|ANIMA ANIMUS - MAGAZINE COVERS|
|ANIMA ANIMUS - INTERVIEWS/ARTICLES|
|THE INDEPENDENT 10/09/98|
|TIME OUT 26/09/98|
SIOUXSIE COMES IN FROM THE COLD
The Princess of Punk. The Godmother of Goth. And Still As Spiky. Siouxsie Is Back. Howard Wilmot Peels Back The Pan Stick.
Siouxsie Sioux. Well, what can you say? Whether you thought her songs sounded like the cooing of angels or simply skates on ice, there's no getting away from th fact that Ms. Sioux is an icon. Emerging from the cozy Bromley in 1976, she became the first lady of punk and is probably solely to blame for the patchouli-smelling Goths still hanging out in London's Kensington Market.
So it's somewhat weird to see her stalking around the photographer's studio in boots, sadle-bag belt and a skimpy homage to a summer dress more than 20 years on. What makes it strange is knowing she was sooo influential. but not directly feeling the force.
The Banshees may have gone, but she's still doing Budgie, the Creatures and things her own way. Yep, with her own Sioux label, an abode in Toulouse and a nose in this shoot's styling, Siouxsie's a survivor extraordinaire...
Business first: how do the Creatures differ this time around?
Siouxsie: It's like starting again because we've got rid of all the middle men. It took us a while to realise that it was pointless doing what we do in the music industry the way it is right now because it's so corporate, safe and conservative. It's time to do it yourself and I feel invigorated by that.
Why did the Banshees split?
Because of the situation with Polydor and there were internal problems as well. I saw the regurgitation of nostagia rear its ugly head and was scared we'd be lumped into a sad nostagia bracket.
OK. So you know I'm gonna go down a 'cheap and dirty' road with you...
Well, we all like a bit of cheap and dirty. I hate people who take what they do too seriously. Go on then.
Have you ever done ladies?
(immediatly) Oh yes!
Many, many times?
I haven't dabbled many, many times with any gender, I'm just fussy. But Budgie's an honorary woman. I always get on with men who have a strong female side to them--whether they're straight or gay or whatever. I don't connect with people who are scared of other people's sexuality. I just don't feel comfortable with them, because unltimately they're not comfortable with themselves. I just like to get close and intimate with people. Although I'm fussy, I'm not restricted by gender.
Goths are stereotypically into S&M.
We're more S&M than Goth. There's definitely Goths that have nothing to do with S&M, who just wear the uniform.
So do you have a torture chamber in you cellar?
Ooh, I'm not saying what I've got! Part of liking S&M is not divulging. It's about having this dark and secret world.
Are you a dominatrix?
Oooh! I'm not letting on. But I'm into switching around. It doesn't have to be all one way.
So is there an S&M scene where you live?
There is not, no! But you can create your own scene wherever you are.
Are you a freak show there?
I thought we might be because we're English and everyone there is dark-skinned, short and Spanish-looking. We certainly stick out like sore thumbs. But they've been surprisingly very accepting and I feel we get a better deal there than somewhere in the suburbs of London. I remember when I was growing up that whenever I came out of the house, the net curtains were twitching and everyone was like, 'You can't imagine what she's wearing todaaaay!'. It was just a red rag to a bull.
Did you get into music to be contrary too?
No, that was by accident--it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Punk wasn't just about music--it was a coming together of misfits and that made you more confident. It was an 'us against them' thing.
Do you remember feeling like a star?
It was just having a sense of pride and a sense of self-worth. Not feeling like you were the ugly duckling. But I've always loved glamour, though I hated the idea you had to have lots of money to be glamorous. What was fantastic about punk was that there was so much glamour on the streets when people had nothing. People did it themselves. There was a real rejection of buying in the designer world.
What's the most extreme reaction you've ever had?
I've been at knife point, I've had a cut-throat razors brandished at me and I've been punched in the face by a gang of guys.
How did you get away?
I was never like (putting on a sappy voice) 'Leave me alone!' I was always like, 'Fuck off yourself, you old bastard!' I'd fight them off but there were always more of them than me.
Did you think that's what gay men get off on about you:'I'm glamorous and I will not be downtrodden.'?
Yeah, in spite of pushed to the side, I'm there with my claws and teeth. But I always thought gay men like the Judy Garlands...
But you're a different type of diva...
I don't know. All I've been talking about is just standing up for yourself. I rejected feeling like I needed to be accepted a long time ago and even more so now. I don't feel the need to be part of those pop tarts.
Finally, what's the best make-up tip?
Hmm...always cleanse and moisturise afterwards.
Howard Wilmot 05/09/98
may have disbanded her Banshees, split with her record company and got
married, but the queen of punk is back on the warpath.
The Banshees have gone, together with panda eyes and electrified hair - reminders of Siouxsie Sioux in all her petrified punk-goth glory. These days it's just her and Budgie, the Banshees drummer she married seven years ago. They live in a large house near Toulouse in the south of France, with a garden and three cats - her "babies".
They are in London to promote their latest incarnation as the Creatures - the band that started life as an experimental side project way back in 1981, when the Banshees were at their primitive best. At 41, Siouxsie looks surprisingly young and remarkably beautiful, yet slightly mumsy - a different creature to the spikey waif who rode the first shock wave of punk in bondage gear and swastika armband.
Still something of the old Siouxsie remains. Sat across the table with Budgie by her side, she's chatty enough, friendly even, only there is a certain steeliness about her. Even without the warpaint, she is prepared for combat. She doesn't really like interviews. The trouble with most journalists, she says pointedly, is they only see the surface. She read somewhere recently that she had swapped her wild-child persona for a life of domestic drudgery and that she was planning a family. She snorts: "I don't know where they get that bollocks from."
It is 2 years since Siouxsie announced she was folding the Banshees "with dignity" - a barbed reference to the Sex Pistols, who were cashing in on the 20th anniversary of punk with their Filthy Lucre Reunion Tour.
"I didn't like the idea of it all turning into a nostalgia trip," she says. "With the Banshees it was very hard to get away from that. Maybe it was partly our fault but a lot of it was other people's preconceptions of what we were. And the whole anniversary of punk thing really compounded what I thought was wrong. I was so disillusioned. I remember thinking: 'I don't want anything to do with this.'"
Few bands have been so shackled by their history as the Banshees. And few performers have been so personally haunted by the past as Siouxsie. With the obvious exception of Madonna, it is difficult to name another female pop icon of the past 20 years who has spawned so many adoring imitators. You still see them now - all those black-haired, black-eyed Siouxsies, ghostly reminders of a past she'd rather leave behind.
