December-1983 ~ OOR (Holland)*
INTERVIEW - 25 years of Robert Smith. (2 pages)
25 years of Robert Smith.
“The Cure had become a monster”
1984 will be the year of his very own mini-apocalypse. Robert Smith will turn 25 and he never thought he’d get that far.It sure didn’t look like he would during the’pornography’ days. The tour to support the album was nothing like the three imaginary boys who once romantically toured Europe in a circus-tent. After that The Cure called it quits and Smith almost drowned in his own depression. But look! He turned it around, and here he is telling a bizar but realistic story about clichés, the Banshees, hits, and…(*cough* -excuse my language) self-knowledge.
By Paul Revers.
‘The Cure disintegrated in its entirity’. Smith sure knows how to start an interview.‘Concerts became nothing but an excuse to drink ourselves senseless. Inevitably it meant the end of all my ideals.During the Pornography-tour I realized The Cure weren’t any better than any other band on tour. I was actually doing everything I once swore I wouldn’t. We even had rows backstage, it was horrible really! We were all stuck in a crazed trip, and I really wanted to get away from al that! Especially Simon threw himself into it, and eventually I became some sort of father telling him not to, you know? I just wanted to stop. I had to stop! Simon quit, and I got away…. I didn’t touch a guitar for 4 months. I had to become sane again. In interviews I was always talking about how the Cure were different from other bands, we weren’t though. There was never enough time to really be different from other bands. We travelled all around the world and as soon as we got back there was another album that had to be recorded! During Pornography I realized we had to break that cycle. I got to the point where I could only see myself as someone who was in the Cure, I stopped seeing me being myself actually!
Smith shakes his head, ‘It all seems so close, though it has allready been a whole year’. Believe me, he IS suffering! After albums like 17 Seconds and Faith,1982’s Pornography relentlessly ended all innocence and all childhooddreams. Growing up was no lnger postponable, the real world was knocking on the door and for a guy who allready was rather down, that turned out to be one harsh experience! Pornography opened up with the not so much inspiring, nor enjoyable line; “It doesn’t mather if we all die” and ended with “I must fight this sickness, find a cure”. Stuck between those two statements, the coldest of synths and guitars guided torture and utter despair troughout the album. Journalists did not hesitate and came down hard on the trio. Especially when the concerts turned out to be heartless and uninspired. The Cure promised to do better, and kept promise.
After the departure of bass player Simon Gallup, Smith decided to continue playing as a two-piece. And not long after this change of mind, a remarkable new Cure presented itself with a surprisingly upbeat ‘Let’s go to bed’, ‘The walk, and the most recent single ‘The lovecats’. Apart from this singles, Smith also joined the Banshees and recorded the Glove’s 'Blue sunshine' together with Banshee Steve Severin. As if it’s not enough, by the end of this year he will return to the studio the record a new Cure album.
“I must fight this sickness, find a cure” – Found one yet?
Well, I am a lot happier now than I was a year ago. The Cure had become a monster that ate everything I was, did, and had. I am closer to being the real me again, and I only did things I really enjoyed doing like reading… So naturally my songs are a lot happier now. Not in a disney-way though, I mean I still get very depressed once I take a good look around me, it’s just that I don’t feel the need to write about that anymore. I’ll leave that to other people. I just don’t want to be known as someone who keeps writing the same thing over and over again. Besides, even before the Cure, I used to always write things like 'the walk' or 'the lovecats'. I just couldn’t be bothered recording them. Why? Because it didn’t meet our image. A shame really, but even so true. Old school Cure-fans were really negative towards 'Let’s go to Bed' or 'the Walk', but they did like 'the Lovecats'. Weird isn’t it? I have this group of people around me who react on everything I do, and they keep me up to date. Apparently the Lovecats was different enough for them to do like it!I didn’t like 'Let’s go to bed' neithe, actually. It was never meant to be the new Cure-single. I wrote it with the intention for it to become my very own christmas-single. Unfortunately the record label put it out without my permission. Which is actually one of the main reasons why I started playing with the Banshees anyway. I didn’t want to abuse the Cure any further than I allready had. I just wanted the Cure to end the way we left it. But then, whan they released "let’s go to bed" as a single, and I wanted to do something to remedy that. That’s when Lol and I decided to record two more of them poppy-singles and to not go on tour and to not make another album for at least a whole year. Up untill now we kept our promise. The year is almost over.
