|FEAST - MAGAZINE COVERS|
|FEAST - INTERVIEWS/ARTICLES|
|MELODY MAKER 14/05/83|
|SMASH HITS 28/04/83|
|RECORD MIRROR 1983|
Tales from Hawaii as SIOUXSIE and BUDGIE discuss the CREATURES,
Cannibalism and snuff movies, breaking glass and their weird new album
"Feast". Steve Sutherland listens in awe. Tom Sheehan
Talking about music is impossible. We can talk all around it untiI the cows come home, we can get visual or literary or pseud, but we can't talk about it and do it any justice. A bass drum is boring. The sound it makes needn't be. What does it sound like? Ah . . . now there's a question.
And so it was that Budgie and I found ourselves in much the same boat, ensconced in a Brompton Road wine bar trying to describe the indescribable, spurred on by our undampened enthusiasm, dogged by our memories, stretching our imaginations, hoping - hopelessly - that the spark of our desire to communicate would overcome the improbability of being able to do so.
"Picture this," he reminisces purposefully. "Picture sitting at a hotel bar in Waikiki, drinking cocktails and looking out over this bay, and there's an airplane moving across and the sun's going down very, very slowly and there's brilliant gold here and red here and it's black there and it's just all shifting down and you're sitting there drinking, like you're watching a movie. You can't believe you're there. You're sitting there thinking 'We're here. We are here aren't we? Pinch Me!' Now, how can I describe that?"
Picture this: an album of filtered brilliance, fertile, sensual and erotic; an album that, in its desperate naivety, attempts to articulate that moment when the monsoon ends, when the smell and the heat conspire in a perfumed mist and life sprouts instantly, green and luxurious. The album is called "Feast", the first from the Creatures, the scent belatedly picked up and pursued from the hit "Wild Things" EP.
"An eternal keep your passion alive as opposed to letting it wilt and die away," is how Siouxsie describes it.
Recorded in Hawaii during three weeks working holiday last January, it's unavailable until May 20. Imagine my impatience. I want to invite you all round to my place and make you listen to my white label now. . .no, not make you listen, entice you to, want you to want to. But I can't. Like Budgie, I'm stuck with words to do my wooing and words, as Siouxsie warns, are not to be trusted.
"I never want anything to be reviewed as 'my piece of art'. I feel very proud of everything I've done but I don't want to talk about my pride because that's somehow deflating it. It's like if you play a record, you can feel so much from it, but how can you explain how you felt when you were really high and felt really good about that record? You have to think about it and almost translate it into words. That's why I love music, because there's a lot of words in there that aren't in the dictionary and it's not exclusive to people who can read and write or know their Roget's Thesaurus or something. It's the way music is -- not like if you read a book and then you see a film of that book, it's always disappointing because it's there visually and you'd imagined something totally different."
So . . . listen to me but don't listen to me.
Picture this: a studio on the jungle's brim previously used by Crosby, Stills & Nash, Marvin Gaye and Japanese electronic outfits attracted by the competitive rates. Two Banshees are knuckling down to work after a New Year's Eve flight that managed to encompass the midnight celebrations three times.
Budgie is recording the snap of machettied bamboo, producer Mike Hedges is burning resistors out of the mixing desk, Siouxsie's crushing ice and four Hawaiian chanters are standing transfixed, enchanted by the playbacks of their secret, sacred songs. Slowly, the jarring sounds gell and a song is born -- not a smug, imperialistic pillage of another ethnic culture, but a wide-eyed impression of alien surroundings. Not the Banshees' notoriously considered despatches from the brink, but instant, instinctive reactions on the way over.
The atmosphere is suffocating humid. Budgie is sticky and wild-eyed with sweat as Siouxsie starts a homage to the native lizards. Just then one such lizard, a baby Gecko, creeps over the carpet and onto her lap. Uncanny.
Picture this: a band of cut-throats, the sort who would promise you release on condition of some favour and then, the favour fulfilled, slit your throat anyway - capture a young man and his fiancée. For some reason unspecified they bind the man and threaten his girlfriend with rape. Whether the brutal deflowering really takes place is uncertain, but the bandits decide to torture the captive beyond his sanity by testing and mocking his lover's affection. They litter the floor with broken bottles and stipulate his life will be spared if the girl dances and sings barefoot over the shards.
Such is her love that, despite the hopeless futility of the gesture, she dances her feet into crimson ribbons.
"Dancing On Glass" was inspired by an Indian musical televised before Christmas as a trailer for Channel 4's season of classic lndian films. A hymn to Bacchanalian abandonment, it celebrates the mad irresponsibility of a crazed carnival, oozing with guile, panting with lust. "Forget tomorrow's mess," governs Siouxsie, "because right now is the best." Why the advocation of hedonism?
Siouxsie: "lt goes back to, I dunno, you probably don't do it but if I get either really happy or really pissed off, I'll smash stuff, mainly glasses. In my own flat -- I won't break anyone else's. I tend to do it when I'm really whooping it up, when I'm really happy, playing some music on my stereo and maybe getting a bit drunk and I'II dance around smashing glasses. I've cut myself quite a lot but there's no pain because I'm either really up or too aggressive to feel anything. When I get up I really do get uppy and when I get really (she knots her face into a tense scowl) . . . like that, as opposed to strangling someone, it's a real release to just smash glasses. It sounds crazy, but it works."
Budgie: "Yeah, the rest of us are really good at ducking now! To get the underlying percussion for 'Dancing On Glass' we danced on these beautifully designed mirror tiles imported from Seattle, danced on broken mirrors, just linked arms, almost like a hoe-down."
Siouxsie: "With shoes on!"
But what about all those years' bad luck?
Budgie: "That's what I was thinking while I was breaking the mirrors. Y'know, 'Oh fuck-- that's 14 years already!"
Picture this: the Creatures on "Top Of The Pops".
Siouxsie: "I think maybe a lot of people don't know who the Creatures are, they've just heard 'Miss The Girl'. There is a kind of stigma with the Banshees, a lot of people have heard of them and think, y'know, 'difficult people'. But if you're seen to be having fun a lot of the time and you get on with everyone, people think you like the music business which isn't the case. We don't feel that way and the Banshees is an attitude towards all of what we're involved in. We hate it, but we want to make this music and we want to be put in the same arena as all those lions, not separated to a cult audience or anything, but we're certainly not gonna blend in with that arena.
"The Creatures is not a different attitude, it's just more relaxed as opposed to having different morals or attitudes. And, to a certain extent, we've proved a point of how you don't have to be elitist to be uncompromising".
Are the Creatures a release from the burden of the Banshees' reputation?
Budgie: "Yes, we're not obliged to do anything. Having joined the Banshees somewhere along its progression, sometimes it can be a big weight. It's not a heavy weight but to get away . . . nobody knows what we should be doing, nobody can say the Creatures shouldn't do that. There's no binds."
