While the band intended to split up right after the gig, several people asked the band to play again. Sioux and Severin recruited guitarist Pete Fenton and a drummer named Dixon, who was soon replaced by Kenny Morris. Fenton was subsequently replaced in July by John McKay. While the band was able to obtain a publishing deal, they still did not have a record contract. Sioux speculated, "All I can think of is that record companies saw no future in the concept of a woman fronting a band - at least a woman with attitude . . . Perhaps they thought if they didn't sign us we'd go away. The only label that offered the band a recording contract was Polydor Records, which signed the band in June 1978. Polydor released the Banshees's first single, "Hong Kong Garden", which reached the top ten in the UK.
The band released their debut album The Scream in November 1978. Nick Kent wrote in the NME about The Scream: "the band sounds like some unique hybrid of the Velvet Underground mated with much of the ingenuity of Tago Mago-era Can, if any parallel can be drawn." At the end of the article, he added this remark : "Certainly, the traditional three-piece sound has never been used in a more unorthodox fashion with such stunning results.
The lineup soon went into the studio and recorded the "Happy House" single. The Banshees then recorded their third album Kaleidoscope (1980) with Police producer Nigel Gray. The group had a concept of making each song sound completely different, without regards to whether or not the material could be performed in concert. During the recording of the album Budgie and McGeoch were officially hired as full-time members of the band. For their fourth album, Juju (1981), the band practised the songs in concert first before recording them. Juju, according to Severin, became an unintentional concept album that "drew on darker elements". During the tour for the album Sioux and Budgie secretly became a couple. At the same time they began a side project called The Creatures.
The band followed with A Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982). The album was an intentional contrast to the "creepy" Juju, with Sioux later describing it as a "sexy album". The British press greeted it enthusiastically. Richard Cook in the NME finished his review with this sentence: "I promise. This music will take your breath away. At that time McGeoch was struggling with alcohol problems, and was hospitalized on his return to a promotional trip to Madrid. The band fired him shortly thereafter. Severin asked Robert Smith to take over guitarist duties again; Smith accepted and rejoined the group in November 1982. Smith insisted on documenting his time with the group, so the Banshees recorded a live album, Nocturne (1983), and began work on its sixth album, Hyæna (1984). During 1983 the band worked on sideprojects; Sioux and Budgie recorded another Creatures album, while Severin and Smith recorded as The Glove. The band released a cover version of The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" in September 1983, which became their biggest hit, reaching number three on the UK Singles Chart. Smith left the group once again in early 1984 before recording on Hyæna was complete, citing health issues as the result of massive drug use and exhaustion.
Ex-Clock DVA guitarist John Valentine Carruthers replaced Smith. The Banshees then reworked four numbers of their repertoire with a section of strings for The Thorn EP. The NME praised the project at its release : "The power of a classical orchestra is the perfect foil for the band's grindingly insistent sounds". The new Banshees lineup spent much of 1985 working on Tinderbox. The group finished the song "Cities in Dust" before the album, so they rushed its release as a single prior to their longest tour of the UK ever. Tinderbox was finally released in April 1986. Due to the length of time spent working on Tinderbox, the group desired spontaneity and decided to record an album of cover songs, releasing Through the Looking Glass in 1987. After the album's release, the band decided Carruthers wasn't fitting in and fired him.
Following a lengthy break, the rest of the band recruited Martin McCarrick and the ex-Specimen guitarist Jon Klein and recorded Peepshow in 1988. The first single "Peek-a-Boo" used harsh hip-hop sounds over a pop texture : it was their first real breakthrough in the United States. After an elaborate tour to promote the album and sorting through band tensions, the band decided to take a break, with Sioux and Budgie recording a new Creatures album and Severin and McCarrick working on material together.
In 1993, The Banshees showed their new album The Rapture to Polydor, which didn't think the record was finished. After some tour dates, the band hired former Velvet Underground member John Cale to produce the record. Klein was fired over contract disputes; he was replaced on the band's last tour in 1995 by ex-Psychedelic Furs guitarist Knox Chandler. Days after the release of The Rapture in February 1995, Polydor dropped the band from its roster. While touring to promote the album, Sioux suggested to Severin that they end the band; Sioux told the bassist, "It's not doing anyone any good and it's not any fun". The band split up after playing the final date of the tour at the Beach Festival in Belgium on 21 July 1995.
After the Banshees broke up, Sioux and Budgie carried on recording as The Creatures. In 2002, Sioux, Severin, Budgie and Chandler reunited briefly for the Seven Year Itch tour, which spawned the 2003 Seven Year Itch live album and DVD. The year after was published the long awaited Downside Up box set which collected all of their B-sides and the out-of print The Thorn EP.
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