"I donít have the ambition to be famous:"
The unworldly view of Cure leader Robert Smith
It clearly annoys Robert Smith when the director of the TV program ďFolliesĒ (10/80) asks him to play the songs of their Seventeen Seconds record for the 4th time. ďI donít want to come over aggressive,Ē he shouts, apologising, ďbut frankly, I donít see the point of it.Ē The obligations weigh heavy on the shoulders of the 21-year-old Cure singer. But aware of what he has to do, he will play his set tonight, without excitement; coolly distant; in huge contrast with the strong emotional depth of his lyrics. ďIf I didnít write Seventeen Seconds, I would have killed someone,Ē he will say later on in a more than an hour-long interview, really aware of himself.
songs on demand
After the British band The Cure was warmly received by a small in-crowd with their Three Imaginary Boys record, and, more recently, with Seventeen Seconds, the group managed, against all expectations, to make the step to a bigger audience in our regions with their single A Forest. Strongly balanced music, with a powerful instrumental coverage and the voice of Robert Smith floating on top of that. ďI didnít know A Forest became a hit here,Ē Robert admits when I ask him, in between two soundchecks, if this sudden success doesnít come as a surprise. ďHit charts donít interest me, itís only a competition between record companies to sell the most records.Ē The Cure may mainly focus on making records, but the past year they did make a couple of classic 12-inch singles, of which Boys Donít Cry certainly was the eye catcher.
Robert: ďActually, I donít like writing just singles. We donít strive to make record after record. We play to attain a certain goal. Itís not just about the right lyrics or the right melody, it needs to have a certain vibe. Singles can also mean obligations for a band. I donít like to deliver songs on demand. It has to happen spontaneously.Ē
The Cure is seen, mainly by the young age of the members, as a very modern group. On the contrary, once the band was destined to become a pop group.
Robert: ĒWe didnít form a group like normal bands did, it just suddenly happened. Around 1975, I started playing with some friends and a year later, while the Sex Pistols were massively played on television, we gave our first show as Easy Cure. We almost committed musical suicide later on by signing to the German disco label, Hansa, because they tried to shape us into a pop group. We recorded a few songs and they bought us a new sound installation. After a while, they got sick of us. We drove them crazy by messing up their offices and stealing stuff.Ē
On the other hand, he did learn a lot from that experience:
Robert: ĒWe learned how corrupt the music industry actually is. Luckily we didnít suffer a great loss. In a certain way, it was good that we were still so young and in school then. That record deal was just a big laugh for us.Ē
The only one who liked what he heard in the young Cure was Chris Parry, who had discovered The Jam and Siouxsie and the Banshees earlier on and who later formed his own record label, Fiction, mainly centred on The Cure.
Robert: ďI really donít know why he chose us. We hung out for an entire day with him and it clicked. Chris is totally different than anyone Iíve met before who is the boss of a record company. I donít really hang out with those people. Chris doesnít see it as business but just enjoys his work. I donít have any other friends in that scene. Itís annoying to go to all those parties and gatherings. Iím careful because itís easy to be dragged down in that scene. It becomes a vicious circle. Now I lead a more normal life. The band is an extension of my life. And for many people itís the exact opposite. They have become small links in a system and I loathe that.Ē
The cooperation in The Cure can definitely be called tempestuous. Last year, bassist Michael Dempsey quit and, just before their recent European tour, keyboard player Matthieu Hartley resigned. Then the existence of the band was hanging by a thread when Robert joined Siouxsie and the Banshees after their troubles.
ďIt takes long before you realise what kind of people youíre playing in a band with. When everything goes smoothly, you donít care for small fights and differences of opinion Ė itís rock and roll after all. Michael was already in the band when we were still at school and only when we made our first single and went on tour, I got to know him well. With Matthieu there had been musical arguments before. He wanted to fully use his keyboards on tour and blow everything up and I hated that. I told him to stay within the pattern of the group and that he couldnít go solo with his ideas. And he couldnít live with that.Ē
worries for tomorrow
Now that The Cure is one of the preambles of the new generation of bands and can rely on decent record sales, the question rises if it hasnít all become routine.
Robert: ďSometimes it bores me to play the same songs over and over again. But thatís just a compromise you have to make when starting to go on tour and playing live shows. People pay a lot of money to come see you and it would be cheap to be just jamming along.Ē
The future of The Cure remains vague for the moment:
ďI donít know which direction we will evolve in. I donít worry about it; we can disappear into obscurity or become wildly popular. I will personally go on making music until I get disappointed with what Iíve made. Many bands would say, until itís no fun anymore or until people donít think itís good anymore. I would disappoint myself if I would solicit to what the audience wishes. When it becomes an obligation, I stop. And I donít have the ambition to be famous.Ē
(Interview October 1980)
Thanks so much - Jerbbiepooh (MFC) for TRANSLATING.