Siouxsie: "I can't put a finger on it. The Banshees is still the most important thing to me and maybe the fact that this is not what I'm really fighting for... I'm really into it, but it's not like the Banshees' 'let's get the bastards' kind of attitude and, in that way, it's more like playing as opposed to . . . I mean, that makes the Banshees sound like a jailer or something. It isn't that, it is the most important thing to me, it's like my life, a way of life almost, but I'm fed up with the idea that a lot of people like us for the wrong reasons - 'Ah, they've been in the business' - the business! (she baulks) - 'six years, they must be able to play their instruments by now.'
"I hate that. A lot of people commented on the musical dexterity of 'A Kiss In The Dream House' and I thought 'fuck off!' Of course we've been playing a lot longer, but our attitudes towards playing haven't changed one iota, and I suppose that doing something like the Creatures, it's 'Miss The Girl' - there's no production!' Damn right there isn't! That's why I wanted to release it, because I'm sick of all this wall of production coming out at you, it's really boring and predictable. People aren't taking any risks any more, aren't pulling things out."
Budgie: "It's like me playing the marimba. I can't play a marimba to save my life if you like, but I used it. I watched a guy on television last night, on 'Loose Talk', playing a vibraphone in the known, accepted way. That's really good, really admirable, y'know. I don't want to be admirable, I don't want to be respected."
Siouxsie: "You do but not in that way. It's like people laughing with you as opposed to at you. I want respect but I don't want to be treated as a superhuman being. It's not that pompous at all. It's like, when we were in Australia, I couldn't stand the way it was obviously so racist against the Aborigines. It's almost like I'd feel the same way if I was a suffragette way back then, I'd be chaining myself to the walls and really screaming at those people that were being so unreasonable and pig-headed about how superior they were. I can't stand the idea that it goes on . . .that's not respect, that's just being treated like you're not senseless or you're not a primitive being."
But they don't come much more unapproachable than your image.
Siouxsie: "That works in that it cuts out a lot of the crap. I mean -- can you believe it? -- I've done photo-sessions with guys going, y'know, 'lovely, lovely, lovely'. They don't do it to me anymore, they won't do it because they know I'II probably throw a bottle at them."
All the same, it's the fantasy element in the Banshees and, perhaps, in the Creatures, that puts some people off. They see it as an act, role-playing rather than any expression of true personality. Is what you do ever pure emotion or reaction as opposed to calculated image?
Siouxsie: "I know what you mean. I think there's an element in the Banshees of wanting to project what the Banshees are so, therefore, it's something blown up that is definitely a part of you, but it's the part you want to project. Y'know, it's the idea of, like, being in a pub and cute little people come up to you and want autographs and, thinking of my reputation, the first thing I should do is slap 'em round the face and tell 'em to fuck off. And I've done that -- well, I haven't done exactly that, but I've been like that sometimes, not because of an impression I wanna make, but because of a mood."
The Creatures seem to find it easier than the Banshees to laugh in public.
Budgie: "There is humour in the Banshees, we laugh up our sleeves, but this is like telling a joke almost."
"Gecko" is a carefree song, something the Banshees, as yet, seem unable or reluctant to write.
Siouxsie: "Yeah, again I know what you mean, simply happy -- happy for happy's sake. It's a different way of working; I'm not saying 'the Banshees ugh eek', but sometimes working within four people is like such a monster, it's become a real fuckin' 11-headed monster. But, like, I always think 'Cocoon' off 'A Kiss In The Dream House' sounds really happy but, again, the lyrics are a bit odd, they grate against the sound of the music. I think that's something we're good at, subverting lyrics."
Talking of subversion, I still marvel at your deviousness, sneaking that line about conquering orifices in "Arabian Knights" and the one about frozen balls in "Mad-Eyed Screamer" past the censors, though I hear the "Miss The Girl" video is unofficially banned. Considering your reluctance to censor yourselves, our chances of seeing it seem pretty slim. Tell me about it.
Budgie: "lt's just the two of us in a thing that we built which is mostly metal with nails sticking out of it, with dangerous elements in it and the play off of flesh against elements of spikes and metal. You might get your hand caught in this wheel as it turns round. Plus we threw in a couple of staged slaps..."
Siouxsie: "John Waynes! Really, we should have just done a horror film with my eyeball going into a nail. We could have gone to town if we'd wanted to shock people, but still one guy at the 'Switch' doesn't think it's suitable for the viewers. I hate these programmes that are supposed to be alternative music programmes, the voice of the youth. This is turning into a 'Switch' bitch . . . "
Picture this: an eerie convalescent home run by a brother and sister who dress in a certain colour identical to some extraordinary, self-perpetuating, interbred flowers that tower above an old ice-house at the bottom of the garden. A new inmate, curious to assimilate his surroundings and unaccustomed to the home's routines and rituals, is perturbed by what he thinks he sees and begins to fear what he senses. He suspects the home's other inhabitants are under some strange intoxication, some spell spread by the Aphrodisiac blossoms and while browsing, feverish with trepidation, the newcomer glimpses bodies frozen in the ice. His claims are discredited as hallucinations.
After periods of will-sapping insomnia and troubled sleep-walking, the newcomer wakes shivering in the night to discover a hole in the window, perfectly flower-shaped as if a solitary bloom had somehow entered and touched him. Finally the newcomer is led down the garden to the ice-house and enters voluntarily, the door closing behind him,
By an odd coincidence, both Siouxsie and Budgie caught the same TV play at home in London and were intrigued enough to carry its germ io Hawaii where the pod slit under the strange sensory ambush of the tropical climate.
They were recording "Icehouse" before they knew what they were doing.
Picture this: Her eyes meet his across the crowded room and, in that instant, they are alone, oblivious to chatter around them. Helplessly drawn towards each other, they are entranced, spellbound, as if, for the first time, forever, they realise the power of love. He catches her hand and she feels she must faint as, in a dark brown voice, he says, "My names' Budgie, what's yours?"
"Siouxsie," she replies in a whisper, her cheeks flaming like fire. He tells her she's the most beautiful girl he's ever seen but, as midnight tolls, she tears herself away and vanishes in the direction of the ladies. Two days later, sleepless in his search, he tracks her down to the orphanage and claims her as his bride. And they both live happily ever after.
Come on Siouxsie, don't be a spoilsport. Why should 'Miss The Girl' be so cynical? Why have you never written a fulfilled love song? Don't you believe that people can actually . . .
"Not permanently, no. It's something that I wish people would accept. I see it all around me, people tearing their hair out -- 'Oh, we've split up! I knew him for so long and he just suddenly changed!' It's not negative to accept it. You shouldn't cling onto something -- it's like a lot of musicians cling onto their way of doing something and they'll never change because they know that it's their hit formula whereas, in the end, they'll just die a slow death.
"It's horrible to see, whether it be when I was really young seeing other people's mums and dads or now, seeing young couples living together, how they actually really abuse each other and take each other for granted. Why can't you live it up for . . . be a butterfly, really be blossoming for that long and not try to make it linger and go grey? I don't think that's negative. I could think 'there's only one person I'll ever love' -- fine, but then, you accept that probably you won't want to live with each other forever.
