Feast remains one of the most primal experiments Siouxsie ever committed to tape.
The Creatures, Siouxsie Sioux’s side project with drummer and future husband Budgie, allowed the Banshees frontwoman the opportunity to explore more exotic sounds that the confines of her primary band did not allow. Basically a conversation between Siouxsie’s vocals and Budgie’s percussion, the Creatures formed in 1981 around the time the Banshees were recording Juju. The union began by happy accident. During the Juju sessions, the duo worked on a track called “But Not Them,” a composition for only drum and voice without guitarist John McGeogh and bassist Steven Severin. Noticing chemistry, the pair decided the song wouldn’t be a good fit for Juju, but decided to create a new group entirely. They began to work on the five songs that would make up Wild Things, the Creatures first EP, its title supposedly coined by Severin who said the music reminding him of the rumpus from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Thus, the Creatures were born.
Two years later, the Creatures released their first LP, Feast, following an excursion to Hawaii. Beginning with a wordless wail from Siouxsie, the album was a stark departure from the more traditional work of the Banshees. Sounds of the ocean, windchimes ringing in the background, soon replace the scream, creating a chilling atmosphere. Then, Siouxsie intones in heavily layered vocals, “The dawning is over/ The morning is over/ And I can’t look into your eyes.” A faint chanting fills in the empty spaces as the chimes continue their mournful toll. It all almost feels like a mantra with Budgie’s drums absent until nearly five minutes into Feast.
Like the project itself, the sound of Feast also came about accidentally. While future Creatures albums would see the duo travel to Spain and experiment with urban sound, Feast was inspired by a trip Siouxsie and Budgie took to Hawaii, a place they randomly selected. On second track, “Inoa‘ole,” Siouxsie gives way to chanting from members of the Lamalani Hula Academy. It is a haunting prelude to third track, “Ice House,” the first song where Budgie is finally set loose on his kit, a drum sound that NME called perhaps “one of the greatest on record.”
Even though the spirit of Hawaii moves through all the music on Feast, Siouxsie drew from disparate sources in the creation of the album. J.G. Ballard’s novel Crash served as inspiration, as well as a stage play from India. However, tracks “Festival of Colors” with its lyrics in Hawaiian and “A Strutting Rooster” sprang entirely from Siouxsie’s experiences in the Pacific.
“Miss the Girl,” the song inspired by Ballard, was the lead single from Feast. It placed well, hitting #21 in the UK Singles Chart. Featuring marimba, “Miss the Girl” may be the most traditional sounding track on the album, yet the island-flavored exoticism and spare production sets it apart from Siouxsie’s lusher and more fleshed-out Banshees output. “You didn’t miss the girl/ You hit the girl/ You hit her with a force of steel/ She’s wrapped around your burning wheels, Siouxsie sings, paying homage to the sex-cum-death fascination Ballard’s characters have with car accidents in his novel.
Feast was well-received upon its release, drawing raves from NME and Melody Maker. However, it was time for Siouxsie and Budgie to get back to work with the Banshees. It would be another six years before they recorded again under the Creatures moniker with the very different Boomerang, besides a one-off version of “Right Now,” a song popularized by Mel Tormé, that would be become a hit single for the pair. Feast remains one of the most primal experiments Siouxsie ever committed to tape. However, she would soon be working with a very different, very famous collaborator who would irrevocably shape the direction of her music.