SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES - A Kiss In The Dreamhouse (1982)
"We wanted a really colourful sleeve with lots of gold and deep colours because we felt the music was very rich. "
Bass - Steven Severin, Drums - Budgie, Guitar - Keyboards - John McGeoch, Voice - Siouxsie Sioux
02 Green Fingers
04 She's A Carnival
07 Painted Bird
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"LET'S GET PHYSICAL
Some people wouldn't notice a change if it hit them in the face like a wet fish. A certain proportion of such people follow Siouxsie & The Banshees and call out for 'Love In A Void'. A certain number of people still persist in calling the Banshees cold and distant, black and white.
These people are wrong. These people are out of touch. The Banshees' current single 'Melt!' is a siren song, a song of desire. The Banshees come in colours and explode like fireworks and their music is full of sex and all its sinkings. Come close to 'A Kiss In The Dreamhouse', feel its fire and melt. If this is ice, how come it feels so hot?
Today the Banshees are in Berlin. There are those that still claim that this is Europe's most decadent city, but Siouxsie is not one of them. Those who find the lady cold and austere may be surprised to find that Germany is not her favourite country.
"This place is about anything but individuals," she says with a grimace. "Germany is so clockwork, so starchy, so rigid. Look at the food - it's all so substantially useful. All of it is made to fill you up and weigh you down. They don't care about the look or the taste. This country is humourless and depressing and were not coming back..."
If the Banshees don't like something, they tend to refuse it. They work hard and meticulously and they prefer not to be pushed.
"Polydor keep telling us that Germany is a big market and that we should play here for three months to 'break big'. A lot of people put pressure on bands to work at things, to slog. That kind of forced labour destroys bands and their sincerity. The same people urge you to economise falsely. They try and get you to skimp and save on the lights or the stage, get you to just take a torch so you'll save some money." Siouxsie sniffs with contempt.
The problems with Siouxsie voice ensure that the Banshees no longer slog their way through tours.
"We have to take a break between shows because I don't want to risk canceling or performing poorly. It turns out expensive because even though you're not playing one night out of two, you still have to pay for the gear and for hotels. We decided that rather than make money, we'd rather break even and do it well."
The Banshees' recent tour of Britain saw them boasting a string section for the first time and employing the Cure's Robert Smith as a stand in for the sick John McGeoch. While the punks pogoed in front of the stage, the Banshees displayed the range and tonal variety of 'A Kiss In The Dreamhouse' while demonstrating that they've lost none of their obsessive drive.
Modern Banshees' music is sex music, music that explores the pleasures and terrors of lust and the force of desire. 'Dreamhouse' could have been written by Alfred Hitchcock if he were a modern rock band instead of a dead director.
Siouxsie agrees that much of the album centres around desire. "Yes, it's about sex, but not in a 'Do ya like my body?, do ya think I'm sexy?' kind of way. I hate this word too, because of its connotations, but it's more about love. Love and desire and passion.
"And it's maybe a fairly sad record because a lot of passions end up trapping people and having sad endings. So it's about the travesties that come out of so called 'love'. So you have a song like 'Obsession' that just sounds sexual and has music that, at the same time, sounds very constrictive and cramped. Like an obsession. The events in the song actually took place. It's about a friend of a friend of mine. Its an extreme example of what happens in more subtle ways in most peoples relationships.
"It seems there's always an imbalance in love. One person's love is unrequited, or one person likes the the other more. So many relationships come down to who can hurt the other more or who can be most flippant while hurting the other..."
The songs on 'A Kiss In The Dreamhouse' explore love's diversions and perversions only to shine a light on the bizarre nature of the 'normal'.
While they are still fascinated by exotica as much as erotica, the exotic on 'Dreamhouse' always leads back to that tangled forest of sex that lies close to the surface of every life.
"Steve came up with the title while watching TV one night," explains Siouxsie.
"A series was starting based around the twenties or thirties and this top-class whorehouse in America. In the whorehouse you could meet perfect replicas of the stars of the time, women like Mae West, perfectly reproduced. It was a very rich and exclusive place and it actually existed."
The 'Dreamhouse' is not so far from the 'Happy House' though Siouxsie insists that the earlier song was sarcastic while the album title is merely "ironic". 'Dreamhouse' was the first album in which the Banshees really exploited the possibilities of studio.
