Record Mirror (8.27.88)
In the 10 years since Siouxsie And The Banshees' first hit, not everything in the Hong Kong Garden's been rosy. But, with the release of their new album, 'Peep Show', on the coat-tails of the single, 'Peek-A-Boo', Siouxsie is keen to tell Tim Nicholson that hers is once more a Happy House
Siouxsie is fuming. The Daily Mirror has just run a totally fabricated story concerning the authenticity of her facial features, claiming that she'd gone the way of Michael Jackson and Andrew 'Ski-nose' Ridgeley, and had a spot of plastic surgery. Siouxsie's having none of it and she's not about to take it lying down, eager for a chance to deny this cruel publicity.
"The problem us, I blew the chance I had on 'Night Network'. The presenter said, 'Well, Siouxsie, is it true about you having a nose job, then?'. Like a fool I said, 'Sure, can't you see I'm wearing big earrings to cover up the surgery scars?' I should have known that nobody in Fleet Street has a sense of humour. The next day, there it was; 'SNOOTY SIOUXSIE SAYS, 'SURE, IT'S TRUE''. It makes me so mad that nobody seems able to do anything about them, Aaarrgh!"
Oh well, there goes my first question.
But on to Banshee business, and the subject of their recent quirky hit, 'Peek-A-Boo', and the upcoming LP, 'Peep Show'. The single is far and away their most inspired three minutes since they pirouetted their way through the Beatles' 'Dear Prudence', and the LP is their most consistently good since the slippery slopes of 82's 'A Kiss In The Dreamhouse'. Not surprisingly, Siouxsie seems to agree on this point.
"I think this is our best album, full stop. After 'A Kiss In The Dreamhouse' a lot of what we did was as good, and some better, but there was nothing consistent as far as an album, I suppose. I think it was a case of getting out of the rut of 'doing the next album' and getting back into thinking 'this is the last album we're ever going to do'. We'd always done albums unsure of how much longer we'd last, but there was a period where we seemed to be on a bit of a treadmill.
"This is the first time for a while that we've felt like a real group. Unless you can implicitly trust people no relationship can build up. In the past there have been people that didn't quite fit in, but I think we've solved that problem now."
The Banshees casualty list has been a long and bloody one, beginning with the desertion of Kenny Morris and John McKay and starting a tradition of the position of Banshees guitarist being the equivalent of the 13 or walking under a ladder. The list includes such notables as John McGeoch (Magazine, Armoury Show) and Robert Smith (the Cure). Doesn't it get to the point when you begin to think that it might be you that's difficult to work with?
"Oh, you do, definitely. But at the same time you're loathe to stop it at such a low point. We're not horrible, honestly. It's just the thought of going on tour with people you don't like or who don't fit in just turns my stomach. I don't know how some people cope with that situation."
Naming any names?
"There is a band I could name, but I won't, that do work in that sort of atmosphere and I think it's stupid. I think trying to keep the Banshees a four-piece was causing problems. At least with two new members" (Martin McCarrick - keyboards, John Klein - guitar) "if they're feeling a bit lost they can console each other. Not that they need to, you understand."
'Peep Show' was recorded in a country house in Sussex, far from the madding crowd, a factor Siouxsie finds rather significant. A breath of fresh air perhaps?
"There was certainly plenty of that. It was a wonderful place. It's just a rambling old house with some giant-size cats fed on rabbits and it was just after that storm last year, so it looked very strange, like an alien landscape almost, giant trees lying everywhere. It was refreshing being able to write at any time of the day as well, rather than fighting your way through London to get to the rehearsal studio and when you get there you're just not in the right frame of mind. There are too many distractions."
Does this mean you're joining the hoards of disaffected Londoners fleeing to where the grass is greener?
"No, I love London. I think everywhere's changing for the worse. It's not just London and it's not just cities. There's greed and selfishness growing in all these environments. So many people don't want to know about changing; changing themselves and changing the way they're living to make it better.
"There's so much waste in the world. It's scary how the world is being ravaged and destroyed. And I feel that a lot of information is being suppressed, and it's only now that things are starting to come through. All that stuff about the ozone layer and aerosols; they've been screaming about that for the last 10 or 15 years, but it's only now that they're doing anything about it. But as far as the rain forests are concerned, nothing can be done about them. No-one's going to be able to replant new rain forests or re-invent the species of animals that are being wiped out."
Could this frame of mind lead to a Banshees-organised Forest Aid?
"I think that if people in the public eye can use their position to help a cause, then that's fine. There's a very thin line between supporting an idea and preaching, but done carefully it's a good thing. I thank God there are some people out there prepared to do something, I don't want to go down as one of the ones content to let these things happen."
Such a social conscience suggests the onset of maturity. The picture of Siouxsie in a bathchair, a travel rug over her knees and her bullet belt in a trunk in the attic is a hard one to paint, but there is a side that longs for the quiet life.
"Most people want to settle down and have kids, but I want to settle down and have cats. I love cats, but I don't like seeing them couped up in the city. So, I'd love to have a place in the country with cats roaming around."
Do you think there would come a point where you would consider yourself too old to be singing pop songs? (Siouxsie is 31, looks 27 and is generous enough not to presume that I was implying that her time had come.)
"Probably. Sometimes I feel like I'm halfway between there. But I still like London, I still like working. I really think you've got to go with what you feel like doing. Some people at 17 are far more set in their ways than I'll ever be. If you were to have a rule where all singers had to stop at 40 you'd get rid of a whole bunch of idiots, but one Leonard Cohen is worth a million of them. I'd rather idiots like Mick Jagger were allowed through rather than everyone being stopped."
Would the prospect of becoming embarrassing bother you?
"Oh sure. But hopefully I'm thin-skinned enough that I'd know when that was happening. A lot of the people who carry on don't have to, and certainly, financially, they don't have to do it, and artistically they don't have to force it out of themselves still. For the moment I'm still hungry... on both counts. I'll know when to stop, don't you worry."
Don't look at me, I'm not about to argue with that.
Contributed by shy kitten.