|ZULU - MAGAZINE COVERS|
|ZULU - INTERVIEWS/ARTICLES|
|BEN IS DEAD 1999|
|GAY TIMES 03/99|
|PROPAGANDA WINTER 99|
|SORTED MAGAZINE 1999|
The Creaturesí Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie
have reared their pretty heads again after a quiet exeunt in 1995 from a
20-year career as half of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Always
reshaping the boundaries if their identity and music, the Creatures are
cutting a swathe through the staid music scene of the new millennium.
Not surprisingly, itís strictly on their own terms.
Once upon a time, five years ago to be precise, Susan Ballion and Peter Clarke, better known as Siouxsie and Budgie, took a leap into the wilds of Southern France to unwind the chains of London life and their history as Banshees. Life in the country may sound idyllic (garden, cats, lakes and sunsets), but the product of those years, the full length CD í"Anima Animus," glimmers with the Creaturesí weird light, the source of which no one has yet identified.
THE HARD WAY, PART 2
Itís almost no surprise that when the duo were peddling around the "Anima Animus" demos, they encountered resistance from the majors just as the Banshees did 20 years ago. Why should anything change? The Creatures are self professed pop musicians who never fit into a strict musical mold. Even after establishing themselves as successful musicians with a loyal following, Siouxsie and Budgieís offerings did not whet the appetite of a music industry whose chief interest is still malleable, big-dollar Top 40 bands.
In trademark defiance, Siouxsie and Budgie put those 20 years of experience to use and eschewed the usual channels of trade, launching their own label, Sioux Records, based in London. In addition to "Anima Animus," Sioux Records released "Eraser Cut," a four-song EP; "Sad Cunt," a limited-edition 7", various singles and remixes; and "Zulu," a live recording from 1998.
They toured extensively in í99 to support the new material, completing tours of the United States, The United Kingdom and Europe, including the first Creatures gigs beyond the "iron curtain." They headlined at profitable yet booze-and-piss-riddled summer events in Europe such as Glastonbury and the Dour Festival in Belgium, and then returned to America in late October for a quick Trick or Treat Tour that finished in Atlanta.
Currently, Siouxsie and Budgie are working on a new album in France and London.
THE DIVA TELLS ALL
JT: Pierre et Gilles did the portraits of you and Budgie on the album cover. Do you see any parallels between their romantic and artistic relationship and the one you have with Budgie?
Siouxsie: There are similarities between our work, in particular, they tend to use icons a lot or make things into icons. They make things very supernatural and almost religious. That is something I really like, along with the fact that they are very much like an island, they arenít part of any scene.
JT: The Creatures certainly arenít part of any scene.
Siouxsie: Yes, we had trouble getting a label to sign us up with this last album, because the music industry compartmentalizes everything according to whether itís rock, pop, dance, techno, etc.. So I think we really confused everybody with this album. In the end, we thought, "Well, thatís probably a good thing! We should celebrate that!" So this is how we decided to set up Sioux Records with Hydrogen Dukebox.
JT: Recently, VH-1 wouldnít let you perform "Exterminating Angel" because it contains the words "menstrual streams." Why are your lyrics singled out as offensive, when there are rap stars grabbing their crotches on MTV?
Siouxsie: Because that other stuff fits into a category. Itís that macho, hedonistic thing which is acceptable on a level because there are so many others doing it. It is superficial, posey, and therefore people donít feel threatened by it. But we arenít trying to be sensationalistic.
JT: Do you think itís more frightening when a woman uses "unacceptable" images and lyrics? For example, if Marilyn Manson were a woman with a strap-on cock, would she have gotten as far as he has?
Siouxsie: No, I donít think so. There are still a lot of gender-biased double standards in the music industry. For the album cover, I did have the idea of wearing a dildo, and everyone said, "No, no, no, you canít the album will never get racked!!"
JT: I was thinking you should have sold the "Sad Cunt" 7" with a little doll wearing a strap-on dildo!
Siouxsie: (Laughs) Donít worry, weíll sneak those things in. Anyway I do think there are a lot of double standards still going on, which is why Anima Animus - woman within the man and vice versa - itís nothing new to me, but it still needs reinstating. Itís like, people are still confused or perturbed by those photos of Budgie wearing a frock.
JT: Gender is the last bastion of transformation, itís the last place people can go, but people still approach it in a superficial way. Which brings me to "Prettiest Thing," speaking of dildos! Iím sure now that the album is out, youíre getting a lot of questions about that song. It can be interpreted a number of ways, but of course the most obvious is with a lesbian bent. Add to that, in an interview in 1998, you said youíd had affairs with women. Iím just kind of scratching my head wondering why youíre talking about that now, and how that affects your relationship with Budgie?
Siouxsie: Well... Budgieís an honorary woman.
Siouxsie: I think the natural state is for people to be lesbian/gay and heterosexual all in one. "Prettiest Thing" isnít necessarily, for me, particularly lesbian. I always like for things to be ambiguous and open, thatís how I am anyway. I donít like to be hemmed in by saying, "Iím attracted to this or Iím that." I mean yes, I am attracted to certain types of people, but whether they are male or female is irrelevant to me. I find gender irrelevant. If I find someone I really like and really get on with, Iím not going to turn round and say, "Oh, shame youíre not a man," or, "Shame youíre not a woman." I suppose most people look for that first, then try and fit in all the crazy things that donít work around it, which I think is crazy.
JT: Was it just a matter of somebody finally asking you that question?
Siouxsie: I think itís just people asking it. Iíve never denied it or said either way. I kind of presumed that people understood that about me anyway.
JT: Iím surprised it wasnít an American that asked that question, because on the whole Americans, more than the Europeans, are obsessed with definition. So, would you say that you are just ambivalent about labels?
Siouxsie: Generally, yes, about all labels. They are far too limiting. Anyone who does limit themselves, they obviously need some limitation. Theyíre not comfortable about things being open. I really donít understand what the BIG, BIG deal is about it. Iím confused that other people are confused.
