interview with Siouxsieface from Blender by By A.D. Amorosi
The Sex Pistols recently announced their first show to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks. What say you?
Really? Good luck to them. I'm not going to rush to see it.
Does punk nostalgia — the Pistols gig in particular — bug you?
It's not something I would choose to do. Then again, I don't have to. I made more than one record.
How do you feel about the end of the Banshees?
It went out with a fizzle, really. That's what happens when something goes on for so long. It wasn't all bad. There was good stuff. You try to accentuate it — the positive. It would've been a cop-out just to jump because things got bad. That's true of all things — friendships, relationships. But the good didn't keep outweighing the bad.
What do you feel you learned about yourself during the recording of your first solo record?
That I'm very adaptable. I can get exactly what I want with whomever I work with. I don't know how I managed to do that [laughs]. It's weird. But the one thing you have to consider when you look at what I've done since 1976 to now … is me. Musicians have come and gone. But the one constant is me. I'm not going to suddenly become some pastoral frump. It's my journey.
Did you feel like you were planning for a solo album during the final throes of the Banshees, or did you just go, "Right. Let's go solo NOW"?
I felt ready to do this now, but won't deny that steps were being taken before that. That's in hindsight, really — the things conspiring to get here. I wanted nothing but to be in a band, to collaborate with the same musicians. But having a constant group that didn't stay constantly — the new musicians and adapting to them coming in — changed things.
Plus, you're notably shy.
Yes. I'm not immediately gregarious. I'm not precocious. I sought to deflect attention, and the idea of a "solo artiste" tends to garner a lot more attention than when you're part of a group. I was quite happy trying to hide within that, I suppose. I'm just one of those people that doesn't like the fuss of being the front person. Bright lights attract bugs.
Why solo, then?
Dunno, really. I'm more confident I suppose, while managing to stick to my guns and not oversaturate myself within the media. I don't say yes to everything. The label's not used to that, but …
The imagery within Mantaray is blunt and less fanciful or macabre than your Banshees stuff. Was that a conscious change?
I will agree, it's definitely a more direct and lyrically accessible record than I've done for awhile. But I'm not that one-dimensional to begin with [laughs].
How would you say the first song written for the record ("Sea of Tranquility") shaped the rest of Mantaray?
That's the linchpin. I started it as a sci-fi murder mystery, without music. Once I found its sound, making the record suddenly seemed possible.
"Into a Swan" and "Here Comes That Day" are great announcements of arrival. They're ... corny. Hardly the stuff of Siouxsie, but …
They're definitely a statement of intent.
... But you managed to nail the paranoia of recent personal events, including your divorce Budgie, on the record. Were the biographical topics harder to write?
They're personal; but not in regard to an outside relationship. It's more to do with the relationship with myself; recognizing the confrontations I used to avoid. Rather than looking to other people, there are questions that go way back to my childhood that made me the person I am. A lot of this came from losing a parent when I was young. A lot of things about my parents were a mystery.
How many Shirley Bassey records did it take to get to the phrasing of "If It Doesn't Kill You"?
I loved her doing those Bond themes — so much drama.
And is the punk girl who 31 years ago took the piss out of everyone at the 100 Club still a part of you?
She's definitely alive and kicking. I need her constantly, because the same attitudes persist. Whether I'm on a major label or not, I feel like I'm still fighting.