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Spellbound

With her bewitching profile and seductively shrill voice, Siouxsie Sioux is a mysterious and magical icon. Partnered with drum master Budgie, the singer is known for the kind of stark melodies one might hear in the background of a dream — ethereal, darkly inspiring. And while most remember their pioneering work with Siouxsie & the Banshees (from the nightmarish novelties of Scream in ’78 to the poetic pop of ’91’s Superstition), some of the pair’s most fearlessly experimental compositions were spawned through a side project called the Creatures. Performing in this incarnation for the first time in almost a decade, Siouxsie and Budgie, along with friend and former Velvet Undergrounder John Cale, have embarked on a summer tour of the U.S., where they’ll be compelling crowds with their intensely rhythmic yet introspectively lush new material.

"This tour feels very much like when the Banshees first started and we did shows before there was a record released," says Siouxsie, who laid her other chart-topping band to rest three years ago and doesn’t plan to rely on the old hits to get people’s attention. "The audience is actually going with the whole spirit of what’s intended — getting rid of any history, any preconceptions, and just starting fresh." This clean perspective can be heard on the Creatures’ recent EP Eraser Cut , just released in England, and on the band’s third full-length album, Anima Animus , due out in January on the newly formed Sioux Records, which they launched after the duo’s alliance with Geffen (their label for 12 years) became frustrating and unproductive. "They were more interested in revamping the past than pursuing where we felt we were headed," says Budgie. "So, after talking with some people in London who were remixing for DJs and such, we realized we could organize our own label." "They [Geffen] were just so cold and clinical and disinterested," says Siouxsie. "They would have kept the album the biggest secret when it was released and made us compromise it a bit, and I just thought, no, fuck it." Granting itself the freedom to experiment and evolve, the band has concocted a batch of genre-defying tunes that incorporate Siouxsie’s distinctively high-pitched, voluptuous vocals and Budgie’s pulsating percussion with electronic elements like gabbling guitar samples and indecipherable loops. Both acknowledge the influence technology has had on their new music. "It’s been great being back in the city, because London is really quite vital at the moment," says Budgie, who along with Siouxsie temporarily moved from their home in France to the U.K. to record their latest album. "I’ve gone out to some of the clubs that are heavy on drum ’n’ bass — I see what’s going on as a natural transition." Siouxsie agrees. "I like the attitude of the people working within it [electronica]. It’s very refreshing." Describing her own new songs as "very primal," the uninhibited performer says the desire to re-form the Creatures with Budgie (who joined the Banshees in ’79 and married Ms. Sioux in ’91) has "always been lurking." "I really wanted to get back to a more intuitive way of working, which was missing with the Banshees a bit," she says. "What we’re doing now is much more personal. I’m very interested in the male/female and blurring the lines between dark and light." Speaking of which, "dark wave" and "goth" are just a couple of the terms commonly used to describe Siouxsie’s haunting music and persona. At local gothic clubs like Coven 13, Banshee favorites like "Spellbound," "Dazzle," "Christine" and "Cities in Dust" pack the dance floor with black-garbed ghoulish types, many of whom seem to be replicating Siouxsie’s early makeup and dress style. How does she like being a goth goddess? "I’m anti-label," she says matter-of-factly. "Just like I was ‘anti’ when punk became accepted by the industry, because it reduced it to a uniform and a limited way of playing, rather than just going with the spirit and attitude of it. "It’s oversimplifying to call it ‘death’ or ‘dark’ — it’s just a cop-out. And I don’t like being lumped in along with other bands considered ‘goth’ that I just find pantomime." The Creatures’ nebulous new opuses could hard ly be reduced to a simple label or category, and the band’s unconventional musical-chairs-like show (Budgie performs with John Cale, Cale performs with Siouxsie, Siouxsie sings Cale’s songs, Cale’s guitarist plays with all of ’em) is one that, according to Budgie, "changes as we go." "We’ve certainly never done this type of thing before, and I don’t think John has done anything on this level either," says Siouxsie. "The show is very schizophrenic. "As you get older you either own up or grow up," reflects this sagacious star, who’s been making enchantingly original music for over 20 years and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. "I think growth has to do with trying to fathom the impossible, and that’s figuring yourself out." The Creatures appear at El Rey Theater, Thursday, July 9; and at the Palace, Tuesday-Wednesday, July 14-15.


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