The Bob (December '81)
The Bob - "Siouxsie and the Banshees - Interview?"
Interview by Marsha Gordon
Photo by Lisa Haun
This interview was done at Ripley's on October 27 before the Siouxsie and the Banshees show. No need for an introduction, here they are - Susan Ballion, Steve Severin, and Budgie (John McGeoch had nothing to say)....
BOB: I hate to start this way, but I'm going to ask you to give me a brief history of the band - just the highlights.
SIOUXSIE: You do it Steve.
BOB: Here I'll prompt. I've heard that the album "Ziggy..." was an influence on the band in the beginning.
STEVE: I don't know where people get this from.
BOB: Okay, then tell me how you started. What got you interested?
SIOUXSIE: When we first went on stage -- by accident.
BOB: By accident? How did that happen?
SIOUXSIE: We said we had a band when we didn't.
BOB: When was this?
BOB: Did you get a band together on the spot?
BOB: Who was in that band?
SIOUXISE: The lovable Sidney (Vicious), fat Marco (Pirroni of Adam/Ants fame), me and Steve.
BOB: How did it go - did you pull it off?
SIOUXSIE: We spellbound them.
BOB: And what happened after that?
STEVE: Six months rest to recover from the holocaust.
BOB: Holocaust - what do you mean?
STEVE: That they liked it.
BOB: You were surprised?
SIOUXSIE: Yeh - we tried our damnedest to make as many enemies as possible with that gig.
BOB: And it didn't work.
SIOUXSIE: No. We keep trying.
BOB: We'll get into that later. What happened six months later - did somebody else book you?
STEVE: We formed a group.
BOB: A different group?
STEVE: Well, the first one was only booked for 20 minutes.
SIOUXSIE: As I said, it was on the spur of the moment.
STEVE: We split up when we left the stage.
BOB: I've heard that you tried to postpone being signed for as long as possible...
STEVE: No. It was a hype. We were not able to sign for two years because nobody wanted us.
BOB: Was Polydor Records the first label?
BOB: How about John Peel. How was he involved in your career?
SIOUXSIE: He let us hear ourselves on the radio for the first time.
BOB: When was that?
BOB: Was that your first major exposure?
BOB: And how was the response to that?
SIOUXSIE: They repeated the sessions.
BOB: So you failed again at making people hate you.
BOB: Back to what you said earlier - you mentioned that you like to make as many enemies as possible - what's the point of this? A lot of people say you put up barriers to your audience.
SIOUXSIE: They're scum.
STEVE: Have you ever seen us? How do you know?
SIOUXSIE: Undoubtedly the people who have written about us haven't seen us.
BOB: There is no barrier then?
STEVE: There is in the fact that they're coming to see a show and we don't want them on stage jumping about with us. We don't want them on our stage.
BOB: Why do you say that your audience is scum? They're paying money to see you.
SIOUXSIE: Even scum pays money.
STEVE: Ten dollars is...
SIOUXSIE: I'm not saying all, I'm saying some are scum.
BOB: How do you find the American audience? Do you prefer the British audience?
BOB: How has the tour gone?
STEVE: We've been all over the country.
SIOUXSIE: It was good in Texas, good in San Francisco and it was good last night, except that we played in a college and it was run by stupid idiots.
BOB: Was the audience into the show?
STEVE: Oh - the audience were, I don't know about the students.
BOB: Weren't the audience the students?
(some mumbling of "No.")
BOB: Your music sounds like it's gone through many changes - from a much "noisier" sound to - well, take the sound check tonight, for example - you were doing some very interesting things with your voice. When did the evolution begin? When did you start experimenting?
SIOUXSIE: When I wasn't a cockroach anymore. It was around '68 to '75.
STEVE: Going on stage and playing for twenty minutes when you don't know how to play is experimenting.
BOB: It certainly is. Did you rehearse for that show? What happened?
SIOUXSIE: We had a meeting before.
STEVE: We had a general meeting.
SIOUXSIE: It included finding out what plugs go in sockets and just what we would call this one song we would do.
BOB: What song was that?
SIOUXSIE: "The Lord's Prayer."
BOB: Did you come up with the name "Siouxsie" at the meeting?
SIOUXSIE: I just hate cowboys, that's all.
BOB: Great! How about "the Banshees"?
STEVE: It's from a film - "Cry of the Banshee."
(Siouxsie goes "Aayee!")
BOB: What was this film about - how did it intrigue you?
STEVE: Good name.
BOB: How do you see the progression in your music? Have you been changing in a predetermined direction?
STEVE: We've had a lot of guitarists, a lot of drummers.
BOB: But the two of you stay together. What holds it together?
SIOUXSIE: A nucleus.
STEVE: Sadism (weak laughter).
SIOUXSIE: (screams) S&M.
BOB: Are there any musical ideas that you share that help keep...
STEVE: No. We have no ideas about music at all.
BOB: Okay, okay - who writes the music - how is a song written?
SIOUXSIE: No formula.
BOB: You guys are impossible. (to Siouxsie) Do you have anything that you're trying to say in your lyrics?
SIOUXSIE: Well, that's up to you - if you listen to them.
BOB: Is it what comes to you at a particular time, or is there something on your mind.
SIOUXSIE: If I write something, I want to write it.
BOB: What does that mean?
STEVE: We're not the "blank generation."
SIOUXSIE: Only in muggy weather. We're only the blank generation in muggy weather.
STEVE: We're the carrot generation - I only write songs when I chew carrots.
BOB: This interview is getting sorta weird.
SIOUXSIE: Not weird.
BOB: How do you feel about publicity?
SIOUXSIE: We don't sleep around enough to get enough publicity.
STEVE: We don't fuck the right people.
