In Fashion (May '89)

She was born Susan Dallion some 30 years ago in the London suburb of Bromley. Now she's known the world over as Siouxsie Sioux, the lead singer of Siouxsie and the Banshees...

Siouxsie Sioux -Face To Face-

She whoops. She wails. She prances provocatively across the stage in tap pants, garters and feather-trimmed boots to the glamorously aggressive sound of doom rock. She's Siouxsie Sioux, leader of the new, expanded Banshees. Since punk's first screams 13 years ago, the band's various incarnations have conjured up some of the most spellbinding music around, from the tinny Orientalia of their first single "Hong Kong Garden" to the swooping accordion-accented "Peek-A-Boo," a commentary on pornography that recently became their first U.S. hit.

"We will boldly go anywhere we haven't gone before," says Sioux, whose ever-changing, always bold experiments with hair and eye display made her a much-imitated icon for fans around the world. Here in the U.S., however, the reception was a bit cooler. Sioux remembers an early '80s gig in New Orleans:

"It was out by the swamps on a motorway and people were there with live chickens in a basket."

But what's this? The Banshees selling out Radio City Music Hall? Siouxsie on MTV? "Peepshow [the group's latest release] was our first Top 100 album in America," says founding member and brooding spook/bassist Steven Severin. Is their new American popularity due to a change in Americans or a change in the Banshees? Most obvious is the recent addition of Martin McCarrick on cello, keyboards and "squeezebox" and Jon Klein in the guitar hot seat, a spot formerly occupied by such ex-Banshees as the Cure's Robert Smith. But even deeper changes were occurring.

"We had to redefine what the band was," Sioux explains. "Working on Peepshow was pretty much a make-or-break situation. We were going to forget it altogether if we couldn't get back to quick, intuitive work."

On an earlier project, bleached Banshee percussionist Budgie recalls, "We spent an entire summer spinning cymbals around the studio floor, but on this album we became so enthusiastic about our experiments that we followed tangents we wouldn't normally follow."

The result? These Banshees are howling. One new song, "Are You Still Dying Darling?" Sioux laughs, "is a schmaltzy number about someone on a life-support machine and their loved one turning it off." Nothing, it seems, is sacred to Siouxsie and the Banshees.

"We're like chameleons," she concludes, "taking on the color and feel of what's going on at the moment."

R. Weis

Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.

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