JT: Something that is a little easier to pin down is a sort of primal anger that runs through a lot of your music, particularly "Exterminating Angel," and in general the music has a very primal force to it. What are you so pissed off about?
Siouxsie: I think you should live life hard in a way. But there are a lot of things that piss me off. Quite often people, even when they are feeling good in themselves, are very uncomfortable exposing [the darker side of themselves.] Those things are always lurking around with you, and I think itís much better out than in. Iím very lucky that I have a way of releasing that in a positive way. But what pisses me off? For instance, people ask me, "Why did you leave London?" Of course I left to get away from it, but basically I might have KILLED someone, because being in proximity to that many people pisses me off! And generally, anything to do with conforming to society and its limitations. And besides, there needs to be more scary women out there! Get over it!
JT: Onstage, your demeanour is nothing like your fabled "Ice Queen" persona. The shows are very audience-inclusive now. Is this something you chose to break down or did it evolve naturally?
Siouxsie: It kind of evolved but it was also a choice of breaking it down. Part of the baggage with the Banshees was mainly other peopleís perceptions. I did realize that we were getting more and more distanced from the audience, just with communicating with the audience and contact, due partially to larger venues, but mostly what you should be seen to be doing and all of that bullshit. It really happened when we did those shows with John Cale in America. Thatís why we did it. It wasnít the best planned thing, it happened at the last minute, and we just said, "Letís do it and see what happens." Weíd forgotten that we thrive on that spontaneity and I guess we needed to remind ourselves about that.
JT: The experience of your connection to the fans and the audience, has that changed?
Siouxsie: Yes, I really think so. It feels a lot different. Before, it felt like there was too much pressure on it. It was too important in a way, with the Banshees. Not to say the shows are not important now, but now we just relax and enjoy it more. I think the people have changed too. It was a very negative audience, back in the punk days. There was a lot of resistance in England to the kind of music we were playing and we actually got missiles thrown at us! It was violent, aggressive! Iíd go on stage and it was like an assault on the audience.
The transition from that to having an adoring audience who was quite passive, I found quite confusing and a bit hard to deal with. Now itís almost gone full circle, but weíre not having to arm ourselves with rocks in our pockets! We had a lot of fun on the British tour, because the last tour we did with the Banshees was miserable. Nothing like a good clearing away the cobwebs and seeing whatís out there.
J. T. Eckhoff Winter 99
From high-priestess of punk to ice queen
of goth, Siouxsie Sioux is one of the most-imitated women on earth.
Simon Price meets a genuine 20th century style icon.
Every summer, London's crawling. Morticia hair, Kabuki cheeks, Dracula lips, Cleopatra eyes: young girls from Amsterdam, Berlin and Cagliari with names like Anja and Bertha and Chiara who all learnt their ABC from the nice 41-year-old lady sitting next to me.
The Ice Queen, the Wicked Witch, the Warrior Princess... Siouxsie Sioux has created one of the defining pop images of our age. And with grim inevitabi lity and deadly irony, the extreme individualist has become a fashion cliche, a type.
"Yeah, I know!" she laughs between sniffles (another irony: the Ice Queen has caught a chill). "lt's become a cartoon, almost. I dunno, I suppose I should be flattered. It's something that I can't control, but it is ironic, of course."
It's the long hot summer of 1976, and London is calling. On 20th September, at the Punk Festival at the 100 Club, Oxford St, a scratch band comprising a 19 year-old waitress from Chislehurst called Susan, and three of her mates, including a bassist called Sid, are clattering through a shambolic 20-minute medley of Twist And Shout, The Lord's Prayer and Knocking On Heaven's Door. The waitress is wearing a Nazi armband and a peephole bra. Inexplicably, Siouxsie & The Banshees are a hit, and "Sign The Banshees Now!" graffiti appears all over the city.
Quite apart from a cavalcade od classic singles like Hong Kong Garden, Christine, Spellbound, Peek A Boo and Kiss Them For Me, the highlights of their chaotic career will include calling a leering Bill Grundy "You dirty sod!" on that Sex Pistols Today show, spending a night in the cells at Holloway for 'obstruction', playing a money-raising gig for Mencap only to end up with a 2,000 pound bill for seat damage, and prompting an outbreak of wheelchair slamdancing at the Paralympics.
So Sioux, once more with feeling: what was that swastika about?
"Ohhh, yes," she sighs, raising those eyebrows (like big black aeroplane wings), "Now I just say 'Yeah, I'm a Nazi. Course I am.' I've always been fascinated by symbols, whether it's the crucifix, the hammer and sickle or the Star Of David. And it wasn't just me that brandished the swastika around. When I was growing up, it was always (adopts old codger voice) 'The youth of today... I fought the Second World War so bums like you can loaf around on the Social Security,' so it was a way of antagonising that generation. ln those days there wasn't so much information about the war or the Holocaust, and I didn't realise what vandals the Nazis were: all the art, the books they destroyed. Their aim was not only to promote Aryan purity, but to erase anything that might have competed with their superiority, like the Greeks. Wearing that armband was much more in the spirit of The Producers - you know, Springtime For Hitler - an amazing movie. That was was camp, rather than death-camp. I was appalled that anyone would take it, like..."
Siouxsie Sioux puts one finger under her nose and kicks out one goose-stepping leg, like Basil Fawlty. Now I feel like I've lived.
"Plus, the Nazi uniform and the colours were very attractive, if you like dressing up..."
AND she has always liked dressing up, since she was a little baby Sioux.
"lt was a fun thing. You've either got it in you, or you haven't: rummaging around in mum's clothes or even dad's, parading around...costume dramas, dear!"
Costume drama. The Sioux mystique in two words. Siouxsie's dramatis persona had an unreachable, forbidding aura, more Lady Macbeth than Cleopatra, more fuck-off-and-die than come-up-and-see-me. How much of it was about scaring the living shit out of men?
