Less rest, more Gure
After four years out, Robert Smith got fed up of sitting around reading. So he got the hand back together. As The Cure embark on a major tour, Damien Love asks the band’s frontman what he’s been up [0.
The thing about The Cure is. they never changed. Which is not the same as saying that they always made the same record; it‘s more that no one else has ever made records like The Cure.
Correction. There was that initial fascinating period of four-year change and ﬂux. where the group wavered in and out of focus; from the Buzzcocks quoting Camus at twilight. through a grey-washed area of bleak. reﬂective melancholy. into a violent black and red arena of disgust and despair. From then on. however. while the melanchon and the despair are still to be found. The Cure have pursued a fairly unique pop line. Always music for romantic dreamers. from a misty and Technicolor wide-screen sort of place. a literally — and literary — fantastic place. Not Peckham. Abbey Road or Moss Side.
‘l‘ve always perceived the group. not in a pretentious way. as meaning as much to people wherever they are in the world.‘ is how Robert Smith sums up his place. or lack of it. in the current British pop landscape. ‘lt‘s not a British perspective. You don't have to be culturally uu/iti/ with what goes on where I live to understand it.~
Smith is sitting backstage in Essens in Germany. an effortlesst disarming fellow in conversation. his speech patterned with expressions like ‘crumbs.‘ and
‘When we started, I felt I was on this crusade against all the dross that was around, and as the years have gone by,
I’ve realised that it’s a losing battle.’
‘blimey.’ With an hour to kill before climbing onstage. there‘s time to ponder the vagaries of fashion. Questioned about how he feels The Cure are perceived back home in woo. he laughs and responds without hesitation. ‘Very poorly. actually. Probably worse than anywhere else in the world by a long. long way. It's always been that way — media-wise. we‘ve always been slagged off in Britain. Btit it‘s weird. going around America. the perception of what we're supposed to be about is different from state to state. It‘s just in Britain. everything is so much faster fad-led. and obviously we don‘t lit in. But then. we never have. so I‘ve had many years of being unfashionable.‘
Almost twenty years in fact. since Smith fortned the liasycure in (‘rawleyu Sussex. as a direct result ofthe
Rest cure: Robert Smith (left) took tour years out to do ‘very normal things’. like reading up on quantum-dynamics
initial punk explosion. In I992. after completing a world tour in support of the ills/i album. Smith realised that he hadn‘t had a break from the band for eight years or so. and decided that maybe the time had cotne to call it a day. at least for a while. ‘The worrying part of it is -- it's happened to me once before »~ I started defining myself as "Robert Smith of The Cure". I just decided to take a break from it all and come back to it if I felt I wanted to. which is exactly what I did.“
So. what does a rock star on sabbatical actually do'.’ ‘Uhhm. Very normal things. I kind of re-acquainted myself with my fatnin and friends ~ people I hadn‘t seen for about seven or eight years. I went for walks. took up astronomy again. just kind of. . . pastimes. Living. I think it‘s called. And I read. I caught up on all the books I should‘ve been reading.‘
Ah. books. In the past there have been many literary
references in The Cure canon; Camus. Mervyn Peake. La Rochefoucauld . . . However. it seems the singer has. of late. been more concerned with the doings of the corporeal world. ‘l've been reading a lot of non-Iiction.‘ Smith expands. ‘A lot of it about paleo-anthropology. because I‘ve got a hankering to go on a dig. I tried to understand quanturn-dynamics at one point. I read about six textbooks. Couldn't
really get my head round it. All it did was just upset me. Loads of stuff. I'm fortunate in that a lot of people give tne books. It used to be cuddly toys. but on the ll/is/t tour. thankfully. it turned into books. and I had a pretty huge stockpile. I‘ve actually made a list because I realised that l was reading books and I could never remember if I'd read 'em or not. which is like the onset of senility.‘
Senile or not. Smith‘s four-year break from being in The Cure has led to a sharpening of his appetite for being in the band. The next album. he promises -- as musicians tend to do — will be markedly different from ll’i/d Mood Swings and Wis/i. He has also. he says. come to a deeper understamling of his reasons for being in a group in the first place. ‘In a funny way. they've probably got more personal.’ he explains. ‘When we started. I felt I was on this crusade against all the dross that was around. and as the years have gone by. I‘ve realised that it's a losing battle. So the reasons for me doing it now are very much more to do with what I want to express. I suppose. And also. the thing that drove the back into it was I kind of missed creating something.‘ He pauses before adding. ‘ l'd reached a point where I felt very useless.‘
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36 The List 2‘) Nov- I2 I)L‘C NUT»