Do they bother her? She hesitates before answering. "It's flattering. But they'll grow out of it and find their own way of expressing themselves. That look came from having no money and enjoying dressing up. It was just a fun thing. It was never 'my image'. Also it was a reaction to when I was growing up and women were supposed to be all blonde hair, gold suntan and pink lips. It was a real black-and-white opposite of what was considered attractive. I was kicking against something I found really oppressive ."
In many ways she still is. She is angry at the way women in the music industry still tend to be judged on their looks rather than their talent and are expected to retire gracefully when they reach a certain age. "It's totally sexist. Nobody comments when Sting hits 40."
She's irritated at the way music is marketed. "Generally with new bands there's a big campaign straight away. They become this product overnight. And then they only last for one album, or one single, and people wonder why. It's because they've been wrapped in clingfilm so quickly, there's no evolution, no development, no growth."
Among those artists she does admire are Radiohead, Portishead, "and PJ Harvey of course". She used to like Courtney Love, but not anymore. "I loved the first Hole album, but I can't really understand what she's done to herself now. All that cosmetic surgery and restyling just to end up looking like Goldie Hawn. I don't get it."
There is no big marketing campaign surrounding the relaunch of the Creatures, and certainly no Versace photo shoots. Dropped by Polydor shortly after the Banshees split, they have their own label, Sioux Records. They manage themselves these days, and work a lot from home. No, they don't have anything as elaborate as a home studio - just Budgie's drumkit set up in the dining room and a dictaphone for keeping track of their ideas.
"It's very low-fi", Siouxsie explains. "It's just bits lying around. So it isn't a case of saying 'I've got an idea, lets set things up' and then losing the moment. The whole way we work now is a lot more spontaneous than before. I wouldn't call it primal exactly. It's just a lot less covered by embellishments."
It seems to suit them very well. The recent Eraser Cut EP found them retreading familiar ground with renewed vigour. They have a single "2nd Floor" out next month and are putting the finishing touches to an album, parts of which are on a par with anything they have ever done.
And they've been touring. Back in May they performed two sell-out gigs at the Garage, in Islington, north London. More recently they toured America with John Cale, formerly of the Velvet Underground. In New York the Velvets classic "Venus In Furs", as an encore. "That song was made for Siouxsie to sing", says Budgie proudly. "Yeah", she agrees. "And not someone singing it in a rollneck sweater." Budgie laughs and pretends to be shocked by her bitchiness - "Miaow!" She purrs and miaows back, scratching the air with her fingers.
It's an act they almost didn't pull off. There was a time, immediately after the break with Polydor, when they seriously considered calling it a day. "It was as if we didn't fit a particular category, so we weren't allowed to continue", Siouxsie recalls. "There was a point where I thought, 'Oh well, I'll just pack up and open a flower shop or something.'"
Even recently they had difficulty securing live bookings. "We were just dying to get out and play. We asked around, but there was a real resistance. The music promoters over here are governed by the corporate way of thinking of tying in tour, album, tour, album."
"The response was: 'When's you record due?' All of a sudden you are being told you can't play because you're not promoting a record. I was so pissed off with that attitude. So, fingers firmly stuck up at them we went ahead and did those shows at the Garage."
As well as proving that they could still cut it live, the shows marked a return to the initmacy of those early Banshees performances. It's the closest they get to a nostalgia trip. "it's been a long time," Siouxsie says wistfully. "I've missed that contact. With the Banshees it developed into a situation where you'd completed a record and did some big production in a hall or theatre. There was that distance. And I missed that feeling of starting again, of playing stuff that people don't know." Budgie nods in agreement.
This feeling of rejuvenation dominates their conversation, not least when they describe their plans to release a remix version of the new album. It sounds surprising at first, until you remember that the Banshees were one of the first non-dance bands to embrace the concept of the remix. And with the Creatures sound relying so heavily on drums and percussion, it was only a matter of time before the world of dance music finally caught up with them.
There's another logic to it, too, something which makes this latest enterprise a natural extension of everything they've done. It's the spirit in which a lot of contemporary dance music is produced - people tucked away in their bedrooms, making records on their computers. It's the fact that, with a little bit of technology, "anyone can do it". To put it another way, the world the Creatures inhabit now is a lot like the one they first sprang from, a lot like punk.
The moment the words are out of my mouth, Siouxsie Sioux's eyes light up. "Yeah!" she says emphatically. "Brilliant! It's DIY. It's back to DIY. That's the key for me. DIY. Do it yourself, with as little interference as possible."
[The Creatures play the University of London Union on Friday and Saturday; their single "2nd Floor" is released on 5 October; Banshees And Other Creatures is the subject of Rock Family Trees on BBC2 on Friday 25 September.
Paul Burston 10/09/98
In 1976, Susan Dallion bleached bleached
her hair blonde, wore peek-a-boo bras, and following the Sex Pistols as
part of the Bromley Contingent. Later that year, she dyed her hair
jet black, changed her name to Siouxsie Sioux and, together with Steven
Severin, debuted that summer at London's 100 Club as Siouxsie & The
The Banshees were heralded as one of the new "punk rock" groups, with their glam-influenced look, setting bad examples for youth everywhere to follow. After a split with drummer Kenny Morris and guitarist John McKay in 1979, Sioux and Severin were left without half of their band. They recruited Budgie (Peter Clark) from The Slits and John McGeoch from Magazine and began exploring a whole new modern psychedelic sound.
Much to their dismay, Siouxsie and the Banshees are credited with pioneering Goth, making Siouxsie one of pop music's most distinctive fashion icons, emulated by obsessively dedicated fans (over 3,000 websites and counting). The Banshees became one of the most artistically progressive and successful of any later 70's punk bands, until they felt it was time for a more permanent change. In 1996, after their tour for The Rapture, they said adios, Siouxsie and Budgie (who married each other in 1991) were left with plenty of time to focus on their "side project", The Creatures (which they began in 1981), start up their own label, SIOUX Records, and begin recording at home in France.
I started the interview with Siouxsie, while she put her makeup on from scratch, and watched her transform herself into the face that launched a thousand clones. Areola and Budgie joined us a little later, and this is what went down.
Siouxsie, how do you approach singing and performing through the physical and/or metaphysical body? Can you talk about the relationship you have as a singer with your body?
Siouxsie: Being a singer, you are so aware of your body. Your instrument is your body and it's a blessing and a real curse. So often I think, "Fuck, I wish I was a drummer!" (laughter) so only as to deal with the external, because singing is coming from within and when you're writing your material, it can be very personal. When you're touring, the emotions range from euphoria to depression and isolation. When you're euphoric, you're everybody's friend and everyone's wonderful. The other end is, (crosses her arms over her face) "Go away and leave me alone!" Your body is a real barometer for whatever mentally or internally you're going through, and on tour, it really gets highlighted. Being a singer, I feel like an autopsy sometimes. I literally look at myself as one.
