Les Inrockuptibles (France)*
The CURE "The Perfect Kiss"
“IT’S the thought of seeing myself transform into a sort of monster, a vampire that would try to kiss you by force. I would become older and older, and less and less seductive with all this runny make-up, a sort of scary satire: “Over here children, come close…kiss me!”” The Cure’s new album, with a triple title, is a double. “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me”. Eighteen titles in eighteen points. By Robert Smith
“It’s about disgust that I sometimes feel after certain things I’ve done, certain physical things. It goes back to the time of “The Top” when I was strange enough. You can’t say that there wasn’t a precise beginning and end to this period, but it started at the time of “Pornography” and lasted until “The Top”. One and a half or two years during which I was very…curious. When I think of it, I realize that I’ve done some very strange, peculiar things. I had to be someone with whom it was difficult to get along or communicate with. It wasn’t voluntary; it was just that I was living these particular emotions. If after it I changed it’s because this part of me grew older: I have felt less and less bizarre and more and more normal. “The Kiss” is a very spontaneous song, recorded in just one take, a sort of chaos that we didn’t know where it would lead.”
“It’s an aspect of the group that we haven’t revealed very often, a bit in the same line of “Caterpillar”, a very quiet and introspective piece, very intimate. This one was also done while we were just simply sitting in the same room, playing. We recoded all of these “little” songs in a very intimate surrounding, in very small studios like the one where we worked in Provence to capture the essence and spirit of what the piece were really like. It’s the piece that reminds me the most of the Jesus and Mary Chain, without their feedback. If we took out all the noise from their records, it would sound a bit like this. While playing it the first few times, I realized that it had the same atmosphere as Lou Reed’s “Walk on the wild side”.”
“On all the album, the pieces are meant to be the most extreme possible in each of their styles, very rough and therefore very different from each other. The alternative would’ve been to make a certain type of song and put them together, but I think it’s more pertinent to follow something like “Catch” by “Torture”. This way the album is like a permanent blinking. As for “Torture” the song, it’s like a bandage on a wound…”
“Apart from a saxophone playing from time to time there’s no real brass on the album, they’re all simulated. It’s the only aspect of technology that I like: with it I can play brass myself, they enter my universe, as well as cord instruments, the sitar. If I thought they sounded better, I’d use a real section of brasses like we did on the version of “Close to me” where you had to get this feeling of doo-wop impossible with a synth.
There are therefore evidently, certain things that can’t be simulated like for example certain ways of playing the violin, but in the aspect of what we do, it’s all spontaneous. The trumpet on “Torture” is an idea I got in the studio, I immediately played it on a small emulator. All these parts of the album are played on a small synth, one of the cheapest in the world. With it, very quickly, I can materialize my ideas. Then afterwards nobody realized that these are not real brasses or real violins. If I hadn’t told you, you wouldn’t have known.”
“On this piece, our “super saxophone player” is none other than me: I don’t play the keyboards very well, just with one finger and a bit off. The trouble with most bands that use technology to simulate, to synthesize natural sounds, is that they program them simultaneously: finally, it’s therefore a machine playing the music of a machine. On the contrary, we play on the machine, there’s absolutely nothing programmed on the album. I’d never allow it because everything would sound planned. If me, with my small finger, I record one after the other three false brasses, they’ll never be perfectly synchronized like a real section of brasses, brutal and deluded.”
“The strangest piece on the album. Simon and Boris wrote the music. Originally, the piece was longer than six minutes, each one added to it his own little thing…we did another version of it, very slow, with only bongos, a bass and the sax: it sounds like a night-club record “you’re delicious”…horrible!…It might become the B side of our next single.”
Why Can’t I
“One of the pop songs. As soon as we had found the melody, we knew it would be a single. It was a very good rhythm, classic rock, very unusual for us. In this album there’s a lot of unusual stuff for us, mainly in the way my voice changes for each piece. As soon as the first notes of “Why can’t I be you” I knew that I’d have pleasure singing it. The title is not to be taken generally, on the contrary it comes from a particular situation; I was in the middle of a tense discussion and these people around the table were looking at me as if I was going to make some ground breaking revelations, and I thought to myself “good God, why can’t I be elsewhere? Why isn’t someone else in my place?” I would’ve traded with anyone; I would’ve preferred to be that guy leaning at the bar than myself. Everyone must feel that once in a while “good God why can’t I be someone else?”. It’s not really an envy or jealousy, I’ve never really wanted to be someone else, but there are some occasions in which I’d like to slither out of myself, escape discretely from myself and just leave my empty body acquiesce.”
“A lot of pieces come from things that I’ve lived, incidents, except this one, taken from a short story by Beaudelaire “Snake Pick”. I had been taken to a party with a car filled with stupid girls, “Snake Pick” comes from the feeling that I had at that moment; you’re a prisoner, annoyed in a situation where it would be even more annoying to try and get out; so you keep on taking it, living a lie for a moment. The next day, I would regret it: “why didn’t I leave? Why didn’t I react?” I often accept things only to regret them afterwards.”
Just Like Heaven.