"Like, if you play a record that often, you'll get sick of it; if you watch a film i that often, you'll get sick of it; if you're with that person that often, you'll get sick of it. I think if you really care about someone, even if you don't want to, you should actually put some discipline in -- 'I really wanna be there but no, I wanna feel that emotion every time I see you as opposed to getting used to you."
So you won't succumb to pop's glib illusion - kiss me quick or woe is me?
Siouxsie: "It's too black and white, it's like yes or no. I don't think it is ever yes or no."
Budgie: "It's too interesting, it's too wonderful.. People's relationships are too special to be anaesthetic in that way."
Picture this: "I get invited to a lot of happening parties man and, at a certain party, they were showing snuff videos of cock amputations and things like that. I'd heard a lot about snuff videos, girls from the Third World being used because they're not as revered as the sons who carry on the family name, so the daughters are sold and used for snuff movies.
"I didn't want to call it 'Snuff' because I didn't want it to be that sensationalistic, but it was something that I was disgusted about. I bumped into a friend a few years ago and he told me, in Italy they're not bootlegs, you can actually go to a cinema and see a snuff film and, in this particular one he was talking about, were these young girls.
"Maybe they'd been told 'you're going to be in a bit of a saucy film' -- these 14 year-old girls, bare-chested with not much on at all who couldn't understand the language anyway. And it happened in a primitive situation, like huts and primitives with spears, and in one scene these guys invaded the camp and he said he'll never forget the total shock, the genuine shock on a girl's face as a spear is rammed up her and slit upwards, and it's all on film and it's real and it's happening and a lot of rich people, the idle rich -- I'm not putting down rich people because a lot of rich people do something with their money -- but these bores, these fuckin' bores, to get kicks, have to watch something like this!
"They could read about it -- many fantasy things can be repellent in real life, everyone thinks of horrible things, everyone thinks 'Oh, the worst torture would be...oooh, wouldn't it be awful!' You think it, but the idea of wanting to see it is disgusting."
"Flesh" is crude, cruelly vindictive, the victim's revenge, voyeuristic eavesdropping on a party pissed on punch, feigning dispassion, equating human traits with brutish animal instincts. Unbearably, relentlessly claustrophobic, it refuses to acknowledge the convenient civilised distinction between safety in numbers and dumb, easily-led mob rule.
Budgie: "Less pointedly, it's like going to a party where nobody wants to appear unhip or uncool so everybody laughs at the same jokes and goes 'ho ho, yes, because he's the host, isn't it wonderful he's doing that, shitting on the carpet'."
Picture this: Budgie wakes up to a late, chill Spring morning struggling with a pounding hangover. He turns on LBC Radio and the man with the painfully muzzy voice is going on about an adoption scheme at Regents' Park Zoo where you can sponsor the upkeep of an animal for a year. The man mentions that nobody seems interested in taking up the patronage of the peccary, a bristling pig-like animal reputed to stink to high heaven.
Budgie, not feeling exactly tip-top himself, sympathises and that's how come we're standing here, just below the bear pit, making comforting noises at the much-maligned beast. Adoption duly decided and a name, Gregory Peccary, established, it seemed pertinent to point out the contradiction between Siouxsie's partiality to black leather and her obvious affection for most critters great and small.
Siouxsie: "lf I had to kill my meat, I wouldn't eat it. I just can't stand cruelty. Robert Smith (full-time Cure, part-time Banshee and currently recording and album with Steve Severin as The Glove) was at home in Crawley and some guy gave him a 'horror' videotape and it turned out to be a whole film about different types of abattoir. He said he couldn't watch it - I mean, there's guys who don't just do it quick...y'know, they want job satisfaction so they toy with the animals and cut them to pieces before they kill them, or skin them alive and laugh about them wriggling. The film showed these Chinese tables with holes in the middle where they put live monkey's heads up through and just crack 'em and eat their brains while they're still alive. I could never do that!"
I'm glad to hear it.
Siouxsie: "But then again, I'm not averse to being a cannibal. Y'know there are a lot of wanky people that die or get killed...but then, if I was served up someone that I hated, I don't suppose I'd want to eat them anyway."
PICTURE this: innocence, energy, humility and wonder rediscovered after half a decade in the thick of the most debauched, spoiled and morally bankrupt business in the world. An insistence that there is another way -- maybe myriad other ways -- than selling spirit and soul to corporate taste.
If, with "A Kiss In The Dream House", the Banshees made magnificent mountains out of molehills, the building of those molehills more awesome and alarming than anybody else even dared contemplate last year, then "Feast" leaps from the top, giddy and free and foolish enough to believe that, with ballast shifted, breath held and senses alert, it has chanced, momentarily, upon the secret of flight.
Steve Sutherland 14/05/83
ALL CREATURES GREAT & SMALL
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE BANSHEES AND WHO ARE THE CREATURES? WELL, THE WATERMARKS ARE SIMILAR WITH IMAGES OF THE DIABOLIC, THE FANTASTIC AND THE SADO-EROTIC. SIOUXSIE AND BUDGIE STROKE THEIR SHARP, SHINY IMPLEMENTS WHILE RICHARD COOK TAKES DOWN THEIR STORY. PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTON CORBIJN.
"NOBODY WANTED a peccary."
You'd look after one, though, wouldn't you, Budgie? The drummer basks in the glow of parenthood.
"It's like a little pig and it stinks. There's this adoption scheme for animals at London Zoo. You pay a certain amount for an animal's upkeep for a year... and nobody wanted the peccary. We thought it would be nice to adopt it. You can go and see how it's getting on. We're going to call it Gregory Peccary."
What you might call a taste for the down-at-heel exotic. Siouxsie Sioux gives her compatriot her best old hag's cackle-- "An ugly little peccary!" -- and stirs her tea. There is someone to look after all Creatures, great and small.
'FEAST' IS what The Creatures are giving us this spring, a collection of shattered cameos drawn and splintered by the voice of Sioux and the percussion of Budgie, abetted by an enigmatic chorale of Hawaiian throats.
Holiday snaps or deeper traps? You can decide for yourselves with the record's release this week, but its conception and birth were brought about in conditions rather different to the phony 'alien encounter' of most such ventures.
"There's only one studio there," remembers Sioux, "and it's what people might call a demo studio. Everything is custom-made for what is like a house and it's in the middle of the Hawaiian jungle. There's no soundproofing. If you're making a cup of tea out the back you've got to be quiet if someone's doing a vocal at the same time, otherwise it comes through."
What is the purpose of 'Feast'?
"The purpose of The Creatures is being able to do something a lot more relaxed -- not laid-back relaxed, but without having a monster around what you're doing. It allows different atmospheres, and there's none of the tension you have with the Banshees because that's so... big."