"Probably 90%, I would say, was definitely back off. It was very useful, because it scared off a lot of unwanted... approachability! It was also very much the antithesis of what was traditionally considered attractive, which was the blonde, suntanned girl-next-door, easy-going kind of person you could introduce to mum."
I tell Sioux a story. When I was around 17, my dad noticed the Banshees T-shirt I was wearing, and to my horror, commented 'Siouxsie Sioux? Leather mini-skirts and fishnets? Not arf! Give 'er one!' Tactic backfired?
"Ahahahah!!!" The wicked witch cackles. "Obviously in hindsight, a certain type of person is attracted by someone who is not trying to be attractive. There's something sad and desperate about someone trying to please others and not themselves. Throughout history there are so many contradictions of what people consider sexy... Once upon a time, well-rounded, voluptuous people were considered attractive, now it's gone right the other way, almost back to the 20s, a kind of androgyny, which brought a lot of female freedom: the flapper girls at the turn of the century, the Suffragettes fighting against Victorian repressions and those constricting outfits. Personally, I was just very intent on not being hampered by my shyness. Dressing that way, you can just bulldozer your way through life."
The Banshees are no more. After originally threatening to split in 1981, they finally released their farewell single five years back, since when Siouxsie and Budgie (long-time partner and percussionist) have been living in a Pyrrhenean rural idyll, plotting their next move.
Meanwhile, many of Siouxsie's 100 Club peers have been milking the teats of the nostalgia cash cow on enormous comeback tours.
"Well... it's not thrilling, is it? It's almost the soundtrack for a zombie film. But I guess everyone's within their right to do what the hell they want. And in a way, the Pistols were just holding up a mirror to the whole cynicism of the industry."
lnstead of looking back, Siouxsie and Budgie freed from their Polydor contract after 20 years and signed to their own Sioux Records - have reactivated their drum-heavy side-project The Creatures (almost as old as The Banshees themselves) for a new album, Anima Animus, a grand tour of the rhythmic planet from hi-tech junglism to 'real' jungle rhythms (with a little punk nihilism thrown in for old time's sake).
Arguably though, there's no need for Siouxsie Sioux nowadays. Her spiritual daughters and little sisters- Annie, Sinead, Diamanda, Lydia, Courtney, Shirley, PJ, Beth - have taken on the mantle of ballbreaker feminism and frosty Cruella De Vil hauteur. So after 22 years playing one role, doesn't she feel trapped by being- or having to be- Siouxsie Sioux?
(She puts her palms to her cheeks and and does Edvard Munch's The Scream).
"Nah. Only in as much as everyone has a bad day."
Don't you ever think 'Sod it, this year I wanna go blonde, get a tan and listen to handbag house?' Dress like a fliouxsie?
"But I don't! Ha! I've never wanted that. I don't think I've made it so I couldn't do anything if I wanted to. Apart from being a TV personality on Blankety Blank. Or a soap star. Heaven forbid!"
Siouxsie behind the bar of the Queen Vic? C'mon! Why not?
"Well I always think: make a plan, and watch the gods laugh..."
And again she cackles, quietly this time.
Anima Animus by The Creatures is out on 15 Feb on Sioux Records
Simon Price 03/99
"PEOPLE WOULD ASK, 'ARE YOU STILL GOING?'" LAUGHS SIOUXSIE SIOUX, EXPLAINING THE demise of the Banshees, "and it was like, how dare they... so part of it was us continuing just out of spite. Once they stopped asking, I thought, OK - time to call it a day!" They'd not had a bad innings, though: over the course of almost twenty years, the band, who were arguably punk's darkest children, had created a series of startling, wondrous records and unintentionally kick-started goth along the way. But Siouxsie had seen the fatuous cabaret of the Sex Pistols Filthy Lucre reunion tour, and felt the foul breath of nostalgia full in her face. It was time to move on.
Her 'drum and voice' side project with svelte Banshees' drummer (and latterly husband) Budgie -The Creatures- had already yielded two albums for the Banshees' label, Polydor: 1983's Feast (which contained their cheeky hit version of Mel Torme's Right Here) and the exotic Boomerang six years later. But both Polydor and their US label, Geffen, were completely indifferent to the idea of a new Creatures project. Everyone, it seemed, wanted them to rehash the same old moves. Undaunted, they formed their own label - Sioux Records - in conjunction with dance label Hydrogen Dukebox, who happened to be longstanding fans, and made the best record either of them had been involved with for ten years - the forthcoming Anima Animus.
"You have to smack 'em in the face with a fucking anvil. Subtlety is just lost on them." Siouxsie, quite rightly, has little time for the current state of the British music business. Major labels are afflicted with a terrible apathy in the wake of the Britpop bubble bursting, and are leaning heavily on their current cash cow: formulaic teen pop. "It's like fighting suburbia all over again," says Siouxsie. "Getting passionate about being like, 'Fuck 'em'. I'm certainly spitting nails now. We wanted to get back some spontaneity, but we had to put the brakes on that a bit, and sign individual licensing deals through Sioux records for different territories. It's a lot more work. But once it's all set up, it's gonna be fun."
Fun is a word Siouxsie uses a great deal these days. And, as she talks about touring new Creatures material in the US, it's clear she's having a lot more fun than she had on the sorry slog of the last Banshees dates. "We got these drag queens in LA to do backing vocals. They couldn't sing, but they were gorgeous! And we had Beck's brass players, so I got them to ad lib some Chet Baker stripper music while I did a change. I'd never changed before! It was a Pam Hogg number and it was so fucking tight, when you've been working and sweating... and my boobs wouldn't go in, and they'd been playing for a while, so I just shimmied on! It's great to do something like that without rehearsal. People had said you can't do this, you've got no record out, your video's not on MTV ond we said, 'fuck you'.
