Smash Hits (5.24.84)
SMASH HITS - MAY 24-JUNE 6, 1984
BANSHEES- PETER MARTIN TALKS TO ALL FOUR
Getting all four members of Siouxsie & The Banshees in the same place at the same time can be difficult. Their new LP, "Hyaena" (out in June) took eight months to record because they kept having to break off for things like: "brief trips to far-off places" (Israel, Europe); singles and LPs (by The Glove and The Creatures); and, of course, Robert Smith's galavantings with his "project", The Cure. So it seemed about time we got them all together to, like, talk, about life, their realtionships with it, and even themselves. Here goes.
SIOUXSIE describes herself so: "Erratic in moods-- either really stupid, really good or a real bitch." Maybe this explains why she's got bags of nicknames like Planetism (really), Janetism and Wicked Witch of the West. She has "no partner" and reckons it's very anti-social to be in the Banshees. "I don't do anything outside the band." It seems she constantly gets offers of TV programmes, "shitty films" and modelling jobs, and takes great pleasure in turning them all down.
"I could have easily played around in the quagmire of success. You wouldn't believe some of the offers -- explaining how I do my make-up on TV," she growls. "God! And it really makes me mad when all theses people come up and try to change me -- 'ooh, you've had your hair like that for ages.' Bloody cheek!"
She lives alone in a "carpetless" basement flat -- "Wooden and stone floors all over except for the carpet on the stairs that lead nowhere."
Shutters keep daylight out and "hands coming out of walls hold concealed lights."
She enjoys her time alone, and spends it reading and generally getting away from all the "hubbub". And presumably it's during these times she mulls over her rather eccentric world-view. For instance, her ambitions include: breaking glass with her voice, jumping off a high building and recording her voice on the way down.
She's what you might call "not very religious" and can't ever remember being christened. And for "Hyaena" she's written songs about "greed and disease." She most certainly doesn't suffer fools gladly, but a lot of the time it seems she just gets a sort of perverse pleasure out of playing up to her "aggressive" and slightly sinister image. As Severin puts it, "contrary to all reports, she's lovely."
STEVE SEVERIN describes himself as the "grumpy" member of the Banshees. "I never wanted to be in a group to be a clown." Nevertheless he seems to be a particularly amiable type, with a calculated, dry sense of humour. He puts down their dark doom-laden image to the fact that they "wrap everything up in a strong sense of black humour... and that's usually overlooked." Along with Sioux -- the other "grump" -- he shares the honour of being "boss." "You can't forget the fact that Budgie joined a few years later and that Robert doesn't want to be seen as anything but guitarist."
He talks determinedly about the way the group have stuck to their original principles, "constantly striving to have our own way." In fact he takes everything to do with music seriously -- even Top of the Pops. "Well it would be degrading standing there if you just pretended to be into it. I don't take anything not seriously." He even admits to being "disturbed" by "The Reflex" making it to number one.
"Bands who have no craft or pride like Duran and Culture Club just get the dosh. We get the pride, even though," he adds with a wry smile, "we wouldn't mind the dosh as well."
But then again, he says he never really thought of the Banshees in a pop context. "We don't try to be popular, we just are and we hope it stays like that. It's in that context we've been around for a long time.
"I mean bands like the Thompson Twins only last a couple of years -- but there's never been a band like us before, so who knows where we'll go from here. I'm just sure that when it ends, it'll end in tears. A plane crash?" he muses, morbidly. "Whatever, it's just inconceivable that anything so emotive as this could end in something off the cuff."
BUDGIE (real name Peter Clarke), they all agree, is the most easy-going Banshee. The only Northerner in the band, he's typically down-to-earth and the least prone to "bouts of flying off the handle."
Like the rest of them, he lives alone in London -- "no partner" again -- in a flat by the river. He describes it as very open-plan, with a little spiral staircase leading to a bed loft. There's also a sunken bath.
In his spare time he likes making, and drinking, cocktails. Severin reckons he can drink anyone under the table, "but not in a macho way." He doesn't brag about it.
At present he describes band relations as "tickety-boo. Better than ever since Robert joined." So what does he think of the rest of them?
"Robert's mad. His nickname's Fat Boy, but he looks so big half the time because he forgets to take his pyjamas off when he gets dressed. He's very cuddlesome. Sometimes we don't speak for a month, for some unknown reason, and then we bump into each other and have a month of conversations in one night."
Steve? "Beneath that cool exterior beats yet another crazed person." And Sioux? "She's tall, unpredictable, inspiring. Nice?...Yeah," he beams, as in a state of sudden realisation.
"I find it really difficult talking about my best friends. I know it sounds mad, but I haven't got any other friends (pretends to sulk). But everything I want to do, everything I want to get out of my system, I can vent in the band or it's off-shoots. And anyway, when you mix in ever increasing circles you tend to stick to the people closest to you.
"Basically," he adds, obviously feeling it's about time to say something strange, " we're just a mental family."
ROBERT SMITH has to be the whipping boy in the Banshees. He reckons it's because he's the "youngest member of the family. Then again it means I can get away with more," he says cheekily chewing on his gum. "I always quiz them on their motives. I'm the secret conscience they lost."
He reckons that Severin has a "complete lack of charm. He's deluded. He thinks he's Vincent Price's bastard son. He's also the most grumpy person I've ever met. Now I suppose it's about the time I say he's really got a heart of gold" (adopts sickly voice).
He finds Budgie more "mortal" than the rest. And Sioux, he reckons, "is a bit moody. Sometimes she can be sweet as syrup ... and just as sickly."
Robert's also the joker in the pack, and happiness depends on how many hours sleep he gets. "I need 16 to function, but on this tour I'm only getting about four."
Supposedly on the last Cure tour he took a lamb -- a present from a fan -- around with him in the back of the van. And recently he's just purchased a couple of animals for his brother's farm.
"A fat pig -- not for eating. The other one I think has died."
He lives "nowhere", on the move all the time. But his favourite place is his "big white bed" at his parents' home in Crawley. "It's in a big white room filled with books." His biggest influence of late is a book called Maldoror about insanity which he "relates to wholeheartedly." Unlike the others he's got a girlfriend (called Mary). "She's fab. My best friend. She's got black hair and very striking looks. In fact she looks like Betty Boop. When I'm with her I just sit back and watch -- I don't have to perform any more." The helpful soul he is, Robert tried to come up with the perfect ending for a Banshee interview. "I know. My ambition is World Peace, or to be responsible for the end of the world. What an ending."