Siouxsie: A carcass. I'm aware if I'm getting a cough, sinus bothering me, my joints fucking up, or my muscles feeling stiff. It's like I'm on the slab and I'm dissecting myself: "Okay, what do I need to get to sort this thing out?" It's been sixteen years since I had that knee dislocation injury and it took me a long time to get over as I carried on touring in the plaster cast. My spine developed a trapped nerve because I was traveling and then performing on a stool sitting upright. Of course, when it was removed, the leg muscles had completely atrophied. It was painful to bend again, and to deal with fluids, blood and all the stuff you sustain in an injury like that; flesh and bone but no muscle on either side, making it very vulnerable. I went through months of physical therapy and treatment. It was like Frankenstein because the doctor had to wake the muscles up by putting on these electrodes, like a dead frog in an animation film that starts twitching. The doctor had to do this: (slaps her leg) "Wake up!" My other leg got built up so it was like having one leg. I thought, "I'm deformed!" (laughter)
Has this changed your approach to performance? You certainly don't appear to be any less energetic onstage.
Siouxsie: No it hasn't. Obviously, I was really nervous the next few times I'd performed after that until I felt more confident.
Budgie, what's the deal with you wearing a dress in the record company promo shots?
Budgie: I didn't really know my mum in a funny kind of way. I've only figured this out recently. She died when I was young, only thirteen, and I always wondered who she was. My sister adopted that role and I sort of fancied my older sister. It was like this weird thing. I loved her and felt protective of her. She was the only woman in my life, so I must have been sheltered. I used to love watching her make dresses. She used to make all her own clothes; she was very thrifty that way. I used to help her choose the material and things like that. I'd always buy guy's clothing, but it was never fun. I always wanted to have fun clothing. The only chance I've been able ever to express that is onstage. Through necessity, I had to find something I could play (percussion) in, so I started wearing dance tights. I thought dance wear was pretty good because you get to wear a G-string, tights and get away with just walking around with a T-shirt. I've never really worn a dress before so that photo shoot was like enlightenment or something. It felt really good!
I don't know why you guys don't dress up more often. Everyone thinks that feminists have hairy armpits and wear no makeup. "Makeup's not cool. Don't wear a mask." But it's fun and we should be able to celebrate that. So here at BUST we do.
Budgie: Is male repression not then a feminist issue? Is it not something to do with the roles of us both as male and female? I've been repressed since I was indoctrinated by the Roman Catholic Church. Its taken this long for me to get rid of all the hang-ups in my life and finally say, "I want to be me!" I bought this nail polish (Day-glo green, which he's applying) last night at Duane Reade for the finishing touch. It's so uncanny that we're almost living in the year 2000 and a guy can wear nail polish and still get shit for it.
With the exception of London, the UK is probably more repressed than it was ten or fifteen years ago. My friends and I were chased and beaten up in Liverpool (when we were seventeen to twenty years old), experimenting with things. Unfortunately, it's the same thing now. People look at you and go, "Hmmm." When you see someone with a thousand piercings and a mohawk, compared to me, I think I look quite straight. Now what's happening is that its slipping into my everyday thing where it feels more like a part of me in a way.
Siouxsie: It's all starting to get blurry (laughter)
Budgie: I'm always asked about tattoos and piercings, because I don't have any. I just got my third waxing and it's really radical for me.
Did you get waxed everywhere?
Budgie: Yeah. Just my arms and legs, really. I never had any hair or facial hair and I never wanted any. I feel a lot cleaner and it's more tactile. I love the feel of hair, but its something I'm not used to having much of. I like the idea of surprising myself, and it's nice when you can be surprised by your own body, like the first time I wore rubber.
Siouxsie: There are many hangups about the body. Like breasts. You can have implants but you can't show a nipple. Some cartoon-looking ridiculous thing that says "Look at my breasts and nothing else!" If you've got small breasts and you're wearing something that you can see the nipple part, it's like...
Budgie: A no-no.
10 Questions for Siouxsie Sioux on
Frank Sinatra, the French countryside and being hijacked by Goths...
Is it true that you split the Banshees because the Sex Pistols reformed?
Well, it was perfect timing. But no, I'd never change my mind depending on what someone else was doing. Budgie and I needed to unpick a lot of things that seemed to be sewn up with the band. When you're part of something it's hard to see how it's going wrong, but I missed winging it, and I felt the lack of anyone else wanting to still do that and just seeing what happens. It drives me crazy knowing the end of the story. No matter how successful an artist is, it's pretty deathly to get yourself into a situation where it's all too comfortable, which is a situation I've been escaping ever since I was aware of where I was brought up. It's why Budgie and I left London and moved to another country, and to speak another language.
Have you kept in touch with any of the old Bromley Contingent?
Not really. Sometimes the odd one will turn up at a gig and it's great to see them, but quite a lot of them have settled down. I like the idea of bumping into someone you made friends with and haven't seen for 10 years, and then it's like you only saw them yesterday. It goes with the territory. I've moved from the centre of where those people would be. I consciously made the decision to leave London. I never particularly liked being part of a clique.
Can you describe a typical day in your 14th-century French abode?
Wake up... probably get some work done on the house, dead-heading in the garden, which is huge, feeding the cats, reading, or writing with Budgie, playing some music, making dinner, playing with the cats some more, maybe watch a movie on satellite TV. In the summer, there's this amazing lake I like to swim in, and there's a cinema house that's two minutes away, which looks like Cinema Paradiso. I saw Crash there when it was banned in Britain, which was ironic, considering the peaceful country setting. At least it's a complete contrast to my other life.
Your other life involves touring the US with The Creatures and John Cale. How did that come about?
It was put together at the last minute. John was the featured artist at a festival last year in Amsterdam called, horribly, With A Little Help From My Friends. He invited us along to do some new numbers and something with him, which sounded like a fun one-off, because it meant playing with a 50-piece orchestra, which was amazing. We ended up writing something together, called Murdering Mouth, then a friend of John's saw the video and suggested a collaborative tour. We didn't know what would happen. Meanwhile, Budgie and I were rehearsing with two female bassists, but the day before we were leaving one of them said she couldn't do the tour. I've cursed her so she may be dead by now! John's guitarist is now playing bass with us, and he's using our bassist and Budgie, with me and John exiting and entering. I've tried to get John's guitarist to wear a wig, but he's having to think female instead.
What songs are you playing?
A lot from the new Creatures album Anima Animus. I've adapted two Samuel Beckett pieces, an extract from Worst Word Ho! and Nohow On, which summed up how the tour was put together. Of John's songs, we're doing Gun and Pablo Picasso. We're doing Murdering Mouth, as well as some obscure Banshees B-sides like Tattoo, which I've been dying to do because it's my all-time favourite Banshees track but a certain someone (she means Banshees bassist Steve Severin) just wanted to play singles. We're also doing an amazing version of Venus In Furs, which just fits like a glove. I fancied doing it, because it epitomises what I love about The Velvet Underground. I knew that since the Velvets split John had some bad feeling, like he didn't want to go back to "that fucking band again" - but he came around to it. I worked my spell on him. We were going to do Black Angels Death Song, too, but neither of us could figure out the words. I don't think he'll be making any chummy phone calls to Lou!
