Venus Zine (Winter '02 - No. 14)
A RARE BIRD- Banshees drummer Budgie tells why he never had that 'weird guy thing.'
Siouxsie & the Banshees ended their 20-year career in 1995 but unexpectedly reunited earlier this year for a series of performances including one at California's Coachella Festival. The group's core trio of Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin, and Budgie hasn't decided if it will record as the Banshees again, but there is a rarities package in the works, and Universal recently released The Best of Siouxsie & The Banshees in single-disc and limited-edition double-disc forms. In August, Venus talked to drummer Budgie, who also played on the Slit's Cut and the Indigo Girls' Rites of Passage, and performs with wife Siouxsie as the Creatures.
Venus: Why do you think you've performed with some of the most significant female artist in rock?
Budgie: I don't know. Usually it's chance meetings. But I can't really put it down to that, I don't think. There's something else. I feel very comfortable in the company of women. I never had that weird "guy thing" while growing up. All the guys I grew up with, the first thing they wanted was grow up, get a job, get a car, get a girlfriend, and go down the pub and have arguments and then not go home together. [laughs] My thing was, I just thought, "I've got to get out of this town [near Liverpool] and get out of this way of life." So there was never pressure on me to hang out with the guys, and it doesn't come easy to me anyway- that kind of male group mentality.
V: What did you bring to the Banshees when you joined?
B: My strange northern mentality. [laughs] First of all, you've got to take on all the things that have gone before, and there's lots of quirks and sounds that you've got to recreate, but then you've got to put yourself in there if you're going to make it last and be more than just a fill-in-job. You have got to feel like you own the set, and the beats, and feel like they're part of you. You try to bring our your character, so hopefully that's what I've done. I was just trying to take it somewhere else. Sometimes I think the drumming's secondary [to personality].
V: Which songs do you feel proudest of or best represent your drumming?
B: I really love "Lands End" from Tinderbox. I love the lyrics, and it's one of those songs where you say, "I'm going to try something new here. This little drum pattern thing, this pattern on the intro." I think I'm probably playing it better [now] than I did on the album, but that's kind of inevitable. I've been practicing it a lot longer now than I did before we recorded it.
Things like the first thing I played with the Banshees on "Happy House." I don't know what I was going for. I think it was hats off to Keith Moon, but trying to do it in a structured, three-minute pop song. And the B-side as well- "Drop Dead/Celebration." With the Slits, they were after a dance album on Cut and they had a reggae producer, Dennis Bovell, and Dennis taught me a lot of things about reggae, and was a wonderful musician. I kept a lot of those things with me and I always had a great love for reggae. "Drop Dead" was like a reggae beat but a bit perverted.
V: Have you ever found it hard to be in a marriage and working with the same person?
B: The thing that's good about it is we know exactly what each other's going through. Nothing has to be said; it's unspoken. But the bad side of that is you can't escape it. Siouxsie said to me when we were leaving to come [to America], "I wish I had a wife." You know, to kiss at the door and say "Goodbye, love," and knowing that the cats and house would be fine.
The worst thing with the Banshees, which probably annoyed Severin no end, was that Siouxsie and I would get an idea and just fly with it, because that's what we love doing. "Yeah, we can do this and it will be brilliant. We'll go there and we'll do that and we'll record in this little chateau in the middle of nowhere and it will be brilliant and everybody will love it." And then we'd realize that we hadn't even mentioned it to anybody else. I imagine that can be very frustrating for other people in a band situation, when you've got a couple. We do try hard to keep that aspect of our relationship out of their faces.
We do lead quite separate lives on the road, and we always have. I think that keeps us sane as well. You need your own bathroom space. You need it.
V: What have your typical post-Banshees days been like? You live in rural France and you've been there since...
B: For the last 10 years. The house is a big, rambling house, it's in the center of a small town. We have our own little park, and we just get lost walking around there. For the last couple of years I've been on a learning curve, trying to record us, putting a studio together. I've been teaching myself how to get on with computers. Siouxsie's got a writing room, but she has no fixed way of working, so she could be working wherever she is. We do gardening. Siouxsie loves chopping deadheads off the roses. It's a bit like Morticia only in reverse. She does like the blooms, so she leaves the blooms on.
It's a huge old house, so there's always something to do. [laughs] I suppose when we go home, we're like, "This Old House." After 10 years of trying to get this place to look like we wanted....it's a beautiful old house and it needs a lot of attention a lot of time, and we just haven't got that time. I think we thought we'd be able to do it overnight, but we've been trying for so long I think we're going to have to leave it to the next people. It's going to be sad to leave and whether we do it or not, I don't know. It's kind of our little dream world.
We talk a lot. We sit around and enjoy each other's company. I suppose when we're working we miss that. We watch a lot of films. We read a lot. And we talk about what we're going to do next.
Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.