Sunday Mail (2.17.99)

XTREME; The fans are desperately seeking SIOUXSIE

Vicky Davidson

In the midst of the awful Eighties revival, one worthwhile band is on the comeback trail...

But you lump whip-cracking Siouxsie Sioux in with the likes of Duran Duran, Howard Jones and The Human League at your peril.

Three years ago, the spectre of the Banshees was finally laid to rest. But Siouxsie, who inspired a generation and is upheld by stars such as Saffron and Shirley Manson as an idol, is getting ready to go back on the road.

It will be in her incarnation as The Creatures - the Banshees offshoot she started in 1981 with partner and now husband, Budgie - for what will be only their second full UK tour.

As they prepare to go into rehearsals for the new dates - which include a Scottish show at Glasgow's Arches on February 18 - she smacks her lips at the prospect of taking on man and machine if anything goes wrong on stage.

"The Creatures only toured once before. There were just the two of us and we used a lot of drums and percussion. We were guinea pigs for new technology, such as sequencers, which were in their infancy and really hairy to use.

"Sometimes, they didn't work and you were left on stage frantically pressing a button with nothing happening.

"So this time around, we decided to get some humans involved. We'll have two other people out there with us. At least, if they don't work, you can hit them!"

Hungry to get back in the live arena, The Creatures defied promoters when they played a handful of one-off dates last year, including one at Edinburgh's Flux festival.

It was in the midst of work for their new album, Anima Animus - to be released on February 15 - and that caused a stir.

"Promoters threw down the gauntlet by saying you can't play live without an album or a single out, so we did three shows in London and one in Edinburgh.

"While we were doing that, we also got offered an American tour with John Cale, so we spent two months sharing a stage, musicians and some songs.

"He's a larger-than-life figure and it was a rollercoaster ride.

"The tour was very quickly put together and the schedule was pretty tough. We were sharing a bus with the crew. They replaced the tour manager twice, there were a lot of ups and downs in the running of it but, looking back, it was really fun to do."

Siouxsie's reputation as a formidable frontwoman is legendary and she still races around that stage like a woman possessed.

"I was thinking by now I should be really sedate and majestic. But I tend to wriggle free quite a lot. I can't stop myself! I still get that buzz live on stage."

Siouxsie and Budgie moved to a remote part of France at the end of 1991, with the intention of taking time out from stifling city life in London and giving the Banshees a new lease of life.

But that breath of fresh air was what spelled doom for the Banshees.

"It was really the beginning of us changing our attitudes and starting over again.

"The idea was that it would inject new life into the Banshees, but it didn't happen that way. You can't drag people into a new way of doing things if they don't want to go.

"At the same time, an unhealthy nostalgia was predominant in the media and industry and that made Budgie and me stop the Banshees.

"We didn't know what we would do, but The Creatures were always very close to our heart."

Their home is on the edge of the Pyrenees and Siouxsie loves the alternative to bustling city life it gives her. She can curl up with her beloved cats and a good book at home in France, or jet off to go clubbing in London.

"The light in our part of France is fantastic. I do a lot of reading and it's a place where you can go and shut the door and get rid of all the rubbish in your head.

"It works really well. It's such an extreme change from the rush of London," she says.

"It does make me remote from the city and what's happening, but it's refreshing and liberating.

"When we moved, London had become a rat-run.

"France is like going back to another century. It's like time-travelling between two worlds when I head back to London."

But she's proud of the whipper-snappers, such as Garbage's Shirley Manson, who uphold her tradition of strong women who pull no punches.

"I really love Shirley. I think she's really a spark of life in the pop industry," says Siouxsie.

"I love the fact that she's really naughty! I think, within the pop format, she's certainly got her own opinions and she scares a lot of guys out there."

That's Siouxsie - still a fierce creature even after all these years.

Contributed by Jerry Burch.

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