The biggest fuck you, of course, is in producing a record of the calibre of Anima Animus. Though its bubbling electronics and pulsing beats sound thoroughly up to date, it's also possessed of a shimmering otherness that harks back to the highpoints of Siouxsie's back catalogue. It's a quality that's almost entirely disappeared from contemporary pop.
David Peschek 03/99
Sorted magAZine managed to grab a few rushed moments with two legendary figures in rock who are still very much alive.
"The great yardstick is the London taxi-driver who says, I thought you were dead!"
Budgie laughingly describes the pit-falls of being out of the public eye for a while. He's back now, in the Creatures - a band that needs no introduction. OK, maybe they do, but that's only if you don't realise that the Creatures are Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie, one half of the late Banshees. Both were at the centre of the punk rock explosion in '76, Siouxsie was originally the Suzie of the Banshees, while Budgie was in the Slits before joining up with her, both in the band and in matrimony.
Back in the early 80s, they both took a break from the Banshees and recorded an experimental album based around drums and vocals. They called the project the Creatures and continued to release material every now and again, using the Creatures as a side-project to the Banshees. These days, the Banshees are no more, Steven Severin is doing his own thing with RE: and the Creatures is Siouxsie and Budgie's full-time band.
They now have the problem of trying to and show people that they haven't joined the great choir in the sky and they have to publicise their new album, "Amima Animus". They have a pretty big job ahead of them, because, as far as many people are concerned, they've been away much longer than they actually have been. A lot of people were surprised when the Banshees split up in '96, but that's only because they thought they'd broken up years before.
"There was an album our in '95, but they didn't see it on Top of the Pops. People think that if they don't see it in the press or in the news, then it doesn't exist."
Unlike Mr. Severin, who has withdrawn from the whole rock n' roll circus, the Creatures have simply gone back to basics and started afresh. Getting out of the biz was not part of their plan.
"We never intended to go anywhere," Budgie explained. "All we wanted was to do it on terms that made more sense to us. We were getting enthusiasm from parts of the industry, but they were getting knocked back by the guys who make the decisions. It became apparent that we were going to have to rethink the way we do it. It wasn't really to escape, we'd already done that by hoppin' out of London - hightailing it out."
When people with as much experience as they do decide to do things their own way, there's no doing things by half. They've now got their own label, Sioux records, and are doing a lot of things the 'wrong' way around. Siouxsie said that it has opened up a lot of possibilities of breaking out of the predictable pattern of the music biz. However, they have met with some resistance.
"We toured last year against promoters. We were told, you can't tour without releasing. 'Oh, is there a single or is there an album?' And we said, no. They said, 'Well, come back when there is.' And we said, sod you, we'll do it ourselves. So that's what we started last year, last summer. We toured the States last year with John Cale."
Even the set-up of the band is a change; gone is the traditional bass, guitar, drums and vocals set-up of the Banshees. In its place is a band that centres round Siouxsie's singing and Budgie's drumming, which was the purpose of forming the Creatures in the first place.
"We started off with something as basic as drums and voice and that's when we decided to call it something different," Siouxsie said. "It was very unique and the possibilities were very open. You could leave it like that, as naked and raw as that, or you could add anything you like to it. It didn't have to fit in with the bass, guitar realm; a rock realm. You could add brass to it, as we have done, you can add anything to it. And there's a lot of Eastern percussion that we can add to it, something that I personally really like."
From the initial break from the norm came certain elements that weren't quite expected. As most music is based on set melodies and keys as defined by instruments, they didn't have the same restraints when it came to music based around percussion and voice. Budgie explained that it was like the early days of punk.
"When we started, we didn't have tuners, so nobody knew what key we were supposed to be in. We were in tune relatively, but out of tune with anything set. And that's what's nice when you just start off with drums and voice, the vocal can find its own comfortable emotional pitch and I would use the drums with the tune more and more, in sympathy with that. I'd also use things like marimba and tubular bells."
"They're approximate to me," Siouxsie added.
The punk rock connection continues, but in a very 90s way, with the way the tracks are mixed and produced. Rather than complete a product and then send it off to be mixed, Budgie described the two-way-flow of ideas and inspiration.
"That's what's interesting about the way people are using sampling and cut-ups and things, there's an almost irreverence for things like, wow, is this in the wrong key, it shouldn't go. What does it matter? With the people who've had the experience of working with a lot of remix artists and DJs and stuff, they're getting tracks from our album and remixing and givin' it back to us. It gets us really excited about the next thing you wanna do. Rather than just do the usual thing of finishing the track, now let's see a really interesting remix and starting with them, it's brand new stuff."
All of this together has obviously given them a new interest and enthusiasm for what they're doing. They have reached a point far enough away from what Siouxsie describes as the cynicism of major labels, where they were very aware of the business side of things. She said that it was very bad for the music and the business to go hand in hand. Now, it doesn't affect what they're doing, because they can just shut their ears to the negative influence and ignore it.
"It's just distracting, it shouldn't come into the music at all."
When Budgie describes it, he uses phrases that probably haven't been heard since punk was sold out from under them.
"It's nice bringin' it back to a one-to-one thing, it's almost DIY, and it's ignoring those kind of orthodox pitfalls. You know, the establishment. It's music, it's a form of expression, it shouldn't be pulled down to rules and what you should or shouldn't do, it should be what you can be."
You can almost feel the last two decades of heavily commercialised music fall away when you find that there's some people out there who still hold by the reasons they started playing music over twenty years ago. Siouxsie believes that it's a fallacy to think that, just because you've been doing it for so long, that you can get over it.
"There's no way I'm over it, it is a part of me and you're always finding out new things about yourself or about other people, whether it's old classics, or discovering something new. Quite often you rediscover things later that you liked in your youth and you'd forgotten about. It's great to see stuff that's still relevant. Now, I hate this whole tide of the retro thing and just looking back on something for the sake of it being safe and tucked away in that nostalgic trip. I really don't like that kind of sentimentality, I like looking back at something and knowing it's still got its power and its strength, that it hasn't been diluted over time. That's a sign of anything that is really worthwhile."
