Mojo (September '98)
10 Questions for Siouxsie Sioux
on Frank Sinatra, the French countryside and being hijacked by Goths...
Is it true that you split the Banshees because the Sex Pistols reformed?
Well, it was perfect timing. But no, I'd never change my mind depending on what someone else was doing. Budgie and I needed to unpick a lot of things that seemed to be sewn up with the band. When you're part of something it's hard to see how it's going wrong, but I missed winging it, and I felt the lack of anyone else wanting to still do that and just seeing what happened. It drives me crazy knowing the end of the story. No matter how successful an artist is, it's pretty deathly to get yourself into a situation where it's all too comfortable, which is a situation I've been escaping ever since I was aware of where I was brought up. It's why Budgie and I left London and moved to another country, and to speak another language.
Have you kept in touch with any of the old Bromley Contingent?
Not really. Sometimes the odd one will turn up at a gig and it's great to see them, but quite a lot of them have settled down. I like the idea of bumping into someone you made friends with and haven't seen for 10 years, and then it's like you only saw them yesterday. It goes with the territory. I've moved from the centre of where those people would be. I consciously made the decision to leave London. I never particularly liked being part of a clique.
Can you describe a typical day in your 14th-century French abode?
Wake up... probably get some work done on the house, dead-heading in the garden, which is huge, feeding the cats, reading, or writing with Budgie, playing some music, making dinner, playing with the cats some more, maybe watch a movie on satellite TV. In the summer, there's this amazing lake I like to swim in, and there's a cinema house that's two minutes away which looks like Cinema Paradiso. I saw Crash there when it was banned in Britain, which was ironic, considering the peaceful country setting. At least it's a complete contrast to my other life.
Your other life involved touring the US with The Creatures and John Cale. How did that come about?
It was put together at the last minute. John was the featured artist at a festival last year in Amsterdam called, horribly, With A Little Help From My Friends. He invited us along to do some new numbers and something with him, which sounded like a fun one-off, because it meant playing with a 50-piece orchestra, which was amazing. We ended up writing something together, called Murdering Mouth, then a friend of John's saw the video and suggested a collaborative tour. We didn't know what would happen. Meanwhile, Budgie and I were rehearsing with two female bassists, but the day before we were leaving one of them said she couldn't do the tour. I've cursed her so she may be dead by now! John's guitarist is now playing bass with us, and he's using our bassist and Budgie, with me and John exiting and entering. I've tried to get John's guitarist to wear a wig, but he's having to think female instead.
What songs were you playing?
A lot from the new Creatures album Anima Animus. I've adapted two Samuel Beckett pieces, an extract from Worst Word Ho [Worstward Ho] and Nohow On, which summed up how the tour was put together. Of John's songs, we're doing Gun and Pablo Picasso. We're doing Murdering Mouth, as well as some obscure Banshees b-sides like Tattoo, which I've been dying to do because it's my all-time favorite Banshees track but a certain someone [she means Banshees bassist Steve Severin] just wanted to play the singles. We're also doing an amazing version of Venus In Furs, which just fits like a glove. I fancied doing it, because it epitomises what I love about The Velvet Underground. I knew that since the Velvets split John had some bad feeling, like he didn't want to go back to "that fucking band again" -- but he came around to it. I worked my spell on him. We were going to do Black Angel's Death Song, too, but neither of us could figure out the words. I don't think he'll be making any chummy phone calls to Lou!
Tricky covered Tattoo on his Nearly God album. Do you keep up with today's dark young stars?
It's a coincidence because, out of anyone new, Tricky's one of the most exciting around. I like his attitude, the fact that he doesn't want to be pinned down, to not become MTV fodder. I'm so sick of the way things have turned out. Even when The Creatures were trying to plan shows around Europe, the first question is, "Do you have a single out, an album out?" Promoters say, "Wait until the single or album, see how it does." It's gone so corporate. Everything is geared around promoting a single. They just want to hang on to a safe bet, which is so negative. It won't help things break out of this predicatble, vicious circle. The reason why festival audiences are down is because the line-ups are so dull. And there are too many tribute bands. So-called new bands sound like Chas'n'Dave. It's fine for a band of 20 years ago to be so inspired by The Beatles but we've moved on. I don't think people would think I've been influenced the The Beatles, because I have, but I just don't think it should be apparent.
What music does turn you on?
Before Frank Sinatra died, I got into the weird ritual of re-rediscovering him. It was sparked off by going to a weird club just off Spitalfields market, which was playing a Sinatra copyist, ironically. It's mainly because there's not a lot out there, apart from Tricky, but I like Portishead, because they have their own way of doing things. Otherwise, it's all too predicatble. John and I are working on coming up with a duet, just the two of us, and maybe we'll do Witchcraft by Frank.
Before drum'n'bass, The Creatures had drum'n'voice around 1981.
We're still doing that stuff, except that we're using the bass, too, but as a very percussive sound. It's why we're working with two bassists, because one of them can almost pick up the marimba lines of the new album. I'd love to use the marimba live but it's a terrible instrument to transport, because it's big and delicate, and a lot of soundmen don't know how to get it to come across miked up. Ideally, I'd like to play with the Kodo drummers, an orchestra of drums. I still haven't fulfilled that dream.
I bet you didn't dream of launching goth rock...
God, was I pissed off! I don't know how we got blamed for that but, yeah, what can I say? I wish bands had listened to The Scream album rather that Juju, because The Scream was the Banshees' first statement. Juju got hijacked by a movement. And as you probably know, I've never liked anything that followed. The music that followed us, I found a lot of pantomime. I just don't like any kind of music that covers a subject, or has one sound. I never said that we were a punk band, or a rock band -- my tastes are eclectic. Before punk, I loved Suicide, DAF, Iggy Pop. Iggy is the new Sinatra for our generation. People might raise their eyebrows but I do believe that. I like good singers, and people who can write good lyrics, and draw you in. I like to be convinced.
Are you content with the legacy of the Banshees?
What was good about the Banshees isn't dead, because the music is still here. The bummer about having a band that's gone before you is that it takes up a lot of time talking about it. I understand why people want to talk, but enough already. I'm looking forward to letting the music do the talking.