MARTIN MCCARRICK 17/02/05

 
 
 

With the obvious exception of Siouxsie, Severin and Budgie, you are the longest serving Banshee.  Why do you think that was? (Erasercuts)  

Martin McCarrickI’d say it was due to my undeniable talent – I’m certain that if the band hadn’t decided to call it a day in 1995 I would have outlasted even Siouxsie herself! Martin and the Banshees – now there’s a frightening prospect. Seriously – I think it was simply because I wasn’t a guitarist. With the exception of John Mackay and Robert Smith, the axe wielders of the Banshees generally ended up getting fired, but to be honest they had a tougher job than I did. I came to the band as something entirely new which made things much easier – plus I was invited to join after a history of work with the band as opposed to winning an audition place so we were already compatible both from a musical and personal point of view.

You contributed to the Banshees' official biography.  How close do you feel it is to the true story? (Erasercuts)  

It’s pretty close to how I remember it. There are always different things going on in the various minds of the personnel, so it makes sense that some events are remembered differently by the individuals involved. I spent about 8 hours just talking with Mark Paytress. The first thing I explained to him was that I couldn't gloss over anything - it was warts and all - or nothing at all. As soon as we started talking all this ‘stuff’ came pouring out and he ended up just just listening – it was kind of cathartic.

You were involved with the Banshees as far back as The Thorn EP, a re-recording/interpretation of earlier songs with a string section.  Are there any songs from the bands back catalogue that you had any burning desire to score for an orchestral arrangement? (Erasercuts)  

The Thorn 12" EPBefore doing the string arrangements for The Thorn I’d never even considered the prospect of Banshees Vs Orchestra but knowing Siouxsie, Budgie and Steven as I do now  it seems perfectly natural  that they would eventually go down that route. I loved doing Placebo Effect as it has always been one of my favourites. It would be great to do some more at some point…….

In December 03 you suffered from a virus, which in turn made you temporarily deaf.  At the time you thought your music career might be over.  Was there a period of reassessment, did you reach the stage where you were seriously thinking of alternatives? (Erasercuts)  

The virus, called ‘Ramsay Hunt Syndrome’ not only left me deaf but paralysed the left side of my face and devoured my senses of taste and smell – not to mention giving me the feeling that I was being repeatedly hit on the head with a baseball bat. Lying in a hospital bed I had loads of time to reflect on what I was doing and why I was doing it and there were definite moments of clarity when I realised that this was a life changing experience, and I was going to be different once it was all over. The most amazing thing was having Kimberlee (wife) there who kept telling me it was all happening for a reason and to listen to what my instincts and not to be scared. Because of her there were no thoughts of giving up – just getting better.  It wasn't all bad! I was on a myriad of intravenous drugs so rational thought would often drift off completely. One afternoon Kimberlee arrived for a visit to find me teaching myself to ‘Moonwalk’ on a polished floor – it seemed important at the time. Luckily I have fully recovered, aside from slight hearing loss and no sense of smell in my left nostril. My friends tell me when to bathe but sadly I still can't 'moonwalk' so I'm unlikely to be the new Michael Jackson.

Where are you from, England , Ireland or Scotland ?  (The Scream)  

I'm from England old chap! I left my bowler hat at Doug and Alessandra's house (Siouxsie management) - I must get it back....

We know you're still in touch with Sioux, Budgie and Knox, but what's about Severin and Jon?  (The Scream)   

I hooked up with Jon last year (2004) and had a lovely night out. He’s such a wonderful creative person and certainly on the eccentric side. He is now at university studying Fine Art as well as lecturing in music technology. Steven was supposed to come out with us the same night but he couldn’t make it – I haven’t seen him for a couple of years now.

What was the most outrageous thing that happened on tour, in the bus, hotel, stage, and outdoors? (Jamez)    

Oh there were so many…. Some are in the biography. There was one time in New York I was at an after hours bar called ‘Save The Robots’ with Chainsaw and Budgie and security guy Wookie. We were hanging out with all these wonderful transvestites and one of them passed me a drink – vodka and something. I downed it in a couple of swallows and a horrified tranny just shrieked and told me it was totally loaded with ecstasy and was meant to be shared amongst us all. I really had no idea, nor any wish to do ecstasy. Needless to say and hour of so later I was doing back flips across the dance floor and wearing someone’s wig. Budgie eventually took me back to the hotel and looked after me all night– he gave me water that had fizzy stomach powders in it – I thought it was champagne and that Budgie was the most beautiful Man I'd ever seen. He looked like an angel.