It's very hard to think about Siouxsie Sioux without the g-word springing to mind - Gothic. Not only were the Banshees, along with the Cure and the Damned, among the punk bands that came up with the look and sounds that developed into what's called Goth, but Siouxsie is also regarded as the person who came up with the name. These days, there is the view abroad of Siouxsie as the grand dame of Gothic music, casting a critical eye over the new upstart in the so-called "Gothic Revival". Budgie thinks the whole idea of a Goth revival is really weird, while Siouxsie just tries to ignore it.
"It's lazy journalism really, I don't know what they mean by Goth. Are they talking about the make-up or the hair colour or the music? It's really hard to know what the fuck they're talking about."
This is the kind of journalism they experienced in the States. When they played with John Cale in the States, they were asked who he was. However, it got worse, as Budgie related.
"We had the idea of setting some of Samuel Beckett's words to music and collaborating with Cale on an interpretation of a Jacques Brel song. So, the Americans got hold of it and someone said, Beckett and Brel are the two new bass players they've got in! Our two bass players were both saying, I wanna be Beckett. So we wanted to get T-shirts with the names Beckett and Brel written on them!"
You've got to laugh, 'cos otherwise you'd be crying. Siouxsie and Budgie are laughing, a sure sign they are happy doing their own thing. But then again, you do have to worry about Siouxsie sanity when she talks about their label.
"The majors have pretty much swallowed up a lot of the small labels, but Sioux Records is tiny, tiny, tiny, just starting, a virgin label. We're just out there, stratosphere, satellite, biddy-bip, bibby-bib."
|BEN IS DEAD|
Creatures @ The Palace
Siouxsie comes to town; I have to call my sister, she has to call me. Itís a ritual. Itís more than a ritual; itís obsession. OBSESSION! Siouxsie initiated us - at different stages - into a new world of music. Iím trying to get into the "intimate evening with..." at the El Ray and having no luck. Sis already has two tickets for the Palace show because she knows someone at Goldenvoice, and her friend might not be able to go. Obviously. She wasnít meant to go. We had to go together. Fate and all. Because our destiny is to spend our lives finding Siouxsie. And when we find her itíll have to be together.
When all is said, we meet at the Palace. Late enough to miss John Cale, Ďcause even though heís legendary, and few there would understand to what degree, it isnít why weíre there. We walk in on the first song. Such perfect timing, because we are so connected. To her. And she booms. Her voice stands out so that it can be no other person on the entire planet. She touches our hearts, because we were weaned on her, more than motherís milk we never received. We manoeuvre. My sister knows the spot she needs, in front of the bar, upon a step that gives her 5í frame the extra edge. We have a clear view. Of the beauty, which was missing on her last Banshees tour, though this time itís officially The Creatures. We see her perfect figure in the much more punk rock clothes. The bondage belt. Bra with see through net top, vinyl skirt. A change of outfits into another small bra with beaded bra over it. Her make-up just right. She makes her death rock hand gestures. Sheís got life back, the life she breathed into us as desperate youth, now desperate adults. Sheís Siouxsie again. And weíre glad, because if she was lost what would we have to hope for?
I had to move close but my shorter sister was stubborn to stay. And I dragged her most of the way to the front before she turned back. Her death rock make-up not yet damaged beyond repair from the heat. Just before the clear view of HER opened up. And closer I could see the difference even more. Flashback. Itís not even 1986 - sheís gone retro back to her old self before Iíd even heard of her. And sheís not old anymore.
People are being pushed by the security out to the front of the club. Showís over and weíre walking dejectedly towards the door. My sisterís taunting me that Iím too old, and thatís why I wonít sneak in the back with her. Maybe Iím a little tired but I just donít want the abuse, and nothing clever has popped into my head about how to manoeuvre us back there, beyond begging security or knocking one of the cleaning people out and stealing their uniform. So we head to the door and I donít want to be old, really, so I grab my sister and pull her into the bathroom. At least to bide some time for my brain to come up with some idea. The olí black lady bathroom attendant, the one who must have been there for at least the past decade, is inside with her lipsticks and lollipops. A couple of girls are just leaving and we take our sweet old time. And when weíre done sheís still there but pays us no mind as we pretend to fix ourselves up in the mirror.
"Oh, this shoe! It always does that. I need some glue."
The shoe is removed for inspection. We discuss our purse and the contents, etc.. "Okay, thatís enough," I whisper to Selina. We peek out spy-like for the security check. Coast clear. And we go the opposite direction of the front door. Thereís security but now with the Palace empty theyíre focused on their job, which is mainly cleaning up the place. And theyíre like the Borg; as long as we donít attract their attention - exposing that we're not one of them - they canít see us. But thereís just no way to get to the back door, and thinking weíre giving up I lead us out the side, expecting the chastising to come from my sister who wants to proceed regardless of the hopelessness. But to our surprise the gate has been closed off and the area we have now walked into is part of the backstage. Like that.
I spy my friend and former Ben Is Dead cover boy Sean De Lear (see Glamour issue) and casually run to his side, trying to merge us into the mix quick before we stand out. Heíd just spent the day with Siouxsie.
Sometimes Sean d. can be so nice; dare I say compassionate. Itís funny heís become our Siouxsie connection as he was the one trying to help us get to her during a previous LA appearance (at the Wiltern - read on). "Iíve been friends with Siouxsie a long time" he says. Heís nervous just the same. Says she might put out Glue (his band) on her new label. How they dragged him into their car last night and took him on a wild tour about the city. How they drank a whole bottle of vodka. How he couldnít keep up with them. "Theyíre all very patient and cordial to me," he added.
I ask Sean if he finds an opportunity, could he introduce my sister to Siouxsie. (We were already warned earlier by the Goldenvoice connection that she has been taken to the beach for an interview that day and was still cranky because she was exposed to the sun.) Heís amenable, and when the time occurs, when sheís making the rounds, he makes the introduction. Only slight problem is that in the middle he has forgotten my sisterís name. He could only think "Edward James Olmos" and couldnít figure out why. SELINA! "Yeah, I just saw that movie."
