Star Hits (June '86)
"Life Is Terrible, People Are Rotten"
Crikey. Who's in a bad mood, then? Well, you'd be too if you'd just dislocated your patella *and* had the inner label of your latest single banned because it was "rude"...
Interview: Peter Martin Location: London
A strange day, October 24. There was Siouxsie, perched in her swanky London hotel room, being a bit provocative about this and that and the next minute--bang!--she's flat on her back on the stage of the Hammersmith Odeon with a dislocated knee. Eurgh! She's "rushed" to hospital where her patella is snapped back into place, and she's kept in for the rest of the night under heavy sedation. Early the next day the specialist reports no permanent damage and so, like a real trooper, she decides to go on with the tour.
But here comes the *strange* bit: just hours before her accident, Siouxsie had been drinking tea out of a cup and telling me that the "worst possible thing that could happen to a singer on tour is to catch a cold. It's a real nightmare...any second you might croak or squawk. I had a real bad one last week and I'm just about shaking it off"... And then she goes and bangs her knee! Bizarre, eh? But then The Banshees are often getting into scrapes. Their latest single "Cities In Dust," for instance, has caused a bit of a stir--the inner label (of all things) has been banned. "It's all so stupid," says Siouxsie. "The picture we used was over 3,000 years old. It's of a man and a woman *together* and all those fuddy-duddies at Boots and Woolworths have decided to put black blobby stickers over the 'offending' bit. But it's really funny because you can still see exactly what's going on. It's so pathetic."
"What I find really annoying," she seethes, "is that people find a bit of titillation perfectly acceptable. Like, it's alright to say 'bristols,' but 'breasts' is offensive. They just can't take real life or facts, but innuendo is fine. It's almost like they're trying to ban biology."
But the mystery around the single doesn't end there. There's all these "unnatural coincidences," you see. "'Cities In Dust'" could easily be applied to the Mexico disaster," reckons Siouxsie, "or even the situation with the riots here. But the song was written *well* before any of that. People write into the Banshees' office with cuttings from papers all the time, showing coincidences between our lyrics and current events. It is a bit weird, I must admit."
But does she think there's anything deeply significant about all this?
"No. Not really," she replies, keen not to be drawn into an area where she might come across all supernatural and pretentious. She's far too mature these days for that. But you can tell by the glint in her eye that, *sneakily*, she'd like to think there was something more to it...
Taking another sip of tea and closing the door of her bedroom to block out the noise of the TV (The Banshees are in the next room watching snooker), we get talking about the subject currently blazing in America--censorship.
"To think, some of our records might end up with an 'X' certificate. Like all the fuss over our 'Arabian Knights' single with the line about 'orifices.' It was only a new way of describing something...something natural, physical. It wasn't smutty or rude. Just imagery...but they don't like that."
But doesn't she think some Banshees lyrics just go out of their way to shock?
"No. But," she adds saucily, "we do see how much we can get away with. Sometimes." Saucy or not, The Banshees do take their music very, *very* seriously. "You've got to think or hope that your music helps people get through the day."
So do most bands share that kind of attitude to their music do you think?
"No, I'm sure they don't. I don't think they think like that at all. I've got quite a brutal attitude, I suppose. I get up in the morning and look in the mirror and think 'I'm not going to let you down.' I don't know how most pop stars can even look themselves in the mirror at all, some of the things they come out with."
What else does she feel strongly about?
"What makes me angry at the moment is all this child abuse. Children being left in drawers to die. If there's one thing that makes me go 'aaargh!' (she screws herself up into a ball) it's that. I can understand people lashing out in the heat of the moment but that long, slow cruelty--it just appalls me. A big dilemma for me is working out if these people are mad or just plain *bad*. It's difficult. If someone starves their child or deprives them of light until they're blind...well, that's just wicked. But capital punishment? I don't know. There's so many complications. Is it worse to lock them away for life? If *I* had a four year old daughter and she were molested and left dead in a ditch then, honestly, what would you think? Of *course* you'd want that person dead. You just couldn't help yourself."
Calming down a mite, she collects her thoughts and takes a deep sigh. "I've just got to the stage where I go through life thinking most people are rotten. If they turn out to be nice then it's a pleasant surprise. Actually I think it's quite a cheerful way to look at things.
"All I know is that life is terrible and you better live with it and stop moaning."
A few hours later she'll be flat on her back in hospital with her leg in plaster. Life *can* be pretty bizarre...