BOB: As far as your music is concerned, where do you see it headed in the future? Is there a direction?
STEVE: We'll probably be going in the bargain bins.
SIOUXSIE: Hopefully we'll be the last sound that everyone will hear before the world blows up.
BOB: Is that something that's on your mind?
SIOUXSIE: No. I just can't wait for it.
BOB: Really, you're waiting? Do you think it will come soon?
SIOUXSIE: I'm not waiting! I'm not worrying about it. It'll be a good thing for a fucking tragedy to happen to this world. It's what we need.
BOB: What exactly are you waiting for?
SIOUXSIE: The Big Bang.
BOB: I hear that you won't be doing any more U.S. touring. Is that true?
SIOUXSIE: Another wrong fact.
BOB: Boy, how do they get started - there's this disc jockey who's been saying...
SIOUXSIE: Who? What's his name?
BOB: ...and he's been saying for ages "Siouxsie got started in music because she listened to Ziggy Stardust and..."
SIOUXSIE: Ooh - I'd like to meet him. I'll have to change his mind.
STEVE: I might change his sex.
BOB: What, then, was it that originally got you interested in doing this? Something must have spurred you on.
SIOUXSIE: When I couldn't be a brain surgeon.
STEVE: So that we could do interviews.
SIOUXSIE: Fresh water fish.
(Budgie enters the room.)
BOB: How did you two meet? Or when, or where?
SIOUXSIE: When, is '75.
BOB: And where?
SIOUXSIE: In a wine bar.
BOB: Maybe we shouldn't go into this, but did you meet through your music? Was it a musical relationship that got you together?
SIOUXSIE: We were school chums.
BOB: And how about the rest of the band - how did you come upon them? Budgie, when did you join the band?
STEVE: Budgie joined in a crisis.
SIOUXSIE: Amongst the premenstrual tension he joined the Banshees.
BUDGIE: Mine again. October '79.
BOB: Did you have many drummers?
BOB: What is it about bands and drummers? Are you going to be the final drummer Budgie?
BUDGIE: Final drummer - I don't know.
SIOUXSIE: You're fired.
BOB: How did you join the band?
BUDGIE: I got a phone call.
SIOUXSIE: Yeh, we gave him a dirty phone call - a happy birthday...
BUDGIE: I just couldn't resist it. I decided to find out more.
BOB: It must have been a great call.
STEVE: Two members of the band left because they didn't like the weather in Aberdeen.
BUDGIE: Aberdeen is a place in Scotland.
BOB: And how about John - when did he join?
BUDGIE: He didn't like the weather in Scotland either - so he came down to London.
BOB: When was the band finally together with the current lineup?
SIOUXSIE: Last year.
BOB: How about new music - when can we expect to see a new album?
BOB: How about when you return home in mid-November?
SIOUXSIE: We'll see what happens.
STEVE: We're going to record the sound of us being cremated on the next album.
BOB: That'll be experimental.
STEVE: Well that's only going to be on one side.
BOB: And what's going to be on the other side?
BUDGIE: The sound of us being reincarnated.
BOB: What do you think about the new synthesized sounds in music?
STEVE: We'll tell you when we're reincarnated as carrots. That's when you'll finally hear the new synthetic sound.
BOB: So, in other words, you're not fond of it.
STEVE: In other words...
SIOUXSIE: I don't know. (laughs and sings "In Other Words.")
BOB: No synthesizers in Siouxsie and the Banshees then?
SIOUXSIE: No rules in Siouxsie and the Banshees, so we can't say something like that.
BOB: Okay - things change then.
SIOUXSIE: Oh, yes. I mean, we said we'd never have a parrot in the band, but...
SIOUXSIE: But, we've got one.
BUDGIE: Ha ha.
SIOUXSIE: (squawks at Budgie) Squawk, parrot, squawk.
STEVE: His name's Budgie - but you wouldn't understand, that means parrot in England.
BOB: So Budgie - maybe you can...
SIOUXSIE: You realize that you're talking to a parrot. Do you normally do this interviews - sit there talking to parrots?
BOB: No, normally people are very talkative and tell me lots of shit.
SIOUXSIE: Right - well, you're not getting much shit from us. Do you like writing shit?
BOB: It's something to do - it's a living.
STEVE: If you call this living.
BOB: Do you like singing shit?
SIOUXSIE: I don't sing shit.
BOB: What do you sing? Good music?
SIOUXSIE: Good songs.
(Steve leaves the room)
(knock at door)
SIOUXSIE: Who is it?
SIOUXSIE: I recognize that knock. I bet it's Steve. (Steve reenters) Am I right? Am I wrong?
BOB: Do you travel with a warm-up band?
BOB: Are there any bands that you especially like or would like to work with?
BOB: Are there any bands that have been influential in your music?
BOB: How about the Velvet Underground? What do you think of them?
SIOUXSIE: I like them.
BOB: Have they been influential?
BOB: No? So where do you get your ideas?
SIOUXSIE: I wonder where The Velvet Underground got their ideas?
BOB: How about your stage presence - what kind of show do you try to put on?
SIOUXSIE: Oh, I'm really into Jobriath - not Ziggy.
BOB: Not Ziggy?
SIOUXSIE: No - Jobriath - the original. He's American, he was American.
BOB: Is he dead now?
STEVE: He should be.
SIOUXSIE: He stated off a corpse.
BOB: Tell me about him.
SIOUXSIE: He was a space cadet.
BOB: When was he around?
SIOUXSIE: He was a few steps behind Bowie - always.
BOB: Then why was he the original?
STEVE: Bowie always needed someone coming up from behind.
SIOUXSIE: He likes it from behind.
BOB: Have you got any final message for the people?
BUDGIE: Kong is King.
Contributed by Allan Bolt.