Tricky covered Tattoo on his Nearly God album. Do you keep up with today's dark young stars?
It's a coincidence because, out of anyone new, Tricky's one of the most exciting around. I like his attitude, the fact that he doesn't want to be pinned down, to not become MTV fodder. I'm so sick of the way things have turned out. Even when The Creatures were trying plan shows around Europe, the first question is, "Do you have a single out, an album out?" Promoters say, "Wait until the single or album, see how it goes." It's gone so corporate. Everything is geared around promoting a single. They just want to hang on to a safe bet, which is so negative. It wont help things break out of this predictable, vicious circle. The reason why festival audiences are down is because the line-ups are so dull. And there are too many tribute bands. So-called new bands sound like Chas 'n' Dave. It's fine for a band of 20 years ago to be so inspired by The Beatles but we've moved on. I don't think people would think I've been influenced by The Beatles, because I have, but I just don't think it should be apparent.
What music does turn you on?
Before Frank Sinatra died, I got into the weird ritual of re-discovering him. It was sparked off by going to a weird club just off Spitalfields market, which was playing a Sinatra copyist, ironically. It's mainly because they have their own way of doing things. Otherwise, it's all too predictable. John and I are working on coming up with a duet, just the two of us, and maybe we'll do Witchcraft by Frank.
Before drum 'n' bass, The Creatures had drum 'n' voice around 1981
We're still doing that stuff, except that were using bass too, but as a very percussive sound. It's why we're working with two bassists, because one of them can almost pick up the marimba lines of the new album. I'd love to use the marimba live but it's a terrible instrument to transport, because it's big and delicate, and a lot of soundmen don't know how to get it to come across miked up. Ideally, I'd like to play with the Kodo drummers, an orchestra of drums. I still haven't fulfilled that dream.
I bet you didn't dream of launching goth rock...
God, was I pissed off! I don't know how we got blamed for that but, yeah, what can I say? I wish bands had listened to The Scream album rather than Juju, because The Scream was the Banshees' first statement. Juju got hijacked by a movement. And as you probably know, I've never liked any music that followed. The music that followed us, I found a lot of it pantomime. I just don't like any kind of music that covers a subject, or has one sound. I never said that we were a punk band, or a rock band - my tastes are eclectic. Before punk, I loved Suicide, DAF, Iggy Pop. Iggy is the new Sinatra for our generation. People might raise their eyebrows but I do believe that. I like good singers, and people who can write good lyrics, and draw you in. I like to be convinced.
Are you content with the legacy of the Banshees?
What was good about the Banshees isn't dead, because the music is still there. The bummer about having a band that's gone before you is that it takes up a lot of time talking about it. I understand why people want to talk, but enough already. I'm looking forward to letting the music do the talking.
Martin Aston 09/98
THE BIG INTERVIEW
In the Seventies she led the Bromley contingent out of suburbia and into every parent's nightmare. Nowadays she's more into gardening, Emily Dickinson and her cats. Nigel Williamson enters the weird world of Siouxsie Sioux.
There is an obvious hubris about interviewers claiming an affinity with their subjects, but Siouxsie Sioux and I genuinely have a lot in common. You see, we both grew up in Bromley, Kent, a stultifyingly conservative suburb of lace curtains and manicured lawns, which arguably left us both scarred for life. We are of similar age - Siouxsie is 41 - and 20 years ago we inevitably knew the same people and frequented the same pubs. We didn't go to the same school but I am still in touch with at least three old friends who have stories to tell of the young Susan Dallion in the playground of her Chislehurst primary school. Yet there was one defining moment when our paths diverged. Back in late 1975 or early 1976, we found ourselves at the same gig at the local art college. It was one of the very first performances by the Sex Pistols. Siouxsie and her mates decided it was the most exciting thing they had ever heard and went away to become the famous Bromley contingent, the first organised followers of what would soon be known as the "punk explosion". My mates and I, on the other hand, thought it was the most appalling racket and shuffled off in our Afghan coats to roll another spliff and return to our Grateful Dead albums. All these years on, I still wonder which of us was right. Sometime later in September 1977, I found myself sharing the same ferry back from Holland with Siouxsie and her band, the Banshees, returning from a gig in Amsterdam. I spent the entire voyage hiding from them. She rocks with laughter at the memory. "Ha! You thought all those evil punks were going to kick the s**t out of you, didn't you?"
We are having lunch in an Indian café in London's Covent Garden to talk about Siouxsie's more recent re-emergence with The Creatures, the band she ran for years with her husband Budgie as a side project but which, since the Banshees disbanded in 1996, has become the main attraction.
The Creatures play adventurous art rock built around Siouxsie's extraordinary voice and drummer Budgie's battery of percussion. After a toe-in-the-water EP during the summer and a couple of low-key live dates, they have just released the single, Second Floor, trailing a new album, Anima Animus, due out in March.
Siouxsie seems wonderfully tranquil, one of those fortunate women who at 41 look better than they ever have - her skin soft and glowing. She is tall and slender, still dresses in black and she turns heads as we walk up Endell Street. Budgie appears almost as arresting with his peroxide-dyed hair. In the café, a sitar player drones pleasantly in the background (he turns out to be the owner) and someone takes a flash picture. Neither of them blinks and I am not sure if they even noticed.
I have been warned by their publicist not to dwell on the past. I don't need to, for within five minutes Siouxsie is complaining about how she misses the "spontaneity" and the "altruism" of the early days. "You're talking about the past," Budgie admonishes, but she ignores him.
"You have to make sense of the past to make sense of the future," she says. "Unless you learn from what made you dissatisfied in the first place, you end up in the same old routine. It's not easy cleaning out the cobwebs to start all over again. You can't sweep 20 years away completely."
Indeed you cannot, especially if those years have made you something close to a legend. Siouxsie first achieved notoriety when she appeared with the Sex Pistols on an early evening television chat show in December 1976. The band played up to their drunken, foul-mouthed image and guaranteed tabloid headlines the next morning with a string of four-letter words. But it was Siouxsie who caught the eye in her Clockwork Orange make-up, black leather and fishnets, her hair teased into an electrical storm. She flirted with presenter Bill Grundy who, too self-satisfied to detect her mocking scorn, proceeded to ask her for a date on air. At that stage we had no idea what else she could do, but it was obvious she had something.