"All of 'Juju' had been played live before we recorded it. With 'Dreamhouse' we were working in the studio more and allowing ourselves to be inspired by sounds. 'Fireworks' indicated the direction we wanted for the album. We wanted strings on that. John wanted a machine but Steve and I said it had to be real strings. They give a real, earthy, rich sound. You could hear the strings spitting and breathing and wheezing. Me and Steve have always wanted our music to be performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. We've always thought our songs would suit orchestration. Real strings have a very physical sound."
The Banshees achieved the richness they desired.
"We wanted a really colourful sleeve with lots of gold and deep colours because we felt the music was very rich. This is the most produced record we've made, not in the calculated sense but in the sense that we explored the moods and sounds of the studio better. Mike Hedges really helped us. Before we've co-produced with producers and there's been misunderstandings, but with Mike we didn't have to talk in technical terms so we didn't have the same problem translating what we've done live into a sound in the studio..."
"Modern Banshees' music is sex music"
Full of their new record, the Banshees toured Britain only to find the venues and audiences jaded. We prefer playing new places because you always get a reaction whether they like you or not. The first night in Manchester we might as well have been playing to ourselves. We felt that we were good but the audience weren't. I saw one guy with a sleeping bag who was just collapsed. I don't know if he'd been sniffing glue or smoking a joint but he was out of it.
"You get the impression that a lot of people are only there for nostalgia or because there wasn't anything good on telly that night. We've played places where the crowd hated us and abused us but the dislike was so strong it got us burning. Either you win and convert them or they really hate you but in Britain some of the gigs are like a grey area. It's hard for you to know whether it's you or them..."
Siouxsie had emerged as the grand dame of the punk generation. Punk was their occasion but they have grown far beyond its narrow confines. The Banshees stand curiously apart from their own generation and from the current pop kids.
"Young groups seem very finance conscious now," says Siouxsie.
"I don't know if its the managers but they don't want to take risks and they only want to be short-term. They'll be in all the teeny mags for a short time and then be gone and they seem to be happy with that. Pop has reverted back to the days of the Bay City Rollers. And the independent labels have got as predictable as the majors. There's no selection. We're flooded with so much music that you can't even find the good stuff even if it's there. Someone somewhere is getting drowned by all this influx of music dressed up in nice clothes with no substance. Too many people are releasing music simply because it's been made."
Siouxsie & The Banshees have come to stand apart. Don't let's ignore them or put them on pedestals and forget about them. Together they are pursuing an individual path deeper into a strange jungle. Cut with them through the thickets and you might even find yourself learning something you didn't know. About yourself, about the Banshees.
Go on, lover, Melt.
(Mark Copper 18/12/82 - RECORD MIRROR)
"If on Keleidoscope the Banshees could be compared to an evil St. Pepper, here they could be mistaken for an evil Phil Spector. The overall tone is softer, the mood is more psychadelic than gothic and a grandoise, reverbed production dominates most of the album complemented with woodwinds and strings. Although this isn't Siouxsie and The Banshees' most cohesive work, it remains their most interesting.Best Tracks: Cascade, Melt!, Green Fingers."
"If Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Kaleidoscope" is the sound of the band moving from black and white to primary colours ( literally evident on the album cover logo itself ) then A Kiss in the Dreamhouse is a full-on leap into day glow. It is their psychedelic masterpiece. Lyrically very vivid, each song paints a picture, and sonically more adventurous than they had ever been before. Indeed, the dark and sinister Juju, which preceeded it, almost painted this band into a corner they might not ever have been able to escape from, and gave them the unwarranted and unecessary "Goth" tag they have been saddled with ever since. A Kiss in the Dreamhouse is no one trick pony. SO many bases are covered. From lite cocktail jazz ( "Cacoon", which was ripped off by Robert Smith for his band the Cure's "The Lovecats" single a year later) to heavier rockers like "She's a Carnival" and the single "Slowdive." Even the slow numbers on this album are just so gorgeous, so rich in instrumentation and voices, like the brilliant "Obsession", with its bells and creepy death-march tempo, and "Melt!" one of Siouxsie's finest vocal performances ever captured on tape. "
part 2. : tomorrow with "Hyaena" and "Tinderbox"