiful Garbage failed to match the commercial success achieved by its predecessors. [17] Garbage quietly disbanded in late 2003, but regrouped to complete fourth album Bleed Like Me in 2005, peaking at a career-high #4 in the U.S. [18] The band cut short their concert tour in support of Bleed Like Me announcing an "indefinite hiatus", [19] emphasizing that they had not broken up, but wished to pursue personal interests. [20] In 2006, Vig returned to producing while Manson worked on a solo album (as yet unreleased). Garbage ended their hiatus in 2007, [21] and released greatest hits retrospective Absolute Garbage . Worldwide, the band have sold over 17 million albums. [22] The band got back together in 2010 and began recording their new album, Not Your Kind of People , which was released internationally on May 14, 2012. This was followed by Strange Little Birds , released on June 10, 2016.

5 Billion in Diamonds

In 2017, Vig debuted a new musical project, the band 5 Billion in Diamonds. Their first album was released on August 11, 2017. [23] [24] [25]

Personal life

Vig is married to Beth Halper, a former DreamWorks A&R executive; they have a daughter, Bo Violet.[ citation needed ] They live in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.[ citation needed ]



Fire Town


Production career

Vig served as the record producer, or co-producer on the following records:

Remix work

Butch Vig has remixed songs for the following artists: Against Me!, Ash, Beck, The Cult, Depeche Mode, EMF, Fun Lovin' Criminals, House of Pain, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Alanis Morissette, Nine Inch Nails, Michael Penn, M.O.P and U2, as well as his own band Garbage.[ citation needed ]

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