My early recollections of Banshees gigs are that the band couldn't play and Siouxsie could not sing. She made some silly mistakes: sporting a swastika on stage ("childish" she now admits). The band was turned down by six record companies and, with punk fast running out of steam, they looked to have missed the boat. Yet by the time they were eventually signed by Polydor and their debut album, The Scream appeared in 1978, they had somehow moved beyond the punk thrash ethic to create an arresting collection of dark, angular songs full of strange rhythms and musical abstractions. Punk gave way to Goth and Siouxsie became its female icon on songs such as Halloween and Voodoo Dolly. Thousands copied her look and they still turn up at her concerts dressed like extras from the Addams Family. She swiftly grew out of it, and today denounces Goth as "pantomime". But she continued making intelligent, challenging music, both with the Banshees and The Creatures, the avant-garde off-shoot she and Budgie first launched in 1983.
Two years ago the Banshees finally called it a day. Siouxsie had already decided it was time to do something else and the disgust at the cynical reunion of her old friends the Sex Pistols hastened the decision. Disillusioned with the record industry, Siouxsie and Budgie retreated to their house in a village outside Toulouse, France.
"The music industry was so grinding," she says. "There was no room for spontaneity. We took things for granted." In fact, it had come to feel exactly like the confining routine Siouxsie had left Bromley to escape. "I've never had a proper job but I imagine that is what it feels like. It was horrible," she says.
On the underground dance scene, however, she and Budgie began to see a way forward again. They struck a deal with the dance label Hydrogen Dukebox to run their own bijou independent company. "The modern dance scene has more energy, it's closer to the spirit of why we first started," says Siouxsie. "We intend to operate outside that tight, organised way of doing things. It's about bringing back the openness and spontaneity and getting rid of all the baggage. I'm the same person but I wasn't happy being part of something that was so established."
She says the word as if it is tainted. Like some Maoist adherent of the theory of permanent revolution, as soon as anything begins to feel safe and comfortable, she wants to change it. Much of this attitude seems to stem from her hatred of her suburban upbringing. She hasn't been back in years but all her language is still couched in the vocabulary of entrapment and escape.
She is fascinated to hear that I have only moved ten miles up the road to the leafy lanes of Westerham and have taken the train from Bromley that very morning to meet them.
"The suburbs are the most narrow place you can come from," she says. "It isn't the city where things are happening and it isn't a rural situation where you are in touch with nature. It is neither and the mentality is a narrow-minded, middle-class respectability in which everybody tries to conform and blend in with everybody else."
It is also an attitude loaded with hypocrisy. "And what goes on behind that respectable veneer? Maybe there is an alcoholic or a complete neurotic mess. Yet the will to preserve the outwardly normal exterior is obsessive." And she knows: her own father was an alcoholic and she was brought up never to talk about it.
Yet she is sharp enough to realise that it was the suburbs that made her what she is. "It is an amazing breeding ground to kick back against and, yes, if it wasn't for that environment I might not have burst out in the way I did and been so aggressive in my rejection of its values. It was stifling and I hated it. It was so very English and I never felt particularly English."
Which partly explains why Siouxsie and Budgie, who married in 1993, now live across the Channel. They paint a picture of rustic domesticity and marital bliss; Budgie cycling around the village and Siouxsie pottering in the garden and feeding her cats.
"We were desperate for some sense of ordinary community where you can interact with the people around you," says Budgie. "In London the signals are so confused that it just becomes a jumble in your head," But isn't there a conflict here between their art and their lifestyle? They have just been telling me how they hate anything safe and comfortable and here is Budgie talking cosily about how he can leave his bike anywhere without needing to lock it up and Siouxsie waxing lyrical about deadheading the roses.
"Of course not," she says. "I'm aware of how people want to preserve a cartoon image of me but I refuse to be inhibited by it." And when you think about it, she is right. The Creatures' music is edgy and dark but what right do we have to expect that to be mirrored in the way they live their personal lives? "Exactly," says Budgie. "Though you should see her slashing away at the roses in her spiky heels and patent leather gloves."
"Was it frightening when you used to go out dressed like that?" he asks Siouxsie. She admits that it was. "But knowing you would attract attention and ridicule was the thrill."
"I grew up in St Helens and we ran the gauntlet when punk started," he muses. "We were threatening to people. Everybody my age wanted to get a job and get married and have a family. I didn't and I felt very isolated. I joined a band to be in a gang."
So much for not dwelling on the past. I am sitting here with two old punks growing misty-eyed about the alienation of their youth. I ask Siouxsie if it feels strange still to be doing what she does at her age. "I am shocked by the passage of time. You think of stuff that happened 15 or 20 years ago and it seems like last week. But it is only when journalists write about a female artist that they talk about age. You'd never ask that question of a male artist."
I tell her that I am interviewing Mick Jagger shortly and plan to ask him exactly the same. "But that is different," she insists. "They decided a long time ago to continue just being the same old Rolling Stones. That's the job they do." Changing tack, I ask if she has ever regretted not having children.
"I never wanted kids. There seems to be an epidemic of people having children and I don't need to add to it," she says. It sounds like a rehearsed answer but then she softens. "Sometimes I think I would have liked to have had a daughter. But we have cats. One of the reasons we moved to France was to have more room for them."
At the end of the day, Siouxsie and Budgie remain a paradox. The press release they put out to announce The Creatures' return name-drops Nijinsky, Frida Kahlo and Emily Dickinson. They recently staged an evening at the Lux cinema, a London art movie house, showing clips from their favourite and mostly very esoteric films. Then at their comeback gigs they gave away a free seven-inch single called Sad C**t. It seemed as puerile as the swastika incident all those years ago.
"I don't believe in being provocative for the sake of it," Siouxsie says defensively. "I'm trying to reclaim why I got involved in this in the first place. I hate this wagging of fingers saying you can't do that. And I reject the idea that you can't talk about art because you are a pop singer. We have always been much more eclectic. There aren't any rules apart from trying to remain unpredictable. Most people want stability and think the less surprise the better. It shocks me how many people want that from their music."
She seems to be talking about those people in the suburbs again. When we part I tell her I am taking the train back to Bromley. She is warm and friendly and hopes that we will meet again soon. But she doesn't ask me to convey her fond regards to the place of her birth.
Nigel Williamson 10/10/98
She was the face that launched 1000,000
black eyeliner pencils - the ultimate icon for pasty-faced teens
everywhere. Two decades later, she's still as scary, sexy and busy
as ever. James Anderson salutes the Goddess of goth - Siouxsie
There's nothing like a fierce ruling Diva to take the pop world by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake. In the 1980's Madonna's hard-earned reputation as pop culture's toughest filly became, and has remained the stuff of impotency-inducing legend. Rather less stylishly, the 1990's have seen the Spice Girls shrilling the Girl Power rhetoric from the rooftops, keen to insist that they too are sporting the bossiest of platform-stacked boots. But all these obstreperous broads owe a debt to punk rock's original dowotchalike diva, the majestic Siouxsie Sioux.
