ARTICLES (September 8th, 2000)

Bettering the Banshees

Home in the south-west of France to "catch our breath and say hello to the cats again", The Creatures are coming off their first extended break since the closure of Siouxsie & the Banshees in 1995.

They've spent the past two years taking their primal beats on the road, visiting the States three times and playing most of the major European summer festivals; also releasing their third full-length album, Anima Animus, and more recently a remix compilation, Hybrids.

The Creatures first surfaced in 1981 as the side project of Banshees' singer Siouxsie Sioux and drummer Budgie, but now the band is their primary creative vehicle right down to their own label, Sioux Records.

"I suppose it means we are much closer to the business side of things than ever before," Budgie says. "We know a lot of what used to filter through as second-hand information. Having said that, we're also outside of the kind of dialogue that was unavoidable with a major record company; that was just frustrating, and it was probably one of many symptoms of why the Banshees finished. So it's kind of like there's more work, but we know who we're talking to and people have to talk to us and there's no kind of middle men. And we prefer it that way. We feel far more in control, without being too paranoid and tyrannical."

Establishing Sioux Records has also changed how The Creatures work creatively.

"I think we kind of fell straight into the first batch of songs and it was kind of like a transition period," Budgie explains. "Things just happened the way they did and I suppose now we're only just realising what it really means, that we're the only people dictating the schedule: that we can take this at our own pace, as fast or as slow as we want. But we're pretty keen to get on with things.

"That was our frustration [with major labels], with the length of time it took, and the length of time you had to wait between albums. It got longer and longer, primarily because they had fewer and fewer, if you like, windows of activity. The mentality of these large companies is crazy; they're so scared of doing anything that they actually don't do anything. So once the phone stops ringing, it's quite peaceful and we can get on with it."

Which is exactly what The Creatures have done: already they're working on the follow-up to Anima Animus, which they hope to complete by the end of this year.

"I wonder?" Budgie says of their new album's musical direction. "I just know that we've got a lot of ideas. I do know we have a fondness for a certain sound; we have certain records that you keep returning to and they inspire you. We want it to sound like a lot of fun, but it's going to have a lot of attitude. It's going to be succinct and to the point; it's not a sound we're after, it's more the attitude we have in mind.

"Siouxsie wakes up in the night, furiously scribbling things or singing. She gets strong urges and has a little dictaphone which she sings into and hums into. We have the ability now, because we can set things up here [at home], to play something and it sparks up a melody and we wonder where it comes from. It happens in many different ways; it's a magic thing."

Transporting their studio magic to the stage has been an ongoing challenge for the pair.

"It was a puzzle at first," Budgie recalls. "And we did spend quite a few months in a rehearsal room in London. The Creatures had only played live once before we started it again, if you like. We played with Siouxsie, myself and a lot of technology, sequences, samples. And we thought we'd like to use that, but we also really wanted that interaction with other musicians.

"And then we hit on the idea of having two bass players. And then we hit on the idea of having two female bass players. I don't know why, but maybe we thought it would be less of a problem or something like that. Anyway, it was the opposite. We kind of persevered and it was kind of strange the way things turned out, but the line-up we're coming over with now is the two people who did the bulk of the touring with us last year. There's two bass players, but they kind of move around a bit on different things.

"And we kind of have everything covered, but we've not tried to recreate the sounds of the records, apart from using sampled bits of guitar or sampled bits of ambient sounds. But you've got to create something that's right for the environment, so we're pretty full-on, pretty loud. If I go see somebody, I want it to knock me out. I don't really want to go there and hear the album. I want to hear my favourite song, maybe, but I want to hear it special, for that one-off moment. That's what live has to be about; it's got to be special for the people that are there on that one night, and yourself."

The Creatures play Arena next Thursday Sept 14 with Soma Rasa. Anima Animus and Hybrids are out now on Sioux Records through Shock.


Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.

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