Record Mirror (March 15, 1986)
Story by Betty Page
"I rarely delve into anything...I usually have a head-on collision with it."
The elegant tea rooms at Fortnum And Mason's in London's Piccadilly may not seem like an obvious location for a meeting with someone as gloriously vampish as Siouxsie, but she fits the surroundings perfectly. Gracious, serene, slightly haughty, she looks stunning in a scoop backed black dress, a full length red astrakhan-style coat and a black fedora.
Heads do not turn because one does not turn one's head in such an establishment. One sips one's Earl Grey tea, nibbles at one's strawberry tartelette (trying not to get lipstick on one's chin) and averts one's glance from far corners, where one tries not to notice Mick Jagger. I've always suspected Sioux has a wicked streak, but today she's being charming and witty. However, she only gives away as much as she wants you to know. So here's the current view from a Sioux...
THE SlCK KNEE
"lt dislocated completely and came out the other side. It was painful, but it looked much worse -- this kneecap hanging out where it shouldn't be. Complications set in, because I carried on the tour -- the leg was in plaster five weeks when it should only have been two. The plaster came off and it wouldn't bend, it was real horror story stuff. They told me 'yes, well of course the ligaments, have been torn out and they've bled and healed, so there's a lot of gunge and it won't bend', and I was threatened with being put under anaesthetic to have an 'assisted bend'. So I worked really hard with some weights at home, I'd rather be in pain on my own than have a doctor hear me go 'ouch'."
"lt's really to do with grown ups' abuse of children's trust, whether it's sexual or not, the innocence and dependency as well. I just find anything to do with that is repulsive. Pornography or people showing their boobs, that's another thing. I'm not going to be puritanical about any of that because that's all grown ups.
"Our manager thought it was about drugs, the candyman being the supplier or whatever. I suppose it can be translated as that, if you're thinking about young people being used in that way.
"The cover illustration is supposed to be a maypole. Some phallic symbol always seems to turn up...'But there's a huge phallus on it!' (adopts 'Young Ones' voice). The same people that thought it was a druggy song thought that. Freud would have a field day with those people!"
"The album's coming out soon, it's called 'Tinderbox'... It's called that because everything seemed to happen either around situations or the effect of weather, and the word conjures up something explosive that's to do with something being combustible, by the fact that the sun's there and it's made it that way, it's not man made. It has that theme to it, although it's all very diverse.
"Does it seem like there's been a long gap between stuff being released? No-one seems to have mentioned it, but for us it was so frustrating all last year. We started recording it last May, for a month in Hansa and had problems with the producer."
(I ask why Sioux always writes about people's dark sides, their hidden secrets)... "I don't really like to call them dark sides, I think just the understated unmentionables or just the hidden. When you're honest, your favourite story or film isn't about someone having a wonderful time, life's wonderful, there're no problems and nothing could be wrong. I wouldn't be motivated to go and watch that. I like something more believable, but also more fantastic as well.
"I think there is that darkness in everyone, one of the worst emotions is jealousy and greed and everyone feels it, but it's down to whether you can control that and not let it control you -- a lot of people can't, a string snaps in them. I remember seeing a documentary which said that people who seek to wear uniforms are more likely to abuse their authority -- like boy scout leaders, teachers. Some people relish the abuse of power."
BANSHEE MOVlE STARS
"We went to LA to do this film called 'Out Of Bounds'. It was just us being ourselves in a club scene. There weren't really any stars in it, just a lot of young people, superbrats. It came across as a kind of 'Repo Man'. The director did 'Tightrope', I really liked the tension in that. I just thought it'd be a good thing to see what it was all about appearing in films and not feeling repulsed about doing it, because we've been offered a lot and they always want to make us more punkified. We actually got offered 'The Howling', which on paper sounded perfect-- 'Hyena' was just out, but the script was like cliched Hammer horror. I got an offer to be a ghost in Mexico as well -- I was quite up for it, it's somewhere I've never been to and I'd go just to be there, but we had commitments here."
"We're survivors because we turn disadvantages into advantages. There've been so many instances where catastrophe has struck the Banshees, but it motivates you once the feet have been put back on the ground again. We probably attract disaster for a very specific reason, it's totally out of our control. It's only in retrospect you realise it, at the time you're devastated. Maybe I'II look back and think 'thank God I dislocated my knee that time'. Certainly it made me sit back a bit... oh no, Godzilla's packed up again, I'II have to ask for a light... it's a good pick-up line ... is there someone handsome here?"
"Yeah, I suppose I do believe in fate. Again, only in retrospect. When it happens I think dammit, I get really browned off. I don't know how much of a big hand you have in it without knowing it. I'm much happier when I don't have to analyse a situation and somehow things right themselves. Of course you have to be able to be in control, but I much prefer it when it's just... natural-- when things are in the right place and their reason for being there is just perfect."
