The Observer (3.14.99)

Life support; Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie first became close while touring Germany with Siouxsie and the Banshees. Ten years later, in 1991, they got married and moved to France, where they now live and work together.


Siouxsie Sioux (Susan Ballion): When Budgie joined the Banshees in 1979, I thought he was mad. He was so hyperactive I think all drummers are - and really Tiggered about. Then I discovered what a sensitive soul he was as well, and thought, 'What a lovable, nice guy.' He'd been to art college and he's actually very educated, very knowledgeable, unlike me. He'd been in the band for nearly two years, and I'd come to respect and admire him, and then we did the first Creatures EP together. Budgie always knew exactly what I meant. Musicians who have trained in an orthodox way are often a little bit lacking in the imagination department: 'More treble?' 'I don't know. Yes, I suppose - more like a drill!' He understood my vocabulary.

I knew the relationship was going to go somewhere else when we were on tour in spring 1981, somewhere like Essen in Germany, somewhere that had really been blown to pieces in the Blitz, and I was really low. Here I was, on tour with a bunch of men, and starting to hate everyone. Me and Budgie were the only ones who were being quiet in our rooms, and I knocked on his door with some wine and some tapes, and said, 'I really need to just have a drink and a talk with someone and play some music,' and it really went from there. I saw him as someone to confide in, initially; it wasn't at all sexual. It's ironic how things turn out.

Why did we get married? It was almost like he was suffering from Siouxsie's Boyfriend Syndrome. Of course, it was something I wasn't aware of. I wasn't labelled as 'Budgie's girlfriend' - I'd have hated that. It was partly a perverse idea as well: getting married is such a normal thing to do. I didn't need a piece of paper to prove what we had together, but we both like rituals, and as soon as we realised we could control the ritual, and not have something completely traditional, I thought, 'Another chance to get dressed up!' It hasn't really changed our relationship.

He's very grounded. That's unusual in the music business. He hasn't got a vicious bone in his body. I've never known him to be spiteful. He's totally trustworthy and he's very genuine. Sometimes I can be very demanding; God, I really fly off, I know I must give him hell. But I think we're both attracted to elements in the other that we'd like to have more of ourselves. I'm very direct, I don't like pussyfooting around, and he is less easily flapped. I can be a bit of a drama queen. Budgie's reaction is to get out of the way. We've never really had a huge row; sometimes I can scream and shout, but half an hour later, it's gone away - no feuds. I've actually found out that Budgie's not baitable. He goes, 'Yeah, whatever.'

We do both give each other space. I'm aware, when we're working, that we've almost got different heads on. I hate it when couples who work together canoodle and get all cosy: it's very excluding of other people. In a way, it's how we escape each other - we go to work, become different people, and when we go home, it's a different relationship.

Budgie (Peter Clark): I first saw Siouxsie on stage at Eric's Club in Liverpool. At that point, 1977, I was at art college, so I got some modelling wax and some copper wire and made a little figure standing at a microphone stand. I saw her again when I was with the Slits, and we were supporting the Banshees. And then, in 1979, I got a call from the manager of the Banshees, and he said, 'We need a drummer,' so I met with Siouxsie and (Steve) Severin in a bar opposite the old Music Machine in Camden Town. They had vodka and orange, and Siouxsie was smoking Rothman's, and I had a pint of bitter and was smoking roll-ups. That was it: the next thing, I was on stage with them, with the crowd knowing all the songs better than I did. And as soon as I went wrong, Siouxsie turned around and glowered at me, making sure everyone knew I'd gone wrong, but there was a twinkle in her eye.

It felt very natural. I was never intimidated by her. Maybe it's because I saw beyond the facade. We'd both lost a parent at an early age: I lost my mother when I was 13, and Siouxsie lost her father at 14. It's a very strange thing, but you know they'll never see what you're achieving, and you feel it's terribly unfair. We were both born in 1957, and we both have a much older brother and sister. But we didn't find this out for ages, because all of this was soft, soppy, sensitive, emotional family stuff, and we didn't talk about things like that. Instead, we got branded and pierced and tattooed - well, I didn't actually, but I thought about it. I just bleached my hair.

It all happened very suddenly between us during 'Wild Things', the first Creatures EP. There was a very strange sexual chemistry in the air and it came to a head during a photo session at a city-centre hotel in Newcastle. The air was electric - you can see it in the photos. It was as if it was inevitable. But it was quite covert at first, because relationships usually ruin the chemistry of the band. And maybe that's something to do with why we've been able to stay together over all these years. We give each other that space. We certainly need our own bathrooms on the road; that's crucial.

I think she'll probably tell you that I spend more time in the bathroom than she does, but she spends more time in front of the make-up mirror. The Creatures has always been more personal. It was how we escaped from the band - it was like eloping - and did something fun, just the two of us. In The Creatures, we didn't have to hide our true feelings for each other.

I think there are similarities between actors and vocalists. They both have to dig down so deeply, to touch the nerve that prompts the voice that says those words; and it's draining. I'm a support system in lots of ways, but I need to give support to Siouxsie, because it was warranted - because she moved me, I suppose. I couldn't have done it without her strength.

'Say', the new single from Siouxsie and the Banshees, will be released on 15 March.

Contributed by Jerry Burch.

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