Follow TV Tropes


Music / Siouxsie and the Banshees

Go To
The band at their most normal. note 

Following the footsteps of a rag doll dance,
we are entranced — Spellbound.

Siouxsie and the Banshees were a British rock band (for a given definition of "rock," anyway) formed in 1976 by vocalist Siouxsie Sioux (born Susan Ballion) and bassist Steven Severin (born Steven John Bailey). While their roots were very much in the Punk Rock scene (the impromptu gig that led to the band's formation featured Sid Vicious on drums) they quickly branched out and began to employ a wide variety of instruments and musical styles. The band's core lineup was rounded out in 1979 by drummer Budgie (born Peter Edward Clarke). Temporary guitarists included Magazine's John McGeoch and The Cure's Robert Smith. The band broke up in 1996, and had a one-off reunion in 2002.

They are regularly cited as being one of the more influential Punk bands in the history of the genre, and they are considered one of the founders of Goth Rock.


Siouxsie and Budgie had a side project, The Creatures, from 1983 to 2005, based more on percussion and influences from various locations: Hawaii, Spain, France and Japan.

Principal Members (Founders in bold, final lineup in italics)

  • Siouxsie Sioux: Vocals (1976-1996, 2002)
  • Steven Severin: Bass, keyboards (1976-1996, 2002)
  • Marco Pirroni: Guitars (1976)
  • Sid Vicious: Drums (1976, died 1979)
  • Peter Fenton: Guitars (1977)
  • Kenny Morris: Drums (1977-1979)
  • John McKay: Guitars (1977-1979)
  • Budgie: Drums, percussion, keyboards (1979-1996, 2002)
  • Robert Smith: Guitars (1979, 1982-1984)
  • John McGeoch: Guitars (1982-1984, died 2004)
  • John Valentine Carruthers: Guitars (1984-1987)
  • Martin McCarrick: Keyboards, strings, accordion, dulcimer (1987-1995)
  • Jon Klein: Guitars (1987-1995)
  • Knox Chandler: Guitars (1995-1996, 2002)


Studio Discography:

  • The Scream (1978)
  • Join Hands (1979)
  • Kaleidoscope (1980)
  • Juju (1981)
  • A Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982)
  • Hyæna (1984)
  • Tinderbox (1986)
  • Through the Looking Glass (1987)
  • Peepshow (1988)
  • Superstition (1991)
  • The Rapture (1995)

This band provides examples of:

