June 13, 1987 - OOR (The Netherlands)*
The Cure interrogated (5 pages)
OOR (the Netherlands) 13/06/1987
The Cure Interrogated
ďI notice that Iím able to cope better with the stuff that makes me unhappy.Ē (Robert Smith)
ĎWhatever weíre gonna do next, it will surely be different,í said Robert Smith after the release of The Cure singles compilation Standing On A Beach, about a year ago. The new double album KMKMKM again provides an anthology of a decade of The Cure Ė and the band admits it. Both Lol Tolhurst and Simon Gallup, Smithís loyal servants, also took the pen in their hand this time. But how Ö..does The Cure work ? Is Smith boss and the rest Ö..?
Why a double LP? And is the end of The Cure in sight? Time for an interrogation. A separate interrogation of both parties. No cure, no pay.
The band has a busy time behind them. For an entire year, every activity they did was immediately followed by another one. Standing On The Beach required subsidy; that was taken care of with a long series of promotional activities and concerts, who brought The Cure to Pinkpop 1986 and found itís end in a Roman amphitheatre in Orange in southern France. There, the band was captured live on tape by video-director Tim Pope in a two hour long film, The Cure in Orange, where the setting (the Antique Theatre of Orange) was more impressive than the band.
After the concert, they stayed in France to work on the new LP. That didnít go quite according to schedule: the recordings got out of control and it became clear that they would never be able to fit it all on one record. KMKMKM became a double LP. Eighteen new songs, and piece by piece, they quote the colourful Cure back-catalogue. Sharpness, doom, melancholy, being possessed, fear and pleasure - every mood swing that Robert Smith let out through The Cure in the past ten years are all there. The only difference from the singles compilation is that every song is new. And in between this all, they did a South American tour as well. Itís obvious, The Cure are more alive than ever!
But how do the protagonists look at all of this themselves? Is The Cure going too fast for them to keep up with? We confront them with this. Robert Smith and his loyal servants Lol Tolhurst and Simon Gallup. In the meanwhile, we also test the legitimacy of the role of absolute ruler Smith always gets associated with. Three Imaginary boys
Interrogation 1: ROBERT SMITH, born in Crawley, Sussex on the 21st of April 1959. (Robert was actually born in Blackpool)
you surprised yourself that
turned out to be a double LP?
Yes, but looking back at it, it was inevitable. The record was made in a way that was new to us. For the first time, every member wrote songs and made demos individually. In the past I did that alone. When we came together to pick out the best material, we had about 100 pieces of songs, in the most diverse styles. We fit them together and started recording Ė two songs every day. After 25 songs, we realised we wouldnít be able to reduce it to one LP.
There are two reasons for the variation of the record. One being the fact everyone now made compositions. The second being that something in my way of writing changed. More elements of the past came into it, from what we did the last 8 years. For me, half of the album is new, the other half is a look into the past. The next record will probably be something totally new. It didnít seem to be the right moment now to come out with experiments. I see this record as proof of what we can do with this line up.
insist on the others writing for the album as well?
Even more Ė I forced them to! They became lazy and thought I could manage it on my own. I wanted to move on to another way with the lyrics. Break the existing pattern. Thatís the only reason.
seems to me that the record is very commercially orientated.
Everything we would bring out now would be commercial, simply because of our name. If you compare it to the other material in the charts, then itís not commercial at all. And thatís the point. And a single as ĎWhy Canít I Be You?í keeps it balanced. It shows the optimistic side of The Cure. I like those aspects of the band.
noticed a change in your lyrics from fatalistic to a sparkle of hope, joy of
For the most part, it is love songs, yes. However I donít feel that Iíve changed inside. Itís all a bit more moderate. Itís the more clear part of my life. Look, Iíll keep writing those pessimistic things, but I donít put it all on record anymore. I write it down and keep it. Itís getting more difficult to talk about my lyrics as well. Others often donít understand me. I sometimes try to focus to entertainment only. An empty book of a good author is still better than an empty book of a bad author. On the other hand, I do doubt while writing shallow lyrics. It doesnít get me anywhere and I donít like the style. But I notice that Iím able to cope better with the stuff that makes me unhappy.
Is that because you live a more comfortable and carefree life?