“Les enfants du rock”… “it came to me on top of a cliff, in the south of England. A song that’s very easy to understand. A lot of these songs are easily understood, they’re probably the easiest to understand that I’ve written, I’ve spent enough time on each of them to make sure that what they contained would be seized by those who’d listen to them, while previously I wouldn’t bother about it: especially on “Pornography” and “The top” where I find them sometimes hard to understand even for myself. I wonder why the lyrics aren’t clearer, more comprehensible: they would’ve been better. This time I was very clear, sometimes too much, like on Just like Heaven.”
Hot Hot Hot.
“It’s supposed to sound Chic…and it does sound chic except for the production. It’s just a dance-song. It sounds like an imitation, mostly because of the voice: I didn’t think of the way I had to sing it and there as well it came very spontaneously. As most of the voices, I did this in one take. Everyone was laughing while hearing me sing on it, I knew therefore that it was good…it’s so rare that people laugh while I’m singing…”
All I want. Shiver & Shake.
“On these pieces I have however spent a lot of time on the voice. I had to redo the one of Shivering Shake a good twenty times, on different days, because I couldn’t sing it aggressively enough. One morning, I got a very upsetting phone call from London. As soon as I hung-up, I ran to the studio screaming “put-on Shiver & Shake, I’m going to sing it right now!” and it all came out….
“Surely the most emotional song, maybe the hardest to sing when I look back on it: I was feeling very good, I was so happy with the record that it was hard for me to get into the indispensable mood to sing it.”
“I think it’s the strangest piece, the most surprising that The Cure has ever done. You’d think it was a national anthem. We’d never recorded a song this positive, a song that would incite people to act positively. It comes from a sort of pride…despite the way that some people criticize us, criticize our evolution by saying every year that we’re finished; I think that we do better. I’m very happy to see that sixteen years up ‘till now, I’m twenty-eight, all that I’ve done always became better, without any compromise. When I went to school, I had this will to fight, I felt like I aspired to something. I rethought of what I was feeling when I was a kid and I felt like I wanted to do a song that would be a calling to these kids. We’re like older brothers, we’ve been scared by the adult world and have now become a part of it. It’s a strange song; I find it hard to sing. The songs in which we’re reacting to something have always been angry songs, whereas this one is an anthem, a sort of war theme. This is why we placed it at the end of the album, it’s what people didn’t expect.”
Sometimes it’s horrible to kiss someone… it’s the thought of seeing myself transform into a sort of monster, a vampire that would try to kiss you by force. I would become older and older, and less and less seductive with all this runny make-up, a sort of scary satire: “over here children, come close…kiss me!” (Filthy smile). That’s why it’s three times “kiss me”, once would be spontaneous, while “kiss me kiss me kiss me” is not a request, it’s an order. I suppose it’s me trying to mock myself, because I can’t take it seriously: the more I see all these magazine covers, the less I get used to it. The other band members make fun of me while thinking of all these girls who have a picture of me over their beds. I must laugh about it as well; this is why the album is called so. Because actually, it’s all wrong: I have the opposite effect on people when they meet me: I chill their blood and they run away…”
“This album is entertaining, voluntarily pleasing. When we started recording it, when I realized that it was probably going to be a double-album, the more we advanced the more I realized that it was the end, the result of something we’d been working on since we started. This takes into consideration a lot of the elements that Cure had done in the past and puts them in a different context, under another light, to give them another perspective. It’s like summing-up all that we’ve done.
I think it’s probably going to be the last, surely the last Cure album to sound like this, to have this form…it’s still similar to “The head on the door” and all the rest, because of the group’s line-up, the way that the pieces live on the records: much better, but always with the same form. We won’t go and record again until I think of a different way and not just musically but also concerning the structure of what we do. It will be totally different. There’s a bunch of musical areas that I haven’t explored yet, that I haven’t dared approach. This album is voluntarily a pleasure, a distraction, very easily understood. But there are many types of music that I like and towards which I’ve never oriented the group, which are very hard, even if sometimes, from time to time, we have touched upon them. I think it would be stupid to do another record in this line of style. We wouldn’t be able to do better, it would be a remake of “Kiss me”: it would be settling for us, which would be terrible. I always wanted it not to be like this for the group. If we did it, it would be the beginning of the end. We’re condemned to do something totally different, otherwise we won’t do another album. I don’t want to do another album that people have the right to expect.”
“It’s like when we’re kids. We’re marked by certain physical details that disgust us with people: you attach too much importance to the worst things, like a smell…Here on the booklet, it’s me, my face and that lipstick that becomes such a cliché…you’re getting closer and closer, even closer and it becomes obscene…you’d think it was a porn picture.”
“All those involved in The Cure aren’t so because they are part of the band, you should see things the other way around. There’s no contract that makes each one have to be in the group. We mutually invite each other to take part in it. Whatever we’re doing now, be it under the name Cure or not, all those who would like to be involved will be. I don’t want to make a logical follow-up to this record. I’m not like that. If other people disagree, they won’t participate. But it will be for purely musical reasons. If they’re enthusiastic, I invite them to do it with me. The group is not structured in an ordinary way. We’re friends first of all, then comes what we do: they wouldn’t be vexed if I did a solo album. They’d be fine, wouldn’t ask “but why?””
