InPress (Sept. 6, 2000)
As part of Siouxsie and the Banshees, BUDGIE was responsible for some of the most important rock of the '70s. Later he wed Siouxsie, the two going on to form THE CREATURES, who are in Melbourne this week. "To make a stir, you have to be a little bit before your time," he tells ANDREW FENTON.
The greatest achievement of punk is arguably the movement's Do It Yourself ethic. This ethic that caused the Clash and the Damned to form after they watched the Pistol's perform; it was the DIY ethic that inspired the Buzzcocks to release an independent single with a breakdown of costs on the back to encourage others to do likewise. And it was the DIY spirit that impelled Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin, Marco Pirroni (Adam Ant's future sideman) and Sid Vicious to form the group that was later to become the Banshees. 24 years ago this month, the quartet were hanging around the 100 Club when they heard about a gap in the bill. After a quick discussion, the group decided to play, and literally moved from audience members to performers in the space of a few hours. They played a stormy, hypnotic set of just one song that night - an improvised version of the Lord's Prayer. It was probably fucking awful, but who cares? Look where DIY took them.
Over the next two years the Banshees played a heap of gigs, and, somewhere along the line, learned a bit of stagecraft, not to mention how to play their instruments properly. Their debut album, The Scream, was released in 1978, and the tour in support of the album saw both Robert Smith from the Cure and Budgie join the line up. Although Smith soon left, the core of the Banshees - Siouxsie, Budgie and Steve Severin - remained pretty much stable for most of the next two decades. Budgie took his committment to the band a little further than most and married the alluring Siouxsie Sioux.
Whilst punk is currently going through one of its frequent resurgences Budgie shows little interest in revisiting or mythologising the past. "As always, looking back at a time when you were young and angry at the world, you have a tendency to see it with rose coloured spectacles and go, 'Yes, we were the generation.' We've kept away from the nostalgia thing as much as we can. They were inevitable days, something had to happen and we just happened to be around at that time."
Budgie starts to sound a little wistful. "People still say that we stirred the waters somehow. It's kind of a tragedy, because to make a stir, you have to be a little bit before your time. You're always going to be a bit disappointed then, because you think you're going to change the world and, of course, you don't."
Those of you who've seen The Filth And The Fury (or just know the Sex Pistol's history) will recall Bill Grundy, the very pissed host of the breakfast program Today, sleazing on to a young Siouxsie Sioux during an interview with the Pistols. Guitarist Steve Jones, (who was also quite pissed) used it as an excuse to hail abuse on Grundy, calling him a "dirty 'ol man" and a "fuckin' rotter." The language was all too much for the British press at the time, and punk hit the headlines in a big way. Considering Sioux's indirect contribution to the Pistol's fame, not to mention her status in the scene, it seems a little odd that Budgie and Siouxsie didn't rate an invite to the film's opening. "We didn't get an invite to the London premiere", explains the bemused Budgie, "which we thought was kind of funny, especially with Siouxsie being in the film. Apparently John Lydon wasn't invited either - so the two people who weren't at the premiere were John and Siouxsie!"
Siouxsie and Budgie's side project, The Creatures, first surfaced in 1981, along with an EP, Wild Things. Although the recording was widely believed to be a one-off, the pair followed it up two years later with the full-length album, Feast. The mid-'80's Banshee "state of flux" saw the couple concentrating on the main game, and six years passed before The Creature's moniker was taken out of storage, dusted off and polished up for 1989's Boomerang. Looking back on the early days of the project, it now appears to have been more of an excuse for Budgie and Siouxsie to have a holiday in an exotic location than a serious musical endeavour. Feast was cut in Hawaii and Boomerang in Spain. Budgie seems to agree.
"Traditionally, it was more than just our break with the Banshees, it was the only way we'd get a holiday. But being the way we are, we couldn't stop working anyway, so it was kind of killing two birds with one stone - having a break, having a holiday and making some music."
The Banshee's mid 90-s break up saw the pair turn their full attention to The Creatures and was the impetus behind a hive of Creatures-related activity. The duo released the Eraser Cut EP in '98 and followed it up a year later with Anima Animus (not to mention two or three fan club only albums with limited pressings). 1999 also saw the release of Hybrids, a remix album that converted the Creature's sound into other forms and genres, characterised by a sparse minimalist sound.
The Creatures have toured frequently over the past few years, including a well-received set at last year's Glastonbury festival. They were so chuffed with the performance they decided to mix down the BBC's tapes and release the recording as a live album, Sequins In The Sun. "I remember the song that was playing when we came off stage - Dee-lite's Groove Is In The Heart. I was leaping about three foot off the ground in time with this song. It was a magic moment and we felt there needed to be a record of the event." Literally.
Once Budgie and Siouxsie have finished off the Australian tour, they'll be returning home to the south of France, to finish work on The Creatures next album. "It's very early in the whole recording thing," Budgie says. "We're at that point where we're still, 'Wow', you know, sort of wide-eyed and 'that sounds good!'" He laughs. "It's the best moment when you get all the other stuff out of the way, all the stuff you have to do everyday, and really get down to some fun!"
Budgie isn't entirely unaware that the fame of the Banshee's has cast a long shadow over the culprit of the Creatures, and that the new group will forever be compared to the old: think Jane's Addiction and Porno For Pyros or the Sex Pistols and Public Image Limited. Fortunately for them, the Creatures are a little too good for anyone to claim they're analogous to the Beatles and Wings. "Inevitably, it's hard to talk about it outside of the context of the band that was your whole thing for nearly 20 years. You become very protective about what people expect. I think we're now strong enough not to care about what anyone expects of us. For The Creatures it's always been, 'well, we can do whatever the hell we like because it's not the main thing,' and that's what we've carried through. So, anything the Creatures do, is exactly what we want to do."
Wincing at the cliche, I ask whether or not there's any possibility of a Banshees reformation on the horizon. The answer is no. (The subtext, incidentally, is: "I'm sick of that fucking question.") "Somebody asked us that like a year after we'd broken up and we're going, 'we're just getting over not being together!' It's quite a big thing, it's like a major divorce. It's trying to get away from the idea that the band is the only thing in your life. One day we just said 'all right, that's it, let's all not bother coming to this room tomorrow.' What I would say is that there's no reason that Banshees songs will never be played again. When we played America last year, we threw in a few of the older songs because it was getting near the end of a chapter, the end of the millennium. The songs will always mean a lot to us."
The Creatures play the Hi-Fi Bar this Friday 8th. Their remix CD, Hybrids, is out now through Shock.
Andrew Fenton is a regular contributor to InPress.
Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.