Well, who cares, it was still one of the most exciting moments in my sisterís life.
How old are you? Where are you actually from? Was "Obsession" about you or someone or did you just make it up? How come you never play "Obsession"? Were you and Steve ever together? How long have you and Budgie been together? And when did you get married? Why did it take you so long to be signed? Was it because you didnít want to be signed to any label or were you waiting for the right label or no one wanted to sign you? Are you going to have kids? Can be your friend?
These are some of the things my sister wanted to know. But itís not what came out of her mouth. Instead, what came out of her mouth was more like: "I... I... oh... I... uh... am... the... uh... biggest... fan... you... you... when I... uh... first heard "Obsession"... it changed... my... life forever". And then she fainted - just about.
Wow, can we say Worst Case Scenario. Siouxsie was nice about it. She let me snap a pic of them together.
"Looks like you youngified," I tell her.
"Revitalized, maybe." She nodded, agreed. Budgie looked better too. What was it? Maybe they had to get away from Steve (he wasnít with them anymore). Their last show they looked like wax dolls - house of wax figures. Like when you do drugs and you get a coating, a sheen about you, especially when youíre hot, sweaty. Her face is no longer long and sunken. You can see her age, a little of it, but itís beautiful.
A crowd of us stand around her in awe. If she walked north we walked north. If she walked south we walked south. We stood there asking stupid questions - you know, get them out of the way first. But we were lucky because one guy was doing most of it for us. We were glad because we could just stand there and laugh at him. But then itís contagious and you see the fun in asking stupid questions - at least heís talking to her and sheís answering! So you want to ask the most stupid question. And I rack my brain, knowing I can come up with something good until... "What about Sid?" my sister beat me to it. Siouxsie looks at her stupefied. Even the stupid question guy is thrown off. "Heís dead," she says. We all laugh.
Luckily thereís not too much of a break in-between that comment and the stupid question guy bouncing back. Here are a few miscellaneous topics off-the-cuff:
S. Q. G.: "The singer wants to do a song with you."
Sioux: "Well, thatís a one-way highway" (and makes some hand motion of moving along a highway as it would pass). ***Attention all goths! Siouxsie is not into the wimpy pathetic death drama!***
Sioux: I donít like people who try to get by on sympathy."
S. Q. G.: "What do you think of Morrissey?"
Sioux: "Bulldog nationalist," she spits. "Morrisseyís an asshole. He wanted a bulldog on the cover. He had hidden personal politics." She didnít want this nationalistic symbol on the cover of the record they sang on together. "He said íOkayí at the rehearsal. Then he went behind my back because Iím too aggressive. How lame. He couldnít say it to my face."
She talks about the cowboy hat she wore on stage.
Sioux: "I should be an Indian."
S. Q. G.: "But you wore a cowboy hat."
Sioux: "Just to take the piss out of it."
Stuck tongue between fingers (imitation vagina).
∑PARTIES Some people try to get Siouxsie to come to their after-party. "Follow us," they say. "Weíll make a way for you."
Sioux: She considers. "Sounds too formal. I donít want it to be a big thing," and turns them away.
∑RUDE A guy in bondage/ chef/ straightjacket kinda thing comes by. She puts down his outfit. Casually, like Hi, how you doing? "Youíre bad" someone tells her.
Sioux: "I know, I canít hep it."
My sister talks about going to one of her shows.
Sioux: "It was your first show?"
Selina: "No, it was my second show. Um, my first show was you at the Palladium."
Me: "Thatís like having sex for the first time, your first show."
Siouxsie and the entourage think Iím saying she had sex for the first time at that show - they get totally lost.
Sioux: "My first sex was with a tampon," she shares.
Me: "But did you come?"
Sioux: "Thatís very personal."
Thereís a lull in the room. Siouxsie is moving about, drinking her Stoli, going through clothes, personal things. Her dress is so foxy, also see-through. She says she just got it shopping on Melrose. And her boobs. Theyíre so small and perfect. They just sit there. My sister and I ponder this, ogling her every motion.
I have nothing to say until the ice is broken. The only way it can occur successfully, as far as Iím concerned, is by saying everything Iíd rather keep private, get all this hero-worship off my chest. The reasons I should be embarrassed in her company.
"So, I have a story of us stalking you. [pause] Itís an innocent story."
"Innocent?" she demands. "You said stalking!"
"Stalking doesnít have to be a dirty word." (Does it?)
"Okay, letís hear it."
"Well, it all started about eleven years ago..."
(What the hell, It tells the tale best. Hereís an abbreviated reprint from an old issue. Now this is a Siouxsie story within a Siouxsie story within a Siouxsie story so keep it straight - my poor proof reader couldnít.)
Siouxsie and the Banshees
The Wiltern, 1996
By Darby with Selina
...About nine years ago (or so weíve calculated), my sister and I made big plans to see Siouxsie together during her Tinderbox tour. We were so excited we bought tickets for two nights. But the most memorable one was when we drove all the way to Santa Barbara. We missed Love and Rockets though we didnít know enough to care at the time. The memorable moments of the show: #1) Seeing Siouxsieís underarm hair. #2) Her cool glittery body suit. #3) Siouxsie yelling at the guards for not letting the crowd dance - and eventually ending the show after just one encore because of it. #4) And my sister remembers fondly the "Happy House" puppets and how cute and fun they were (I doubt she'd make that up.) #5) And more importantly than that she was done up Siouxsie-style. I think we were too.
