January 2004 - Rolling Stone (France) (Translation below)
Interview, JTD Review & JTD Advert
The Cure: In Between Days
The release of a 4CD box set, 'Join The Dots - B-sides and Rarities - 1978-2001 - The Fiction Years', a kind of review by the band of the career of The Cure, gives us the opportunity to look into the latter with Robert Smith, singer, main author-composer, soul and person in charge of haircuts of the group. With a follow-up equally surprising and long awaited.
Those who were present at the Paris press conference given by Mr. Robert about two years ago, with the occasion of the release of the 'Greatest Hits' of The Cure, remember very well certain pronouncements of his. There was talk that this best-of would put a definitive end to the career of The Cure as a group and that Robert would from then on work under his own label. Having met him before the summer with the occasion of the release of the 'Trilogy' DVD, he had changed tracks:
RS: "It's true that I did talk about it. But that was happening at a particular time. The contract that tied us to Polydor in Europe had just finished after a good twenty years. Which means, in fact, that between the ages of 20 and 40, my life and The Cure had been completely inseparable. The end of the contract sort of justified the best-of. In fact, we were certain that, with or without our permission, the disc was going to come out, so I decided to do things the right way, with some real promotion, interviews and even a small concert that we did exclusively in France. Because even if I haven't talked more than three times in ten years with the people at Polydor UK, The Cure has always had a privileged relationship with the people from the French record company."
Complicated relationships with a long-term employer or not, The Cure will definitely be everywhere this year.
Reality surpasses fiction
Indeed, after the box set - which wasn't yet expected at the time of the interview -, there is on the horizon a full remastering of the group's fourteen albums. One of Robert's ideas?
RS: "No. It comes from them, even though we agreed on how it was basically going to happen. The deal is that Fiction, Chris Parry's label, on which we had been since our first single, 'Killing An Arab', in 1979 (n.ed.: which, let's recall, had been initially released on the indie label Small Wonder, and whose B-side, '10:15' is the first track on 'Join The Dots'), sold our back catalog to Universal (n.ed.: owner of Polydor), and without telling me in advance. In fact, Chris sold his label. We had worked together for twenty-five years, and I never felt the need to codify things, to write them down on paper. He made money with The Cure, and I think he wanted even more money, at my expense. I've always wanted to work with independents because you can keep a lot more control over things. The Cure's music was never used in commercials, and we've been on compilations only rarely. There is a kind of integrity that, after some people, is important only in my eyes. That's not true, I know that it is also important for the fans of The Cure. But well... You have to learn to live with it. These days, record companies are run by lawyers. And their goal is going to be making as much money as they can with the back catalog of The Cure."
So until now, Robert has resisted, and this takes the form of this beautiful box set which only contains B-sides - "even when I was young and I was buying a new single, the first thing I did was to listen to the B-side", he told the press recently -, and rare tracks, covering the entire career of the group, for a total of seventy-one titles. As to the famous remasters, we'll have to wait a little longer, since they will be spread over the next eighteen months.
Alone with Robinson?
On the other hand, we know more about Robert's desiderata, a future already planned and rather radiant:
RS: "I signed a three-album contract with IAM, Ross Robinson's label (n.ed.: producer of the first Korn and Deftones records, as well as Sepultura's 'Roots'), which is also independent. My 'solo' record, that I had worked on without knowing if the group would still exist, is already in the box, but Ross, who is one of the most enthusiastic and intense people I've ever met, prefers putting on his resume an album of The Cure rather than a solo record by Robert Smith! It was he who contacted me after having seen us play live a few times, and he has very clear and precise ideas on how things should be done. Which doesn't mean that we're going to make a heavy metal record! (laughs) But it should be really interesting."
-- Manuel Rabasse
Translated by Aria Thelmann @ Music For Dreams
Robert Smith goes
searching for things past, taking unbeaten paths that forget the hits. A box set
for rarities collectors.
The Cure: Join The Dots: B-sides and Rarities, 1979/2001 - The Fiction Years
(3 stars 1/2)
Separated from his historical label, Robert Smith balances out his books with Fiction Records by supervising the upcoming remastering of his back catalog with multiple bonuses. While waiting, he is placating the fans with a little box of rarities, four CDs and 71 tracks, a big booklet that goes well with it and tutti quanti, and which puts together - in theory - the complete B-sides, 45rpm's and maxi singles of The Cure. Add to that a good number of titles previously released only on compilations, soundtracks, flexi discs, and a reasonable number of previously unheard tracks. 'Join The Dots' confirms that the musical spectrum covered by The Cure is relatively large within the bounds defined by unchangeable parameters: Robert's plaintive voice, a certain melancholy, and an incomparable sense of melody and pop hooks.
Having said that, one could argue that if 'Join The Dots' covers twenty-three years of activity, the group had practically said all during the first seven - from the first single, "Killing An Arab" in 1979, to the album 'The Head On The Door' in 1985, a period entirely covered by the first CD. One could also say that, the maxi 45rpm format having helped, a number of the tracks are too long. But we discover here some singularly interesting things. To pick a few at random, "A Foolish Arrangement", B-side of "A Letter to Elise", or "Doing the Unstuck", a remix from 'Wish'. Obviously an indispensable item for fans, and a very pleasant walk through the universe of a group just as remarkable as it is often too quickly relegated to the 80s shelf of music history.
-- Manuel Rabasse
Translated by Aria Thelmann @ Music For Dreams
(thanks Angie & Fred for getting me this magazine)