-When 'Lovecats' first came out, you explained it to be the last one in a trilogy of fantasy singles…….
Yes I did. Well, fantasy to that extend that the singles have got absolutely nothing to do with the Cure or with me. Except of course for the fact that I actually wrote them. I mean, usually I write about stuff that moves me, where as these three singles are about nothing really. Especially 'Let’s go to bed'. Which is why I was really bummed that one became the new official single. I wrote that song to be the dumbest poppy tune ever!
-Why would you do such a thing?
Only to see if I’d be able to do something like that, which I am not…..it’s not dumb enough by far!
-I don’t comprehend why you would write stuff down that means absolutely nothing to you.
Because it’s good fun!
Yes. It felt new, exciting. I knew what I was doing. I was aware of the fact that I was writing something silly, only so it would get airtime on the radio or make it to Top of the pops! I really enjoy those things, simply because we aren’t really that poppy, you know. We are no Duran Duran or Spandeau. It is all about taking the piss! I can promise that the songs I will record for the new album will be much more serious, especially lyrically.
So, Smith has finally gone commercial. Only for a while probably. For once he didn’t want to be taken serious. He just wanted to write silly ‘nothings’and tried his best. The lyrics to the songs that entered the charts as if his songs were all that existed, might not get accepted by curefans of old.
‘True”. Smith confesses. “It are just words that fit other words that happen to fit the music”
So let’s ask a serious question then: Did he perhaps write the singles because he was running out of money?
That is absolutely not true. I mean, it’s not as if I’m rich but I’ve got enough money not to be forced to release singles like "the Lovecats".
You know what the problem is with 90 % of all bands today? They all start off with a bunch of resolutions, and soon enough they’ll find themselves having to repeat the same trick because people happen to like it and they just foget about everything they once promissed. The same thing happened with the Cure. And when the Pornography-era was over and we fell apart I was empty. There was nothing left. And I was really glad we were through. I was relieved.
-After Pornography I thought ‘Well, we won’t be seeing them anymore’.
Maybe. I guess a lot of people figured that. Though I still think our best work is on that particular album. "One Hundred Years" is one of the best songs we have ever done. It’s just that we reached the limit. I couldn’t do it anymore. Joy Division couldn’t do it either, and then Ian Curtis died. I mean, the difference between 'Three Imaginary Boys' and '17 Seconds' is as huge as the difference between 'Pornography' and 'Let’s go to bed'. It swings from innocence to inkblack despair and futility and back again. I quess you have gone full circle then, right?
When people think of the Cure, they’ll think of the Faith-sound. That sound. That typical Cure-sound. Though when one compares everything we have ever done, one will find a lot of diversity. And I think it’s unfair that we are still pointed at as ‘that gloomy group’.
-Well, you sort of did that yourself didn’t you? I mean you said so yourself that those happy songs don’t really fit your image?
That’s true. But you know me. You know there is more to me than just depression.
-Yes, but I don’t know your audience.
No. The thing is that I couldn’t be bothered capturing my happiness in my music. It’s only since last year that I actually can be bothered, so I do make an attempt to capture that other side of me in my songs now. And you can here it! My voice sounds a lot happier when I do. And I don’t care about my audience liking it or not, you know. I am a different person now. And I’m sure people will tell me how much I have changed and all that, but my changed view on life does not mean that all the things I have done in the past mean nothing all of a sudden, does it?
It’s not as if eversince the 'Lovecats' came out, Faith has never meant anything at all.
However much he has changed, Smith does feel comfortable around the organized structure that is Siouxie and the Banshees. Together with Siouxie and Severin he is working on new Banshee material. Apart from that, he recorded an album together with Severin, The Glove’s Blue sunshine, and besides the plans to record another Cure album. Severin and Smith are planning to record another album together.‘Music for Dreams’ which should become some sort of ambient-like music. But that’s it. Smith has no further connection or compassion with British popmusic.