We were such fanatics that we were determined to see her after the show. We went outside to the back of the theatre to wait for her, thinking it was an extremely unique idea and that we were very cool, but surprisingly enough there were all these other fans waiting there too. About an hour into it some dude came up to us and says, "Hey, do you want to know where the after-party is?" And thinking we were getting the inside scoop we dorkily replied, "Yes!" So he told us the top secret information and we ran off to find her. As we walked away we turned and saw this guy was still standing by the back door but we were too excited to wonder why he wasnít coming to the party with us. So we asked some people where this hotel was that he mentioned and got directions. We didnít really understand the concept o hotels so we pulled a Mission Impossible and snuck past the concierge as he stared at us. We went to the 2nd floor, which is I think where the guy told us to go but we had no room number so we just walked around listening at each door. At one there was some commotion (possible party) but we decided to check out more rooms before knocking. It was strange; this hotel was creepy, old, and quiet. We hardly heard a noise coming from the rooms. We went to another floor. Nothing except one where we heard some music but thatís it. After an extended pep talk ("Oh my God, should we... we have to... etc.), we cajoled ourselves into knocking on the door with the possible party. This time around it sounded more like a TV and a few utterances but it was still the best bet. We knocked, waited, and a minute later the door opened. Iíd love a picture of me and my sister standing there with our mouths to the floor if anyone has a copy. An old man about 50 opened the door with a smile and a cheery "Hello," and as he was continuing with, "Would you like to come in?" Both me and my sisterís field of vision opened up to the sight of another man in the room (I say Hispanic, about 35) on the bed in bondage gear tied up with legs spread and a collar around his neck sorta smiling. I looked back at the first guy and stuttered, "Uh, er, um, gulp, uh, I think we um have the wrong room." He asked if we were sure and we said we were. And he said, "Well, would you like to come in anyway?" And staring at the other man we declined and backtracked away. After he shut the door and we got over our hysterics we came along a door that had a key in it. We opened it, but there was nothing inside but I kept the key (my sister says it was so I would remember the night but I think I thought I was going to go back and rob the place.) We left embarrassed, self esteem a little lower but we still didnít realise we had such a great prank pulled on us until we met these guys who told us that it was a gay sex hotel. We met these guys when my sister ran out of the car to pull a Siouxsie poster off of a pole. Weíd gone back near the theatre to see if there were any more great tips and there were a couplía wild and crazy comedians playing at a club near the show - so you already know how lame they were - and they invited us to their very own private party in their very own motel room where we went, so you know how lame we were.
My sister just mumble-jumbled to me the rest of our story and I typed it verbatim: "We were in there and they were all drunk... and they were drinking beer, there was lots of beer. And they were wanting to touch your tits - ícause you had big tits then. And then one of the guys said to you to go into the bathroom with him. And I was just like, íWhat are you doing?!í Like in sign language. We were all in sign language, between you and the guy doing the coke, and you telling me youíd tell me in a minute. And later I went into the bathroom and I donít know why you wouldnít know that I went into the bathroom with the dude... I was only 14 and you were lying on the bed... and he has a line of coke on the toilet seat and I did it without telling you and Iíd never done coke... I did this line, this big old line with a $20 bill and I snorted it right off the toilet seat... and I must have told you Iíd done the coke then, didnít I tell you? And then we wanted to go and this guy wouldnít let us go and then we said, íGet the fuck out of the way,í and we just left... maybe thatís when I told you I did the coke... and then we went home... feeling stupid... but we had the key with us... and the poster... and the memories of Siouxsie... that would last us the rest of our lives."
Well, that was a nice story sis. So why donít we tell them our new Siouxsie story? These are they key phrases that will describe the Wiltern show: Sang slow. She was in slow motion. Hard to sing along to - that was the most frustrating. "Oh baby" energy. We seat-jumped to the front so we could see her better. Her outfit. Thanks God she took off her jacket but again wrong belt. Wrong pants with the wrong belt. Seemed old. Nice leg moves and flexible. Some Peter Murphy moves. Her hairdo was long thin held back in a clip. She had some whack fuckiní eyebrows. Big lumpy, wrong. No cat-eyes thing going. No eye make-up? Kinda nice seeing her without the whole Siouxsie thing on. Weird bags under her eyes. Face gotten real long. Bony. Even though her music keeps going downhill it wasnít that bad. Not like sheís selling out but changing. Had a fight with people over her new record so she could do it how she wanted. Some of the lyrics worthwhile.
Well, that was sure a lot easier than writing it all up. It sure was, sister. Okay then, shall we tell them what stupid things we did after this show? Yes sister, why donít we. We waited inside with Sean De Lear who offered to help us get backstage since we were ill-prepared. After 30 minutes and basically being among only a few others who werenít yet inside we made friends with one of the nicer security men and he let us sneak by him. Completely retarded and spastic and certainly un-cool, we ran by him only to make such an obvious scene that everyone stopped us to see our passes - and soon we were thrown out of the building. And there we sat, for over an hour, waiting patiently for someone to understand. I wanted to give up, but this kind of shit I go through for my sister that she doesnít appreciate. As if! Desperate we stumbled across another man who offered us up a Siouxsie tip. Well, we were asking him for his pass but he needed it for the tour, so he gave us this key name that possibly was a code word for "Putzes trying to sneak backstage," but we ran back to the door and used it and every other name we could possibly come up with. (If he were to give us a hotel key for the Vine Lodge we were there!) A very nice woman named something like Melanie or Heather or Melissa finally let us in - we canít remember why but it was probably a sympathy thing. We walked up, cocky as hell because we had our passes, and all those mean security were confused and sad they couldnít kick out the groupies. We entered the "guest" room where there was absolutely no one of interest to us, i.e.: no band members. And in there we waited another hour, by this point all food and drink devoured by the very important people. It was so boring, as it usually is when you finally get into a place youíve been waiting too long to get into. Sean said Siouxsie was upstairs showing pictures of her cat (whoíd just died) to people - so we waited for her. And waited. Aaaargg! And waited. Itís also hard to give up - like a gambler who is sure her luck is going to turn around with the next roll of the dice. Yee haw. We took our losses. We took pictures of Selina with Steve, and then with Budgie (I guess I lost them - somewhere around where that hotel key is.) And I guess we can wait another ten or so years to meet her - weíre not giving up. You hear that Siouxsie Sioux?!
