Butch Vig

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Butch Vig
Vig in 2010
Vig in 2010
Background information
Birth nameBryan David Vig
Also known asNevermind Man
Born (1955-08-02) August 2, 1955 (age 68)
Viroqua, Wisconsin, U.S.
OriginMadison, Wisconsin, U.S.
  • Musician
  • record producer
  • songwriter
Years active1978–present
Member ofGarbage

Bryan David "Butch" Vig (born August 2, 1955) is an American musician, record producer, and songwriter who is the drummer and co-producer of the rock band Garbage. Known for producing the diamond-selling Nirvana album Nevermind (1991),[1] Vig also produced for several other alternative rock acts of the 1990s, including the Smashing Pumpkins, L7, and Sonic Youth. Some notable production credits of Vig include L7's Bricks are Heavy (1992) and the Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream (1993).

A native of Wisconsin, Vig studied at the University of Wisconsin and performed in local bands Spooner and Fire Town. He set up his own recording studio in Madison, Smart Studios, with bandmate Steve Marker.[2] After becoming well known as a producer, he formed and played drums with Garbage, which sold 17 million records over a ten-year period. Vig returned to producing full-time when Garbage went on hiatus in 2005. The band reconvened in 2010 to record material for their fifth album. In 2012, NME ranked Vig the ninth greatest producer of all time.[3]

Early life[edit]

Vig was born Bryan David Vig in Viroqua, Wisconsin,[2] son of DeVerne William Vig (1922–2021) and Betty Jeanette (1931–2005), née Brewster. DeVerne Vig was a hospital staff doctor who practiced medicine with his twin, David, and their elder brother, Edward, in Viroqua for nearly forty years;[4] Betty Vig was a music teacher[5] and clinic administrator who played an active role in the community as a Sunday School teacher, Girl Scout leader, and director of the Country Club and Viroqua Bloodmobile Service.[6][7] Vig has two siblings, Chris and Lisa.[5] Vig acquired the nickname Butch as a child, due to the severe crew cut his father gave him.[2] Vig studied piano for six years. After seeing The Who perform on The Smothers Brothers, he swapped his piano for a $60 drum kit.[2]

Moving to Madison, Vig enrolled at the University of Wisconsin to study film direction.[8]


Early musical career[edit]

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,[9] and in 1978 formed Spooner with Duke Erikson, Dave Benton, Jeff Walker and Joel Tappero.

The following year, Vig helped Marker build a home studio in Marker's basement.[9] Marker and Vig also started a small label, Boat Records, to release records of 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".[2][10][11][12]

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 was signed to Atlantic Records.[9] Atlantic hired producer Michael Fondelli 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 working as a producer became his full-time career.[2]

Production career[edit]

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 double tracking, 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.[13] Cobain said in a 1993 MTV interview that "Butch Vig...recorded the album perfectly". The success of Nevermind earned Vig the nickname "Nevermind Man", according to the BBC.[14] Billy Corgan welcomed Vig's elaborate production on The Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream. This album met with widespread acclaim and strong sales, breaking another indie band into the mainstream. Vig also produced two critically praised Sonic Youth albums, 1992's Dirty[15] and 1994's Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star.

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,[16] which won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.[17] 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.[18] In 2010, Vig produced Muse's single "Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)," which was featured on the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack.[19]

In 2020, Vig produced the soundtrack for the 2021 film Puppy Love, including tracks by Portugal. The Man, LP, Mickey Avalon, Wayne Newton, and others.


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."[20] Afterwards, they hired Scottish singer Shirley Manson and began composing together.[1]

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.[21] 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.[22]

Despite being named one of Rolling Stone's Top 10 Albums of The Year,[23] Garbage's 2001 third album, Beautiful Garbage, failed to match the commercial success achieved by its predecessors.[24] 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.[25] The band cut short their concert tour in support of Bleed Like Me announcing an "indefinite hiatus",[26] emphasizing that they had not broken up, but wished to pursue personal interests.[27] In 2006, Vig returned to producing while Manson worked on a solo album (as yet unreleased). Garbage ended their hiatus in 2007,[28] and released greatest hits retrospective Absolute Garbage. Worldwide, the band have sold over 17 million albums.[29] 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.

