In 1996, Siouxsie Sioux officially shitcanned the Banshees to protest the Sex Pistols’ reunion. She and her husband, Budgie, took off to pursue their own musical interests – the experiments in drum’n’voice they had already begun years before with their EP in 1981, Wild Things .
Budgie and Siouxsie first hooked up in the late ’70s, when the former Peter Clark answered an ad in an industry rag calling for a drummer for the already-established Banshees. Prior to joining the Banshees, Budgie had already belonged to several (now-legendary) bands, including the Slits, Big in Japan, and the Spitfire Boys, so named by Wayne County (now Jayne County). Excruciatingly modest, Budgie claims that he only recently has begun to think of himself as a “real musician,” even after making a living as one for over 20 years. “I think it’s because I’ve been mostly a drummer the whole time,” he says. “I’ve just thought of myself as being the guy in the back that no one pays attention to, kind of a walking talking metronome, and that what really made the bands I was in was the people up front with the guitars and the keyboards and such. The fact that people might actually consider me to be an important part of a band hit me just a little while ago. It was a pretty cool revelation.”
I spoke to Budgie from his hotel room in Frankfurt, Germany, during the first week of the Creatures tour.
Did you get a lot of support from your family when you first started playing music? Did you have any backup career plans?
Budgie : Well, back home in England, my “career plans” were pretty bleak. I mean, I was going to school to be a painter, but realistically, the only kind of jobs available to me were working in the glass factory down the road from my parents’ house. And I knew I didn’t want to do that. But there was really no backup plan. It’s all been done without a safety net. And that’s the way we prefer it, really.
My parents really just left me pretty much alone, they left me to my own devices. They were supportive of whatever I said I was going to do next–they never understood any of it, but they never tried to get in the way, from when I was off to school to become a famous painter or when I was playing drums in a band. I have to thank them for that. They never told me I couldn’t or shouldn’t do anything. They’d kind of back off and say, “Hm, well, at least you’ve kind of got a firm plan of what you want to do.” Especially when I wanted to join a band, then they were like, “Oh, Christ, just leave him alone–he’ll grow out of it.”
“He’ll come back and work in the glass factory”?
No, they really didn’t want me to do that. So, at this point, I think they have quietly learned to accept what I’m doing–well, my dad’s still around, and I call him up from wherever we are in the world, and I spoke to my sister yesterday. She still thinks of me as her little brother. So it’s nice… I’ll call them up and they’ll ask, “Well, where are you now?” and I’ll tell them Berlin, or Copenhagen–at the moment, we’re pretty much in a different country every day. So I think they’re kind of–maybe–a little proud of me, perhaps.
What brought about starting up the Creatures after the Banshees broke up?
We knew that we wanted to do something together again, as we had a few times before, when we were still in the Banshees. So after we sat down and officially broke up the Banshees, Siouxsie and I just kept doing the things we were already doing apart from the band. It was never anything that we’d made long-term plans for, but we also never found any reason to stop. It just felt right. I suppose we could have called ourselves something besides the Creatures, since we weren’t really an official “band,” like “the Siouxsie solo project” or something like that, but we just thought that Creatures was what we were, and that fit us, and we’ve never, from the first thing we did, been able to pin a label on ourselves. No one could say, “This is what the Creatures sound like,” so we finally felt free to just do anything we wanted with our music. The Creatures are primal, it’s our guts, our deepest instincts coming through.
What’s your big secret in being able to work together and still stay a happily married couple?
Yeah…hmmm. Right. [pauses] I don’t know, really. Perhaps we fill in each other’s blanks. Or something like that. I think maybe we don’t look for the things that regular relationships contain, whatever that may be.
What’s your composition process like? Do the two of you go into the studio together to work ideas out, or do you get up in the middle of the night independently of each other and rush into the studio to lay tracks?
I think it’s more of the latter. We just put songs together as the ideas come. What we try to do and what we have done with the Creatures – and it’s easier to do it this way, because there’s just the two of us – is not have to go to a studio until we really need to. In fact, the last two albums haven’t been done in studios, for the most part – we just added a few finishing tracks in the studio to pieces that were already done and recorded at home with mobile equipment that we just rented for the project. So now, when we’re at home and the time feels right, we can lay down tracks. We like to work in an atmosphere that feels right to us, and I don’t have a clue why we prefer it like this now, after growing so accustomed to working in studios. I think it’s because now we don’t have to get a band together in order to record, because it’s just the two of us. There are no schedules other than our own to work around now, and the two of us seem to enjoy the same things and feel inspired at the same times.
What kind of gear do you use in the studio? What kind of keyboards, software, etc…
It’s not confined to anything, really. I mean, I have old analog synths that I just love the sound of, I have my old first drum kit, which is unlike anything I’ve ever played before, it just has its own voice; I have Chinese singing bowls, zithers, and really, whatever sounds right. We’re really not selfish about equipment having to be a certain make or a certain type. It’s what it sounds like, whatever can get the emotion across easiest.
Do you record directly to computer when you’re laying down tracks?
We did do that on this last record, and probably will do more so in the future, just because of the speed of it. This album – especially where the drums are concerned – was initially recorded through valve processors and compressors into EQ and then onto 2-inch analog tape to get what we still believe is a kind of warmer, gutsier sound – and then it was all mixed on computer. Something about just feeding the music into a computer – we like that old, valve sound. ◼