My life has never been different. I lead the same life as the time of Seventeen Seconds and I donít feel the need to change that. Even my education was comfortable. I never knew any hardship and I never thought you could get better results out of a temporary shortcoming. Thatís nonsense. Poverty is there to be wiped out, not to be enjoyed. When youíre in a physical struggle, you forget whatís happening around you. Youíre not able to see the important things. On the other hand, you donít have to crack up richness. If I would have all the money in the world, I would still have it when I would die. I started with financially adopting kids in South America. You pay for their education and they send you letters and pictures. A kind of Foster parents-system.
you like to have kids of your own?
No. I love kids, but I wouldnít be able to take responsibility to be a parent. Now I can stay away from home for a long time, but with kids I couldnít do that. I would have to force myself to stop with everything Iím doing. But Iím only 28 and not too old to make that choice ever again.
you think about a life after The Cure? Or what you would be doing, if The Cure
I always wanted to become a writer. When I ran away from home for the first time, I knew that it was time to do what I wanted to do. Working with a boss didnít work. I did that for 2 days but I didnít see the point of arriving on time in the morning. So I got fired and I couldnít care less. Life didnít mean much to me back then. I wanted to be the boss of myself, tell myself what I should or shouldnít do. Everybody should be like that.
After The Cure, I will keep writing. Film music perhaps. There was talk of stopping for good last year, when we brought out the compilation. We said, ďThis is a nice way to end. The circle is complete.Ē But then the concerts came, then the video, and before we knew it we were working on new material again. We werenít able to stop. The group will only stop to exist when I want to go do something else and as long as I donít think about that enough, the group sticks together.
I getting it right that you still see yourself as the big force, despite the
prominent roles of the others on Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me?
Oh, maybe the others would continue if I stop. I just get the most attention. And the others arenít dissatisfied with that, cause they know more attention is accompanied with less time for yourself. What they donít like is that thereís always a picture of me alone Ė especially now that we are a band, a unit, tighter than ever. The old fire is back and we enjoy playing.
the only dissonant being the hopeless life of Robert Smith?
Well, donít forget that although those lyrics come over really very negative, I get equally as much positive strength out of them. It makes me stronger. I write stuff down and get it off my chest. When I knew what the new record would be like, I saw it as a justification of everything we had done before. I was proud. Then I got a feeling where a song like ďFightĒ comes from. All of a sudden, I want to encourage people. That hasnít happened that much in the past. During the period of Faith, I wouldnít have been able to write a song like that.
Are you a fighter yourself?
Iím very stubborn. Mentally, I always live on terms of war with someone. Physically, Iím not a fighter at all, I would lose all my teeth in no time, haha! A song such as Fight doesnít fit the image of The Cure. Not even at the time of Pornography, which has always been considered our most aggressive record. Thatís because The Cure hasnít been associated with the world around us anymore; with reality. The Cure is an abstract group with an abstract message. For example, Iíve been a member of Greenpeace for years now, but with The Cure we have never done anything for that. That would only create confusion. The Cure are interested in what happens in the world? Thatís not right. The connection Greenpeace-The Cure would make lots of people hate Greenpeace. Just the same as Morrissey encouraging people to not eat any meat. They, who hate Morrissey could think: fuck that, Iím gonna slaughter an entire cow! Stuff like that is better left for bands with a serious, earthly image.
been to South America, where thereís an uncomfortable climate both in politics
as socially. Does that affect you?
I got a very twisted image of South America. I only remember the noise, the heat and lots of people. You see the poverty, especially in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, something that you normally donít see. Thatís all I remember. We werenít living our lives ourselves; hotels, airports, taxiís and concert venuesÖ. We took one day off and used that to drive around in the jungle. That was the only fun experience.
Is there anything left in Argentina about the Falklands aftermath?
In the local press conferences, we did got asked about our opinion. You have to be careful with your answers, cause there were also correspondents of the English press. One time, an anti-British quote from me was printed in bold in an Argentinian newspaper. A sentence of mine pulled out of its context. But the next day it was taken over by the Daily Express: ďRobert Smith, singer of the famous popgroup The Cure, says in Argentina that we were wrong.Ē Haha!
