Los Angeles Times (10.29.99)
WHEN CREATURES PLAY, IT CAN BE UNNERVING
JOHN ROOS, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Except for maybe Alice Cooper and the Cramps, it's hard to imagine spookier rockers than the Creatures, who arrive for pre-Halloween bashes tonight at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana and Saturday at the Variety Arts Center in Los Angeles.
An unsettling creepiness weaves its way throughout the group, which features the husband-and-wife duo of Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie, formerly of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Vocalist Sioux's frosty persona and anguished wail, along with the frenetic beat of drummer Budgie, ignite such eerie, disturbing new tunes as "Disconnected," "2nd Floor" and "Exterminating Angel."
Sioux, who's also the group's lyricist, repeatedly makes you cringe, as when she sings in "Angel": "Here it comes again/Taste of jagged glass and rusty can."
The fair-skinned, dark-haired Sioux, who rarely cracks a smile, likes to unravel tangled emotions and the fragile workings of the mind. What inspires her most is creating imagery that makes one squirm--or at least pause.
"I use words as a way of internalizing--or admitting to--certain frailties . . . of being human," Sioux explained in an interview from a West Hollywood hotel. "Whether it's a song about a friend's suicide ('Say'), one inspired by an episode of 'The Twilight Zone' ('I Was Me') or about otherworldly romantic fantasies ('Another Planet'), they're concerned with discovering more about ourselves . . . and ultimately, facing our fears."
The Creatures, augmented by touring guitarist Knox Chandler, venture deep into the world of electronica on their two new releases, "Anima Animus" and a collection of dance remixes titled "Hybrids."
The assortment of polyrhythms, trance-inducing synthesizer parts, edgy guitar lines and eerie vocal chants create an alluring sound that is both recognizable and forward-leaning.
The punk-influenced, Goth-spawning Siouxsie and the Banshees, which formed in London in 1978, used jagged yet melodic soundscapes to craft songs that ranged from atmospheric and confrontational to more accessible pop-laced pieces. By 1983, Sioux and Budgie--Susan Dallion and Peter Clark--also had released two Creatures projects that dabbled in more experimental textures. Another Creatures LP ("Boomerang") was released in 1989, but Siouxsie and the Banshees served as the duo's primary creative vehicle until a breakup after its 1995 world tour.
Budgie said the Creatures' transformation from a side project to the central gig was a necessary step. "The Banshees had run its course creatively. Despite the supposed commercial incentives, we have no desire to go backward . . . to take that kind of nostalgia trip. A sense of dignity is owed to the Banshees and our fans. At the same time, I feel strongly about the music we made. We certainly did more than just offer filler around a bunch of singles."
The transition has felt right, Budgie added.
"Musically, it felt easy to slip on another jacket or guise, particularly one I had worn at times in the past. The only difficult part is how the Creatures get perceived from the outside. The fans are supportive, but the tendency within the industry is a preference for things to stay as they are. Change makes record people nervous and is not embraced with open arms."
With the punk revival thriving and reunions all the rage, Sioux and Budgie--who have lived in Toulouse, France, since 1993--discovered that major labels weren't interested in releasing work under the Creatures moniker. The couple formed their label, Sioux/Instinct Records.
What is important, he said, is having fun. "It's OK to risk making some mistakes . . . to not worry so much about getting a video on MTV or a song on the radio. We were never very good at that anyway."
Still, wouldn't a few Banshees tunes, like, say, "Premature Burial," "Voodoo Dolly," "Rawhead and Bloodybones," or "Peek-A-Boo," be material ripe for playing at these local stopovers?
"We've pretty much been punishing people with the new album," Budgie said with a laugh. "We're not playing much old stuff, although a couple of our lesser-known B-sides ("Red Over White," "Tattoo") are built around pulsating drum-and-bass rhythms and offer a common thread sonically to what we're doing now. They're possibilities."
Mainly the band wants to be somewhat unpredictable.
"Just about anything can happen, and that's why we still love playing live," Budgie said. "It gets the blood pumping."
The Creatures play tonight at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana. 8 p.m. $20-$22. (714) 957-0600. Also appearing Saturday with Switchblade Symphony and the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black at the Variety Arts Center's "Hollywood Masquerade Ball," 940 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. 9 p.m. $35-$45. (323) 644-1811.
Contributed by Jerry Burch.