Of all the freaks, geeks and dreamers to find themselves at the centre of a cultural phenomenon as punk broke through in 1977, Siouxsie Sioux always seemed slightly removed from the spit and grime of the times.
It was there, right from her very first public appearance, looking coy and domineering on the ‘Today’ show, back on December 1, 1976, when middle-aged TV presenter Bill Grundy pushed the Sex Pistols to shock him after his awkward flirtation with the teenage Siouxsie.
The interview made TV history and put the Sex Pistols on the road to stardom.
The following 12 months would be eventful for these Bromley Contingent friends who were so intent on upsetting Middle England.
Siouxsie & The Banshees would see their drummer, Simon John Ritchie, become the Sex Pistols’ new bass player, Sid Vicious, just as the latter became every teenager’s – and tabloid editor’s – favourite band. As for Siouxsie and her boys, success was theirs not long after too, with the Banshee’s debut single, ‘Hong Kong Garden’ hitting the top 10 in August 1978.
Eighteen years – and quite a few more top-10 hits, including ‘Spellbound’ and ‘Happy House’ – later, the band called it a day, Siouxsie going on to form The Creatures with the band’s drummer – and her hubby – Budgie.
The couple’s recent divorce sparked Siouxsie’s solo debut, last October’s ‘MantaRay’, which garnered glowing reviews, but soso sales. As the woman formerly known as Susan Janet Ballion comes to Ireland for the first time in a decade, she’s plainly happy to be starting a new chapter in her life. . .
This is your first time touring Ireland in nine years – too busy? Indifferent? Lazy?
Oh, never lazy. That’s cropped up with Spain, with Italy, Greece – there’s been quite a few places that we haven’t played in a while. It’s been the promoters; blame the promoters.
Your solo debut, ‘MantaRay’, was welcomed by the critics – is that important to you?
Yeah, that’s nice, but if they had all slammed it, that wouldn’t have daunted me. I would have rolled my eyes and said, ‘What’s new?’ I wish the music would get more airplay on the radio. Get listed on the radio. Radio is so conservative.
Punk was all about burning out rather than fading away, which makes the current crop of reunions –The Sex Pistols,The Stooges, etc – seem like something close to betrayal. Is it never say never for the Banshees?
Well, I don’t have to consider getting the band back together. Nobody has to; no one’s got a gun at their heads.
You seem pretty removed from the rock’n’roll life, living in your 18th-century stone house just outsideToulouse with your cats…
I’ve been down here for 16 years, and it’s a stark contrast to going to London or New York, but I think there’s a homing device that has a strong pull at certain times. So, London’s looking attractive to me once again. . .
Looking back on those early years in London, home life was pretty chaotic around then. Have you made your peace with that?
I think everyone has something from their childhood that leaves some kind of scar and everyone has to try to come to terms with, and face it. You see, you’ve always got to look for the positive. And although you wouldn’t wish it on yourself, you can look back and say, well, I didn’t enjoy it at the time, but I learnt from it.
Siouxsie plays theTripod on July 1