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1/28/2000  El Pais
There it is, Robert Smith ends The Cure

They say good-bye, and we don’t know whether to believe them. It is not the first time that The Cure have announced their farewell, but this time it seems to be serious: their leader, Robert Smith, wants to turn the page and go on with new projects. The Cure leave as inheritance a good lot of touching songs and memorable videos: its first classic was Boys don't cry, in 1979; the last is maybe Friday I'm in love (1992). With the engines idle, the Britons have continued active along the nineties, but their image will be forever bound to the previous decade. Somehow, The Cure, with their albums, their Goth looks, their make-up and their haircuts (or hairdos) are one of the big symbols of the eighties, a time whose music and aesthetics live days of resurgence. For that reason, and for the amusing lucidity of their leader, the farewell of this historical group well deserves a cover.

It has been said that Bloodflowers will be the last album of The Cure, that Robert Smith wants to change the mood after a farewell tour. But, when we interviewed him, his main concern was to buy a typical Spanish fan for his wife.

ROBERT SMITH ENTERS in the suite of the hotel in Madrid where the journalist waits and he rushes to the double windows. He struggles until opening it. "I don't understand that they prevent you to breathe fresh air, as if you were a sick person." Then begins a difficult search —he is shortsighted —until he locates the minibar and catches an orange soda. "I don't request much of a hotel, only that they have a room service that really works, even if you call at four in the morning. Also, that they let me sleep. Is it so strange to understand that there are people that don't follow the normal schedule of an executive"?.

Last night, Robert was on a flamenco spree. In fact, he asked to experience “the real flamenco”, and at Casa Patas he was dazzled with María Juncal's dance and Pedro Cortés's playing. "They told me that the guitarist was not of the first division, although to me it looked like he played a thousand times better than me. But it didn't discourage me, on the contrary: they returned me the desire to play and compose. And the dancer! I loved her, I prefer that spontaneity to Joaquín Cortés's show. It was so to pleasure that I tasted the alcohol, although I had promised to avoid it during this promotional tour. It is unfair that I get drunk in a city and don't fulfill the appointments of the following day."

So that last night’s thing should not be serious, although there was another humid stop in Dejate Besar, a local near to his hotel. Robert is presented with eye mascara, but without lipstick. He wears a XXL sweater that is revealed practical: the sleeves cover his hands and he serves simultaneously from the recipients of coffee and milk without fear to burn. What art, Robert. "Thank you. With all that I have drunk in my life, the less than I can do it is to do well as a waiter."

The Cure and alcohol. "We have been a very alcoholic band and I have police records in many cities for doing foolish things, things that I don't remember later! Even the sangria can be a problem. To drink in The Cure is about something social: some wines to be ready to get on stage. The bad thing is when you appeal to the alcohol or the drugs to lose your inhibitions. Those substances potency your enjoyment of the music, but I deny that they help you to create art, the things that I have composed being stoned have been …a piece of shit. Well, most of the times" [laughs].

One can always write on the hangovers and the regret and everything else. " Uf!, my last autobiographical album was Disintegration, 10 years ago, which has parallelisms with the last one. I don't like to tell intimate things, for fear of boring: imagine, twenty something years releasing albums. Of course that I never reveal when I speak about me and when they are observations about unknown people or simple fantasies. In general, I feel happy with my life and I don't use it to look for inspiration. I am really boring: I take care of my garden, I go to the cinema, I take care of my family. Sometimes, I encourage myths on me so that there is more confusion. A smoke screen "!.

Do you have children? "No, my wife decided not to have them and I don't see myself as father: I lack discipline, I don't even want to imagine how my son would be. I prefer to be an uncle, I have 21 nephews. Really! In my house, the easiest thing to find are children during the weekends. I get along very well with them: they know that I have a strange job, that I play the guitar and that I appear in television. They admire me more since they saw me in a South Park episode! I am not a rock star, I am the uncle Robert."

Curious, many people think that Robert Smith's personality is a little… infantile. "I suppose that it is because of refusing to be cynical, for refusing to show me tired of the world. I believe that there are people that fear to grow for the responsibilities; I have the fortune of doing what I want and develop occurrences that perhaps are not within reach of another 40 year-old person. I am my own boss. But I also take the responsibility of a group and, when I am on tour, there are 40 or 50 people that depend on me, I can not play with their means of life."

DELAYERS

Lets speak of the new album, Bloodflowers that has taken an eternity in being recorded. "Not so much, we began in the summer of 1998, but we thought that it would be a good idea to train playing in some festivals. And it worked, but we also had to pay for some excesses. In the fall we returned to the study and we used too much new technology, at the end we had a lot left to do. Already in 1999, I recorded my parts in London. Then, we decided to mix it in the countryside, in Surrey. It was a new study for us and… well, we were not very diligent, but the album was finished in the summer. They told us that it was not very commercial, it is not even planned to tape music videos, that we waited until the millennium fever passed, the company doesn't have much faith lately in our commerciality. You already see, I was convinced that we would record it in some weeks, one of those occasions in that I had the songs clear and how they should sound, but…."

Which is your true role inside The Cure? "I see myself as an orchestra's director, I have the music in my head, I know what I need and I have to extract it of some instrumentalists. For me, this is the best line-up in The Cure, and for that reason we have been together for five years; it is about motivating them to make the best album we can. But it is necessary to look for that spirit, not to impose it like an obligation. It can be months without I thinking of a new song, but I have enough experience to know that it will arrive in their moment, when an emotion becomes an idea."

