The Age (9.7.00)
By JANE ROCCA
At the height of punk rock in the '70s, Siouxsie and the Banshees became known for their neo-gothic romanticism and shaky line-up. They emerged from London's Bromley Contingent in 1976 and, in the years that followed, their line-up included Sid Vicious on drums, before he joined the Sex Pistols, and the Cure's Robert Smith, who helped out when members failed to show up. Audiences broke attendance records when the Banshees played at London's Music Machine - an amazing feat for an unsigned band at the time. Soon after they were approached by Polydor and quickly tied into a label deal. However, Sioux has been entrenched in a legal battle with Polydor over the rights to the band's music since they broke up five years ago, after making The Rapture.
When Sioux announced the end of the Banshees in 1995, it wasn't a decision that reflected her dissatisfaction with rock'n'roll. Instead, the fishnet-clad singer was ready to focus her talent on what began as a side project in the early '80s with the Banshees' former drummer and now husband, Peter Clarke, otherwise known as Budgie.
The Creatures began as a tribal drumming love affair for Sioux and Budgie in 1981, developed into a dark electronic exploration, and are now the reason for the duo's visit to Australia.
"The idea of not continuing with the Banshees was to start all over again," says Sioux. "I guess the Creatures is our way of starting again. Over the years we were caught between focusing on the Banshees and the Creatures simultaneously, and found it difficult to split our time evenly. "For us, the Creatures is at a point where it can be whatever we want it to be at any given moment, and, strangely enough, that's how the Banshees originally started. But as time moved on, people came to expect a certain sound from the Banshees, and in the end it became too musically restrictive."
Sioux and Budgie moved to Toulouse, in the south-west of France, eight years ago to start afresh. "I get very suffocated by routine and being in the same surrounds," says Sioux. The Creatures became a fully fledged band, giving the pair a new lease of musical freedom.
"I grew up in the suburbs of London and lived and worked there for 15 years," says Sioux. "The thought of moving to a 14th-century cathedral town outside of a main village near the coast of Spain was really exciting for me. I really needed to get out of London, and when Budgie and I decided to move to France, we didn't have any real plans to hang around permanently. It just happened that way."
Despite the Creatures' experimentation beginning in '81, and following various EPs and singles, it took them until 1989 to release their debut album, Boomerang, and it was just last year that their second studio album, Anima Animus , saw the light of day.
The couple dedicated 18 months to working on Anima Animus, and was worth the effort, says Sioux. "We had time to live with each song and flesh it out. It was great not having to relocate to a studio. We actually hired a mobile studio and worked from home. I like to work to the early hours of the morning and usually don't get to sleep until 3am, so for me it was great to record and write at my own leisure, and have my cats around as well."
A remix album, Hybrids, followed. It features Howie B adding loops to Pretties t Thing , as well as reworkings by the likes of Witchman, Black Dog, Omnivore and Dr Psyche. The album, while still bearing the Creatures' brooding style, is fattened by hearty beats and swirling loops.
"Music should be ever-evolving, and that's what Budgie and I do with the Creatures. We approach music spontaneously, and it's creatively healthy to work this way," says Sioux, who now runs a label, Sioux Records. "When you're signed to a major label you realise it was a mistake to go that way - it becomes very narrow and closed-down."
The Creatures play the Hi-Fi Bar, city, Friday September 8, and the Hemispheres concert in Sydney on Sunday September 10.
Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.