"I don't poo poo it or anything, I don't disregard it but it's not something I've thought much about. Are you talking about reading your horoscope in the newspaper? Everybody does that whether they believe it or not. A friend of mine is into doing birth charts and offered to do mine, but hasn't got back to me. Probably thought 'my God, this woman's in a mess, I'm not going to give her the news!' Other than that, I haven't delved into it to be honest. I rarely delve into anything, I usually have a head-on collision with it."
"Again, to delve into it could possibly be dangerous. Things that I've read, some bizarre tales about some odd bumpings off, all very heavy. I don't know if it's that the people involved are basically evil and they're perpetuating this fear, or if it is actually something that scientists can't explain away. I just think it can be dangerous if you're dealing with something you don't know about. Again, it's a misuse of power."
MY FAlR LADY
"This friend of our photographer is outrageous, he can get any bit of material and make something out of it, and he does outrageous hats. He's in a world of his own, and extremely talented. I've always wanted to try hats on but never have. I'd love to try wigs on. If I knew anyone who had fab wigs, I'd try them on, but to actually go into a department store...
"We just had a play around in the photosession, it was quite refreshing to do. It's just if you're in a mood to be a brat and say 'let's try these on', it's just dressing up, something I always did when I was young. I always fell down the stairs in my mum's stilettoes. I clumped down the street and wished I could tape the noise of the heels, I used to love the noise.
"I haven't been able to wear any stilettoes since I did my leg in. As soon as it gets better I'm going to get them all out of the cupboard and traipse around in them. It's horrible if you're used to wearing them and towering. I'm 5 foot 8 anyway, but with a heel I can get a six footer out of me. It's wonderful, brilliant. It's such an easy advantage."
"We're certainly not under pressure because we've never invited it, we've always delivered stuff without being asked for it, or if they do we tell them to go to hell, we're not ready yet. It's a self made situation. There're a lot more people desperate to be famous for 15 minutes now, I think. That shows in the climate at the moment in pop music, there're more people willing to do anything to be famous, even if it's for that brief flash. Good luck to 'em, but they're literally burning their bridges. Maybe it'll just get rid of all those people who are famous for that short time and they'll be replaced by something else. It's certainly more exciting than Dire Straits!"
"Whether you want to be aware of it or not, you are. You can't avoid it. I don't particularly care what's going on really. I'm still enjoying myself, I'm still having fun, thank God for that. I look at other people who are definitely not having fun, again who are very desperate. It's unfortunate for groups just starting off who aren't like that, cos record companies can say 'we don't care for your high ideals, there're a hundred people with no ideals who will co-operate with us'. That's bad."
"I despise movements, to be honest. The Banshees were forever lumped along with a movement that they weren't really much to do with. There were lots of groups who were roped in, like Wire and the Buzzcocks, they were fab, but they weren't 'buy your punk combo outfit'. There was so much of that around, which I hated. All that attitude fizzled out and they looked so dated, and they don't stand the test of time. I thought the ones that were more individual within the movement still stand the test of time. Pete Shelley -- fab, what a cutie. I thought that at the time, I thought what a cutie."
(I ask if Sioux is surprised she's so happy in her work) "Yeah, cos so many people are miserable. So many group situations are awful, really. I still don't have much to do with the business, that 'I'm a part of the music business and we're all chums', I've always hated that. I'm still very much looking out from the inside, or looking in from the outside. Most musicians are really boring anyway. I'd much rather talk to people like this man who makes mad hats, they've got much better stories. I hate people who get off on being in the music business. If a cab driver asks me what I do, I might say I'm a secretary or something. It's embarrassing. It can be glamorous, like anything can be, but it depends how you live your life."
"l'd love to have a palace with a swimming pool and I'd love to be able to not need anything... but that's a sandcastle. I mean, it might happen, but I'm certainly not going to lose sleep over it if I haven't got it. It'd be fab if I did. I think everyone's got a goal of having a castle or being totally self-sulficient, making one's own haven. I'd learn to be a maintenance man or something, to maintain everything in perfect working order. That's another vocation!"
"To me, that means belief: in myself, I suppose. And the knocking down of all religion, but having your own. I don't have faith in organised religion. I believe that everyone is different and you've got to work out how to impress yourself, and you know that better. Depression and being dissatisfied with what you're doing, how you are behaving or whatever, to control that and master it -- there's an art to that. It's working it out for yourself -- different things apply to different people. I'm always very wary of people who've got plenty of mouth. Never trust a mouther."
"At the moment I feel very calm about what I'm doing, but it's probably the calm before the storm! But something will slap me down if I get too calm or too smug about it, and rightly so. You can never know it all or do it all. Something will always shock you and you find out more about yourself."
Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.