You currently work with your wife, Kimberlee.  Can a band, any band, where part of the group dynamic is a couple, survive long term?  How easy is it for you as a couple to work together with other people? (Erasercuts)    

Well Siouxsie and Budgie should have already answered the first part of that question for you. Kimberlee and I work with other people all the time especially with the short movies that we show whilst we perform, and we do arrangements and film scores and studio sessions. When we work together on our own material it’s a different dynamic. We have these  huge long discussions about music and that helps us define a direction but it does get heated at times. Of course it’s all her fault when things go wrong. I'd go so far as saying that having an 'on stage' relationship with your partner is possibly one of the sexiest things ever.

Are there any plans to work with Siouxsie & Budgie in the near future?  

It’s a possibility. Doing the Dream shows brought us closer again so one never knows....

I was at the RFH shows and noticed you were a bit reluctant to leave the stage at the end!!?!!... Did you want to play some more, seeing as you were on for a short time?  I saw budgie looking and smiling at you as if to say come on we're knackered!!!...Did you just rehearse the songs you played or were others rehearsed? Would have loved to hear The Killing Jar (Irish Creature)    

I’m a ‘big show’ off so I’m always reluctant to leave any stage but I don’t have any recollection of hogging the spot light at the Dream Shows. It was such a huge show to put together that everything had to be fairly fine tuned so we only rehearsed the songs I played on the night. With so many people on stage it would be mad to do it any other way.

Can you play even more instruments than Cello, Accordion, Dulcimer, Guitar and Keyboards?  (The Scream)    

I played Tubular Bells on Strange Fruit (Through the Looking Glass)…….. but I'm no percussionist. I'd love to play drums but I find it impossible to get my feet and arms in time with one another. I play drums like a white man dances!

What music are you listening to these days? (The Scream)

It's easier to ask me what I'm not listening to. I detest girl groups and boy bands and anything that has been manufactured by a bunch of guys in an office. These days it's more important to have a flat tummy than to have musical talent. I love the soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream (Clint Mansel) and there's a band called Pink Martini who are fantastic. I DJ for a club in London where I have to put together six hours of music, the only criteria being that it has to be sexy so I'm constantly mixing Lounge with Easy Listening with Rock-a-Billy with Techno with Industrial Rock with Pure Pop with Disco with Punk. It's my dream come true - I get to play my favourite music all night.

Do you have any current input on the upcoming "Siouxsie" album?   (Icyfreedom)    

As yet no……but we've talked about getting together.

What are your thoughts on the remastered CD's that should be released this year, is there anything in particular (solo recordings/jamming) that you would like as an extra bonus track?   (Icyfreedom)  

Releasing jam sessions? What an absolutely hideous idea! All those dreadful ‘out takes’ records that get released are disgusting –especially in the cases when the artist is dead. Those recordings remained unreleased for a reason – like they were shit and not meant to be heard. Jimi Hendrix must be turning in his grave. I'm not sure about this re mastering thing - I like the way the music was supposed to sound - I'd rather they re-released the vinyl.

Not strictly a question about your work with Siouxsie but I wondered if you had any interesting stories/tales about your days as part of Marc & The Mambas? How do you feel about the content of this work now roughly 20 years later? Would you like to work with Marc Almond again in the future?  (Mad Eyed Screamer)

My favourite album is Mother Fist which is the last one I worked on and the one that gave me a chance to explore some other instruments. Looking back I think it Mother Fist - Marc Almond was really amazing that he did such a dark and sensual record, but I guess that's Marc all over - a man of very dark thoughts. I'd definitely work on something like that with him again.  I remember some of my family members coming to one of the shows and during the song 'Mother Fist' ( a fairly explicit ode to the joys of masturbation) Marc stuck his microphone through the fly of his trousers, wrapped his hand around it and made as if he was pleasuring himself. He kept at it for ages and all I could think was  'shit - my Mums watching this...'

Which of the Siouxsie and the Banshees videos did you most enjoy doing? (Painted Bird)    

Peek a Boo was great. Siouxsie had a very strong idea for it and we had a great team to make it happen so it was one of the really fun to make videos.  The Killing Jar however was just evil. We to prance around being bleedin' butterflies all day. Jon, Steven, Budgie and I then had our heads sewn very closely together into one long sock to resemble a kind of pupae or caterpillar. We were in there for ages and Budgie had eaten something like four garlic pizzas the day before. It was like being sewn into a kebab!

Peek A Boo Video

Your best and - if it's not too personal - worst experience as a part of the Banshees? (Painted Bird)    

It's hard to think of the 'best' as so much was great. We had some fantastic times on tour - especially Lollapalooza which was like an eight week long traveling party and I would always have a blast whenever Chainsaw was out on tour with us. The worst for me was unarguably when John left the band amidst some frankly awful events. It was the moment that I began to feel that the management were totally untrustworthy and that perhaps, for me at least, the end was in sight. I've made my peace with it all since so I bear no malice to anyone involved - it was a difficult time for us all. 

Your favourite Tour with the Banshees? (Painted Bird)    

Lollapalooza and the Peepshow tour are neck and neck....

