In the intervening years since Siouxsie Sioux last made a live appearance in Ireland, her life has undergone a number of changes. The Banshees are no more, nor are the Creatures and, obviously connected, her marriage to Budgie. It is, then, in her new solo guise that she visits Dublin and Belfast next week.
Is the solo experience proving very different, more lonely, to being part of a band?
That’s true to an extent but I’d also say that being a lead singer is a pretty lonely experience anyway. You’re very separate from the musicians in that you have to look after your instrument, your voice. That takes a while to figure out. Being the arrowhead on the spear you tend to get the extreme ups and downs.
Did the Banshees have the same gang mentality of some of the other punk bands?
It was definitely a gang, especially in the earlier days, but I think that even for Joe Strummer or John Lydon, you do feel different fronting a band. It comes with the territory. Also I was a woman amongst a whole bunch of guys as well. There are differences in gender when you’re working day to day.
Even though the punk bands brought female musicians to the fore, the industry itself seemed to be lagging behind.
Definitely. That’s born out by the fact that, out of all those bands getting signed up, we were one of the last. They had no idea how they were going to market us. The mentality of the people who were running the companies couldn’t deal with that. I don’t think that much has changed. Now they maybe see a female as a positive commodity but when it comes to breaking down stereotypes or barriers, I don’t think the guys in the record company give a toss. In hindsight, though, getting signed last was a great thing to happen, although it certainly didn’t feel like that at the time. It gave us a chance to really get strong. When people get elevated out of nowhere it really messes with their heads. Doing all those tours and the Peel sessions meant that by the time we did our first album, we had enough songs for a second. Bands need to be nurtured, which doesn’t happen in the music industry.
You seemed to have an exit strategy from punk worked out from the start, a way to escape when two chords and some attitude stopped being enough.
Whenever things looked too safe, my instinct was to go where there weren’t any spotlights and start exploring. That can be very positive but have its downside as well, but you can’t let yourself get stuck in a rut.
Hence the gap before starting a solo career? In the meantime a lot of people have been name checking and queuing up to work with you.
I was able to be a long leash and try different things. I was pretty much shut off from whatever influence we may have had on other artists. As far as what was going on and who was hip and who wasn’t, I don’t know how important that it is. I don’t go out looking for new music but of it comes my way, fine. The media seems have taken over everything and the idea of celebrity has reached its nadir. I find that is distracting everyone from the actual content. People don’t seem to care, it’s what they expect from an artist.
As a recognisable cultural figure, has that world ever come calling?
I have been approached to do various things but I’ve knocked them back straight away. They asked me to do the one in the jungle and -The Weakest Link’, stuff like that. I’ve never had the desire to be a TV personality, some people have and work really well. What Lydon did on -I’m A Celebrity…’, messing it up, was really good but often it’s a disaster.
Siouxsie Sioux plays Dublin Crawdaddy on July 1st and
Belfast Mandela Hall on July 2nd