Hands up who remembers punk rock'.’ OK. now hands up who cares. Punk. if there was any meaning behind it. was never intended to be a long-lived event. The peace and love movement of the sisties evaporated
children in the early seventies. a dismay stemming from the dissatisfaction of ‘tuning in turning
on and dropping out' w hen the world ‘ went on despite the protests of Dylan
and l.ennon and the music business coasted along dire and dirgeful until Mclaren's rock and roll swindle
erupted to kick down the walls. But
only briefly. Big business closed in to
capitalise on 'l'he New Wave. the New Romantics. and. eventually the upwardly mobile pop currently haunting the chart in search of a quick hue/v.
The original punk bands were 'l'he Sey l’istols. 'l'he (lush and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Nine years later. nineveury. Siouvsie and the Banshees are -r—- exactly the same. Whether you think they are the natural solution to the staidness of the chart. or the worst (ioth-punk nonsense to enjoy such longev ity. it milst he said that the band hay en't noticeably strayed from their initial attitudes. avoiding the more careerist aspects of the pop media and producing records which are irrefutably consistent. Vocalist Sioquie Sioux. the girl w ho inspired the buying ofa thousand (at least) eyeliner pencils and thousands more dirge stomp singles. guards the Banshees secret to their macabre. twisted rock music behind bright vermilion lips. 'l'all. slim and dark. she speaks with a voice as chilling as her singing. I asked her about the Banshees mystique. their persistence and w hat it's like to be nine yearsold.
How do you feel about the bands you started ollwith?
Nothing. We didn't. We felt very much out on a limb when we started and that's something that hasn't changed. Mainly because of the music and because we didn't want to he part of a movement. We didn't like the idea of a lot ofgroups being able to he put together and described in one word. There is no restriction as towhat music we do play. It is Banshee music. We've never embraced the industry or “music business". We don't hang out at things that most pop musicians tend to hang out at. ldon't like that atmosphere. and also I think. which is surprising really. that most groups don't tend to see each other outside the fact of working together whereas we tend to liv e in each other's shoes. We're always together. never out of
touch with each other. It's very much 2
like a surrogate family.'
With that sort of attitude. how did you cope with being in the charts and in the glossy pop mags?
"l'hat is really. for us anyway. the thing that you have to somehow cope with to keep your sanity. We've maybe tended to turn down a lot of things that would have made us more “breakfast cereal fodder". because I think that is very damaging. firstly from the public's point of view of the group and more importantly. for
The Banshee mystique still holds good after nine
V ‘ars ofpunk rock. Andrea Miller quizzes lead
singer Siouxsie about the band's lasting success.
your inside view of yourself. It tends to distort things. distort your perspective. your reality. Even if there is a rave review of a record or a Banshee concert you tend to take it all with a pinch ofsalt really. I think it is important that The Banshees he on Top oft/1e l’ops~ amongst everything else. just to be there — it‘s important that we're there.'
There was a good deal at criticism ol yourlast album ‘Hyaena'. Did you take that as justilied?
‘.\'o. What seems to go on in the papers is that they have a vote to see who's in for a pat on the back and who's in for a stab in the back. We were pleased with ‘l lyaena'. although I don't think we've been a hundred per cent pleased with any album we've done. 'l'hat's why we're still striving to do a perfect album.'
Sioquie and the Bansltees are just finishing a l'l\' tour a totir which is that unlikely thing in the product
orientated music biz — not to promote a new album. They have. however. just released a new single. . ‘('ities ln Dust' a short story set to distortion about a particular day on their European tour. ‘During an Italian tour we had a day off and we were travelling south on our way to Naples and we ended up having this day off in Pompeii. It was the most potent feeling I've got from anywhere that is a tourist attraction. Mostly. in these places. you're disheartened or you tend to see through the facade and find that the atmosphere has gone from the place. that wasn't the case with going to see Pompeii. seeing these remains. petrified bodies which were caught in the lava which covered the town.trapping people in the throes of living. making them into plastercasts.‘ Do you think thatyou are doom-laden? Do you feel responsible lor starting this awlul Gothic rock trend? ‘No because we've never been without any light or shade. ()bviously people took things from us. and maybe were unimaginative about it. just concentratingon the more alluring aspects.' How does it feel to walk down the street and see young girls dressed up like you. with severe eye make-up, looking like Siouxsie Sioux? ‘lt can't really be compared to anything. so basically you don't know how to react. It's not something I'd encourage. but then again it will happen and I'd rather there were lots of Siou.\'sies than lots of. . . whatever. . . Simon Le Bons. I assume that when you started in the ‘heady days of punk rock’ that you were trying to teardown the walls at something? "l'he twenty minute set that was supposed to be the beginning. and the end of the Banshees and wasn't. So you were trying to react against the monoliths at rock who were around in the mid-seventies. Is there any danger i of your becoming one at those yourselves? ; ‘lfthere wasn't the excitement. then ‘ . . . Playing live has always been verys' important with The Banshees and I if l think that'salways made adifferencesl 5 between a lot ofgroups who are 4 sounding very contrived and very 5 planned. We're very disorganised.' Do you think you've mellowed as a person, overthe years? 4 ‘No. I've found more things that interest me. I think. (iiven a span of say. eight years. you either dig a , grave for yourself and lie in it or you I tend to plant a few more roots I l
somewhere else and enjoy living. 'l'hat's the only difference. When you're young you tend to have more of a tunnel vision about what your aim is. or what you have or what you love. 'l'here are a lot more possibilities for me. 'I'hat's howl feel.'
Alter nine years in the business— along timelorany rock band-what do you ' i think will happen to The Banshees? Willyouremainthe same. an ever , growing constant? ; ‘Answering a question like "what will you be doing" . . .well.some0ne'_~ I asked us that nine years ago and I didn't know. lstill don't know.‘
The List 18—31 October'9