Flexipop! No. 29 (May '83)
Love At First Bite
Deep in the bamboo forests of Hawaii it was mosquito against THE CREATURES while SIOUXSIE and BUDGIE cooked up a vinyl feast. KRIS NEEDS took the road to Honolulu...
BZZZZ! Hello humans! Mervyn the Mosquito here.
Life is fun here in the Hawaiian islands, but I have to say I've been getting bored recently. I'm fed up sticking my tweeter in bulging American tourists; Natives are no good - me and my mates have bitten them so much they're immune. I seem to spend all day buzzing around looking for fresh white flesh to stab and suck.
It was great last month though. There I was flitting past this big house looking for likely skin and I heard music. I like a good tune, but this was like nothing I'd ever heard, so I went in for a closer look...
I couldn't believe any of my eyes! There was a boy and a girl who looked like nothing I'd ever seen either. I could tell by the voices that they were English.
Well what could a hungry little mosquito do? The blonde geezer had no shoes on! I just had to steam in. And was I glad I did? It was the best meal I'd had all week. Her arms made the perfect dessert.
I found out the record's called 'Feast'. Well they certainly were.
It's. ..SWAT! Erkkk. . .
That got rid of him. Sauce! Trying to flog an exclusive preview of new Creatures album to Flexipop!
I've heard it anyway. Don't need a squirt of a pesky mosquito to spill the beans, even if Sioux and Budgie did come back from Hawaii covered in bites rather than a suntan.
When the two Creatures said they wanted to do their album in an exotic location away from the distractions of London there were those who said they were after a holiday.
'Feast' proves the trip couldn't have been more fruitful. Locked up in a little studio in Owahoo - the Hawaiian island which houses two-thirds of Hawaii's population, not to mention the tourist spots of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach - they forged an atmospheric extravaganza which puts over all the lush mystery of the place while never straying from the Creatures' basic equipment of Sioux's voice and things you hit.
There's a homage to the little gecko lizards and other native wildlife, erupting volcanoes, sweeping sunrises and even a party!
Last Banshees interview in Flexipop! they said she'd like to do the next Creatures record in Bali on the beach. Why Hawaii?
"Whoo!" Sioux lets out an excited squeal. "We wanted to go somewhere as far away from Camden as possible."
Budgie: "If we'd done it in London we probably wouldn't have ended up with an album. The only distractions out there were the ones that we created ourselves, once you get over the novelty of being that far away. We were very determined.
"If we were looking round for studios in isolated areas round the world, Hawaii was in the middle of the ocean and had a studio that was suitable for the period we set aside to do this. Everything happened in the space of a week - booking the flight, getting out there. If we'd have gone to Bali we would've worked with the same feverishness but the sound would've been peculiar to that area. In the end it fumed out peculiar to Hawaii.
"You applied yourself somehow, just get on with it without people dropping in going, 'hey, let's have a party'. In fact we did organise a party in the studio for one of the tracks, 'Flesh'."
Sioux: "We taped a party while we went off to a hot-tub in the jungle. There was this jacuzzi in the middle of all the plants. It was really jungley. The party nearly ended up in the tub."
Budgie: "We made this really lethal punch and put all these tropical fruit juices in it, and gave it to people as they came in, then left them to it with mikes hidden in the studio.
It's really weird. Everyone who's heard the album has said it sounds strange - they don't know what to make of it. You couldn't have got that if we'd done it here. It's not pinned down, like 'This is Hawaiian, with only pure Hawaiian things on it'. It's not that, but the fact that it was such an alien place to go. It affected us. It took a while to stop looking round with wide eyes."
I don't understand why more people don't try and work something out like we did, going there. Even with the airfare it didn't cost as much as it would to record in Camden Town."
So Sioux and Budgie boarded a plane on New Year's Eve, and skillfully managed to jet through three lots of pissups!
Sioux: "We had three New Year's Eves!"
Budgie: "The first stop was Vancouver. It was nine o'clock in Vancouver and midnight in London so it was 'Happy New Year!'. Three hours later on the flight from Vancouver to Honolulu the Canadians went crazy, then we arrived in Honolulu at half past ten the same night so one and a half hours later they went crazy again and we were having our third New Year's Eve celebration!"
Hawaii obviously made a great impact on Sioux and Budgie. Talk keeps turning back to clear, blue skies, lush plants, huge waves and the jungle atmosphere.
A Hawaiian choir, three blokes and a girl, were a bit puzzled at being whipped out of their village and planted in a studio with English musicians they'd never heard of before.
"They kept saying, "why us?" recalls Sioux. "They were a bit suspicious of coming down. If it had been Heavy Metal they wouldn't, but they really enjoyed it. The big woman was like the centre of attraction. The guys fed off her roundness you know, 'slapping good time!' It was great."
Budgie: "We were initially going to use them on one song, 'Morning Dawning'. We found out they lived in the next village and invited them along. We'd never heard anything like it, so we used them on two other songs cos it fitted in. That's the way we worked, using things lying around that fitted in. I didn't want to use a drumkit on every track.. .coconuts! There's no synthetic noise on there. Everything's being hit, blown or sucked."
Sioux: 'There was nothing planned before we went. Ideas for lyrics, but nothing pinned down. All that happened when we were soaking things up out there.
I normally write whole lyrics but in the last two years it's been a case of finding things that I've written down all over the place in the flat- hiding on the back of an old cheque stubs or the telephone directory! It's crazy but I've acquired lots of bits of songs that way. Something like 'Gecko' was written out there from events that happened. It's the atmosphere."
'Gecko' brings us to something close to Sioux's heart - animals. She loves to meet the local furries and slimies wherever she goes and often talks about them later. So Hawaii's little gecko lizards with their suction-toes are immortalised.
"They have huge toads! You had to walk over this golf course to get to the sea. It was funny cos it was really dark, there were no lights or anything, and it was pretty squidgy. You'd be walking and suddenly you'd see something fat and white scamper past your foot, and it would be a huge fat toad or something that you just missed squashing. There were all these weird noises and things running around - big lizards, little lizards. You're walking in the dark and hear things and you know they've got those sort of creatures and it freaks you out. It's like going in the sea in the dark and you're thinking of eels and sharks and things touching you like jellyfish."
And, of course, our old friend the mosquito lying in a crumpled heap on the floor in a pool of Sioux's sucked-out blood.
"Oh God, you got bitten to death!" she shudders. "It was really tropical and humid round the studio - the mosquitoes were outrageous. The natives never got bothered because they built up a resistance, but we were fresh meat from England. Sweet and sour. They're not poisonous but the bites really come up. If you wore fishnet they'd find all the little holes. If you wore something that had a bit of waist showing they'd find it and get it. There was this spray called 'Bug Off!" The follow-up to 'Melt' - 'Bug Off!' You had to spray every inch of your body or the bugger'd find it."
Budgie: "At first I wasn't wearing shoes so my ankles got swollen up, so after a week I put my boots back on and they started on my arms. Put my jacket back on and they got my forehead! Mosquito bites in patterns."
Sioux: "We caught a few in a box and put in some Chinese firecrackers to see if it would kill em'off, but they just buzzed out a bit stoned and flew away."
Don't like this next bit. . .big spider in the bathroom (ulp). Sioux: "I decided to have a bath and noticed something move. I thought it was a towel then I saw this big spider staring me out. I was going to get out but it was right over the door! It was still there the next morning."
While they grafted the local volcano was being quite active too...
Budgie: "The volcano was erupting while we were there, but because we were so busy we never saw it. Everyone over here was panicking because they thought we were gonna get blown up. And the day before we booked into the studio they'd been hit by the first hurricane for 25 years. The studio almost got blown away before we got there."
Sioux managed to pick up a spot of the language while they were there: "I used to be fixed to the telly watching Hawaiian 'Sesame Street'. Hee hee! It's brilliant. It's a great language, really easy. They've only got about eight letter in the alphabet. These little monsters teach the American kids who live there to speak Hawaiian. Hawaiians only speak American now.
You always imagine these people hula-ing about in grass skirts and garlands going 'Aloha'. That side of it's really touristy. There's only one percent pure Hawaiian left. They've been ravaged by Americans."
Didn't you get funny looks?
Budgie: "I think we caused a bit of a stir just walking around,going into shops buying things that nobody else buys, because we cooked our own food. Apparently, after we'd gone people were talking about these two English people who were walking around in leather."
Sioux: "We definitely stood out but it wasn't like 'urgh! look at them!' They were just intrigued. We met some obnoxious people but they were American bums, like surf boys."
Once the album was in the can, Sioux and Budgie had a week to do the tourist bit.. .and have a few drinks.
Budgie: "When we were working we stayed awake in blocks around the clock. We worked pretty sober hours.. .well, not particularly sober!"
Sioux: "I was sober. After we finished,that was that - we got pie-eyed and that's when we tried to teach ourselves to drive in the Lincoln Continental! We were bombing around going Brrrrm! banging the car and going over these boundaries and grass verges separating the roads, the golf course, everything."
Budgie: "We went hang-gliding! Well we didn't, we went for this 15 minute trip round the coastline in a glider. I tried to go in the sea but got beaten back by the waves."
Sioux: "The whole thing went too quick. It seemed slow at first, then once we gathered momentum, we worked and worked so consequently we got back with no suntan."
On the last night Budgie got involved in a minor fracas with some all-American servicemen in Waikiki, which resulted in a couple of swollen elbows. Then the roaming pair were off back to London to join the Banshees for a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Budgie: "It was strange, cos a week later we were playing in Japan. Plus the fact that we were twice as jet-lagged as everybody else. We were getting real culture crisis. Being away.. .it's like not knowing who Kajagoogoo are. It's fab!"
Sioux and Budgie would like to do a gig halfway between Hawaii and England, "so we can meet the friends we made there." Meanwhile they've just got all the headresses and huge shells to remind them of their trip to paradise. But the album is a slice, like an aural jungle jacuzzi.
Stuff like 'Gecko' and 'Morning Dawning' are musical pictures, chirping undergrowth and crashing foam. Then there's the bouldering percussion of waist-rotating blinders like 'Skytrain', 'Dancing On Glass' and 'Ice house', complete with Budgie crunching ice-cubes all over the place. The single is the marimba-soaked "Miss The Girl' and 'Festival of Colours' is brilliant.
But back to the cold world of London biz. Siouxsie and the Banshees have started their own record label called Wonderland. First release will be the Creatures, then Steve Severin's 'Glove' and a Robert Smith album. There'll be new Banshees material written, for the first time, with Robert and they might put out a record by three gross American females called The Shags.
Meanwhile there's The Creatures' record, a mighty mosquito prang up the rectum of our sicky pop blob. I wouldn't mind if I woke up geckofied in the jungle tomorrow.
Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.