12/11/1982 Flexipop Magazine
If you were to bump into Robert Smith today, chances are heíd tell you that heíd "completely lost track of the central core of the Cure."
If you were to ask him if this was a worry, heíd probably wax cosmic and claim that really, "Nothingís worrying is it?" Robert always has an eye on the larger questions, the ultimate truths.
Recently, Robert Smith came to the end of his tether. While the record company continued to pester him to write some pop songs, the Cure set off on yet another European tour. Robert had a crisis.
"Thereís a lot of things Iíd rather do than trek around countries being drunk and playing to drunk people. The last tour was like a re-run of the worst movie youíve ever seen. Itís as if youíre leaning against a wall eyes closed, and when you come to, youíre in the same place you were a year before."
"You see your own graffiti up in the dressing rooms and the next bandís posters replacing yours as you leave town. We were cracking up so the people offstage began to fall apart as well. 23 people reverting to primitives is not a pretty sight; we were more like a rugby tour than a Cure tour..."
A year before, Robert had sworn heíd never play those venues again. Life in The Cure had begun to seem like a recurring nightmare. "I began to feel like some doddery old rock and roller who needed a few beers so he could go onstage and turn it on. Playing so many dates, it becomes almost impossible to create the necessary level of intensity every night. It got like when you really want to finish a chapter but your eyes keep closing..."
Robert walked off the tour and the Cure went missing. Simon Gallup left the group while Lol Tolhurst left his drums and began taking synth lessons in Clapham. Robert despaired about the whole affair. "I despaired about the whole business, being in a band, being involved in the music bit. After a while it takes over and you canít see out of it. Itís important to me to have a sense of myself be a person outside of all of this, a sense of myself as a person not just a member of the group." While Robert attempted to rediscover himself, he got a call from his old friends the Banshees. In five days he was touring with them - and loving it! "Thereís only three bands Iíd play for. Only New Order, the Bunnymen and the Banshees have that sense of purpose. Itís a pleasure for me not to be the center of attention: if I look up from the guitar, people arenít staring at me. All I miss is not singing.
Last week the Cure released a single with a lot more poppy moments than weíd come to expect form the Cure. They made a video which featured Lol dancing like one of Tears For Fears and gave the general impression they were bidding to become a modern-day pop group. Could this be the Cure?
At first, it seems as if Robert barely remembers. "Iíve become divorced from the name of the Cure over the last three months because nothing Iíve done has had anything to do with it. Talking an old toy or a game whose rules youíve forgotten..."
ĎLetís Go To Bedí changes the rules for the Cure. Naturally, Robert is unhappy with the change. "I donít think itís a Cure song. I wanted it released under a different name like we did with ĎCult Heroí a couple of years ago. Itís not that Cure songs are a formula but they do share a central core. This single has been released to get major daytime radio play."
"Itís disappointing to me because itís the first time weíve been seen to be involved in current trends or fashions. Thereís probably only a few thousand people whoíve held us up as an example to themselves but if I were one of them, Iíd feel let down. For us to be seen to be bothering to compete in an arena I donít respect upsets me. When you spend time in a band trying to achieve certain goals, you donít want to betray them."
Robert has no ambitions to become a pop star. "Weíve always catered for minorities, not from a sense of elitism but because I just donít have a finger on public taste. I canít see why anyone would want to buy any of the singles in the top 10 when I spend my time turning them off when they come on the radio.
The early Cure of ĎKilling An Arabí were known as a pop band. The companies behind Robert would be pleased to see him revert to type. "For the first time Iím conscious of being seen as someone who could make money and I resent it. At first they respected me for not wanting to write hits, then they saw me as some kind of halfwit and now theyíre trying to goad me by saying I canít do it anyway. I suppose Iíve let them get to me with "Letís Go To Bed". As you can see from the video, I donít take the song seriously and thatís its saving grace. If I took it seriously, that would make it even more gross."
Robert Smith has all the problems of a highbrow in the marketplace. Heís surprised that heís survived this far. The Cure are important to him but not as important as his sense of self. "Letís Go To Bed" does not announce a new direction for the Cure. "I said it wouldnít sell. If it does, Iíll take even greater pleasure in never doing anything like it again." If the Cure are to survive, Robert will have to find their central core again.
Meanwhile, itís tough being a highbrow. "I donít despair about losing touch with the Cure. Itís more despairing that Iíll never attain the heights of a Bach or a Prokofiev..."