Forget tepees and tomahawks, Siouxsie's real name is the more glumly British Susan Janet Ballion. And the threat of being scalped behind the new curtains and neatly trimmed hedges of suburban Chislehurst, Kent, into which our subject was born in 1957, was negligible.
Described by herself as "more puritanical then proper middle class in a way, almost spiteful", young Susan was unimpressed by her blander-than-bland surroundings. By the time of her late teenage years in the pre-punk mid '70s she sought an escape route from the tedium (remember, this was the era when achingly dull pomp rockers and bands like the Bay City Rollers ruled the airwaves) in the sounds and visual extravagance of David Bowie, Roxy Music and the cinematic decadence of Cabaret and A Clockwork Orange. Her own confrontational appearance (fishnets, men's suit jackets - anything visually at odds with hippies or flaredness) underwent frequent, dramatic transformations via free hair dying sessions at Vidal Sassoon and, always, stark make-up. Unsurprisingly, this garish aesthetic and icy demeanour didn't impress the boobs and flicks-type modelling agencies which she approached in a naive quest for employment, thus prompting a variety of jobs in seedy pubs and clubs 'up' the West End.
Around this time, she began to hang out with a posse of similarly disaffected, style-conscious youths from neighbouring Bromley (one being fellow future star Billy Idol) and in central London. Each had fingers in different pies: the capital's gay clubs, for instance (the only after-dark establishments willing to grant admission to a bunch of freaks), art colleges, prostitution (a friend, Linda Ashby, ran a whipping parlour in Park Lane while certain males cohorts went on the rent). Debbie Wilson, one of Siouxsie's muckers at the time recalls this period in Jon Savage's England's Dreaming as "all these queers going round in punk gear and black leather and going 'Ooooooh!'", (which paints a more accurate picture of events - often overlooked in the clichéd laddy/macho image punk would later gain). In fact, this mixing-and-mingling, and the feeling of taking control of one's destiny, was the catalyst for a whole new London scene, with the likes of Siouxsie at its hedonistic core.
The passport to her own fame and notoriety came via emerging tabloid shockers The Sex Pistols. Siouxsie and co were among the very first people to recognise the importance of the band (despite the squillions of wannabes since claiming to have been there) and began to attend every volatile gig they played. Their presence, firstly as fans, and then as entourage/friends of the Pistols media circus earned them the nickname of the Bromley Contingent. By 1976 Siouxsie was becoming a 'face'. She and two mates were splashed on the cover of The Daily Mail - it's headline declaring: "These People Are Wreckers Of Civilisation". When the Pistols outraged the nation by hurling a string of expletives at the host of BBC's early evening Nationwide programme, Siouxsie was present and giggling on the set - patently loving every f***ing! minute of it. She began marching around gigs and clubs with her tits on full display (much more daring in the sterile 70's) and non-too-wisely sporting a swastika armband, an inflammatory style gesture she has since had to live down. Other girls began, less successfully, to adopt her provocative looks; Boy George recalls in his autobiography Take It Like A Man: "I'd proudly tell of the time I saw Siouxsie Sioux fixing her make-up in the ladies' loo at Louise's. She was haughty, irritated by those attempting to brush with her greatness."
Siouxsie proved herself to be more than just a heavily made-up mush when, with Sid Vicious, Marco Pirroni, (the fat one from Adam & The Ants) and Steve Severin, she stropped on stage as Siouxsie & The Banshees at London's Punk Rock Festival in September 1976. The band performed a twenty-minute, atonal dirge of The Lord's Prayer/Knockin' On Heavens Door, little concerned with lack of practice or crooning technique - such was the gung ho spirit of the times. The great dame remarked of this debut: "It was a shambles but much more memorable than doing something we rehearsed."
And so, an enduring musical legend was born. In 1978, with a different line up and following a graffiti campaign urging record companies to sign them up. Siouxsie & The Banshees got a contract and released Hong Kong Garden, their first of many hits (Happy House, Christine, Spellbound, Dear Prudence and so on) and albums. To many Siouxsie became a new type of spook feminist icon. In Love Is The Drug... Living As A Pop Fan, Lucy O' Brien remembers her sixth form yearnings "to enter the wild, strange, androgynous world she and her coterie seemed to signify, Siouxsie was the One Who Knew... Siouxsie to me, symbolised a kind of sisterhood."
In the early 80's Siouxsie unveiled a more extreme gothic look (earning her comedy-type "Queen of Goth" monickers in the pop press) and sound, which influenced yet another generation of alienated teens. The band underwent various line-up changes and secured fanbases all over the globe - especially in Brazil and France. Siouxsie formed an offshoot, percussion-based project called the Creatures - still in effect today - with Budgie (Banshees drummer and her long-time boyfriend) and produced hits like Right Now, Mad Eyed Screamer and Miss The Girl. As an outspoken, so-called 'woman in rock' she has achieved almost iconic status - frequently interviewed in the media, featured in scores of books, with her face printed upon countless T-shirts flapping away in the Carnaby Street breeze. Towards the end of the decade she put away the crimping irons and ghostly macquillage, got herself s slinky black bob, and successfully sued The Daily Mirror for claiming she had had a nose job. Despite further worldwide hits (Peek-A-Boo and Kiss Them For Me) and her collaborations with Morrissey and The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees eventually split in the mid 90s.
But the story of Siouxsie doesn't end there. A new album by The Creatures is anticipated, as is a 20th anniversary re-release of Hong Kong Garden, and a greatest hits album later this year. Miss Busy Ex-Banshees has also been working with Marc Almond, her former idol David Bowie and techno bloke Victor Imbres. And, fittingly, for someone whose career kicked off down the dyke disco/homo hangout, she has of late been spotted playing DJ at anything-goes London club night Mink. Best not to ask is she'll spin Spice Up Your Life, though.
James Anderson 07/98
A girl named Sioux
Long before the Banshees finally split in 1995, Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie were doing things their own way with his edgy drumming and her mesmeric voice. Now The Creatures are back - with a fine line in short, sharp shock treatments. But is punk’s First Lady still the Icy Bitch From Hell?
Interview Garry Mulholland
Jesus, I’m gonna be late. Even so, I tell myself to quit hurrying. Hell, I haven’t seen hide nor hair of the girl for years. Sure, I used to be crazy about her. But I was just a kid then. Now I’m a grown man. I’ve been around. But the dame gets in touch after all this time, says she wants to talk to me, even lets slip that her husband’s gonna be there. And here I am, heart thumping, almost running through the mean streets of Islington for a riverside appointment. I must be some kinda fool. Well, I’ll show her. She may think I haven’t got over her, but I can bet she’s bitter, cold, and has lost at least some of the looks that made me fall for her. Believe me, I’m gonna play it real cool.
