JOHN WALTERS: Siouxsie and The Banshees, who we’d seen a couple of times…What do you feel about Siouxsie now, because there’s a good example of someone who’s not just sold out and gone commercial, but has continued with a career for, well, ten years.
JOHN PEEL: You’d never have imagined it was possible at the time, but, although the stuff the Banshees do now doesn’t please me as much as the first things they did, at the same time, it would be wrong of me to condemn a band for surviving for ten years, because quite clearly The Fall have done exactly that…continuing for a long time is not of itself bad, I think, as long as what you do continues to be interesting and amusing and, in a sense, kind of irritating as well. I think the Banshees’ things have become, not exactly predictable, but, at the same time, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s all going to sound like. [Peeling Back The Years, 1987, pt.4]
Ironically, Walters first saw The Fall at the Croydon Greyhound in 1978, supporting none other than Siouxsie and The Banshees. Susan Ballion was in at the start of the punk scene, sharing part of the legendary Bill Grundy interview with the Sex Pistols. It was only a matter of time before she formed her own band and garnered a Peel session. Personally, I remember being mightily pissed off at JP because, when Hong Kong Garden (FF 1978 #22, 1979 #48, 1980 #47, 1981 #60, and All-Time 1982 #46) was first released as a single, he played it as the first track on his show every night for a week (his championing of the song no doubt helping it to make the UK charts peaking at number 7, August 1978).
How callow and green I was. Listening to it now, it still sounds fresh and spiky as Siouxsie’s hairdo in its debunking of the Oriental myth propounded by a million Chinese takeaways. The Banshees’ trademarks are all there: the keening, angular vocals, the thundering drums, the elegantly crafted guitar work, and the rock solid bassline propelling the song forward. The debut album The Scream did not contain this single, but it didn’t need it. The Melody Maker review of the album profiled it as a harrowing debut: the reviewer said he went and sat alone in his car after hearing it, ‘just for something to do’. Without doubt, Siouxsie’s telling lyrical exploration of pyschological angst is a remarkable first album. A standout track (the second) is Jigsaw Feeling (FF 1978 #43, 1979 #42, 1980 #37, 1981 #35 and All-Time 1982 #39), which builds from the aforementioned thudding minor key bassline to a vivid portrayal of mental confusion and depression (‘Some days I’m feeling total, the next I’m split in two/My eyes are doing somersaults, staring at my shoes’).