Arts: Desperately seeking Siouxsie

She may have disbanded her Banshees, split with her record company and got married, but the queen of punk is back on the warpath.

The Banshees have gone, together with the panda eyes and electrified hair - reminders of Siouxsie Sioux in all her petrified punk-goth glory. These days it's just her and Budgie, the Banshees drummer she married seven years ago. They live in a large house near Toulouse in the south of France, with a garden and three cats - her "babies".

They are in London to promote their latest incarnation as the Creatures - the band that started life as an experimental side project way back in 1981, when the Banshees were at their primitive best. At 41, Siouxsie looks surprisingly young and remarkably beautiful, yet slightly mumsy - a different creature to the spiky waif who rode the first shock wave of punk in bondage gear and swastika armband.

Still something of the old Siouxsie remains. Sat across the table with Budgie by her side, she's chatty enough, friendly even, only there is a certain steeliness about her. Even without the warpaint, she is prepared for combat. She doesn't really like interviews. The trouble with most journalists, she says pointedly, is they only see the surface. She read somewhere recently that she had swapped her wild-child persona for a life of domestic drudgery and that she was planning a family. She snorts: "I don't know where they get that bollocks from."

It is two years since Siouxsie announced that she was folding the Banshees "with dignity" - a barbed reference to the Sex Pistols, who were cashing in on the 20th anniversary of punk with their Filthy Lucre reunion tour.

"I didn't like the idea of it all turning into a nostalgia trip," she says. "With the Banshees it was very hard to get away from that. Maybe it was partly our fault, but a lot of it was other people's perceptions of what we were. And the whole anniversary of punk thing really compounded what I thought was wrong. I was so disillusioned. I remember thinking: `I don't want anything to do with this.' "

Few bands have been so shackled by their history as the Banshees. And few performers have been so personally haunted by the past as Siouxsie. With the obvious exception of Madonna, it is difficult to name another female pop icon of the past 20 years who has spawned so many adoring imitators. You still see them now - all those black-haired, black-eyed Siouxsies, ghostly reminders of a past she'd rather leave behind.

Do they bother her? She hesitates before answering. "It's flattering. But they'll grow out of it and find their own way of expressing themselves. That look came from having no money and enjoying dressing up. It was just a fun thing. It was never `my image'. Also, it was a reaction to when I was growing up, and women were supposed to be all blonde hair, gold suntan and pink lips. It was a real black-and-white opposite of what was considered attractive. I was kicking against something I found really oppressive."

In many ways she still is. She is angry at the way women in the music industry still tend to be judged on their looks rather than their talent and are expected to retire gracefully when they reach a certain age. "It's totally sexist. Nobody comments when Sting hits 40."

She's irritated at the way music is marketed. "Generally with new bands now there's a big campaign straight away. They become this product overnight. And then they only last for one album, or one single, and people wonder why. It's because they've been wrapped in clingfilm so quickly, there's no evolution, no development, no growth."

Among those artists she does admire are Radiohead, Portishead, "and PJ Harvey of course". She used to like Courtney Love, but not anymore. "I loved the first Hole album, but I really can't understand what she's done to herself now. All that cosmetic surgery and restyling, just to end up looking like Goldie Hawn. I don't get it."

There is no big marketing campaign surrounding the relaunch of the Creatures, and certainly no Versace photo shoots. Dropped by Polydor shortly after the Banshees split, they have their own label, Sioux Records. They manage themselves these days, and work a lot from home. No, they don't have anything so elaborate as a home studio - just Budgie's drum kit set up in the dining room and a dictaphone for keeping track of their ideas.

"It's very low-fi," Siouxsie explains. "It's just bits lying around. So it isn't a case of saying `I've got an idea, let's set things up' and then losing the moment. The whole way we work now is a lot more spontaneous than before. I wouldn't call it primal, exactly. It's just a lot less covered by embellishments."

It seems to suit them very well. The recent "Erasercut" EP found them retreading familiar ground with a renewed vigour. They have a single, "2nd Floor", out next month and are putting the finishing touches to an album, parts of which are on a par with anything they have ever done.

And they've been touring. Back in May they performed two sell-out gigs at the Garage, in Islington, north London. More recently, they toured America with John Cale, formerly of the Velvet Underground. In New York they performed the Velvets classic, "Venus in Furs", as an encore. "That song was made for Siouxsie to sing," Budgie says proudly. "Yeah," she agrees. "And not somebody singing it in a rollneck sweater." Budgie laughs and pretends to be shocked by her bitchiness - "Miaow!" She purrs and miaows back, scratching the air with her fingers.

It's an act they almost didn't pull off. There was a time, immediately after the break with Polydor, when they seriously considered calling it a day. "It was as if we didn't fit a particular category, so we weren't allowed to continue," Siouxsie recalls. "There was a point where I thought: `Oh well, I'll just pack up and open a flower shop or something.' "

Even recently, they had difficulty securing live bookings. "We were just dying to get out and play. We asked around, but there was a real resistance. The music promoters over here are governed by the corporate way of thinking, of tying in tour, album, tour, album.

"The response was: `When's your record due?' All of a sudden you are being told that you can't play because you are not promoting a record. I was so pissed off with that attitude. So, fingers firmly stuck up at them, we went ahead and did those shows at the Garage."

As well as proving that they could still cut it live, the shows marked a return to the intimacy of those early Banshees performances. It's the closest they get to a nostalgia trip. "It's been a long time," Siouxsie says wistfully. "I've missed that contact. With the Banshees, it developed into a situation where you went out on the road when you'd completed a record, and did some big production in a hall or a theatre. There was that distance. And I missed that feeling of starting again, of playing stuff that people don't know." Budgie nods in agreement.

This feeling of rejuvenation dominates their conversation, not least when they describe their plans to release a remix version of the new album. It sounds surprising at first, until you remember that the Banshees were one of the first non-dance bands to embrace the concept of the remix. And with the Creatures' sound relying so heavily on drums and percussion, it was only a matter of time before the world of dance music finally caught up with them.

There's another logic to it, too, something which makes this latest enterprise a natural extension of everything they've done. It's the spirit in which a lot of contemporary dance music is produced - people tucked away in their bedrooms, making records on their computers. It's the fact that, with a little bit of technology, "anyone can do it". To put it another way, the world the Creatures inhabit now is a lot like the one they first sprang from, a lot like punk.

The moment the words are out of my mouth, Siouxsie Sioux's eyes light up. "Yeah!" she says emphatically. "Brilliant! It's DIY. It's back to DIY. That's the key for me. DIY. Do it yourself, with as little interference as possible."

The Creatures play the University of London Union on Friday and Saturday; their single, `2nd Floor', is released on 5 October; Banshees And Other Creatures is the subject of `Rock Family Trees' on BBC2 on Saturday 25 September

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape