Despite being constantly let down by disorganised and/or dismissive editors and the decline of print media in general, I applied to be a writer for a UK music magazine recently. A friend of mine tagged me in a facebook post calling for gothic writers, simply saying ‘this is you’. I considered it, fretted about it, then applied anyway (like I knew I would). It seems I can’t help myself.
Here’s my application piece, just for fun. Must have been alright as they offered me the post yesterday…
“The ending was a mistake”
Siouxsie Sioux had plans to perform until the management or audience (or both) got tired of listening to her noise and forcibly removed the band from the stage. It didn’t happen that way.
Despite Island Records A&R man saying they were “awful” The Banshees first gig was a hit. It’s difficult to know whether that incendiary show at the 100 Club in 1976 was ever supposed to be the beginning of something, or just the chance for a shy extrovert to get behind a microphone and read the Lord’s Prayer to a bunch of punks. Whatever the intentions, just over a year later Siouxsie and The Banshees (albeit with a few line-up changes) would be playing a sell out night at The Nashville while Billy Idol looked on from the audience.
Siouxsie began as a follower of punk, until she ‘formed’ her own band and progressed beyond the visceral yet mindless nature of that genre. Although her initial look, which included swastika arm bands, caused controversy, she will be forever remembered for her sharply painted cheekbones and eyes, which set her apart from other frontwomen. Not to be pigeonholed, The Banshees identified themselves as ‘sound innovators’ rather than musicians and infuriated journalists by declining to provide a motive for their look or sound. Unlike punk musicians, they didn’t need to offend people, they had something to say but it was up to the audience to hear it. Why should they care if the listener didn’t get it? The Banshees were awkward and pretentious, at the same time unsure of themselves and irritatingly confident. Critics were either fascinated or wrote them off as faux-shock arthouse pop that fans would eventually see through just like they had.
One of their first hits ‘Hong Kong Garden’ would get them a place on Top of the Pops in 1978 (much to everyone’s surprise), but shortly afterwards the band would split. One half of the group, Siouxsie and Severin, would continue to release music until the mid-nineties, including ‘Happy House’ and goth-club favourite ‘Spellbound’. Despite painting herself gold and getting acid-twisted in side project The Creatures, Siouxsie and her Banshees retained their iconic disdain for following trends and their talent for annoying the press. Her heavy black eye make-up is now as synonymous with the gothic aesthetic as Robert Smith’s hairdo.