"We have certain obligations with the Banshees," agrees Budgie. "We're not obliged to be The Creatures and do an album or single or anything. Anything we do is like a bonus."
But you do lay yourselves open to a charge of cultural slumming with something like this-- a record like a baroque sequence of charred ethnic paintings, recorded in a Hawaiian jungle?
Sioux: "It sounds crass when you list how it was done, but it isn't like a tourist guide. It doesn't just depict Hawaii. We never thought about it in terms of what we'd come back with, no specific number of tracks or anything. We did everything very quickly in two weeks and it snowballed into an album."
Budgie: "The people who'd been there before us had been Japanese bands and some West Coast people like Crosby and Nash. We really wanted to go somewhere which was really isolated -- we tried East Africa but there was a language problem -- and then we picked on Hawaii. We found one drum kit on the island and only one marimba. So it was like we had to find all the stuff and do it all for ourselves. There's no real cultural crossover, no more than with Japan or Australia. Just us out there."
I say, very serious, that it sounds like a Banshees dub album.
They both laugh. Crestfallen, I try to remember -- what does it sound like?
ACTUALLY, LIKE a particularly brittle and diamond-eyed variation on the Banshees' deathly kiss of sound. For what is basically a record of voice and drums, The Creatures have assembled a multifarious sonic boom that is as various and kaleidoscopic as can be imagined. The humours of Sioux's frosty larynx are nakedly outlined against skins of sometimes fabulous quality -- the drum sound on 'Ice House' must be one of the greatest on record-- and with the corroded metal of Banshees guitar entirely absent, we seem to have x-rays of a taut, raw nervous system before us.
They sustain it over ten tracks with occasional flashes of the outside world. Hawaiian singers intone with featureless passion on 'Inoa Ole' and 'Festival of Colours'; a mock party background is constructed to offset the bloody nursery rhyme of 'Flesh'. 'Miss The Girl', the most skeletal of all the songs, is like a moment of bitter reflection in the middle of the second side.
Impressive? Perhaps--except, as always, it is something of a passion show that is devoid of human hearts. The unyielding curse of Siouxsie And The Banshees stains The Creatures with the same watermark: they establish their images of the diabolical, the fantastic and the sado-erotic and then simply don't know what to do with them.
Sioux's toying with the macabre isn't irresponsible, merely purposeless. A glut of ideas and fragments whirl in the mix, but their presence feels arbitrary. Strange beasts -- roosters and geckos-- are the spectres at the feast, a randomly chosen exotica.
'Feast' shimmers and breathes, more so than any Banshees record, and it is very different from the suitcase full of mementos one might expect. It has a crystal, allusive quality. But its portent seems shallow. Does the strange tongue of 'Inoa Ole', for example, have a particular meaning?
"We knew the chants were special to them," says Siouxsie. "They guard their language and customs very carefully. We were told what they mean and they don't want them to be a commercial property."
She stops abruptly. It's a secret!
"I think 'Feast' is a rich title. That's why it was chosen."
Is England still a good place to work in?
"Not if you know you're going to do this in that studio and do a tour and play there. We're reconsidering how we work anyway because it's too familiar. If you go to places that aren't geared to musicians -- that's what I liked about Hawaii. There's no rock bands playing there. You weren't bumping into a recording artiste everywhere you go."
"We didn't have work permits when we went over," adds Budgie. "We had to bluff our way through customs and say we were just there on a holiday. After a couple of weeks they were saying, what are you doing if you're not working! And we'd be going round listening to the tracks we'd done on Walkmans, just to remind ourselves, cos we were working so fast we'd forget things we'd already done.
"There's something good about being isolated like that. The only person who knew us there was Mike Hedges so there were no people dropping in all the time saying Hi, remember me!"
You mean the big pop family we're all happy to be a part of.
"Our attitudes haven't changed. We still don't really care."
Siouxsie dismisses her competitors. "It's just that we miss the unfamiliarity that we had when we first started. People were interested but didn't know exactly what to expect. That's why we've been working abroad a lot, not just as The Creatures but with the Banshees too --Japan, Scandinavia, one-offs in Italy. We like them wondering what we're going to be like. We don't like the idea of a gig circuit.
"I don't think we've ever seen ourselves as entertainers," she continues. Sioux has a way of speaking in a monotone that has a surly force underneath it. Her Londoner's accent has been flattened of the careless common touch, except when she deliberately puts it in. There is a hint of the heavy smoker's rasp in her throat.
"We know we can be entertaining, but I don't like show business. Value for money, I mean, I'd rather see someone I like play for ten minutes than Bruce Springsteen for ten hours. That's like looking at yourself as a commodity, which I don't like. I think it's become very commodity-orientated.''
Sioux practices some lines she must have spoken many times. Budgie says something about VFM sounding like Jimmy Young. He is a cheerful, sweet-natured fellow, concerned to brighten the thunderous cloudline that Sioux sometimes puts up.
"It's not as if we're not aware of other groups," he offers meekly. "We do hear them all the time. You can't avoid that."
"We are pretty much in our own world," says Siouxsie. "We don't review our own work."
Then what perspectives do you introduce on it? How would you reject something as artifice?
"If it's not up to standard, if it's not good enough. We can start by thinking something's good at the time and then chuck it out as rubbish later."
Yes... but there are criteria, reasons, motivations. It would be a simple matter for them to exist inside a mannerism. On 'A Kiss In The Dreamhouse', a record filled with sophistication and grace that nothing in their previous music had truly pointed at, there was still a clumsy spiral of noise like 'She's A Carnival'.
"My favourite track on the album is 'Circle'," deadpans the singer. "And 'Cocoon'. You have things that you like better than others."
I meet the stare from a perfectly sculpted mask of black and cream, shaped to the contours of a voodoo imagination, before ducking my eyes to the teatable. Budgie is the diplomat again.
"We can't deny the strong identity in the sounds we make. It's inevitable that there's a Banshees sound. It's the way we change it around."
Do you set out to be profound?
"Ummm... Profound as in original and really meaningful? In that way, to us, I think so."
Budgie: "I hate cool and meaningful and deep!"
Then do you have to think yourselves into a state where you can write or perform?
"It's always more urgent than that," says the drummer. "The actual doing of something is quick, even if it comes after a long period of consolidating it.
"We get a reaction of us being rigid and uncommercial when we put our foot down for what we want. Like, when we're on Top Of The Pops and say we don't want those lights here or whatever."
Is it important for them to be seen in a place like TOTP?
"Yeah," says Sioux. "I've never agreed with the argument that you don't go on TOTP because it's what you're against. That's really stupid. Otherwise it'll always be that way unless you go on it."
So you should appear there with the idea of your appearance helping towards change?
"Yeah! I'd rather we went on there and be something unexpected there."
"It's very rare we do TOTP anyway," laughs Budgie. "We have turned loads of other things down. All the time Tiswas was on we never did that. It's like we release singles as well as Dollar and Imagination and we want to be heard alongside all of them. Your ideals may not be competing with theirs, but that doesn't stop you putting out singles. We'd love to see 'Miss The Girl' number one everywhere!"