When I arrive, Siouxsie’s already there. She is reclining gracefully in a café in the photo studio, admiring the shots on the wall. He - the drumming bird they call Budgie - is there too, being the stand-up guy he always was. I give her the once over. She hasn’t put on an ounce of weight. She’s dressed casual but elegant, with more colour than I recall. And her face? Her face hasn’t aged a day in almost 20 years. At 41, she doesn’t even need all that slap she used to break my heart before. She looks at me and... can you believe this?... smiles. She bums a cigarette, and then leans over so I can light it for her. I am a quivering bag of teenage flashback nerves. She doesn’t even notice. Damn.
The artists never formerly known as Susan Dallion and Peter Clark are here to talk about The Creatures. Anyone who was a Siouxsie And The Banshees fan will know that the duo are nothing new, having made a few great singles and two interestingly flawed albums in the ’80s. But, previously, The Creatures was the couple’s side project, and experimental break from the institution that was their day job. Now, with the band that made Siouxsie’s name no longer together, The Creatures is what Siouxsie and Budgie do. And, perhaps surprisingly, they are doing it small, underground, and very, very well.
The first sighting of Creatures in our midst was at the end of May this year, when the pair did two rapturously received shows at the tiny Garage venue in north London. Then there was an EP - ’Eraser Cut’ - On their own independent Sioux label. The songs were short, sharp, percussive and infectiously atmospheric. Soon there will be a single, ’2nd Floor’, and an album next year which has punk’s leading female icon sounding as spontaneous and powerful on those great early Banshees records. It is a ’comeback’ which, unlike, say, the turgid facsimile of former glories that is the group currently masquerading as Echo And The Bunnymen, seeks to wipe away the increasingly compromised and contrived work of the Banshees’ final years, and capture what Sioux repeatedly calls ’the spark’. They have rediscovered the cutting edge. Now they are just hoping the cutting edge rediscovers them.
Severin the ties
‘Then, all of a sudden, nostalgia was screaming its ugly face at me, and I thought... I don’t wanna be part of that. The whole thing wasn’t overnight. It was a gradual chipping away. And finally, enough was enough.’ Siouxsie Sioux ponces another fag and explains the Banshees split in 1995. After the interview, Budgie will admit that this is the first time they’ve talked in public about the end of their band. When I say that I expected the standard operational whitewash of the past, he smiles and says, ’Yes, that’s exactly what the Banshees would’ve done. We want to show people a bit more respect.’ And the Siouxsie I meet today is the opposite of the bitchy and standoffish Ice Queen of pop legend. To the point that when I ask her how her songwriting partner, Steve Severin, felt about the end of almost two decades’ work, she neither stonewalls nor slags him off.
‘He kind of accepted it, because I’d threatened it after "Peepshow", and we sort of... buried the hatchet.’ She laughs wryly. ’We made an effort to get some spontaneity back, but... it was a long relationship, and it’s hard to say, "That’s it. I’m not giving it a chance." So I gave it a chance, and if anything, it got worse. The sparks got fainter and fainter. I reached the point where I didn’t want anything to do with the music business.’
The pair admit that the sudden lack of trust, and lack of interest in their new Creatures material from Polydor and Geffen, hit hard. It was obvious that the labels were more interested in pushing them as a retro act, as Budgie notes. ’They’d showed little interest in our future as we saw it, but people are getting very interested in intellectual property rights these days... ’
What - they wanted you to copyright ’goth’? Siouxsie baulks at the idea of being responsible for the hordes of whey-faced Munster clones. ’I mean, "Ju Ju" wasn’t meant to be taken as a blueprint for "scary, scary shock horror".’
But hand on, you did write ’Head Cut’, an entire dramatic rock epic based around buying a spooky carved head from a second-hand shop. And then there was ’Halloween’ and ’Voodoo Dolly’ and... You were asking for it, basically.
‘I know,’ she sighs and grins reluctantly. ’But that wasn’t all there was to it. "Night Shift" was about the Yorkshire Ripper, not Bela Lugosi, or whatever. Goth was pantomime.’
But enough of goth, back to the post-Banshees story. The pair spent the next year honing the Creatures material and deciding where to take it. Then fate intervened in the shape of Doug Hart from British dance label Hydrogen Dukebox. He persuaded them that he was a huge fan, and wanted to work with them. Suddenly, Budgie and Sioux were getting a crash course in how the underground dance scene works. They were amazed by the energy.
‘We’d got used to being surrounded by all these jaded has-beens,’ says Budgie. ’Suddenly we had theses people who were excited about what we were trying to achieve. We were so filled with suspicion... "What’s their angle? What do they want from us? Maybe they want to cut off our intellectual property rights."’
Apparently not. The Sioux label is entirely self-financed and independent, run completely on trust with Hydrogen Dukebox. Or, as Sioux puts it: ’There’s no contract yet. It will probably be a bit of paper saying "I promise not to fuck you over."’
The most unintentionally comic thing about the Banshees’ career was their total inability to keep a guitarist for more than 15 minutes. Spinal Tap may have killed off all their drummers for satirical effect, but the strictly non-metal Banshees were almost the six-string equivalent, usually losing their strummer in mysterious psychological circumstances, in a blaze of public bad feeling.
‘I dunno... they always went wobbly,’ muses Siouxsie, still baffled. ’Perhaps we were just too tough on them. And every time a new one joined, he had to learn more and more guitarists’ styles. John McGeoch’s, John McKay’s, Robert Smith’s. Mind you, Robert Smith didn’t play much guitar for us. He wanted to play piano. We had to force him to play guitar.’
Who was the best Banshee guitarist?
‘McGeoch,’ Budgie answers immediately. ’And McKay,’ adds Siouxsie. Budgie suddenly comes over all thoughtful.
‘The McGeoch thing was the most poignant. When he parted, we’d just come out of a completely mad period. John was having a serious breakdown, but we were all too busy with ourselves to worry about what someone else was getting up to. We’d all just fallen into big-time abuse. It’s sad looking back because we should have helped more - we should have stood up for each other more than we did. We must have seemed like total bastards.’
‘We all had breakdowns,’ Sioux remembers. ’But we were... what do they call it?... functioning breakdowns. And John wasn’t functioning at all. We were like, "Excuse me, but I’ve got my own breakdown to be getting on with, thanks." But the music didn’t suffer. If anything it helped it.’
They agree that the first albums - excepting the rushed second album, ’Join Hands’ - were their best, and that fifth LP ’A Kiss In The Dreamhouse’ represents the band’s creative peak. Sioux immediately picks up what I’m getting at.
‘After that, the band became its own worst enemy. We’d become... established. It became a job. If anyone had said that to me at the time, I would’ve punched them out.’