April 87, The Cure perform for “Les Enfants du Rock”. In the setting of a meadow, questions.
Generally, after a success such as yours last year in France, a group would retire and release a live album. On the contrary, all of this seems to inspire you further, to make you ever more prolific.
“We hadn’t been in a studio for eighteen months before this album. The compilation filled the void after “The Head On The Door” while normally we’d have waited to consolidate our position. “Come on guys, we can do another “The Head On The Door”… but we did very few things last year, we only had concerts in the south of France during the summer, we filmed a movie, then we went to the US…not so few finally (laughs)…but it was calm enough. This break was welcome. After this, the double-album was due to chance: it’s simply that we had a lot of songs. We could’ve had a simple album, but all these pieces form a whole and we had really a lot of stuff, much so that there will be an unreleased track on all the B sided of our singles.”
“We can’t talk about it, he’s a famous keyboardist…not! Actually he’s not very well known, unknown…for now it’s only for the concerts: this way I have more freedom I can play or not the guitar if I want, everything is more flexible. If it works, he’ll stay and be added to this bunch of fools…
We’re going to the US, end of July and in August, then we’re playing Europe from October to December, a little everywhere.
No, it’s a Tim Pope film (the producer of all their wacky videos, author’s note). They’re exclusively concert images but filmed in such a way that you feel like you’re on-stage, there are no more boundaries. You never see such a thing, it’s a film from a particular aspect. It had to be a film about Cure by Cure. Tim Pope was the only one who could do it.
It’s a movie that Lol did of Robert’s mouth…
We hadn’t projected any films during our concerts since “Pornography” and it frankly wasn’t a success (laughs)…and this one will be so repulsive, as much as the album booklet, that everyone will escape, we’ll play for empty theatres… (laughs) But the Americans will serve as guinea pigs: it’s for practice that we’re performing these small concerts over there this summer. You can’t take Americans seriously especially once you’ve met them (laughs).
Tim Pope is the only person you trust to film you. When it’s not him behind the camera, like for Champs Elysees, you make fools of yourselves, such as the day when you came wearing dresses…
When we do shows like “Champs Elysees”, you have to do something stupid, because this is so absurd. If we did things in an appropriate manner, people would take us seriously, while we want to make fun of it.
Because you accept to be on shows like Champs Elysees, while groups like Simple Minds or Eurythmics refuse to…
We’re in a position, in France, where we’re capable of doing shows like “Champs Elysees”, terrible. We’re in a strong position, we haven’t cried to be on it, it’s on the contrary them who asked us. We do it, we mock it: when we came wearing dresses, all the women in the first row felt ill eased (laughs). It doesn’t have any consequences. We’re very conscious of the way we see ourselves, our image, we visualize absolutely everything we do, eventually afterwards. Nothing is free.
Maybe in South America, where we were on tour lately: Echo And The Bunnymen will go there before the summer. Over there, things will change maybe. But everywhere else, it seems we’re an exception. In South America, they’ve never seen anything like it: they know nothing other than Elton John, Queen or Rod Stewart: only old whiners while we’re old but we’re good (laughs). It’s therefore completely new for them and that’s why they like it so much. And if we’re doing so well in France, it’s because the native music of this part really stinks…it does everywhere but particularly here (laughs).
A lot of bands from the end of the seventies- beginning of the eighties have become the leading groups of today, The Psychedelic Furs, U2, Cure
Yes we’re conscious of it, but we’ve never considered having grown with people like U2 or Simple Minds because we despise all of them, as much as we despise Lionel Ritchie, A-Ha and all those people. The only groups we feel close to, with whom we grew-up are Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, maybe the Banshees, if they start doing something good again, which is not the case since I left them (laughs). The bands that have become very famous, who have become more successful than us are mainstream groups; they don’t live in the same world as us…they’ve never lived in the same world anyway. But in the band, each has opinions about it, we have very different thoughts about it…we all hate them at different levels (laughs)”
gathered by Hugo Cassavetti
Three imaginary boys (Fiction/ Polydor)
Boys don’t cry (compilation, import Fiction)
Seventeen seconds (Fiction/ Polydor)
Faith (Fiction/ Polydor)
Pornography (Fiction/ Polydor)
A single (Ep, one side Live, import Fiction)
Let’s go to bed (single+ maxi, Fiction/ Polydor)
The walk (single, Fiction/ Polydor)
Japanese whispers (compilation, Fiction/ Polydor)
The love cats (single+ maxi, Fiction/ Polydor)
The Caterpillar (maxi, Fiction/ Polydor)
The Top (Fiction/ Polydor)
Concert (Fiction/ Polydor)
Concert tape (live + unreleased, Fiction/ Polydor)
The head on the door (Fiction/ Polydor)
In between days remix (maxi, import Elektra)
Close to me (maxi with two unreleased tracks, import Elektra)
“Kiss me kiss me kiss me” (double-album, Fiction/ Polydor)
THANKS to: Caroline Zakka for the TRANSLATION.