EXCEPT TIMES have changed. I hear and see the sound and the vision of Soft Cell and Culture Club, and where they are doing as much the expression of subversive, libertine spirits as is the produce of the Banshees/Creatures -- and it's proving to be more insidiously successful. This glamour is growing stronger by the record. There aren't the chart-pap weaklings that used to serve as competitors to the early Banshees.
It's something these strange and disaffected musicians flirt uneasily with. After two dour and dreary LPs they siphoned off the turgid wrath and picked the shiny colours of 'Kaleidoscope', a record of liquorice and cyanide, only to plunge back into the maelstrom on the overwrought and nihilistic 'JuJu'. 'Nightshift' from that set is one of the most crushing pieces of metal music a pop group has ever come up with.
Sioux: "'Kaleidoscope' sounded a lot softer. The content was still pretty BAAAAA! (Laughter). It just turns out that way, something coming out a bit quieter. You people, always dissecting things..."
And when 'A Kiss In The Dreamhouse' comes under the scalpel? A beautiful, electrifying, superbly dynamic record. The one Banshees LP that has the deep-seated power to affect beyond stunning to senseless jelly. Siouxsie still believes in a music's power to affect.
"Of course. It's like a lifeline. It was always important to me when there wasn't a lot else exciting happening -- when the most important thing was getting into your bedroom and playing your favourite record. It was like something unreal."
Budgie: "I think the thing about people like Spandau Ballet and Boy George getting to more people lies in their productions-- they're so full of the right ingredients. There's a certain element that doesn't hurt people's ears. It sort of goes past and doesn't intrude when you're driving or whatever."
How does something like the 'Miss The Girl' video intrude?
"You won't see it on TV," says Sioux with a certain relish. "That alternative music programme Switch wouldn't show it. They say they're not geared by the charts even though they show Michael Jackson and Human League videos."
Budgie: "The BBC wouldn't show 'Mad-Eyed Screamer' or 'Fireworks' either - because we were all holding flares!"
"It's just a load of bitching. I mean -- oh, fuck 'em." Sioux surrenders. "We could've edited it and made it palatable for them, but if they're going to censor it... who's to say it would be shown even then?"
What should a Creatures video be like?
"Ummm... it shouldn't be a storyboard for the music. I don't think visuals can ever compete with putting on a record and thinking what goes with it. Putting visuals to music can't ever be the same. Just listening is miles ahead visually. We just think in terms of something to watch -- I can't stand someone singing 'walking down the street' and there they are, walking down the street. I don't think our videos have ever really worked, though. They've always failed. But they're fun to do."
UNABLE TO resist testing the Banshees bubble, I wonder what they most dislike about their work.
"I'd like people to see us as cute!" giggles the singer. I think she jests.
"If there's elements we don't like, we cut them short," is Budgie's sober response. "Like touring. The rock 'n' roll way of life. We don't work with people who try and push us like that."
I must be dreaming. I think I just heard Sioux say, "I wish you could set up a video and tape your dreams! That should be a new entertainment. Do you have mad dreams, like very cinematic things? I do. It's really my burning ambition to see them. I'd love to tape dreams...
"There are Miss Reality elements I'd like to get out of what we do."
"I'm Miss Reality! How d'you do!"
Has anything shaken your faith in your abilities, Siouxsie?
"For me personally, yes. That's... (sighs) when I'm trying to write and I can't. It can last a long time, for weeks, when I've got this blackness in me about what I'm trying to do. And it's always felt bad to be scholarly about it, to keep on trying - because I can't ever work like that. I just have to wait until the time's right. I can't toil when I don't feel like it."
Will there come a time when the Banshee have to stop?
"I don't know about have to stop, but maybe want to, yeah, probably. If it doesn't stop itself in a plane crash like Lynyrd Skynyrd. You tend to get too close to something to be able to say when it's time to stop."
Budgie: "Anyway, we've been saying stop constantly. We keep changing and reassessing. And that's kept us going."
Do you feel much older now than when you started all this?
"Sometimes" says the singing Creature, to the creak of black leather. "When I say -- you're an old hag, Siouxsie! Give up! Age is a real fallacy anyway. It's horrible when I meet 18 year-olds and they're behaving so old! Having driving lessons and thinking about getting married and kitchen utensils... I feel like shaking people like that."
"When I go back to where I was born," says the drumming Creature, "and I'm out with me dad and seeing people who I went to school with -- they're married now and that. You say I've got lots of responsibilities but they think I'm just shirking them. They think I've never grown up."
Yes, it's strange, thought the writing creature. And he put on his coat and went out into the Kensington streets, to look for a bus home.
Richard Cook 14/05/83
Love At First Bite
Deep in the bamboo forests of Hawaii it was mosquito against THE CREATURES while SIOUXSIE and BUDGIE cooked up a vinyl feast. KRIS NEEDS took the road to Honolulu...
BZZZZ! Hello humans! Mervyn the Mosquito here.
Life is fun here in the Hawaiian islands, but I have to say I've been getting bored recently. I'm fed up sticking my tweeter in bulging American tourists; Natives are no good - me and my mates have bitten them so much they're immune. I seem to spend all day buzzing around looking for fresh white flesh to stab and suck.
It was great last month though. There I was flitting past this big house looking for likely skin and I heard music. I like a good tune, but this was like nothing I'd ever heard, so I went in for a closer look...
I couldn't believe any of my eyes! There was a boy and a girl who looked like nothing I'd ever seen either. I could tell by the voices that they were English.
Well what could a hungry little mosquito do? The blonde geezer had no shoes on! I just had to steam in. And was I glad I did? It was the best meal I'd had all week. Her arms made the perfect dessert.
I found out the record's called 'Feast'. Well they certainly were.
It's. ..SWAT! Erkkk. . .
That got rid of him. Sauce! Trying to flog an exclusive preview of new Creatures album to Flexipop!
I've heard it anyway. Don't need a squirt of a pesky mosquito to spill the beans, even if Sioux and Budgie did come back from Hawaii covered in bites rather than a suntan.
When the two Creatures said they wanted to do their album in an exotic location away from the distractions of London there were those who said they were after a holiday.
'Feast' proves the trip couldn't have been more fruitful. Locked up in a little studio in Owahoo - the Hawaiian island which houses two-thirds of Hawaii's population, not to mention the tourist spots of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach - they forged an atmospheric extravaganza which puts over all the lush mystery of the place while never straying from the Creatures' basic equipment of Sioux's voice and things you hit.
There's a homage to the little gecko lizards and other native wildlife, erupting volcanoes, sweeping sunrises and even a party!
Last Banshees interview in Flexipop! they said she'd like to do the next Creatures record in Bali on the beach. Why Hawaii?
"Whoo!" Sioux lets out an excited squeal. "We wanted to go somewhere as far away from Camden as possible."
