Gay Times (March 1999)


"PEOPLE WOULD ASK, 'ARE YOU STILL GOING?'" LAUGHS SlOUXSlE SIOUX, EXPLAlNlNG THE demise of the Banshees, "and it was like, how dare they... so part of it was us continuing just out of spite. Once they stopped asking, I thought, OK - time to call it a day!" They'd not had a bad innings, though: over the course of almost twenty years, the band, who were arguably punk's darkest children, had created a series of startling, wondrous records and unintentionally kick-started goth along the way. But Siouxsie had seen the fatuous cabaret of the Sex Pistols Filthy Lucre reunion tour, and felt the foul breath of nostalgia full in her face. It was time to move on.

Her 'drum and voice' side project with svelte Banshees' drummer (and latterly husband) Budgie -The Creatures- had already yielded two albums for the Banshees' Iabel, Polydor: 1983's Feast (which contained their cheeky hit version of Mel Torme's Right Here) and the exotic Boomerang six years later. But both Polydor and their US label, Geffen, were completely indifferent to the idea of a new Creatures project. Everyone, it seemed, wanted them to rehash the same old moves. Undaunted, they formed their own label - Sioux Records - in conjunction with dance label Hydrogen Dukebox, who happened to be longstanding fans, and made the best record either of them had been involved with for ten years - the forthcoming Anima Animus.

"You have to smack 'em in the face with a fucking anvil. Subtlety is just lost on them." Siouxsie, quite rightly, has little time for the current state of the British music business. Major labels are afflicted with a terrible apathy in the wake of the Britpop bubble bursting, and are leaning heavily on their current cash cow: formulaic teen pop. "It's like fighting suburbia all over again," says Siouxsie. "Getting passionate about being like, 'Fuck'em'. I'm certainly spitting nails now. We wanted to get back some spontaneity, but we had to put the brakes on that a bit, and sign individual licensing deals through Sioux records for different territories. It's a lot more work. But once it's all set up, it's gonna be fun."

Fun is a word Siouxsie uses a great deal these days. And, as she talks about touring new Creatures material in the US, it's clear she's having a lot more fun than she had on the sorry slog of the last Banshees dates. "We got these drag queens in LA to do backing vocals. They couldn't sing, but they were gorgeous! And we had Beck's brass players, so I got them to ad lib some Chet Baker stripper music while I did a change. I'd never changed before! It was a Pam Hogg number and it was so fucking tight, when you've been working and sweating... and my boobs wouldn't go in, and they'd been playing for a while, so I just shimmied on! It's great to do something like that without rehearsal. People had said you can't do this, you've got no record out, your video's not on MTV ond we said, 'fuck you'.

The biggest fuck you, of course, is in producing a record of the calibre of Anima Animus. Though its bubbling electronics and pulsing beats sound thoroughly up to date, it's also possessed of a shimmering otherness that harks back to the highpoints of Siouxsie's back catalogue. It's a quality that's almost entirely disappeared from contemporary pop.

David Peschek

Anima Animus is out on Sioux Records on February 15th

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