Top of the Pops Webchat (11.18.98)
Steven Severin was the founder member and bassist with Siouxsie and the Banshees. They were formed in 1976, and after a long and successful recording career, which spawned numerous chart hits, the band split amicably in 1996. Since then, Siouxsie and Budgie have returned to their ongoing Creatures project, and Severin has been working on various solo projects and collaborations, including setting up his own online label, RE:. The first release on this label is his first solo instrumental album, "Visions." Originally written as a soundtrack to Nigel Wingrove's unreleased film "Visions of Ecstacy," Steven has extended the initial 18-minute long track into a full-length album, in a radical departure from his previous writing in Siouxsie and The Banshees. The album is released this week and is available exclusively on his label, www.stevenseverin.com.
Steven joined us for a live webchat on November 18th 1998.
Steven Severin live on beeb.
Johnny X asks: "How difficult was it to go it alone after the support of the Banshees?"
Steven Severin: "In terms of writing material, not hard at all, much the same way as it had always been. I wrote music and presented it to other members. In a lot of ways it's nice not to have the safety net."
Tin Tin asks: "Did you all agree to splitting up, or was it an unilateral decision by one or two members that in the end split the group up?"
Steven Severin: "Like all major decisions it was basically decided between Siouxsie and myself."
Brian Price asks: "What are you able to do artistically that you couldn't with the Banshees?"
Steven Severin: "I've got more time on my hands to be able to follow through all my ideas. Having my own label means I can collaborate with whoever I decide to and I can also do things apart from just releasing music cds."
Dom: "Why is Visions only available via the internet?"
Steven Severin: "It was a conscious decision not to approach any record companies because they would have seen it as a niche piece of product. Not dealing with shops means I don't have to worry about the packaging fitting in with everybody else's and I can keep complete control over what goes where and how."
I don't have any particular opinion about whether the internet is going to replace real shops but it's something that's fascinated my from the word go and it's an ongoing, developing medium, unlike the record industry."
Sinead Bloxham asks: "How long have you been interested in the internet, and do you maintain your own site?"
Steven Severin: "I got hooked back in 1983 in the days of Prestel (a precursor to the internet) but I've only been online for a couple of years now. As far as the site goes I design most of the pages but my assistant maintains it."
Hema: "What types of products will be published by the RE: group (music, books...)?"
Steven Severin: "Cds, Cd-roms, books, possibly even videos, but what I'm getting into now is the idea of things that are exclusive to the web ie. hyper-text fiction with music."
I've just finished the second release which is music from a play called Maldoror. I've got somebody working on a cd-rom, a young composer called Tim Benjamin and I've asked Marisa Carr to write a monologue for a spoken word project and about a million other things."
Adey Gray asks: "What exactly does Marissa Carr do? It sounds incredibly bizarre!"
Steven Severin: "Marisa Carr is a performance artist. She's kind of a modern burlesque queen. I don't know how else to describe her really."
Paul Court asks: "Are there any plans to bring "Maldoror" to the UK?"
Steven Severin: "Maldoror has another run in Curitiba, Brazil in March followed by Sao Paulo in April and May and depending on sponsorship, Os Satyros are hoping to come to Europe possibly for the Edinburgh Festival."
Ce Ce asks: "Any plans to perform Visions live?"
Steven Severin: "Not at present and if it was my idea would be to put together a band to play it for me, ie. I wouldn't be in it myself. It has been suggested in the past that something might happen on the South Bank."
Julianna Kar asks: "Does it feel strange now being thrust into the spot light after lurking in the background for so long?"
Steven Severin: "Not really. Siouxsie always hated interviews so in that area I'm used to answering all the questions. In a lot of ways, promoting myself, as opposed to a band, feels exactly the same."
Dr Legg asks: "When was the last time you were outraged?"
Steven Severin: "It was quite recently. I think it was M People's single, Testify."
Who would Steven imprison for crimes against music?
Read on to get the scoop!
"Middle America deserves Marilyn Manson"
Dave Walsh asks: "Who would you inprison for crimes against music?"
Steven Severin: "Can we start with M People?"
Juniper Shark asks: "What do you think of performers using shock tactics to push dull music i.e. Marilyn Mansun? Isn't it all a bit passe now?"
Steven Severin: "It's only passe to people who've seen it before. I'm not particularly a fan but Middle America deserves Marilyn Manson."
Mark Ellins asks: "How did the 'hack work' with The Guardian come about? Any more journalistic forays planned for the future?"
Steven Severin: "It came about because the fashion editor of The Guardian asked me for some quotes about an article on black leather. When I saw the published article I realized that I'd pretty much written it so I suggested that next time she wanted something done I would actually write it for her and found that I really enjoyed it."
However, I have total control over the pieces that I write for her and the other times I've written for the papers I've not enjoyed so much editorial control which has put me off. I'm also a bit too busy with the label at present but I will do some more sometime."
Singer: "What is the one piece of criticism that has been leveled at you that sticks in your mind?"