  • Art Shift: An unusual audio version on "Peek-a-Boo". Each line was sung into a different mic to give a variety of different textures to Siouxsie's voice.
  • Artist and the Band: One of The Banshees, Steven Severin, is a frequent co-writer for the band's songs
  • Asian Store-Owner: An incident in which a group of workers in a Chinese restaurant were racially harassed by skinheads, which Siouxie witnessed, became the basis for "Hong Kong Garden."
  • Backmasking: The intrumentation to "Peek-a-Boo" was created this way.
  • Contralto of Danger: Siouxsie has a deeper-than-average voice, but a wide range (from from G2-G#6). Her unique vocals are part of why the band are so beloved.
  • Cover Album: Through the Looking Glass. Includes covers of Sparks, Kraftwerk, The Doors, Iggy Pop, Roxy Music, Television, and The Band, of all people.
  • Cover Version: The band covered two songs from The Beatles' White Album: "Helter Skelter" on their debut album The Scream in 1978, and "Dear Prudence" as a standalone single in 1983.
  • Dark-Skinned Blonde: Budgie.
  • Death Song: "Kiss Them for Me" is about Jayne Mansfield, and the final verse talks about her car accident death.
    On the road to New Orleans
    A spray of stars hit the screen
    As the tenth impact shimmered
    The forbidden candles beamed
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The cover art for Juju, A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, Hyæna, Peepshow, and the live album Nocturne.
  • Double Entendre: Some people believe the song "Slowdive" to be about sex or masturbation.
  • Downer Ending: Not really to the band itself, the breakup seems to have been pretty amicable, but their final album, The Rapture, ends with the pretty damn depressing "Love Out Me", which ended up being the band's final song.
  • Dream Team: When The Cure's Robert Smith joined the band as a guitarist.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Siouxsie, Robert Smith, and John Carruthers.
  • Elder Abuse: "Spellbound" includes a lyric about throwing elders down the stairs for not saying their prayers.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: One of the key points in "Hong Kong Garden."
  • Epic Rocking: Not what one might expect from a band linked to Punk Rock, but they had their moments:
    • "Switch" from The Scream: 6:58.
    • "The Lord's Prayer" from Join Hands: 14:08.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: "Red Light" uses a camera shutter as an instrument.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin; From the lyrics of "Slowdive:"
    "It's slowdive
    When you dive slow."
  • Genre Mashup: They quickly grew out of their Punk / Post-Punk beginnings and began to explore a wide variety of musical genres.
  • Goth Rock: Trope Makers alongside The Cure and Bauhaus. Though, much like The Cure, they combined it with quite a few other genres and were often poppier than the norm for the genre, sometimes bordering on New Wave Music. The band themselves have actually repeatedly criticized the way they're so often called a 'goth band'.
  • Grief Song: Quite a few. "Rhapsody," for instance, although the grief there isn't induced by the death of a person.
  • Involuntary Dance: "Spellbound."
  • Lead Bassist/Lead Drummer: One of the more impressive things about the band is that their music tends to be rhythmically livelier and more interesting than that of their English post-punk peers; this is perhaps on account of having in Severin and Budgie one of the stablest rhythm sections in the history of music. It also was due to the band having a Revolving Door Lineup of guitarists, which meant more focus could be put on the bass and drums.
  • Lighter and Softer: Superstition, being a much more danceable, accessible and poppy effort than previous (and later) albums, dabbling with Synth-Pop and Alternative Dance. Compare "Kiss Them For Me" or "Shadowtime" with virtually any song from their other albums, and this becomes very apparent.
    • Kaleidoscope was this after the downright bleak Darker and Edgier album, Join Hands.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The core members of the band were the same for nearly all the 17 years of their run: Siouxsie, Steven Severin (the founding members) and drummer Budgie. The latter was recruited to play for their 1979 Join Hands tour: he was originally supposed to be a temporary member but ended up remaining until the band's breakup in 1995. The fact that he hooked up with and subsequently married Siouxsie probably helped.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: "She's a Carnival."
  • Minimalistic Cover Art:
  • Ms. Fanservice: Siouxsie is perceived as quite attractive, despite the band's overall eerie look. In fact, the reason why the Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones started dropping f-bombs to host Bill Grundy during their notorious interview was because Grundy, who was drunk at the time, made an explicit pass at Siouxsie.
    • In the band's early years, she would sometimes perform onstage topless. This also made its way into The Creatures' album covers.
  • New Sound Album: All the time. Virtually every album changes their sound up to an extent:
    • The Scream is harsh, minimalistic Post-Punk and Punk Rock.
    • Join Hands is even more bleak, harsh and minimal than its predecessor, as well as being somewhat more experimental as well.
    • Kaleidoscope has a much more eclectic and textural sound due to the addition of John McGeoch and Budgie as guitarist and drummer/percussionist, and also dabbles in slight psychedelia and electronic elements (both of which were to crop up again to a much larger extent on later albums).
    • Juju is much Darker and Edgier and more chaotic than Kaleidoscope and even dabbles in Art Rock.
    • A Kiss In The Dreamhouse turns up the Art Rock even further in addition to diving headlong into Psychedelic Rock.
    • Hyaena continues with the Art Rock and Psychedelic Rock mix, but has a slightly different take on it due to the departure of John McGeoch and the arrival of Robert Smith as guitarist, resulting in a more melodic and pop-influenced sound. At the same time, the album is even more experimental than its predecessor.
    • Tinderbox returns to a Darker and Edgier and less psychedelic sound, while keeping the more 'pop' influences that would become more pronounced with each album after it. It also experiments with Glam Rock and even on "Cities In Dust", dance and electronic elements that were last seen on Kaleidoscope.
    • Peepshow turns up the electronic and dance influences even further while also experimenting with a wide and eclectic range of styles and influences.
    • Superstition is where the Synth-Pop and Alternative Dance elements that had started with "Cities In Dust" and grown with each album peak, on this album which is by far their poppiest and most accessible.
    • The Rapture gets darker and more melancholic again and removes the dance and electronic elements while also incorporating Glam Rock and World Music influences, nodding to Siouxsie and Budgie's work in The Creatures.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune:
    • Combined with Last Note Nightmare in "Carousel."
    • "Mother", although it's more soothing at the same time.
  • Punk Rock: At the beginning of their career. They quickly moved on.
  • Pyromaniac: "All fire and brimstone, this jack-o'-lantern, he likes to watch the buildings burn..."
  • Scary Scarecrows: "Scarecrow." Differs from most examples in that the lyrics have a vaguely sexual subtext.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Drummer Kenny Morris and guitarist John McKay ditched the group without notice after the second album.
  • Shout-Out: "Peek-A-Boo" has the line "Golly, jeepers, where'd you get those weepers? Peep show, freak show, where did you get those eyes?", which is enough of an overt nod to Hollywood showtune "Jeepers Creepers"' opening lines that the band had to give "Jeepers" songwriters Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer a co-writing credit to avoid legal action.
  • Stalker with a Crush: A favourite lyrical theme, such as in "Carcass" and "Head Cut."
  • Take That!: "Drop Dead."
  • Word Salad Lyrics: You often get the impression Siouxsie's trying to tell you something, but you can't quite figure out what.