INTERVIEW WITH STEVEN SEVERIN
After Don Letts, Exeter Picturehouse was yet again host to another legendary and influential figure from the world of British punk rock. Steven Severin, the former bass-player and founder member of Siouxsie and the Banshees, provided a live soundtrack to “Le Sang d’un Poete (Blood Of A Poet)”, Jean Cocteau’s 1930 black & white surrealist classic, and the second in Severin’s ongoing series of music for silent films. I had a chat with Steven Severin after his live performance, which he did using a laptop.
How long did it take you to create the soundtrack?
“Two weeks. Some of the music had already been written for other things that hadn’t been used. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle: you divide the whole film into acts or scenes, and slowly fit in repetitive themes.”
So each time you do a performance alongside the film, is it different to the time before?
“Not by very much, but yes. There are no cuts on the beat, so I can move it around and mix it as I’m going along. It doesn’t alter that much every time, but to me it does. Other people probably wouldn’t notice it.”
How many performances of Blood of A Poet have you done so far, and what other places have you been to apart from Exeter Picturehouse?
“The first place I did it was at the Hollywood Silent Film Theatre in Los Angeles. Then in January this year, I did it in New York, and then I played some more shows in Canada in June. Now I’m touring it at the Picturehouse venues across the country.”
It may not be obvious, but I can see similarities in your current performance and your work in Siouxsie and the Banshees, in that they both have psychedelic and dreamy qualities. Would you say that’s true?
“Well of course…it’s me, so it would have to be! I can see the links and the evolution, though some people might find it difficult to relate- especially if they only know the singles we made. But it should make total sense, like you say, for people who know the Banshees catalogue, including the B-sides or The Glove album (Steven’s project with Robert Smith of The Cure) The dreamy psychedelic elements of the movie are what attracted me to it. There’s no narrative in the movie, so that gives me a lot of scope.”
With the current trend in bands getting back together, do you see that happening with Siouxsie and the Banshees?
“We tried it once and it didn’t work very well. It’s very different for us, because a lot of the bands that get back together didn’t really have much of a lifespan in the first place, whereas The Banshees were together for 20 years. So we’ve had that. There’s no desire or any unfinished business, put it that way. We all feel that it might be a very pale shadow of before, if we went out and did it again. Nobody wants to tarnish the reputation or the legacy. People will just have to settle for the remasters (The Banshees back-catalogue was recently re-issued)”
Any other plans to do music in the band forum, or are you just happy to do films for the time being?
“Well, I’m enjoying doing films: commercial, documentary and genre independent films. I won’t rule out doing other music, but I can’t really envisage it either.”
So if Robert Smith rang you and said, “Let’s do another Glove album”, would you do it if you both had the time?
“Yes, absolutely. It would be something different, another one-off project and a blast, I’m sure! But as for joining a band and doing all that malarkey: it’s a young man’s job. You have to have tonnes of energy. I’ve done it, now it’s time to move on.”
Words: Arash Torabi
Photos: Angie Knight
by 247 Magazine