When someone mentions Goth music, one of the first names to come to mind is that of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Considered one of the founding forces behind the Goth movement alongside such alumni as The Cure, Bauhaus and Joy Division, Siouxsie Soux and a couple of friends decided to form a band after hanging out with the Sex Pistols and realizing that anyone could do it. In fact the Banshees drummer for their first performance was none other than Simon Ritchie who would later join the Pistols as their ill-fated bassist Sid Vicious.
While other bands sing of heartache and lost love the Banshees took despair to an entirely new level with gut wrenching lyrics about death, murder, mental illness, drug abuse and other such topics that fester just under the flesh of humanity, and they did it with haunting beauty. Not afraid to tackle such topics as religion and the occult Siouxsie and the Banshees were quick to find a following within the ranks of disenfranchised youth the world over.
In the song Christine, Siouxsie tells the tale of Christine Costner Sizemore, one of the first people to be diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder back in the 1950’s. “She tries not to shatter, kaleidoscope style, personality changes behind her red smile, every new problem brings a stranger inside, heplessly forcing one more new disguise”.
Vampires have proven to be quite the muse for our dearest Siouxsie with such songs as Night Shift, “The cold marble slab submits at my feet with a neat dissection… looking so sweet to me- please come to me, with your cold flesh- my cold love, hissing- not kissing, a happy go lucky chap- always dressed in black he’ll come to you, he’ll come to you.” and We Hunger, “The bliss of a sweet kiss, shanghai’ed on a locust flight. The thirst from a vampire bite, fills the emptiness inside. Consuming everything green-eyed, we hunger.”
Even songs not necessarily about vampires inspire visions of the undead. The song Face to Face, co-written with Danny Elfman for the soundtrack to Batman Returns drips with vampiric imagery. “One more kiss, before we die. Face to face and dream of flying. Who are you? Who am I? Wind in wings, two angels falling. To die like this with a last kiss. It’s falsehood’s flame, it’s a crying shame. Face to face, the passions breathe. I hate to stay but then I hate to leave.”
Sadly, in 1996 after 20 years together the Banshees disbanded and went their separate ways. They have regrouped once or twice since then but even though they may not be active currently their influence on modern music can still be felt today.