If Siouxsie and the Banshees in their late-1970s heyday epitomized punk’s improvisational, can-do spirit, then the spin-off group the Creatures, featuring Siouxsie Sioux on vocals and Budgie on drums, have inherited their original vibe. When the Banshees’ Seven Year Itch reunion tour of 2002 was planned, it gave Budgie (real name Peter Clarke) the chance to turn a long-cherished dream into reality.! And that’s now available for all to share in the form of new album Hai! (Instinct Records).
“Rather than a local support act in each town, we thought we’d introduce something unexpected,” says Budgie. “Trawling the Internet, I came across (female punk trio) eX-girl from Tokyo, who flew from Norway, where they happened to be, landed in Chicago and hooked up with the tour. My first question to their manager was, ‘Do you know any of the Taiko drummers or any way of getting in touch with them?’ We’ve been trying to meet up for years.”
With a Tokyo festival set to end the Banshees’ tour in August 2002, a studio session was hastily arranged with Taiko drum master and former chief soloist of the Kodo drummers Leonard Eto. “There was no time to plan anything, really. It was just ‘my God, it’s happening.’
“I met Leonard in the studio at midday when we were setting up: him with his Daiko drum, a huge thing, and his little Taiko drums in front, and me with my Ludwig kit. We played and played for an hour and a half, and Siouxsie was in the control room gesticulating and trying to get into the studio and sing immediately. We kept the door locked so she couldn’t!
“We started a little cautiously, with Leonard maybe not sure exactly who I was or what I was up to and me in absolute awe of a drummer I’d heard on many Kodo recordings. I knew he’d written many of my favorite pieces over the years. So it was a dream opportunity that might have ended with egg on the face. Thankfully it didn’t.” Indeed, by six o’clock the pair had put down enough rhythms to retire to a nearby fish restaurant to get to know each other and toast the project’s success in hot sake.
Budgie had first experienced the loincloth-clad Kodo drummers in London “at Sadlers Wells a couple of times, at Covent Garden and in a theater where, when they hit the big drum, pla