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Tribute Band Profile: Playground Twist

Every city has their own set of tribute bands. They have their 80’s cover bands, KISS tributes, Journey tributes and the list goes on. Like most other things in Detroit we have tribute bands that are bit more specialized. The first time I heard we had a tribute for Siouxsie and the Banshees that went by the name of Playground Twist, I scratched my head, puzzled. I wasn’t even sure I could recall enough songs by S&B to even make up a set list. I was soon set straight after taking in a show by Playground Twist that reminded me of all those S&B gems I had long forgotten about. From “Happy House” to "Israel” to “Hong Kong Garden” they played them all and you could say I was indeed spellbound. Since then I’ve seen Playground Twist a few more times, witnessing them improving as a band while adding even more of S&B songs to their set list.  
Their lead singer, Erika Herron, captures Siouxsie Soux in all her dark glamour. On stage she puts on a show that has the look and sound of Siouxsie with her own added spark. Here’s some Q & A with Erika on the what and why behind Playground Twist.    

MCB:  Whose idea was it to form PT and why? 
EH: The band was formed because of Angie, our drummer.  She was a major fan growing up and had always been into Budgie's style of drumming.  It was almost 2 years ago that she mentioned her idea to me and asked if I would want to sing.  It sounded like it would be a fun project, so I was on board.   I had been wanting to find a band to sing with and was always fascinated by Siouxsie's voice.  I had a few of their tapes and singles as a kid, but honestly there was a lot of material I wasn't familiar with.  I'm so thankful I finally got to discover it, I kind of became obsessed.
Basically, all I was listening to for a solid year was Siouxsie and the Banshees.  In my car, at work.  Even now, they still make up a very disproportionately large percentage of my music listening.  I can't seem to get enough. As far as other members, Angie already knew Dave (guitar) and Steve (bass),  it wasn't hard to find people who were interested in being in the band. 

MCB: Where does the name Playground Twist come from?
EH: Playground Twist is the name of an early single of theirs from the late 70s.  It just happened to be an idea that was thrown around when we were brainstorming names, and that's what we went with.

MCB: What is your favorite S&B song to perform?
EH: At the moment I would say my two favorites are Cascade and Painted Bird.
MCB: When you’re performing do you imagine you are Siouxsie?
EH: No, I wouldn't necessarily say that I imagine I'm her. but I do try to channel some of her energy.  An Erika/Siouxsie hybrid, if you will.  I'm a very shy person for the most part and I'm in complete awe of her stage presence.  If I can just capture one ounce of that, then I have accomplished something.  The hair and makeup definitely help to transport me, they allow me to step outside of myself and feel a lot freer than the everyday offstage version of Erika.

MCB: Are you or any of your members in a band besides Playground Twist?
EH: Yes, Angie is in I Love Lightning Bugs, Steve is in I Love Lightning Bugs as well as The Kreelers, and Dave is in The Blueflowers and some other occasional side projects.  They all have been in a multitude of bands over the years, very talented folks.   Playground Twist is currently my only project.  I was in a band called The Elevations many years ago, a 60s soul-inspired band.  I definitely have the intention of putting together a new project.  I'm hoping in 2014 I can get something off the ground, we shall see.

MCB: How many S&B songs do you have now in your catalog?
EH: Currently, we have 19 songs with many more on deck. (Including a killer version of “Cities In Dust” ed.)

MCB: Btw, my favorite S&B song is “Dazzle” any chance you’ll cover it?
EH: Good choice.  We've actually heard that from several people and we all love that song as well.  Instrumentally speaking, I'm not sure it's in the cards.  If we could pull it off somehow, we would--but the strings definitely present a challenge and there is also some layering of drum parts that would make things difficult live.  Perhaps one day it could come together....but that's a tricky one.

MCB: If it wasn’t S&B who would be your next in line tribute band?
EH: My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode, so in some ways it seems like that would be the ultimate to get to perform their songs onstage.  But I'm not sure a female vocal could do their songs justice.  Both Martin and Dave have such distinct tones and I think that having to change keys or octaves would take something away from the impact of their music.  Well, I guess I just talked myself out of ever doing that! 

You can follow Playground Twist and hear about upcoming shows on their Facebook page.

Post nd photos by Mikel O.D. of MPAD Media