You do notice that thereís still a lot of fear amongst the people. Those mysterious disappearances from a couple of years ago canít be wiped out of the publicís memory. Not many people dare to walk the streets after 10 pm, out of fear of being arrested. People are still afraid of the government. Everybodyís also terribly corrupt. They do everything for money Ė even the cops that had to protect us. An absurd situation but you canít do anything about it. But that wonít effect my songwriting. I canít write about world issues. Thatís too big. And if I donít know what to write at all, I look at what Iíve done in the past and I ask others to help out. Then we quote ourselves and a record like KMKMKM is made.
LAURENCE ANDREW (LOL) TOLHURST, born in Harley, Surrey on the 3rd February 1959.
SIMON JOHNATHON (SIMON) GALLUP, born in Harley, Surrey, on the 1st of June 1960.
Lol Tolhurst, former drummer, but switched to keyboards halfway through the career of The Cure, is probably the most loyal companion of Robert Smith. They grew up together, formed The Cure together and were the only constant factors in the 10-year career of the band. At the time of the EP The Walk, the band even consisted only of Smith and Tolhurst. Also Simon Gallup was a friend of the pair before The Cure started, but he was only brought into The Cure after the debut LP, Three Imaginary Boys, when bassist Michael Dempsey left. After the fourth Cure LP, Pornography (Ď82), the band split up temporarily and Gallup formed his own band, Fools Dance. This project didnít really work out that well and when Robert Smith asked him to join The Cure again in 1985, he eagerly took the bait. Now, in 1987, The Cure are more solid than ever. Smith, Tolhurst, Gallup, guitarist Porl Thompson and drummer Boris Williams have been together for more than two years already. And thatís long, according to Cure criteria. The ratification of that is called KMKMKM: for the first time every member brings in material for possible songs (and not like in the past when random suggestions got their names mentioned in the credits of the songs) and now they consider the new LP as the first album as a group. The result can be seen: the agitational spiky pop from the early days, the melancholy atmosphere of Seventeen Seconds, the Faith doom, the angry psychedelica without boundaries from Pornography and The Top, and the optimistic variety of Head On The Door. All the ups and downs of The Cure are combined and Robert already explained the reason for that: because this is the work of a group; five individuals; five personalities that are so different that they complete the others perfectly. And Robert Smith gave up his dictatorship Ė if that even was the case.
Cure has always been seen as Robert Smith and some accompanying musicians. How
do you see that?
Lol: You canít form a solid block as a group when everyone is represented equally. Robert has the most responsibility because he wanted that. He feels heís responsible for the group and he protects us in many ways as well. The Cure is definitely not a hierarchy. Only for the outside world, Robert is the spokesman. And we have our peace with that.
Simon: Robert is trying to put us more in the spotlights. Asking us to contribute to the album, doing interviews, Ö
youíre not so happy with that?
Lol: Itís important that we make sure that people know how we are so that they donít see us as that stupid group of guys who tag along, which most people still think we are.
do you see Robert?
Lol: Weíre friends, for 20 years now. That says enough. If we werenít in a band with these people, we would certainly be doing something else together. We would be house movers, or would have a pub.
Simon: An Indian restaurant!
Lol: Personal friendship is the foundation of The Cure. Without that bond, we wouldnít be able to create good music. Then we would be like 5 race horses, locked up, only thinking of winning the same race, but not capable of winning it together.
you have any kind of influence on Robertís work?
Lol: Indirectly we do. Until a while back, we irregularly made contributions to the songs, but they are mainly the collective experiences as friends that Robert picks elements out and uses them.
Simon: We canít add much to his work. Heís a brilliant songwriter. He loves to write and that makes him so good. Heís passionate. I look at him as the male version of Kate Bush.
Lol: Afterwards, you can pick stuff out his lyrics that has to do with us. Everything is based on our little world and the people that are close to it.
you describe Ďour little worldí?
Lol: Most of the times, it looks like this hotel room, haha! The Cure is like a closed group. When we were touring in South America a while back, we didnít feel the need to go out every evening. We settled for the company of the other band members and stayed in the hotel bar. That seems really boring, but for us itís just an ideal world where we can hang out with the people we really like. And once you find those, you donít feel the need to search for other company anymore. You just stick together.
fortress that no oneís able to penetrate?
Lol: Oh, weíre not unfriendly to people, we donít avoid anyone. We just set our boundaries.
How do you see the development of the group in these ten years?