Budgie: "If we'd done it in London we probably wouldn't have ended up with an album. The only distractions out there were the ones that we created ourselves, once you get over the novelty of being that far away. We were very determined.
"If we were looking round for studios in isolated areas round the world, Hawaii was in the middle of the ocean and had a studio that was suitable for the period we set aside to do this. Everything happened in the space of a week - booking the flight, getting out there. If we'd have gone to Bali we would've worked with the same feverishness but the sound would've been peculiar to that area. In the end it fumed out peculiar to Hawaii.
"You applied yourself somehow, just get on with it without people dropping in going, 'hey, let's have a party'. In fact we did organise a party in the studio for one of the tracks, 'Flesh'."
Sioux: "We taped a party while we went off to a hot-tub in the jungle. There was this jacuzzi in the middle of all the plants. It was really jungley. The party nearly ended up in the tub."
Budgie: "We made this really lethal punch and put all these tropical fruit juices in it, and gave it to people as they came in, then left them to it with mikes hidden in the studio.
It's really weird. Everyone who's heard the album has said it sounds strange - they don't know what to make of it. You couldn't have got that if we'd done it here. It's not pinned down, like 'This is Hawaiian, with only pure Hawaiian things on it'. It's not that, but the fact that it was such an alien place to go. It affected us. It took a while to stop looking round with wide eyes."
I don't understand why more people don't try and work something out like we did, going there. Even with the airfare it didn't cost as much as it would to record in Camden Town."
So Sioux and Budgie boarded a plane on New Year's Eve, and skillfully managed to jet through three lots of pissups!
Sioux: "We had three New Year's Eves!"
Budgie: "The first stop was Vancouver. It was nine o'clock in Vancouver and midnight in London so it was 'Happy New Year!'. Three hours later on the flight from Vancouver to Honolulu the Canadians went crazy, then we arrived in Honolulu at half past ten the same night so one and a half hours later they went crazy again and we were having our third New Year's Eve celebration!"
Hawaii obviously made a great impact on Sioux and Budgie. Talk keeps turning back to clear, blue skies, lush plants, huge waves and the jungle atmosphere.
A Hawaiian choir, three blokes and a girl, were a bit puzzled at being whipped out of their village and planted in a studio with English musicians they'd never heard of before.
"They kept saying, "why us?" recalls Sioux. "They were a bit suspicious of coming down. If it had been Heavy Metal they wouldn't, but they really enjoyed it. The big woman was like the centre of attraction. The guys fed off her roundness you know, 'slapping good time!' It was great."
Budgie: "We were initially going to use them on one song, 'Morning Dawning'. We found out they lived in the next village and invited them along. We'd never heard anything like it, so we used them on two other songs cos it fitted in. That's the way we worked, using things lying around that fitted in. I didn't want to use a drumkit on every track.. .coconuts! There's no synthetic noise on there. Everything's being hit, blown or sucked."
Sioux: 'There was nothing planned before we went. Ideas for lyrics, but nothing pinned down. All that happened when we were soaking things up out there.
I normally write whole lyrics but in the last two years it's been a case of finding things that I've written down all over the place in the flat- hiding on the back of an old cheque stubs or the telephone directory! It's crazy but I've acquired lots of bits of songs that way. Something like 'Gecko' was written out there from events that happened. It's the atmosphere."
'Gecko' brings us to something close to Sioux's heart - animals. She loves to meet the local furries and slimies wherever she goes and often talks about them later. So Hawaii's little gecko lizards with their suction-toes are immortalised.
"They have huge toads! You had to walk over this golf course to get to the sea. It was funny cos it was really dark, there were no lights or anything, and it was pretty squidgy. You'd be walking and suddenly you'd see something fat and white scamper past your foot, and it would be a huge fat toad or something that you just missed squashing. There were all these weird noises and things running around - big lizards, little lizards. You're walking in the dark and hear things and you know they've got those sort of creatures and it freaks you out. It's like going in the sea in the dark and you're thinking of eels and sharks and things touching you like jellyfish."
And, of course, our old friend the mosquito lying in a crumpled heap on the floor in a pool of Sioux's sucked-out blood.
"Oh God, you got bitten to death!" she shudders. "It was really tropical and humid round the studio - the mosquitoes were outrageous. The natives never got bothered because they built up a resistance, but we were fresh meat from England. Sweet and sour. They're not poisonous but the bites really come up. If you wore fishnet they'd find all the little holes. If you wore something that had a bit of waist showing they'd find it and get it. There was this spray called 'Bug Off!" The follow-up to 'Melt' - 'Bug Off!' You had to spray every inch of your body or the bugger'd find it."
Budgie: "At first I wasn't wearing shoes so my ankles got swollen up, so after a week I put my boots back on and they started on my arms. Put my jacket back on and they got my forehead! Mosquito bites in patterns."
Sioux: "We caught a few in a box and put in some Chinese firecrackers to see if it would kill em'off, but they just buzzed out a bit stoned and flew away."
Don't like this next bit. . .big spider in the bathroom (ulp). Sioux: "I decided to have a bath and noticed something move. I thought it was a towel then I saw this big spider staring me out. I was going to get out but it was right over the door! It was still there the next morning."
While they grafted the local volcano was being quite active too...
Budgie: "The volcano was erupting while we were there, but because we were so busy we never saw it. Everyone over here was panicking because they thought we were gonna get blown up. And the day before we booked into the studio they'd been hit by the first hurricane for 25 years. The studio almost got blown away before we got there."
Sioux managed to pick up a spot of the language while they were there: "I used to be fixed to the telly watching Hawaiian 'Sesame Street'. Hee hee! It's brilliant. It's a great language, really easy. They've only got about eight letter in the alphabet. These little monsters teach the American kids who live there to speak Hawaiian. Hawaiians only speak American now.
You always imagine these people hula-ing about in grass skirts and garlands going 'Aloha'. That side of it's really touristy. There's only one percent pure Hawaiian left. They've been ravaged by Americans."
Didn't you get funny looks?
Budgie: "I think we caused a bit of a stir just walking around, going into shops buying things that nobody else buys, because we cooked our own food. Apparently, after we'd gone people were talking about these two English people who were walking around in leather."
Sioux: "We definitely stood out but it wasn't like 'urgh! look at them!' They were just intrigued. We met some obnoxious people but they were American bums, like surf boys."
Once the album was in the can, Sioux and Budgie had a week to do the tourist bit.. .and have a few drinks.
Budgie: "When we were working we stayed awake in blocks around the clock. We worked pretty sober hours.. .well, not particularly sober!"
Sioux: "I was sober. After we finished, that was that - we got pie-eyed and that's when we tried to teach ourselves to drive in the Lincoln Continental! We were bombing around going Brrrrm! banging the car and going over these boundaries and grass verges separating the roads, the golf course, everything."
Budgie: "We went hang-gliding! Well we didn't, we went for this 15 minute trip round the coastline in a glider. I tried to go in the sea but got beaten back by the waves."
