The San Diego Union-Tribune (7.9.98)
Drumming up a tour; Creatures Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie join John Cale and hit the road
Once a Banshee, now a Creature, singer Siouxsie Sioux has been exceptionally mercurial in a career of myriad changes.
The British native experimented with dirgelike rock and punk rock in the mid-'70s when she was backed by a budding musician named Sid Vicious in a band called the Banshees.
Sid soon left to join the Sex Pistols, but Siouxsie remained, and stayed a musical course through 20 years of wildly divergent phases in which her sometimes haunting songs used with strings, horns and, more recently, drum- and-voice arrangements.
The twisting road took another intriguing turn recently when Sioux, born Susan Dallion, and ex-Banshee drummer Budgie, collectively known as the Creatures, teamed up with Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale for a co- headlining tour that's as loose as it will be long.
"There's no production, really," Dallion said recently from Seattle. "It's growing as we move. We're taking the shows as they come. The vibe is a lot more spontaneous."
The performance lines are blurry, she said. Sometimes Cale will be onstage, sometimes the Creatures, and sometimes Cale and the Creatures.
"We're using each other's musicians. John comes on and off. He plays some electric viola. His guitarist switches to bass so we (the Creatures) have a two-bass setup for our stuff. Budgie comes to the front and bangs some drums and plays some acoustic guitar. Even I hit something -- congas now and then, and I slam a big drum now and then."
The tour began in mid-June in Mexico City -- "To be crazy, I suppose, to see if we could lose the gear in the first show," Dallion said -- but had its genesis earlier this year when Dallion and Cale collaborated for a Dutch television performance.
"Someone saw a videotape of that show and suggested we do a tour of the States with that approach. In March and April, we were still talking about whether to do it or not."
Dallion's friendship with Cale goes back to 1993. The two met when the reunited Velvet Underground played Paris, where Dallion was living.
But her fascination with Cale goes back many years.
"Before I discovered the Velvet Underground, I found John's 'Fear' and 'Slow Dazzle' albums" (from 1974 and '75, respectively).
Shortly after they met, Cale was brought aboard to produce the last four tracks on the final Banshees album. But Dallion said she saw further potential. "I thought we could have gotten something more from the relationship."
Shortly afterward, the Banshees disbanded.
"I made the decision to stop the band, to get back to basics," Dallion said. The Creatures, a side project since 1981, became the focus rather than a distraction for Dallion, and she relished the simplicity.
"Because of the nature of the music, which is very much drum and voice, it has a bit more primal feel to it" than the swirling rock for which the Banshees had become known.
The new material and tour with Cale "feel like the way we started. We're playing stuff that people don't know, haven't heard before and we're not familiar with. There's no routine to it. That's the spirit of this tour."
The road show is a far cry from its Dutch progenitor. "For one, we were working with a 50-piece orchestra (on the TV show). We were able to do some different approaches, because we could use their brass section -- that was great. A lot of John's stuff was done."
But the Creatures-Cale tour offers Dallion freedom from the bigger-band hassles and an opportunity to blend in onstage.
"Because of the nature of the show, which has a lot more interaction on stage, with people switching instruments, I feel less like it's focused on me than before," Dallion said. "We're a lot more spontaneous, especially the new stuff."
Dallion and Cale have co-written a song that might appear on a future recording "which I don't want to go into yet," she said.
The Creatures will release a four-song EP later this month titled "Eraser Cut," which, the ever-enigmatic Dallion noted, is an anagram for "creatures."
And the third Creatures album, "Anima Animus," is scheduled for release early in 1999. Dallion said the title is a reference to inner sexual conflict. "It's a Jungian phrase (referring to) the woman within the man and the man within the woman. It's about our sexuality. I think that, with our sexuality, we're only scratching the surface," she said.
"There's a lot of digging on this record, and a sense of freedom" she says comes from moving out of the recording industry's mainstream. Both the EP and album will be released and distributed by Dallion's own Sioux Records.
Digging for new material has virtually defined Dallion's musical journey, which began when she and some friends were inspired by the early Sex Pistols to form a band. Among her band mates then was Vicious, who would eventually die of a heroin overdose after the Pistols sputtered.
"He was playing drums with us at that point, just the first show," Dallion recalled, but then he became increasingly fascinated with bass guitar.
"If he'd stayed on drums," she ventured, "he'd not have ended like he did."
The Creatures with Siouxsie Sioux, Budgie and John Cale
7:30 p.m. Sunday; 4th & B, 345 B St., downtown; $20; (619) 231-4343 or (619) 220-TIXS.
Contributed by Jerry Burch.