Siouxsie and Budgie were married in 1991 and moved to Toulouse, France, six years ago. They tell a particularly nice story about settling into their rural idyll, safe in the knowledge that no one recognised them. Until their first Christmas Eve, when a familiar tune wafted in from the chilly outdoors. They opened the curtains, to see a group of punked-up teen carol singers, singing their hit, ’Israel’, in perfect harmony.
We start to talk about punk, with Budgie positing the theory that the sex Pistols sounded more like Alice Cooper than the New York Dolls. Siouxsie suddenly turns to me and says, ’I never play the Sex Pistols now. I mean, do you?’
Yes, I explain, but it’s slightly different. When ’Anarchy In The UK’ came out, I was a clumsy adolescent living in a godforsaken New Town and punk became the meaning of my life. You, on the other hand, were a teen goddess trendsetter appearing on TV with the Pistols. You’d be a really weird person if you still listened to your mates’ records while you did the Hoovering. Sioux considers this, and delivers her verdict on the importance of 1976 and all that.
‘The best thing about punk was the violence of it. The very real confrontation, I actually liked that. Not the thuggery, but the sinister, really edgy, uncomfortable feeling you got. I still can’t really like something unless it’s got that.’
On that subject, I bring up a provincial gig on the ’Ju Ju’ tour in 1981, where the hall was invaded by the full compliment of red-faced and pug-ugly skinheads. They began to do the ’Sieg Heil!’ bit during a song. The Banshees stopped playing, Siouxsie ran to the wings, returned wearing a Star of David T-shirt, leaned forward from the stage, hit the shits with a torrent of abuse, and then dedicated the next song to them. With nary a pause, the band slid gracefully into a passionate version of ’Israel’. It was one of the most wonderful things I’d ever seen, particularly when the boneheads slunk off into the night. She remembers it all vividly. ’There were a few gigs like that on that tour, nights where I’d see skins beating up one solitary, skinny little punk kid. I’d either hit them, or put a light on them and get the audience to do it. I hated them so much.’
There was a time when people didn’t believe that. In the early years, Sioux was an enthusiastic wearer of swastikas, while the first version of live favourite ’Love in A Void’ was rumoured to have included the line ’Too many Jews in here for my liking’. Siouxsie carefully picks her words, but doesn’t shrink from answering the charge.
‘Yes, it was true about that line. The swastika was a symbol to be used as a crucifix could be. It was an attempt to arouse some passion about nationalism in Britain. It was... childish. But we wanted to stir something up. And we certainly were not condoning what it represented. I never saw how it could be misconstrued as a political belief. I remember how the word "Jew" used to be used, especially in the playground, to call someone a miser and tight-fisted, without really thinking about how it discriminated against a whole race. But as soon as people thought it had a political significance, and the NF started turning up for gigs, we realised we had to do something to make it very clear where we stood. So we picked up another symbol - the Star of David - which seems the antithesis. But, if you want to take that symbol literally, it can represent the same kind of nationalism. I was also really into John Heartfield’s artwork at the time, and I naďvely assumed all these elements would be taken the way I meant them to be. I was really stupid.’
The Ice Queen melts
So, Siouxsie, were you really the Icy Bitch From Hell? ’I think it was because that’s what I gave off on stage. I mean, in certain situations I won’t stand for any crap. So people reported that a couple of times and the myth just built up. People presume I’m like that indiscriminately.’
When my friends and I used to try and speak to you after a gig, you’d always just walk straight past us with your nose in the air...
Budgie: ’Still does.’
Sioux: ’No I don’t!’
... whereas Scouser Budgie would always stop and speak to us. Is it a friendly northerner and standoffish southerner thing?
Budgie: ’Definitely. I was warned off joining this group. I used to roll my own cigarettes and drink pints, and they used to smoke Gauloise and sip vodka and tonic.’
It must have put an even bigger strain on the band when you two became an item. All that canoodling and whispering...
Sioux: ’If anything, we went out of our way to be strangers on the road.’
Budgie: ’That’s why I was always outside talking to the punters.’
Sioux, ignoring him: ’And to a certain extent we’re still like that. We’re not the couple hiding away. We have separate rooms. Which is quite nice actually, ’cos then we can go and see each other.’ Aw, bless. But the glue that sticks them together is made of more primal stuff than the understanding of each other’s sensitive muse. At least, according to Siouxsie.
‘Our mutual respect is based on the fact that I respect anyone who is physical and sweats a lot. When we come off stage, we’re the only ones who ever needed to change, and to shower, and mop our bodies up. The others just wipe their brows and go off to the bar. Fucking bastards.’
Okay, so she’s still a looker. And she’s got talent, any fool can hear that. Plus she hates Dadrock, and strikes a nice balance between hatred of the business and a complete lack of personal bitterness. But, I bet, underneath it all, Siouxsie Sioux fancies herself just a little too much, is too aware of what an icon she was. I have to ask her one question, just to find the fatal flaw. How does it feel, really feel, to know that you were the picture on thousands of adolescents’ walls - adolescents like me, for example?
Debbie Harry??? No!!! The Ice Queen can’t be self-deprecatingly modest as well! As I wend my way back from our riverside rendezvous, I get a horribly familiar feeling. That one where you feel like you’re bouncing instead of walking. All those years, and the dame just reeled me in like a sucker. Be warned, ex-Siouxsie lovers. This Creature is coming back to steal your dark heart.
‘The Scream’ Nov 1978
The first album to show a way for punk beyond thrash. Dark, clanging tales of suburban horror over tribal rhythms and John McKay’s abstract guitar.
‘Kaleidoscope’ Aug 1980
The departure of McKay and drummer Kenny Morris meant the first appearance of Budgie, a selection of strummers including the sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and a shockingly poppy sense of freedom.
‘Ju-Ju’ Jun 1981
Their most complete album, this dark epic apparently invented Goth. But don’t tell Siouxsie.
‘Once Upon A Time - The Singles’ Dec 1981
One of the most perfect hits compilations... ever!
‘A Kiss In The Dreamhouse’ Nov 1982
Ornate and psychedelic, producer Mike Hedges managed to harness the breakdown-infested talents into a beautiful creative peak.
‘Feast’ May 1983
The first Creatures album introduced percussive exotica and Sioux and Budgie as a rock couple.
‘Tinderbox’ Apr 1986
The last truly convincing Banshees album, even though John McGeoch and Robert Smith had, by this time, come and gone.
‘Boomerang’ Nov 1989
Creatures opus number two. Better than anything the Banshees had produced in seven years.
‘Twice Upon A Time - The Thing’ Oct 1992
The albums may have suffered, but the Banshees’ singles collected here provide a fitting exuberant swansong.
Gary Mulholland 26/09/98