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Last Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007, 08:15 GMT 09:15 UK
Punk icon Siouxsie stands alone
By Michael Osborn
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Siouxsie Sioux
Sioux enjoys a 'double life' living in rural France
For the first time in a career spanning more than 30 years, legendary punk musician Siouxsie Sioux has made a solo album.

The instantly recognisable 50-year-old frontwoman of The Banshees and The Creatures says it was the opportune moment to strike out and record Mantaray with a brand new coterie of musicians and collaborators.

"The time felt right to drop the bags, start again and leave the past truly behind," explains Sioux in her distinctive gravelly tones, adding that a live tour in 2004 was the long-burning inspiration for a new album.

"It was totally different. The producers were also musicians so were hands-on. The way we worked was easy and direct.

'Leave me alone!'

"You know what's coming next when you're in a band, but this time some songs took complete turns and really surprised me. Everything was more intense and heightened," she adds.

"I got into more fights when it was the band. I'm pretty much the boss lady, but we knew which way we were going this time which made things flow quickly."

Siouxsie (second left) in 1976 with the Bromley Contingent
Opening my mouth without thinking is really what got me started
Siouxsie Sioux on how she landed her debut gig

Sioux, who has lived in France for the past 15 years, had to conquer her fear of driving to make the journey to Bath, where the album was recorded over several sessions.

The album's recent release has caught the veteran singer up in a gruelling whirwind of publicity of both sides of the Atlantic - leading her to question the demands made on today's music stars.

"I've been screaming 'leave me alone!' quite a few times. It's exhausting. I couldn't do it constantly.

"If I didn't have my quiet, sedate life in France, I'd have been carried off to the lunatic asylum a long time ago. I can breathe properly there.

"This idea that life's a stage? Give me a break!" she laughs.

'Truly bitten'

Sioux has been contemplating a move back to "the buzz" of London, but the round of activity to promote her album has made her think about maintaining her solace.

In the early 1990s, the retreat to France with former partner Budgie was prompted by her fame becoming too close for comfort, with fans leaving messages on her car windscreen and even turning up on their doorstep.

Siouxsie and The Banshees performing Peek-A-Boo in 1988
Sioux scored a string of hits with The Banshees

Winding back to the start of her career during the height of the punk era, Sioux - born Susan Ballion - admits she had a burning desire to perform and be famous.

"I was at this club called Louise's. Everyone was hanging out - Malcolm [McLaren] and The Sex Pistols were there," she recalls.

"He said 'there's this punk festival coming up and one of the bands has pulled out. I've really got to find someone to make up the bill'.

"And without thinking I said: "Oh, I'll do it". That night I was asking people if they could play.

"Opening my mouth without thinking is really what got me started!"

Sioux's resulting stage debut was at London's 100 Club in September 1976, with a line-up including Sex Pistol Sid Vicious on drums and Steve Severin, who went on to form The Banshees with her.

"I was well and truly bitten after that," adds the singer, arguably one of punk's most enduring figures - and still going strong today.

Siouxsie Sioux's album Mantaray is out now and released in the US on 2 October. She will perform at the BBC Electric Proms in London on 24 October.

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