Lol: Itís a closed circle. Four of the five people who are in the band now were there from the beginning (Porl Thompson supposedly worked as designer of album covers). During the years, we tried out many musicians, but it didnít click. Especially in personal relationships, and personality sooner or later gets translated into your music.
Simon: During the years, it only went uphill for the group. For the moment, we function perfectly and it doesnít look like weíre going to stop soon. Weíve got a lot of plans. The last four months, weíve barely had two days off.
Doesnít the hard work and the close contact with each other hide the risk of
becoming narrow minded?
Simon: I see our lifestyle as a great remedy against that. You see a lot of the world, meet a lot of people and if the worse, short-sighted side of someone comes up, thereís always someone in the band to make him aware of that. Weíre aware of each otherís positive and negative aspects. Thatís why we can help each other, especially to get through the bad times.
Lol: To moderate eventual excesses, we stop the group every now and then. We donít do a thing for several weeks and when we come back together after such a break, it always feels like a new and fresh start. If you have fun in what youíre doing, then itís never boring. If I wouldnít be doing this, I would probably be at work now, watching the clock to see if I could go home yet.
renewed pleasure in playing can clearly be heard on
But wasnít there an urge to experiment, just because it was fun to be in a band
again? The record seems like a retrospective, with some commercial
Lol: Particularly the quoting, the reinterpreting of ourselves and our work, I see as experimenting. We use pieces of our own past and put them in a new context. But it stays The Cure. If we canít reinvent ourselves, who can? As long as we do it ourselves, then thereís nothing wrong with it, is there?
I didnít say it was wrong.
Lol: No, but the word Ďcommercialí always sounds like Ďshallowí in my ears. Like making a hit is the only purpose. The elements we now use out of our past were also stolen from others. Thatís where itís all about in music. No oneís original.
Simon: There are things on this LP that were definitely experiments. The long instrumental introísÖ thatís the first clear influence of the music we listened to when we were young. We took a long time making this record and we tried a lot of new stuff. But the most deviating things didnít make the record. We keep those. And Porl is currently making a movie that weíre going to show before we go on stage. For the music accompanying that, we play instruments we normally donít play. Lol is going to play guitar, the biggest experiment we ever did!
what extent are the lyrics you wrote different than the ones that Robert wrote?
Lol: We didnít write entire lyrics. We provided Robert with passages and anecdotes, which we ourselves had adapted first. Robert has to sing them and he wonít sing something that he doesnít agree with. But I donít think my style is really that different. Iíve known Robert for all of my life and we barely lived apart. You have a lot in common, think the same about a lot of things, and react the same way. It also has to do with the neighbourhood you grow up in. Every time I go back to Crawley, I realise how and why an album like Seventeen Seconds found the daylight. The Cure is a very strong product of its environment. Thatís why KMKMKM became such a variation of songs; weíve seen so many places and people lately.
Simon: Robert, Lol and I have always influenced each other that strongly that we have about the same character now.
Robertís vision on life, as far as we have been able to read it in his lyrics,
has never been the most optimistic. So you recognise yourselves in that too?
Lol: Oh, one thingís sure, we do think about the same things. Robert writes about what he thinks and I know many people can find themselves in it, but wouldnít write it down as fast as Robert does. Robert gives them a bit of support. Itís important that people recognise certain feelings. Itís like reading a book and thinking: hey, I would do that too in that situation. That is liberating and Robert has noticed that too. He became less depressed in his lyrics. Less abstract as well. See, the older you get, the more you feel like saying what you feel and not caring what others think. Robertís lyrics are far more clear and precise Ė easier to understand.
Simon: Robert has become happier in the past few years. He has accepted that heís not immortal. He used to think: shit, Iím going to die; my end is near, what do I do? Now he thinks: Iím going to die, but I donít know when. Letís make the best out of it. He made his choice.
told me that he never thought about what he would do after The Cure, because
that would inevitably mean the end of the group. What are you going to do after
Simon: Then we still open that Indian restaurant!
Lol: I also
donít try to think about it. I like the challenge that life offers you as long
as you donít think about the future. I would never be able to do a job where I
would know that I would still be doing it when Iím sixty. Thatís why I play in a
Thanks so much - Jerbbiepooh
(MFC) for TRANSLATING.