Beat Magazine (Sept. 5, 2000)
BEAT COVER STORY - THE CREATURES
"There's a lot of space there," says Siouxsie Sioux of her present creative outlet, The Creatures. "l found with the Banshees as the music got more and more involved, the biggest problem was finding where I fit the vocals. Personally I like space, I like having just the suggestion of something."
If you don't know why The Creatures (and Siouxsie and the Banshees, the group from which they have sprung) are important, then that's not Siouxsie's fault - it's yours. Siouxsie Sioux shot to notoriety as a member of 76 punk rock fans the Bromley Contingent - she's in The Filth and the Fury, in the Bill Grundy interview - but she quickly carved out a place somewhere between Patti Smith and Lora Logic: you know, a woman of new wave/punk who broke every mold in sight and a few no-one had thought of yet, who allowed no objectors to spoil her own fun/fury, and who made a music that was entirely their own, rather than a take on male rock or a take on what women were doing before. She makes Chrissie Hynde look like Pussyfoot, and Madonna look like Andrea True. Not that it's a competition.
The Creatures are an old group and a new one. They made their first record in 1981, a double 7" and they were just a kind of Banshees offshoot, Siouxsie and drummer, Budgie, drums and vocals only. They made their first record (Wild Things - hey, great name for a movie) during recordings for a Banshees album, when the rest of the group were off doing something dull; it was always being put to one side, however, and never realised its potential. Now, with the Banshees five years gone, The Creatures have come into their own. Their most recent album, Anima Animus, is a caustic and vibrant pop record, a kind of Adam Ant meets Hugo Race at the Tote where Rowland S. Howard is duetting with Exene Cervenka backed by the Vivian Girls. Plus samples.
The space Siouxsie mentioned before goes hand in hand with the freedom she feels at being mistress of her own destiny rather than at the centre of a rather successful major label band. The Creatures record for their own label, Sioux. Now, she says, she has the freedom of "not being told how much you can do and when it can be released it's great not thinking of your music as product ... I never did, but it was always bandied around as product and waiting on the production line for a release date. The intolerable situation of finishing a record and waiting nearly two years for it to be released. After the Banshees stopped me and Budgie figured 'Oh we'll just get another label and happily release records'. Thankfully, it didn't work out that way and that forced us to consider bypassing the middle men and setting up our own label."
They've put the follow up to Anima Animus on hold (along with a mysterious but possibly extraordinary 'collaboration' of Siouxsie's, which the world is just going to have to wait a little longer for) to come and play in Australia.
While the two Creatures' personalities and skills - ferocious intricate drum patterns (don't forget that before he was a Banshee, Budgie played drums for The Slits!) and melodic strident vocals - come through on all their recordings, they have added extra instruments here and there. But was there something early on which gave them the push to create themselves this way? "Me and Budgie are huge fans of the Kodo drummers," says Siouxsie. "The first time we saw them they came to London in '82 - a very humbling experience, every aspect of the drum from it being so gentle like raindrops to it being a huge crashing thundering tidal waves, and all the things in between. I've recently got into Charles Mingus a lot, I really like the openness of that kind music, I really like to hear things resonating. But at the same time there was a lot of electronic stuff that was very inspirational - I used to love Suicide - and DAF (Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft), that German group. They were examples of great duos." (Suicide even get a kind of reverent mention on Anima Animus, where Siouxsie is credited for 'suicide hoover drone'. ''Only I can play a keyboard like that with one finger!" she laughs.)
In the studio, The Creatures start off doing what they do best. "The drums and voice is always there as a starting block. But even when we started with the first EP, Budgie got into marimbas. With (second album) Boomerang we experimented with brass. We're very happy not being limited to anything - it's not a band, it's not a four-piece, we wear very many hats, we put different heads on and we're just in the situation of it can be what we want it to be, and we're not hindered by the fact that we have to squeeze it into a time frame and we're also not beholden to what we do now isn't going to be released for two years."
It may not be a band or a four-plece, but The Creatures live are actually, as it happens, a four-piece band: Siouxsie on vocals, Budgie on drums and two bass players, Jane Pickup and Rob Holliday. "The first time me and Budgie went out and did a tour", says Siouxsie, "it was just the two of us and it was very ambitious, we were using triggers and a lot of technology to make it work as a two-piece, and we found that we were missing the interaction on stage with other musicians. But we still wanted to retain it being a very primal, Creatures-oriented, very percussive way, so we ended up seeking out two bass players, and we thought we would have the most fun with finding different rhythms with the bass, and we'll be bringing them to Australia with us."
The Creatures will play the Hi Fi Bar on the 8th August.
Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.