Back in Madison, Wisconsin during the early 1990s, musician and Smart Studios founder Butch Vig had been paying the bills by doing remixes for the likes of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and U2, according to Wisconsin 101. When he got together with friends Duke Erikson and Steve Marker to jam, an idea struck: Why not incorporate the remix ethos into new music? The trio started working out new music that sounded similar to Vig’s remixes as an as-yet-unnamed band, and one day, they played it for a friend. “[S]ounds like garbage,” the friend reportedly said, per Wisconsin 101.
Tough crowd! But Vig, Erikson, and Marker took it in stride, and even decided to adopt their friend’s judgment as a band name, which they wore loud and proud. Thus their trio became Garbage, and all that remained was to find a female singer, which the guys had realized they needed in order to get the right sound.