Did you feel as if you were a full member of the band or did it feel as if you were more of a permanent session player or lesser banshee (bonehound) 

I was a full time member of the band - it was a full time job.  

You added so much to the group during your time with the banshees giving the band a wider and bigger sound, were you able to openly suggest sounds to them or were you just doing as you were told? (Robbie) 

I pretty much had a free reign to do whatever I wanted although as a band we always suggested alternatives to each other - band democracy is important thing in that way. I'm a great believer that you will only ever get half a performance out of a musician if you tell them what to do. We musicians are fragile beings - we have to know we are making a valid contribution or our egos get all bruised.

With all the buzz over the B-sides, what is your favourite (bonehound)
 

I love Drop Dead – such a great ‘hate’ song. I'd love to do a remix of that song – it could be a massive club hit for 2005

Happy House/Drop Dead

I remember on the Peepshow tour Jon Klein being taken out by one of those dropping 'veils'. I was always amazed there weren't more accidents during that lavish stage production! Did you ever come a cropper with your accordion? (George Glass) 

Not really - although the poor accordion lost a few keys now and then when I threw it across the stage. It still has a couple of broken teeth. Jon was clumsy enough for all of us - if there was a hole he'd fall down it - if a meteorite ever hurtles earthwards it will definitely land on Jon - it  was like living with Buster Keaten. Actually Budgie did this mad thing once - he tried to do pull ups on this metal pole that held up a curtain in the dressing room. He grabbed hold of it to pull himself up but it wasn't fixed properly and all he succeeded in doing was banging a huge metal pole down onto his head. We couldn't stop laughing even though he was in pain and semi conscious.  He had to play the show with an egg sized lump poking out of his forehead.

Is it true that - apart from your musical mastery, of course - that Sioux and co hired you because of your hair?    

My hair????......for me it was about food – I’d play anything as long as there was an 'all you can eat' buffet in the next room. Honestly -  I had this problem for a while where I couldn't stop eating but I still lost weight. I 'd get through about 15 slices of toast with peanut butter for breakfast. Siouxsie would really tell me off about it. She yell "STOP EATING".  During rehearsal I would leave the room to use the toilet but secretly I'd be in the kitchen stuffing a snack into my mouth - I couldn't help it - I was just SO hungry all the time.

Your joining the Banshees was something of a departure for the group; incorporating instruments other than guitar, bass, drums as primary sources for the first time. Was that something that came with you joining, or were you invited to open up the sound - or were you hired for The Thorn sessions and it evolved from there? (The Skull/ Lesshair vanU) 

Through The Looking GlassThere were already songs with Keyboards well before I joined so I guess my appearance allowed those to be played live, but I think it was more that I did so much work on 'Through The Looking Glass' that chunks would have been missing had I not been there to play them. I was also a huge fan of the band and knew everything they'd done so my Banshee knowledge was already in place.



Siouxsie & Kirsten Hersh are my favourite performers.  You have worked with both and are currently working with Kirsten.  How do the experiences compare, as both seem very different in style, personality and approach? (Paul Glover) 

They are very different, but it's part of what I enjoy about the type of musician I am. I enjoy the challenge of having to 'adapt' which is something that many musicians hate, whereas I do it quite naturally. There really is no way of making a comparison - aside from both having really strong female vocalists they are chalk and cheese. As long as it's great music it doesn't concern me where the style sits. 

Have you got any idea what The Rapture tracks of Falling Down, Love Out Me & especially Not Forgotten are about?? I don't expect you to know exactly what Siouxsie had in her mind, but any little info on their inspiration/meaning will be greatly appreciated!  Thank you.  BTW I looove your work on this album & on the title track in particular!   

I have no idea of the lyrics - I find it's often better not to know and use them for your own meaning. Sorry I can't be more helpful. I know that Love Out Me is a very personal lyric for Siouxsie. Not Forgotten takes it's inspiration from a Kodo drummersThe Rapture piece and The Rapture was an amalgamation of two totally different pieces that we initially mixed together by accident, but it was also inspired to a certain extent by the Lou Reed song 'Street Hassle' from the Album 'Berlin' although not lyrically. I remember the day our management and Record company heard the The Rapture. They thought it was insane that we had a 14 minute piece on the record. It was an extremely surreal moment. We were in the South of France in a studio in the middle of a pine forest having a huge argument about whether or not we could have such a long song on our own record. The next morning the argument was still blazing and it was only abandoned when the Studio owner fell into the cesspit and got (literally) covered in shit! I'm telling you - life with the Banshees was just so unbelievably strange at times and unusual events seemed to follow us around. Priceless! There's a whole other book that could be written about the Weird and wonderful world of Siouxsie and the Banshees!  

Martin can be found/contacted at www.houseofmccarrick.com