Steven Severin: "Most of it bounces straight back off, however it's more a case of having a mental black book of people get revenge on. But to be honest it doesn't bother me at all. The one thing that does stick in my mind of late is the notion that the last 2 or 3 Banshee albums were substandard which is complete nonsense."
Oleq: "There is a tribute album recorded by goth bands, "tribute to s.a.t.b.". did you hear it?"
Steven Severin: "Unfortunately I did. How did they find the ugliest girl goth on the planet to put on the sleeve and why did they reproduce her image a dozen times? Why did every singer sound exactly the same, barring the French bloke who just growled a lot. It's a cash-in by the label Cleopatra who I went to see a couple of years ago and the managing director said to me, "What do you do exactly?""
Danny: "Which song do you wish you had written?"
Steven Severin: "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore by the Walker Brothers."
Martin Jenkings asks: "Do you find the fanbase that the Banshees has slightly disturbing?"
Steven Severin: "No. I imagine most bands get their fair share of nutters and we've certainly had ours."
guest7: "Do you have any plans/desire to work in a band format again?"
Steven Severin: "Not at present. There are people I'd like to work with and maybe that would take a band shape but I doubt very much whether I would be in a band that would play live."
Solda: "If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you choose and why?"
Steven Severin: "I approached Ute Lemper a few years back about a project that involved translating some Russian poets into a song form. She was really into the idea but we both got busy and the project is treading water but I'd still love to do it one day."
valora: "Since the duet between Bowie and Siouxsie turned out to be a false rumour, how about you collaborating with Bowie?"
Steven Severin: "It's an idea. We both went to the same school but wouldn't I have to do that drum n bass thing? I'm not sure I could be so trendy."
Janey: "When was the last time you spoke to any of the ex-Banshee mob?"
Steven Severin: "I had lunch with Siouxsie and Budgie yesterday."
What does Steven want for Christmas?
"The first band I saw was The Nice in 1969."
Winston Holmes asks: "As the original Banshee, how did the various people coming and going affect the morale?"
Steven Severin: "Apart from the obvious departure of John and Kenny everyone else was pretty much sacked. So morale was high."
Net Girl asks: "What is your favourite Banshees song of all time?"
Steven Severin: "It changes all the time. Today it's Christine."
hema: "would you ever consider working with Robert Smith again?"
Steven Severin: "Considering we haven't spoken for 10 years it's highly unlikely. The odd Christmas card doesn't quite do it for me."
Arg Z asks: "You seem to be dabling with lots of different artistic mediums, is this something you've always done or isn't just as an ex-banshee that you've become interested?"
Steven Severin: "I've always been interested in all sides of the process of making music. Everything spins off of that."
mark Ellins asks: "Was there a time before the eventual split that you wanted out or did you feel the set-up of the band gave you enough space to allow you to do your own satellite projects?"
Steven Severin: "There was never any time when I wanted out. I quite often wanted things to change but really, like always, Siouxsie and I were in tandem on the band's direction. Never more so than when we deicded to end it."
John Carr asks: "What was the first gig you went to?"
Steven Severin: "I think the first gig I ever saw was a band called The Nice. They were doing their last ever concert, I guess it must have been 1969."
Oona: "You wrote a chapter for John Lydon's book, "No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs". Any plans for a biog?"
Steven Severin: "People assume that I actually wrote that chapter but it's just ghosted very well. There are certain phrases in there that I would never use and it's got a kind of American slant to it that isn't me either. As far as the biog goes I intend to have a good few more lives before sitting down and writing it. However the magazine Mojo have just commissioned me to write an extremely long article based around 4 or 5 diary entries. Don't hold your breath. They've given me a year to do it. They want me to choose episodes from the Banshees past and elaborate."
Cliff McLenehan asks: "In an interview we did a couple of years back, you said you felt you and Siouxsie had different ways of writing material and that it was one of the contributory factors to the break up of the Banshees. Can you explain?"
Steven Severin: "Hi Cliff. I was moving more towards using the computer as a songwriting tool and Siouxsie always liked to just bash things out in a band situation. I tended to feel that that method could only have so many differing results and I think we'd exhausted most of them. The computer is a delicious can of worms."
lori: "Hi Steven, VISIONS is great! Have you ever written lyrics for a singer other than Siouxsie and if you have did it feel strange?"
Steven Severin: "Yes, in particular for The Glove Project I did with Robert Smith and yes it is very weird."
Elaine Wigley asks: "The thing I remember about the banshees was the striking video imagery, and the music of course, is that something you are keen to continue with in your own projects?"
Steven Severin: "I absolutely hated making videos. I felt that only 50% of our ideas would come across. The reasons are simple: lack of money and time and of course somebody else translating your ideas."
Kimberly Jameson asks: "What do you want for Christmas? I'm buying."
Steven Severin: "A zip drive for my iMac and Tottenham to win the cup. Can you arrange it?"
"Here's something to watch out for. I've just produced a track for a female duo called Jezebel and they are performing it on Eurotrash in early December. "