Arizona Star (11.8.02)

Gothic attitude: So Sioux me!

Universal Music Group releases "The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees" (list price: $18.98) to record stores Nov. 12. The 15-track disc includes "Dear Prudence," "Cities in Dust," "Peek-a-boo" and "Kiss Them for Me." A limited-edition double-disc version (list price: $22.98) includes never-before-released remixes.

Legendary Siouxsie and the Banshees have music for you
By Rob Bailey

Get out your charcoal eyeliner, boys and girls. It's time to dance the creep.

Subversive art-rock legends Siouxsie and the Banshees are back in the game, with a new 15-song hits compilation and a limited-edition double disc featuring rare, 12-inch remixes, both due in stores Nov. 12.

As legions of goth die-hards know, the group - frontwoman Siouxsie Sioux, bassist Steven Severin, drummer Budgie and a revolving door of guitarists, including The Cure's Robert Smith - disbanded in 1995.

"The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees" was spurred by this summer's sold-out "Seven Year Itch Reunion Tour."

Queries about behind-the-scenes happenings during the international tour were met with raucous laughter.

"I would say 90 percent of the time it was great fun," Severin chuckled, during a rare phone interview from his home in England's North London. "Obviously, to be honest, there were a few cracks and bumps, as there would be from a band like us. But it was great to play some of the older material."

The reunion's highpoint came at the much-ballyhooed Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. Show-opener Jack Johnson (who's currently surfing the Billboard Hot 100) wowed his audience of hippie chicks (many sporting rainbow Afro wigs) and pot-puffing frat boys with his innocuous but bland jam tunes.

Slithering on stage in a Bowie-esque pinstripe suit and tie, Siouxsie cut quite an imposing figure.

"OK, kiddies, it's time to lose your fuzzy wigs and get with the lean machine," she roared, ominously, before her black-clad minions elbowed the sunshine set out of their way.

The Banshees let more than 10,000 screaming fans have it with an electrifying show, cutting through the bloated event's corporate-rock stench. Ever the punk diva, Siouxsie even knocked a 300-plus-pound security guard upside the head with a mike stand, for old time's sake.

Ask any of the thousands of concertgoers screaming along and wearing Banshees apparel, and they would have told you that it was the highpoint of a two-day event that included the Strokes and Bjork.

Still, the Banshees were inexplicably ignored in Rolling Stone's and Spin's extensive magazine coverage.

Severin said they're used to the backlash that comes from ignoring interview requests from the mainstream rock press.

"God yeah. You're supposed to play the game at every twist and turn," he said.

"You're supposed to be really chummy with the editors. There's a lot of smiling and playing games and political (bleep) that goes on when you're desperately ambitious. That's one thing I would pass down to anybody starting out: Stand your ground and be what you wanna be. If you don't get instant fame, you'll just last longer."

The one publicity effort for the sold-out reunion tour was for Los Angeles radio station KROQ-FM. The woefully uninformed and giggly disc jockey compared the Siouxsie and the Banshees reunion to that of the recycled Sex Pistols, who were on their second reunion tour (that just happened to be sponsored by KROQ) since 1995.

"Well, we're not exactly like them," Siouxsie purred sarcastically, in her husky British drawl. "We put out a bit more than one album."

The new "Best of" disc spans 11 albums - and 20 years of boundary-bashing music that was ahead of its time. Meanwhile, the Sex Pistols have four new reissued CDs at Zia Records locations right now, all featuring the same dozen or so threadbare tracks.

The Banshees said they have no regrets about taking the musical road less traveled. If anything, their often-experimental music sounds more timely today than it did from 1976 to 1995.

"We could have gone the U2 or REM route, and still kept some sort of credibility," Severin said. "But we had a bit more of a sense of humor, and we liked to try out different styles."

More good news for Banshees fans: A live album and DVD documenting two of the London reunion shows are due stateside next February or March. A DVD of the classic music videos was intended to be released in conjunction with "The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees," but it's been delayed while the band digs up archive photos, videos and interviews for use as "extras."

Siouxsie and Budgie - married since 1991 - are also putting the finishing touches on the newest album from their other band, the Creatures.

So, any hope for new material from the Banshees?

"We haven't recorded anything, but, strangely enough, we were talking about it before the whole Coachella thing got this ball rolling," Severin said. "I don't know where we're at right now. We enjoyed the 16 dates. Thank god it wasn't a six-month thing, so we came away pretty unscathed. We'll reconvene around Christmas to talk about new recordings."

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