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Return of Sioux-per girl; Rock.

Byline: ALAN POOLE

TOUGH, almost impossible to believe, perhaps, but Siouxsie Sioux turned 50 this year.

But the original high priestess of punk has marked that milestone by launching an exciting new chapter in her 30-year career - after 11 albums with the Banshees and six with the Creatures, she unveils solo debut Mantaray on Monday.

The age issue, insists Siouxsie, is just a state of mind. "I've been where you're approaching 30," she explains, "and you think 'oh my god its over'. Then it's 40 and 'oh my god it's really, over.' But then, as I've just started with the next decade, it's kind of 'who cares?'

"You have to put all of that into perspective because I remember when I was 18, 19 feeling quite isolated that I wasn't seeking that conformity of 'find a husband, get married, settle down'. So I know that's always within me and being young doesn't mean you are young and being old doesn't mean you are old."

Siouxsie was there at the very start of the punk revolution - an extra in the Sex Pistols' TV interview with Bill Grundy that set the tone of anti-establishment bravado - and admits that she is mildly amazed that her career has survived for 30 years.

"Initially I thought 20 minutes was fine, I'll just do that and that's enough," she explained. "And then 20 minutes turning into 20 weeks and then before you know it it's 20 years and it's weird, it's when people realise how long I have been doing this.

"I personally don't feel that much different to how I felt in 76. I mean I've taken on a lot more shades and have a lot more options that I can look at, but really I don't feel that very different.

"When the Banshees first split up, it was like, 'urrgh, that's the end of that' and of course, it was, but it was also a catalyst for it to move on to something else. You had to either give up or you continued but in a different way, and in a way that ensured our survival.

"It's a fantastic achievement to survive but also it can be a curse, that thing of burning out when you've peaked, and then it's done, it's history. They've seen you evolve and then get old and then perceptions solidify and don't really move much, which is the last thing that anyone would want.

"I suppose there was a time when we were incredibly fashionable so of course it's inevitable that you become incredibly unfashionable. So I think enough time has gone by and I suppose those kind of prejudices that were there in the 10 and 15 years afterwards of it being seen as old hat, that's kind of been put where it belongs in the scheme of things.

"I really think that at the time when we were being dismissed as unfashionable, people were very aware of what had gone before and maybe were desperate to be something apart from that.

"Bands were desperately trying to create the next punk, or the next revolution, and of course I don't think they realised just how pointless and futile that notion was and how almost impossible it was, because the environment then was so different.

"My big, one of my only philosophies, is that you can't go looking for it, it usually finds you. It's a mutual accident, like chemistry. The chemistry of something happening is so dependent on the right temperature, the right timing, the right elements and in the mid 70s/late 70s that happened.

"It exploded because of all those different things that were not planned, they just happened, it was like the big bang just happened. It wasn't someone, you know, weighing out mixing things together to make the big bang happen. It happened."

Mantaray, previewed this week by first single Into a Swan, is released on Universal imprint W14 Music which, confirms Siouxsie, "is the first major label that I've been on since we were kicked off Polydor in 95.

"In that time it's been a bit of a wilderness of being self-employed and having our own label - some fun, but mainly it was a lot of hard work and being overly aware of budgets and that boring side of everything. I'm not a shopkeeper; I'm not doing this to do percentages and stuff like that, but unfortunately because you have the responsibility of running everything, you're more aware and it does kind of distract you. The last thing you need is that kind of distraction, but needs must.

"After getting this deal, it was always intended that I wanted to do a solo album and get rid of all the baggage. I found I was able to pick from anywhere without thinking that it had to be tailor-made for a specific thing, the Creatures, the Banshees. It freed me up and it felt like a lot less pressure."

I think I'd always resisted before just because of my perception of what a solo album was; that it's the solo artist to the front and then this kind of inconsequential music in the background. Of course it doesn't have to be that - but that's how I viewed it because I'd come from being in a band and, I suppose, always not feeling comfortable with it.

"I think a lot of solo artists can't get enough attention but I'm the kind of person that can do the gigs, can do the show, but I don't like the rest of it being 'Siouxsie, Siouxsie, Siouxsie'. I think even in the Banshees' days I was always deflecting and trying to point out that there were four in the band.

"I kind of battled on, stuck my head in the sand and said, 'no it's a band, it's a democracy'. And of course it wasn't, so, I think by the time I decided 'yes, I want to do a solo album' a lot of things had happened like working with different people and other people."

"I will be Siouxsie Sioux but I'm certainly not going to be a kind of artist that I don't want. I won't be doing TV shows and, no I know I definitely don't want be a personality. All I'm interested really is the music."

Whatever success the solo album enjoys, Siouxsie knows that her place in music history will continue to be defined by those heady mid-70s days.

"Something really special happened," she says, "I'm so glad to be a part of that and a part of the last time that anything unharnessed could take the industry by surprise.

"I do think that is the last time that something like that can happen. I think there are maybe subtle ways where that can happen but certainly not in that way that everyone is so envious of.

"Most people that weren't involved around any of that are so envious of the fact that they missed out on a great amount; we had such a lot of fun.

"I mean, that's the main thing. I was just a kid having fun, and I was able to have fun in my own way, which I was very lucky to be able to do, and people now seem to have that burst of freedom, so it must be tough to find ways of getting under people's skin."

CAPTION(S):

SOLO VENTURE... Siouxsie Sioux leaves the Banshees and the Creatures behind to release her first solo album.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 7, 2007
Words:1249
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