Initially, The Creatures was a side project for Siouxsie and the Banshees members Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie. But when that the Banshees have called it a day, The Creatures became the duo’s primary musical venture. By forming their own label, Sioux Records, the group strived to do everything on their own terms, avoiding any kind of external record label interference. In 1998, the group toured America with the Velvet Underground’s John Cale, who previously had worked as producer on Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “The Rapture.” Siouxsie and Budgie released the long-awaited third Creatures album, “Anima Animus,” in 1999. The following is a phone interview with Budgie from that year.
How did the US tour with John Cale go?
Budgie: “I suppose it took us a little bit by surprise. We hadn’t been there since ’95 with the Banshees. And of course it wasn’t just a Creatures show, it was a collaboration with John Cale. So it was a different way of going about it for us. I was sitting on the kit for John’ songs as well as our own, interchanging parts. It was very different, but a really responsive audience all the way around the states”
You also worked with John Cale on the last Siouxsie and the Banshees album – how did you meet him initially?
Budgie: “I think we just asked him if he’d come along and help us finish the Banshees album. We’d met him briefly before that. We’d obviously been admirers of his solo work as well as the Velvet Underground. We met him briefly backstage when the Velvet Underground played Paris Olympia. But we had a mutual friend in Paris. It was when John was doing a ballet based on the life of Nico. We went along to Rotterdam to see the premiere of that. And he suggested that we get together and write a song especially for a thing he was doing in Rotterdam with one of the Dutch orchestras. That was broadcast live on Dutch television, the video found its way back to the west coast, to John’s agent in LA, and she decided to put the word out that this might be an interesting proposition for promoters around America. It’s a different way of looking at us both, really.”
How extensive was the tour you did together?
Budgie: “It was about 30 dates over about seven weeks. We were hoping to get down to some of our favorite places, like Atlanta, Georgia and Houston. We didn’t get down to Texas. But it was quite extensive, we did California, through Salt Lake City, Las Vegas. We’d been to Vegas but had never played there before in any capacity. That was a first. We always like to try to do something we’ve never tried before. And I suppose what was different really was, for instance, in Seattle, we were playing 2 nights in a small place. The audience was passing us drinks, somebody stole my drum sticks so I was trying to play the cymbals in time. So it was the interaction, even if it wasn’t in time, that was a good laugh!”
At what point did Siouxsie and the Banshees end? Did you know “The Rapture” would be your last album as you were making it?
Budgie: “I think we always say that you kind of approach everything as if it’s going to be the last time you’re going to do it. Because you hope it’s the best you can achieve. I think the last Banshee’s album was a hard event. It wasn’t as free flowing as we would have liked it to be. Siouxsie had always maintained that when it became a chore … it’s not always easy, and the friction a healthy thing, but I think it became apparent that there were tensions within the set-up of the band and behind the scenes that were basically getting in the way of what was good about the band. Too much interference from the pressure of commerce. I don’t think we were ready to give up that much, to make that many compromises. I think we just decided it was time to call it a day. Not particularly to start the Creatures project full-time, but that we shouldn’t keep at this if it’s not feeling right. It’s the hardest thing in the world to stop something that you’ve put so much love, care and attention into.”
Has the creative process changed at all now that The Creatures is your main project?
Budgie: “The actual writing and the ways the ideas come about hasn’t changed. We never have been the type of writers, with the Creatures or as the Banshees, that kind of, say, finish up a whole bunch of lyrics and then mold them into a verse/chorus type thing. Or, on the other hand, we’re not the type of people who sit down and make music and then put words to it. It’s usually one kind of strange angular noise, or one set of words, that sparks off an idea that we’ll play around with. Just looking for a kind of whole statement, rather than a recognizable song chorus, if you like. The difference now, with the new album of Creatures material, is that the Creatures is the thing we do now. It’s not like an interim stage between Banshees albums. On “Boomerang,” we felt that we had to get everything out there because we wouldn’t be returning to it for a while. It’s a very hands on approach, we have our set-up in our house and I’d be banging drums and Siouxsie would be kind of singing the song as she walked through the door. It’s quite spontaneous and quite crazy.”
What made you start up Sioux Records?
Budgie: “We did it, really, so we could send out Christmas cards this year with Sioux Records on them. That’s one of the main reasons why we did it. And of course, we realized after we’d done the bulk of the recording and we were still hitting bricks walls and people were not quite sure of what we could do with this album, that it wasn’t because they knew better than us. It was because they, being the major records labels and to some degree the people who were called independent records labels … everybody seems to be very conservative with what they’re prepared to put their name to, or their voice to, or the financial backing to. I suppose we were just through with taking other people’s advice and opinions on what should be or shouldn’t be released as a CD. So we just thought that it’s about time we tried to do this completely on our own terms and get rid of the kind of commercial conformity. So through chance meetings, meetings of kindred spirits, we’ve got some good allies now. It feels very positive, very healthy.”