Sioux: "The whole thing went too quick. It seemed slow at first, then once we gathered momentum, we worked and worked so consequently we got back with no suntan."
On the last night Budgie got involved in a minor fracas with some all-American servicemen in Waikiki, which resulted in a couple of swollen elbows. Then the roaming pair were off back to London to join the Banshees for a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Budgie: "It was strange, cos a week later we were playing in Japan. Plus the fact that we were twice as jet-lagged as everybody else. We were getting real culture crisis. Being away.. .it's like not knowing who Kajagoogoo are. It's fab!"
Sioux and Budgie would like to do a gig halfway between Hawaii and England, "so we can meet the friends we made there." Meanwhile they've just got all the headresses and huge shells to remind them of their trip to paradise. But the album is a slice, like an aural jungle jacuzzi.
Stuff like 'Gecko' and 'Morning Dawning' are musical pictures, chirping undergrowth and crashing foam. Then there's the bouldering percussion of waist-rotating blinders like 'Skytrain', 'Dancing On Glass' and 'Ice house', complete with Budgie crunching ice-cubes all over the place. The single is the marimba-soaked "Miss The Girl' and 'Festival of Colours' is brilliant.
But back to the cold world of London biz. Siouxsie and the Banshees have started their own record label called Wonderland. First release will be the Creatures, then Steve Severin's 'Glove' and a Robert Smith album. There'll be new Banshees material written, for the first time, with Robert and they might put out a record by three gross American females called The Shags.
Meanwhile there's The Creatures' record, a mighty mosquito prang up the rectum of our sicky pop blob. I wouldn't mind if I woke up geckofied in the jungle tomorrow.
Kris Needs 05/83
Deep in the jungle, something stirs. Strange drums beating, the cries of wild animals, a ghostly chanting sound ...This, says lan Birch, can only mean one thing
"It's almost two years since the first Creatures EP," marvels Siouxsie. "I can hardly believe it either."
As they're inclined to do in between bouts of Banshee activity, Siouxsie and drummer Budgie have just returned from making music of a different kind. Under the banner of The Creatures. Siouxsie singing. Budgie playing all manner of drums and percussion, they've finally followed up the "Wild Things" EP of '81 with an even more stark and experimental single, "Miss The Girl".
As usual, the recording conditions weren't what you might call 'normal'. The Creatures, typically, packed a few instruments, aimed for Hawaii and never looked back. It had to be "well away from Britain," quips Siouxsie. Hawaii wasn't exactly first choice. The two of them toyed with various studios in such exotic climes as Bali, Columbia, Mexico and Central Africa but everywhere they looked at was either fully booked or too expensive.
"The buck was constantly being passed around," explains Budgie, "and nothing was getting done. One day we looked at a map of the world and saw Hawaii."
Simple, really. They consulted an international directory and found a place called Sea West Studio. It was all systems go and they flew out on New Year's Eve. The small and sparsely equipped studio suited their needs perfectly. They wanted to make an album that was based solely around Siouxsie's voice and Budgie's backing which ranged from a normal drum kit to shells, a marimba (a kind of wooden xylophone) and a curious item called a waterphone. "This," as Budgie explains, "is a huge metal bottle with a fat bottom and thin top. It's made out of copper and around the circumference are different lengths of copper welded onto the body. You fill it with water and play it with a violin bow."
They also wanted to feel "isolated" while recording. As Siouxsie adds, "there wasn't a chance of bumping into a band like Duran Duran in Hawaii." The unusual location quickly had a strong effect on their music. Sea West is surrounded by jungle which not only teems with wildlife but also needs to be cut back all the time. If it isn't, the studio buildings would soon be swamped by Mother Nature. Armed with machetes, Siouxsie and Budgie would help the studio owners, Rick and Donna, thin out the foliage. One day they decided to record the noise of their swishing blades for the album. After all, says Budgie, "it was the natural percussion of hacking down bamboo shoots."
That wasn't all. The pair named one song after a local lizard called The Gecko. "They're well-loved in Hawaii," Siouxsie points out, "because they eat all the bugs and make funny clicking noises." To prove their affection. Budgie flicks at his earring. It's a silver model of a gecko.
They also discovered four Hawaiian 'chanters' who still use the ancient language of the island (apparently, only 1% of the population now is pure Hawaiian). These 'chants' have been passed down through countless generations and have a magical significance for the islanders. Not surprisingly, 'the chanters' were wary of Siouxsie and Budgie because they didn't know what The Creatures wanted from them. At their first meeting 'the chanters' sat down in a circle and performed with their own instruments which were made out of shells and dried fruit. Siouxsie and Budgie were amazed at what they heard and asked them to contribute vocal effects to a number called "Morning Dawning" which was then built around Sioux's voice, a recording of the Hawaiian sea and Budgie experimenting with a conch shell. They were delighted with the result and asked 'the chanters' to work with them on another two tracks.
After Hawaii, the couple flew back to Britain to prepare for a Banshees' tour of Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The Banshees currently consist of Sioux, Budgie, Steve Severin and The Cure's Robert Smith. The question had to be asked: is Robert a fully fledged member of the band now?
Siouxsie sees it coming. "He is as long as he wants to be. I think he wants to leave everything open-ended at the moment rather than trap himself in something definite."
And, anyway, flexibility has always been part of the group's policy. Currently all four of them seem more preoccupied with various sidelines than the Banshees themselves. Robert and Steven also have their own private project. They've been recording an LP in London and have called themselves Glove.The name, by the way, comes from a mad, psychedelic character in The Beatles' cartoon film, Yellow/Submarine.
Looking back at the tour, neither Siouxsie nor Budgie were too excited by Australia. "I found people really rude in Sydney," snaps Sioux, "and I felt really threatened going out on my own. They will not tolerate anyone in shorts or who doesn't have a suntan."
Finally, Sioux, what about the voice? Late last year, after singing too loud too long, she began coughing up blood and a throat specialist in Stockholm told her she had to rest her voice for at least six months or consider giving up singing forever.
"He showed me a dummy of the vocal cords and they're such a delicate instrument. When you break a string on a guitar, you can put another one on. But if you damage a vocal cord, it either takes months to heal or doesn't heal at all."
She couldn't and wouldn't believe the Swedish doctor and so consulted another specialist in London. He recommended a lengthy rest and she took his advice.
"It's better than ever now," she sighs. "I felt like a wet girl at first but now I'm not scared of being called a sissy."
Ian Birch 28/04/83
Paul Du Noyer watches The Creatures'
controversial video for 'Miss
The Girl' and gets
slapped about by Siouxsie and Budgie. On the set photos Anton
A brilliant Spring day, the English weather apologising for the winter... time for all Creatures great and small to crawl from out of hibernation.
Or, in the case of our two Creatures - Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie Banshee - time to fly back from the sunnier climes of Hawaii and tell us a word or two about the LP they've just made out there. 'The Feast' released in May, on Friday the 13th no less. Unlucky? Unlikely..