The Emperors of Wyoming[edit]

In 2011, Vig formed an alt-country band called The Emperors of Wyoming with Phil Davis, Frank Anderson and Pete Anderson. They released a self-titled album on September 17, 2012.[30]

5 Billion in Diamonds[edit]

In 2017, Vig debuted a new musical project, the band 5 Billion in Diamonds. Their first album was released on August 11, 2017.[31][32] Their second, Divine Accidents, was released on November 20, 2020.[33]

Personal life[edit]

Vig is married to Beth Halper, a former DreamWorks A&R executive; they have a daughter, Bo Violet.[34] They live in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.[35]



  • Every Corner Dance (1982)
  • Wildest Dreams (1985)
  • The Fugitive Dance (1990)

Fire Town

  • In the Heart of the Heart Country (1987)
  • The Good Life (1989)


5 Billion in Diamonds

  • 5 Billion in Diamonds (2017)
  • Divine Accidents (2020)

Production career[edit]

Vig served as the record producer, or co-producer on the following records:[36]

Remix work[edit]

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]


  1. ^ a b "Garbage: Behind The Music". Behind The Music. March 31, 2002.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Welcome to Spooner Town". Record Collector. February 1, 1997.
  3. ^ "50 of the greatest producers ever". NME. November 22, 2015. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  4. ^ "DeVerne Vig Obituary (1922 - 2021) - Viroqua, WI - la Crosse Tribune". Legacy.com.
  5. ^ a b "Obituaries (Tuesday August 23, 2005)". Wisconsin State Journal (reproduced on Madison.com). August 23, 2005. Retrieved April 5, 2009.
  6. ^ "History".
  7. ^ Burgess, Joan (August 23, 2005). "Obituaries". Madison.com. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  8. ^ "Behind The Music With Butch Vig, Producer Extraordinaire". ProSoundWeb. July 13, 2014. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  9. ^ a b c "Butch Vig: 'Contrary to Popular Belief, Nirvana Were Not Slackers'".
  10. ^ Buskin, Richard (March 1997). "BUTCH VIG: Nevermind The Garbage". Sound on Sound. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  11. ^ "Steve Marker of Garbage on his approach to production and the joys of living in Colorado". Blogs.westword.com. Archived from the original on May 22, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  12. ^ Punks: A Guide to an American Subculture. Sharon M. Hannon. p. 115
  13. ^ Berkenstadt, J. (1998). Nevermind Nirvana on pg. 96. New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-864775-0
  14. ^ "The man behind Nirvana's Nevermind, Butch Vig, reveals what it was like to work on". BBC News. March 17, 2016.
  15. ^ 1992 THE BEST & WORST MUSIC, Entertainment Weekly.
  16. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (October 14, 2008). "Green Day In The Studio With Butch Vig". www.billboard.com. Billboard. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  17. ^ "Green Day wins Best Rock Album at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards - LAP201000131311 - UPI.com". www.upi.com. UPI. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  18. ^ Blistein, Jon (April 17, 2014). "Foo Fighters' New Album 'Halfway Done' Says Butch Vig". www.rollingstone.com. Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  19. ^ "VIG ROLES - Record Collector Magazine". www.recordcollectormag.com. Record Collector. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  20. ^ Mapes, Jillian (October 19, 2011). "Butch Vig: Garbage's Hiatus Cleared Members' 'Baggage'". Billboard. New York City. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  21. ^ "Version 2.0 press release" (Press release). Mushroom Records. March 30, 1998.
  22. ^ "Beautiful Garbage press release" (Press release). Mushroom Records. July 27, 2001.
  23. ^ ""Breaking Up the Girl" Hits magazine trade ad". Retrieved 2008-02-24
  24. ^ "Bleed Like Me press release, published by Geffen Records, dated February 21, 2005. Retrieved 2008-02-24
  25. ^ Murphy, Peter S. (2008). Absolute Garbage biography.
  26. ^ "Shirley Manson on Garbage Hiatus: 'I'm Burnt, I'm Done, I'm Toast' says singer". MTV.com. Retrieved February 24, 2008.
  27. ^ "Dear worried and confused". Garbage.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
  28. ^ "Garbage End Sabbatical for Benefit Show". Music.AOL.com. Archived from the original on October 3, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2008.
  29. ^ "New Best of Album". Garbage.com. Archived from the original on December 31, 2007. Retrieved February 24, 2008.
  30. ^ "The Emperors Of Wyoming". Proper-records.co.uk. May 31, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  31. ^ "5 Billion in Diamonds – "Gravity Rules" Video". Stereogum.com. May 10, 2017.
  32. ^ "5 Billion in Diamonds: New Album on PledgeMusic". Archived from the original on June 14, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  33. ^ "In Conversation: Butch Vig". Lyricsondemand.musicmir.net. November 30, 2020.
  34. ^ Thomas, Ruthie Hauge and Rob (January 10, 2024). "Butch Vig, Charlie Berens join all-star cast at Madison fundraiser". The Cap Times. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  35. ^ "Butch Vig: The Music Week Interview | Interviews | Music Week". www.musicweek.com. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  36. ^ "Butch Vig Songs, Albums, Reviews, Bio & More". AllMusic. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  37. ^ Darren Levin (August 26, 2013). "Butch Vig teams up with Foo Fighters for "KILLER new songs"". Faster Louder. Faster Louder Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2013.

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