The last album he purchased was New Order’s Blue Monday and when he watches Top of the Pops, there is absolutely nothing that will keep him awake. Why? Because there is simply nothing going on!
Last week he was watching himself doing 'The Lovecats' on TOTP and he got sick. Het gets sick of everything that is going on.
Except (obviously) for the latest Banshee’s single, and some Police singles Smith wants to have nothing to do with all that. Obviously he has, but: “songs like 'the walk' or 'Let’s go to bed' become top 3 singles because nobody else writes something silly like that. Though it’s all that easy! I mean, 'the lovecats' is far from brilliant, but when compared to the rest it ’s actually rather good”.
And it’s not as if I have been writing those songs so that I would finally reach that top 10. They just sort of came naturally and all of a sudden the record companies were like: “Oh..at least, finally you’ll get there! After all those years..” you know? As if I have been desperatly craving to write a top ten single, I haven’t! On the contrary, I got more excitement out of writing songs like faith though I knew it wouldn’t be picked up to be a single in a million years. And sure, this laughing face you see right now is going to change again. But I don’t want to end up an idiot who got lost in the music-bussines and hasn’t got a fucking clue of what’s going on. I don’t see myself in this industry for that long anyway. At least, that is how I think about it right now. I just don’t want to grow old doing this, I’d prefer other conditions.
I’m not sure really, I’d like to be a writer. I have tried that in the past and I wouldn’t know if it is good enough for anyone else to read, but I’d love to give that a proper go!
-Why would you want to quit the music?
I think you eventually have to. Not particularly making music, but definately this popculture. Like Eno and Philip Glass. They make their music but they, in a way, are bystanders!
-Eno thinks modern popmusic is more about personality than it is about the actual music. How do you feel about that?
Like I said, Eno is a bystander who knows what is going on. And I’m in the middle of it all and know he is right! For example, with the lovecats, I’m avoiding every classic way of gaining publicity. In the U.K. I vitually cancelled every interview, and turned down an offer from some primetime-talkshow. The people at Polydor went crazy! Supposebly 7 million people watch that show. But I don’t want to be known as the guy who invented that catchy tune called 'the lovecats'. I have done way more and way better than that. For that mather, I’d rather stay unknown. In popmusic there is always this ‘for the time being-attitude’. It is all about what you look like and what you have have to say any given moment. And there is absolutely know way I could ever compete with somebody like Boy George, is there? I’m not as cute as he is, and I simply can’t be bothered. I’ve drawn a security-line, if you will, and I make sure I will not cross that. Besides, I’m a horrible performer anyway. I always get dead-nervous when I’m on stage in front of a crowd. I can’t change that, and I don’t want to change that. All I can do is share my own experiences and views, though, when I start to think about that there is no way I will find out why that would be interesting for anyone else but myself.
-So, why do you do what you do then?
For me. I’ve never done this for anybody but myself. People around me are often like: “Come on, you are young, you look good and you write fun songs. You can make a fortune!”. Shocking, really. Actual friends of mine who still think I do this for the fortune. I that were true, I would have kept writing 'Boys don’t cry' over and over, right? That has cost me quite a few friendships actually.
-I understand, but to be frank, when I first heard 'the lovecats' I too figured: Well, he finally wants to get a hitsingle himself !
I never said I have a problem with having hitsingles. I haven’t. BUT I don’t have to have one, you know. I’m not depending on them, sipmly because all I really have to take care of is myself, and for that I don’t need all that much!
Robert once said he would like to orchestrate ‘The end of the world’. But while the world continues to fall apart Smith has narrowed his ambitions down for a bit. 1984 will be the year of his very own apocalypse, for he’ll turn 25. The age he never thought he’d reach. He’ll manage.
I’m not even a real artist, I keep making things up which I think are often brilliant, but I never seem to manage to make it come to life the way I want it to. And that frustrates me. The people who can do that; Those are real artists, people like Ian Curtis, or Dylan thomas…I really admire them.
The new the Cure album will be called ‘The Top’. “And don’t ask me why” Smith says….
Why would I?
THANKS to: Lennert Oosterling for the TRANSLATION.