The Creatures' new single 'Miss The Girl', already hints at the collaborations success, being an imaginatively different follow-up to their debut effort of 18 months ago, the 'Wild Things' EP. So far, the only problem's been with record company nervousness about the promo video for the song. With the films subtle undertones of sexual violence, Polydor are apparently uneasy about TV reaction.
Siouxsie: "Someone from Polydor sneaked down and saw the rushes and immediately started panicking because of those couple of hit-shots," (in fact, a fairly subdued sequence of mock-erotic slap-around) "and the fact it's not a normal commercial promo video. It's not shocking, but it's also not nice."
Budgie: "People got it into their minds that it's not gonna be shown, and as we were finishing the edits off they were already asking for a second version."
Made by Tim Pope, the video is a stylish and economic visualisastion of the record. Both Creatures admit themselves bored by the technical gimmickry and flash location approach of many promos nowadays.
'Miss The Girl', in Sioux's words, is a love story told in stages: "First a warmness towards someone, then revenge because of a wrong done, then a rash reaction - a violent action, maybe - and then guilt, regret."
Pope's film throws a new angle, his own interpretation, one that's laced with menacing images of flesh and metal, eyes and spikes - but it would be a very squeamish programme that shied away from showing it.
The rest of the LP will explore a starker sound than Banshee fans are accustomed to: no guitar, for one thing, but a few exotic touches including vocals from Hawaiian chanters.
But where does all this activity leave the Banshees as a group? Steve Severin, for his part, is currently working with Robert Smith from The Cure, the man who deputised for the departed John McGeoch on the last tour. Well, says Siouxsie: "All these things are like little mistresses on this side. The Banshees are still married."
With McGeoch's exit now confirmed - "we grew apart, just didn't see eye to eye, but we didn't want to wash any linen in public" - what's Roberts Smith's status now?
"In future, there's gonna be a status in the group that no one's ever permanent. He's permanent as he can be." A full reactivation of the Banshees is still promised for later in the year.
Paul Du Noyer 1983
PAINTED BIRDS surround us. A
small finch sings in the background. Primitive jewellery and
clothes adorn the walls. Where are we? In a Kensington
hotel, of course, and I'm talking to The Creatures, Siouxsie and
Budgie. The subject is their new LP, 'Feast', which carries on the
rich promise of the Banshees' last recording. But let's start at
the dawn of The Creatures evolution.
ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL
Siouxsie: "We formed about two years ago. There was never really a decision taken, it was something that happened by accident. We were rehearsing 'Juju' and John and Steve happened to go out for a tea - although it could have been any of us. Anyway, Budgie and I just started doing this thing around some lyrics. It worked so we recorded 'The Wild Things' EP around the same time as 'Juju'. Steve and I always argue about whose idea it was to carry on with The Creatures as a separate thing."
Budgie: "Actually it was my idea."
Siouxsie: "We're just drums and voice, so I have to work a lot harder to make the most of the format. We use overdubs on my voice a bit, like we used to on the Banshees. But then you couldn't hear them half the time 'cos of bleedin' guitar. there used to be some right old battles between guitar and voice, I can tell you. For me and Budgie, though, it's just really a different way of working, it's very simple".
Budgie: "There are less compromises involved with The Creatures because there are fewer things involved. The decision is always just between the two of us and we kind of like that. I think the end product with The Creatures is very close to the original idea."
SHE'S A CARNIVAL
Budgie: "Just going out to Hawaii itself was great. We had no idea that we'd end up doing an album. The whole trip was put together in just a week. We were looking at all the recording studios and a map of the world. Suddenly we saw this little island surrounded by loads of water. We thought that'd give us some peace, get us away from all this yap yap yapping over here."
Siouxsie: "I think we'd have come up with something good wherever we went, but the atmosphere of the LP was definitely affected by the surroundings. Everyone's idea of Hawaii is Honolulu and dancing girls, but it wasn't like that."
Budgie: "It's quiet, and it's different from anywhere else we've been. Everything about the light and colours hits you. And it's stunning. We able to sit down and work out ideas we had buzzing around in heads. We couldn't do that in London."
Siouxsie: "The people out there reacted as if they didn't know who we were, or what we were. 'Leather. What, in this weather?' was the sort of reaction we got. But it was never hostile as opposed to other more westernised places like southern America, where disbelief is sometimes very unfriendly, instead of curious."
Budgie: "We weren't staying in the touristy places anyway. We hid ourselves away in tow small villages. One was run by Mormons and the other was full of people who just sat on their porches all day, playing guitars and drinking."
CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
Siouxsie: "I've never hated anything as much as those ****ing mosquitoes. If they bit you, then you'd come up in whopping great lumps. There were so many of them that you just couldn't do anything about the buggers. I wouldn't go anywhere without a can of repellent. I hated them."
Siouxsie: "We didn't use any proper backing musicians on the album. We'd just go in and make all the noises ourselves. But there was one lyric, 'Morning Dawning', which we wanted to base around vocals. We'd heard about these people who were ethnic chanters, so we invited them along to the studio. They sat around in a circle and started banging out rhythms to get a round going so they could play off it. And it was such an amazing sound. So, we got them to play on tow more as well. At first I didn't want them to be involved - I thought it would be stating 'This is a Hawaiian sound' - but it was just so powerful."
Budgie: "there was another track where we got Mike Hedges to set it all up, and then we'd put all these people in the studio to sing."
Siouxsie: "I had to conduct. I'd make sure the tape was running, because there was nobody behind the desk, then I'd sprint round and start waving at them. Unfortunately I kept getting it wrong."
So there are The Creatures. It doesn't look like they'll be playing live yet, so we'll have to make do with the album. Like any Siouxsie record it achieves its sophistication through its simplicity. So concentrate - or you'll miss the girl.
Paul Prayagr 1983
CREATURES RIGHT NOW
Everything goes gold in The Creatures' latest video, especially Siouxsie and Budgie. So gold that it took the pair the best part of three days to scrub the paint off and led to some rather embarrassing moments for the duration.
Imagine Budgie stopping for cigarettes in Earl's Court well after midnight and finding his taxi attracting enough stares to make a crowd. That's what you get going around like an extra from the Mikado opera...
"We're into working with textures," Budgie has explained of The Creatures' video technique. "In the 'Miss The Girl' shoot we got into playing with flesh against metal and peculiar textures like steel looking soft. Gold was the theme this time."
The Creatures' videos are made with director Tim Pope and shot without a storyboard. Together the three come up with the sets and the theme and then improvise.
"We didn't like any of the rock videos Tom first showed us," says Budgie. "I think what he does with us is the kind of film he's always wanted to make. With 'Miss The Girl' we walked round the set playing with things that might go wrong in the night."
'Right Now' was recorded and mixed in three days. The video nearly all day and night and a lot of work by the make-up artists. Now let's see if 'The Critters' have got that famous Midas touch.