7/10/1986 NOW T.O.
The Cure is doing one tour this year, the North American road trip that will bring them to Kingswood this Sunday (July 13). True, the band has done a couple of large open-air shows in their native Britain and will perhaps manage a few European dates before once again confining themselves to the studio.
But it is this side of the Atlantic that has seen the most consistent gains in the Cure's fan base. Far away from fickle Britain, where fashion and music are inextricably linked and trends change weekly, the band has found a solid foundation in North American on which to base the body of its work.
Lawrence Tolhurst, co-founder and keyboard player, agrees that they have distinctly different audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Speaking from the UK prior to the Cure's departure for New York, he says: "Here in Britain, whenever we put a record out we tend to get and audience based primarily on the success of that particular record, then after a few months everybody seems to ignore us.
"In America, though, it seems to be more of a rise, actually building up over the last five years, without any major activity on our part. In America, it's been a more gradual process but each time we go there it seems to add to the popularity of the band. In Britain, it's always on again, off again."
The Cure, according to Tolhurst, "like to keep busy," and their schedule usually involves four to eight months of touring and an album a year. All of this underscores a fundamental dichotomy between the two countries, as Tolhurst illustrates.
"In Britain, as soon as you become successful, you're no longer hip - if you do achieve a degree of success, you have to make sure it doesn't seem like you have. But there (here), being successful is what it's all about and people who have followed the band from the beginning are more likely to feel happy that they always knew you would do something well as opposed to Britain where they feel you've betrayed them by getting somewhere. It's part of the perversity of the British nature."
Tolhurst says that the Cure has profited largely from doing "what we're best at - writing a fairly reliable rhythm base with a few melody lines sort of interspersed - something straightforward. Whenever we've tried something vastly more complicated, it tends to lose its feeling a bit and become stale."
The band has become a stable unit of "five friends" having put the personnel shake-ups of a few years back behind them. Tolhurst says that this has enabled them to be more honest with respect to writing and recording. Feeling freer to exchange ideas has made them more open to change and different perspectives on any given song.
It is this stability and optimism that makes Tolhurst enthusiastic about the LP in the workds, one for which they have already demoed 'about 20 ideas out of 120.'
"I think there will probably be a few things that will be a bit longer than we've been doing over the last couple of albums. But there are also things that are very straightforward pop. It's a real mixture at the moment. I don't think we'll actually be able to be more definite until a bit later in the year - right now we're just toying with the ideas and basic structures - we haven't any lyrics or titles for them yet.
"But I think we'll be playing a few new pieces on this tour and try and work them out because we haven't been able to do that for some time. Normally, we do an album and go out and play it. This time, we're a little bit ahead of ourselves and I think that's good - we'll get to see people's reactions to some of the things and it maybe helps you know what to go with. We're actually quite excited about that."
Now, with a stronger North American market, the Cure has more creative latitude, a situation that Tolhurst finds most agreeable. "Our idea has always been to get to a point where we didn't actually need the standard channels to work through. That means more pressure to produce in a way, but we've tried to do things our way and not be overly swayed by current trends."