The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

I Don't Belong Here: Cathi Unsworth's Weirdo In 13 Albums
The Quietus , July 25th, 2012 07:17

Author and journalist Cathi Unsworth talks us through the albums that inspired her new novel Weirdo. This feature will bring dark joy to the hearts of those whose clothes are black, whose lips are purple and whose witches are red


Siouxsie And The Banshees Ju Ju

Though I love all the Banshees' albums, and have used a few earlier tracks as well as headings in Weirdo, it was this 1981 classic that would not get off my turntable throughout my teenage years – ‘Spellbound’, ‘Monitor’ and ‘Nightshift’ in particular. The sound achieved on this, with John McGeoch on guitar, is the band at their most intriguing, threatening and sinister. ‘Monitor’ perhaps the most – the idea of the nation settling down to their nightly dose of snuff, and the line: "The victim looks up, stares strangely at the screen, as if her pain was our fault/But that’s entertainment/What we crave for inside…" Siouxsie’s genius was in transmitting so viscerally the banality of evil that lies behind the familiar, suburban façade. And when you are listening to this stuff while living in the middle of turnip fields it can cause the mind to go to all sorts of strange and horrific places. I owe Sioux a lot. I got to work with The Banshees in 1991, writing bios and press releases for their Superstition LP and they were every bit as brilliant as people as their music suggests. I also got to meet one of my very best friends, Sioux’s former PA, Billy Chainsaw, through them. I did a magazine called Purr with him for a couple of years and also worked with him later on Bizarre. One of the continuing themes of my books is how the past can store up gifts for the future, of which this was a genuine case. Though little did I suspect that would happen back when I was plastering posters of The Banshees on my bedroom walls!