Are there rules, is there a behavior code to be in The Cures? " No! If somebody needs to be said what should not make, he doesn't deserve to belong to the group. Evidently, not to go drunk to play, but that is also applied to me." Not even rules on how to get dressed or to comb their hair in a way? "The image of The Cure is me, the other ones go like they want, we have some that are very hippy. But I don't have problems with the hippies."

THE GENEROUS LEADER

About The Cure, it is not usually said that you are generous: you share the royalties with your musicians. "Primarily, they are friends that share my sensibility; that matter more than any possible virtuosity. In fact, to have a musician of high level usually brings problems. That of distributing the responsibility avoids that the money interferes in the artistic process. The lyrics are mine and the music is signed by all, that nobody says ‘ it is that I composed 85% of that song '. No, it has already been made a pact previously and it is not necessary to discuss on percentages." It was shocking that Lol Tolhurst, your drummer from the beginnings, sued you demanding some royalties that supposedly you whisked away from him. "It was extremely unpleasant. He allowed to be guided by people that surround him that thinks only of taking out money, some bastards who didn't care about a relationship as deep as ours. He ended up saying that he had become an alcoholic because of me. The worst was to go to the tribunal and to see somebody that knows that he is making something abominable. The sentence was completely favorable to me and I even felt it for him. The very stupid one was ruined, for the costs of the lawyers and the process. But I can not forgive that it also implied my wife."

Robert manifests limitless love for Mary, one of those fiancé-of-all-the-life who supported him during his bad times. Today, he’s driving his manager crazy for his whim of getting a castellan fan for his wife. He buys it at the last moment: a model of 300.000 pesetas. "Mary has been the great influence in my life, the rock that stays strong when I lose the head. She noticed, for example that I become aggressive and unfriendly when I cut my hair. So I make it long. Mary is very maternal with me. And very, very tolerant."

When you receive news of something as the slaughter in the Columbine High School and it is said that the murderers listened to Gothic rock, do you fear that they are fans of The Cure? "No, they don't kill anybody, all they do is to commit suicide [giggles]. I don't joke, in Los Angeles a lad ascended to the stage and began to stab himself. There always happen nonsense with us there in LA. There were organizations that threatened our record company for publishing Killing an arab. We explain that to Killing an Arab comes from The foreigner, Albert Camus's book, and clear, neither they knew who Camus was either that that murder didn't have racist components. Neither our Pornography is about porno speech, but of the obscenity of the violence, of the exploitation, of the abuses of power. Fortunately, we don't have such a visible profile as to become Turk heads, that is the problem of… I don't know…." Marilyn Manson? "Exactly. He came to see us after a concert and then he said that I had been to him ‘a strange type ' [laughs]. I suppose that he is used to dealing with freaks that try to overcome him in atrocities and it never occurred to me. His thing is transparent: he sings, he gets dressed, he makes things that are all calculated to scandalize. The Americans, young and old, fall in their trap and it should assume that his fame implies that they accuse him of all the unpleasant things that pass in the world, some years ago it was Ozzy Osbourne, that put satanic messages in his albums. What they don't wonder is how those boys could store so much hate… and an entire arsenal."

Phillias and phobias of a normal guy

MUSIC AT HOME

“ I never hear The Cure neither anything resembling it at home. I prefer to put ‘dance’ disks, especially of ‘ambient ', classical music or more ethnic sounds. I take myself of this trip some flamenco cd’s. The truth is that I prefer to listen to instrumental music or sung in a language that I don't understand, the lyrics of the pop music are usually so bad that they prevent me to enjoy the songs."

HERO

“Jimi Hendrix, above anyone. It impressed me that he invented his life, he passed from being a mercenary guitarist in United States to become a musical revolutionary in England; he made reality his dreams of freedom. I went to the island of Wight festival when I was 10 years old… but I didn't see Jimi, my brother left me locked in the tent while he left to fuck or to get stoned. I have not forgiven him yet."

READING

"I have a problem; if I like something, I go to the bookstore and I buy myself all that there is of the author and I read it. So I always go late. A name? Iaian Banks. But I tend more to devour scientific books, texts about genetics or astronomy."

CINEMA

“I am a fan of the Cohen Brothers and of Terry Gillian. But I also adore Steven Spielberg's movies, I believe that nobody receives so bad and so unjust criticisms. I don't consider myself a mitómano (Somebody who lie to himself, who invents lies): I know that Stanley Kubrick made as many bad movies as good ones. Yes, it is fun to find Hollywood productions where the main character is characterized as Robert Smith… I won't say names! I would prefer that they had called me to collaborate with me, I want to compose for the cinema and I have many ideas to film my own movie."

TRIBUTE ALBUMS

“I have participated in tributes making songs of the Doors, Depeche Mode or David Bowie, but I am only really proud of my version of ‘Foxy lady ', of Hendrix. Recently they called me for an album of versions of Nick Drake, whom I admire almost as much as Jimi, but I didn't like the other artists that participated and I turned them down. I would also like to make something with Thin Lizzy."

MUSIC VIDEOS

"I know that the videos of The Cure are very popular, but I never enjoyed making them: I don't usually identify myself with the character that I have to interpret, I am quite more instinctive. In fact, those videos were recorded to avoid us to act in television: a guy of the company assured us that appearing just as we were, was counteractive, that the sales of the albums that we promoted lowered instead of ascending. But I maintain very good relationship with our director, Tim Pope. By the way, lets finish the interview: I have to call him, they have told me that he has just been a father."

- Diego A. Manrique

 

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