Yes! And it only took two more years! We finally did it. The whole reason BID existed - to meet Siouxsie Sioux. Uh huh. And now thereís no excuse. Thank you Siouxsie for setting us free. The end.
Darby w/ Selina 1999
She may have moved to France and started going to the gym, but Siouxsie Sioux hasn't lost the brooding glamour that made her the terror of Bromley. LUCY O'BRIEN met her.
Siouxsie Sioux sits in a hotel lounge in the heart of Covent Garden, sipping coffee and talking with sensible detachment about going to the gym and shopping in the sales. Her once spiky black hair is combed sleek and smooth, and she wears the demure urban uniform of black jeans and sweater. This is a far cry from the 19-year-old punk dominatrix who stalked into a suburban Bromley wine bar, followed by her pal Berlin on all fours wearing a dog collar. Now aged 41, there seems to be little hint of the mischievous punk who, with the Banshees, terrorised the charts from the late 70s with brooding, metal-voiced hits like Hong Kong Garden, Happy House and the psychedelic Dear Prudence.
That is until she reminisces about her first cocktail. It was in New York in 1981, amid the faded grandeur of the Gramercy Park Hotel. "lt was a Vodka Gimlet. I just fell in love with it." What's in a Vodka Gimlet? Diva asks, innocently enough. "Vodka!!" she says, and then cackles uproariously. It is a joyous cackle, an anarchic cackle. It seems to loosen an outlaw spirit that has until now been kept in check by 90s politesse. She warms to the theme; talking about the inspiration behind 2nd Floor, the strongest track on her latest Creatures album, Anima Animus, a driving, thumping dancefloor thing that exudes a brooding glamour. For her the song is about being a barfly, having one-too-many Vodka Gimlets.
"lt's when you still want more, when you want the party to continue and it's beyond being sensible. I remember times when I was the one person left in a place, and the euphoria that goes along with it. 2nd Floor was my idea of what a private drinking bar would be, that was open all the time," Siouxsie continues. "There's something very religious about bars. They're like altars. The lighting. The colour of the bottles. Having a drink. It's like Santa's Grotto time."
That sense of a rich, ritualistic world, where the everyday meets the surreal, runs throughout the album, from the iron will of Exterminating Angel to the ghostly lullaby Don't Go To Sleep. It's not always easy listening, but it has a charged, confrontational passion that was missing from some of the Banshees' later music. "Put it this way, it's not inspired by Doris Day," remarks Siouxsie. She's found this fresh artistic freedom as scary as it is liberating. "But there'd be something wrong if it wasn't scary," she says matter-of-factly. "Unless something feels a bit scary, maybe it's not worth doing. Maybe I realised I should've been feeling that a lot longer before. Attaining a comfort zone and looking for security doesn't sit well with the creative process. For instance, I find it offensive that a video will cost 500,000 pounds. We did one the other day for five grand. When you've got a limited budget, it forces you to be creative in a different way."
By the time the Banshees broke up in 1996, they had become a rock institution, the very thing that Siouxsie kicked against when she first went on stage as a punk, mutilating Bay City Rollers songs with Sid Vicious. Although she is wary of talking about the past ("that was then and this is now"), those punk values still infuse her attitude. "I'm proud of being part of something that was so innocent, so uncontrived. When you look back on it through those rose-coloured glasses, it looks like it was orchestrated. But it wasn't. It was very visceral, very spontaneous-a spontaneous combustion." She admires the new DIY attitude of the current drum 'n' bass jungle scene, because it reminds her of how the Banshees started out, operating outside the usual promotional circuits. "Whenever we had a hit I'd think, ooh, we sneaked in that one. I felt like we'd gatecrashed somebody else's party," she recalls.
For now, she and Budgie live as well as work outside the usual circuit. In 1991 they left London, which had become "a rat-run: very small, very confined, very village-y", and moved to a large old house with high ceilings and stone floors in rural Toulouse. "You can relax into ideas there, let them unfold. You can use the neurosis of the city, but not be caught in it." Siouxsie is careful to stress, though, that living in France is not like "that fucking book, A Year in Provence". Less cosy domestic bliss, it is more a pared-down, deeply thoughtful existence that provides an extreme contrast to the adrenaline rush of the city. "I like extremes, I'm not good at middle ground," she announces.
It was that love of extremes that led her from teenage go-go dancing in West End clubs to donning fetish gear and becoming one of the most striking frontwomen in rock. Hers was the ice-goddess face that launched a thousand Goths. She celebrated the power of the dominatrix. "The masochist and the sadist is a relationship made in heaven," she opines, "it's so perfect. Both get what they want. It's honest, it's clearly defined. Maybe that's why people get offended, because it looks like they've got their lives sorted out. Maybe there's a subversive form of envy there." Siouxsie embraced queer sexuality long before the term was invented. She's had affairs with women as well as men, and people have been "confused or bothered by that. I'm always bemused people think it's such a big deal." For her, punk was about opening up a lot of areas and not "waiting to be invited". You only get sexual repression when people are unhappy about how they're expressing themselves."
She ruminates on past relationships, about how she always used to fall for gay men, how important female friendships are to her. Especially the flirtatious ones. Then she suddenly bursts out: "I hate being pursued, in any relationship. I don't want someone forcing their attention onto me, whether it's a man or a woman. I tend to get that a lot from women, or have done in the past. It's weird, they think just because they're female it won't get on my tits. But it does." She likes the hint of the unattainable, Shirley Manson from Garbage, "because she's really naughty", or PJ Harvey, for her "addictive quality," or "Dame Bolan" (Marc Bolan), because he had a "female side without being foppish." Her long-term romantic partner now is a man, her peroxide-blond collaborator, Budgie. "But he looks fabulous in a dress. He's got great legs," she says, and lets loose a good, long, hearty cackle.
Lucy O'Brien 04/99