FLAUNT - ISSUE # 50 (Dec. 2003)



Modern rock stars are so banal and generic. With their backward baseball caps, exposed thongs, and de rigueur tattoos, they all look like frat boys or two-bit whores. Punk legend emeritus Siouxsie Sioux has always had style to burn. She is a barbed beauty sculpted entirely of her own creation from before the days when vapid stylists wheeled in a band's cookie-cutter image on a rolling rack. Today, her wicked, iconic grooming habits still inspire copycats (surely no one in 20 years will want to look like Creed or Britney!). Given her penchant for Kabuki-like drama and dress up, it seems appropriate that Sioux would pay homage to Japan with Hail, the latest record by The Creatures, the former side project but now full-time job she shares with her drum virtuoso husband, Budgie. When Siouxsie And The Banshees' reunion tour stopped in Tokyo in August 2002, Budgie fulfilled a long-standing dream when he recorded a session with Leonard Eto, former leadman for Japan's renowned drummers, Kodo.

"It was an honor. Siouxsie and I have been huge fans since seeing Kodo 20 years ago," says Budgie, who returned to their home studio in Southern France with a few hours of sweaty beats under his arm, the seed that would become Hail This album is a return to basics. No cute electronics, but an economy of notes give space to the voice and the songs. "Musicians tend to yammer on these days. It's like shut the fuck up! We tried to not over think or overplay it," describes Sioux. "Totally naked glamour!" From the opening command of "Say Yes!," Budgie commits hara-kiri on his poor drum kit. The single, "Godzilla!" is a paean to most Westerners' first exposure to kooky Japanese culture, and who Sioux has loved since catching an all-night movie marathon on TV. "I love the extremes of Japan. One side is traditional, almost religious, and the other is the kitsch, naive side, which is what Godzilla represents." The centerpiece of the album is the slinky "Tourniquet," a serpentine bebop worthy of Miles Davis, all sexy piano chords, finger snaps, and Siouxsie growling over Eto's insane Taiko drum solo like a possessed Peggy Lee.

Critics always wrote off the Banshees as mere goth, but the band really defied any category in their 25-year career. The music was raw and angry I one minute, and sweet and giddy the next. That schizophrenic nature meant they only flirted with the mainstream on occasion ("Dear Prudence," "Peek A Boo"), but they inspired slavish devotion in their legions of obsessive fans. With nostalgia so rampant these days, Sioux could easily cash in on that trend. "In 100 years, they'll be digging me up to talk about fucking punk rock!" She and the Banshee boys exhumed themselves in 2002 with the Banshees' Seven Year Itch tour and their official biography. Told from many conflicting viewpoints, it has more sex, drugs and catfights than the average episode of Jerry Springer.

"After doing the book and the tour, I realized I have nothing in common with [founding Banshee and bassist] Steven Severin anymore," admits Sioux, "which is a shame, but there you go!" It was good in that they properly laid the Banshees corpse to rest with a bang and not a whimper. While they want to preserve their back catalog and release the stupendous Banshees B-sides, Sioux and Budgie are focusing on the future. She guest shrieks on the new Basement Jaxx album, which subversively places her danceable ode to greed, "Cish Cash," alongside a track featuring JC Chasez from 'NSYNC! They have another album, which was near completion before the Itch tour, and they are thinking of novel ways to tour Hai!, with Eto and an armada of drums. Sioux has a few ideas. "I would love to do the tour in a very different way. Something like the Cotton Club in the '30's, with a smoky, speak-easy vibe to it." If anyone can pull that off, it would be Siouxsie in her own inimitable style.

Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.

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