2/23/2000 Barnes & Noble Online
The Final Cure Robert Smith Talks About His New Album, BLOODFLOWERS, His New Sense of Maturity, and the End of the Cure
Some pop stars make a career out of having a career -- waging war on the charts long after their creative fires have dimmed. But Robert Smith of the Cure isn't one of them. Despite rising sales and international acclaim, Smith has -- with alarming regularity -- threatened to end the Cure, (he's also dismissed entire bands only to recruit new members later). But with BLOODFLOWERS, a haunting record that completes an unofficial trilogy of Cure albums, Smith sounds serious about ending his perfect pop reign, and life after the Cure. He talked with bn.com's Ken Micallef about the album's place in the Cure pantheon, his post-"South Park" notoriety, and what's on his bookshelf.
barnesandnoble.com: Is this really the final Cure album?
Robert Smith: When we were making the album I told the band, as I usually do, "This is the last album." They said, "Yep, of course it is." I've said this since DISINTEGRATION, and each time, I actually mean it. The difference this time is that they know that the next thing that I do is going to be a solo thing. I have never done that before. I have enjoyed making this album more than any other Cure album, and I do think it is the best thing we have ever done. And if it is the last one, then we are very pleased that it is, because it is so good.
bn.com: Some prefer the darker themes of DISINTEGRATION and PORNOGRAPHY to the more pop-oriented work or GALORE.
RS: BLOODFLOWERS pisses all over GALORE. I wrote a couple of songs for BLOODFLOWERS kind of half-heartedly thinking that I had always put a pop song on the albums. I have always been cajoled into doing it by the label. "Oh, just have one. It will draw people's attention to the album." This time, I resisted it. There are no singles. That has horrified the various labels around the world. [Laughs] I think the album has benefitted from it; the album is much more coherent not having one throwaway pop song. I think musically I refer back to things I've done in the past. PORNOGRAPHY and DISINTEGRATION are two of my favorite albums. With BLOODFLOWERS, I wanted to use those ideas lyrically as well as musically to create a final part. I think Cure fans will spot the references, musical and lyrical, in the record.
bn.com: I take it you aren't cynical, but where does a song like "The Birds Always Sing" and the lyrics, "The world is neither just nor unjust/It is a tragedy for everyone," come from?
RS: It is inevitable to be cynical to some degree when you reach 40. You have been disappointed enough times that your original naivete and hope has been eroded. But things have generally gone my way so that alleviates any true feelings of cynicism. The people who have been around in my life have usually been honest, and they have kept their word. Maybe the human race isn't as fucked as it might be. I was more cynical as a teenager. I thought all adults were like my teachers, a bunch of bastards. But now that I am older, I have met enough people to confirm my belief that not everyone is destined for hell.
bn.com: Has marriage occupied your time in the three years since the last album?
RS: [Laughs] It's an odd way of putting it, but I suppose it has taken a lot of time. We have 17 nephews and four nieces now, so we have gotten seriously into being aunt and uncle. I enjoy that much more than I thought I would. They ask us to babysit on weekends, and they are all different ages. I can pick and choose. If I fancy going to a ball match, I can take the older ones. If I want to indulge myself at a fair or do something really stupid, I take the younger ones.
bn.com: Do the kids know Robert Smith, the rock star?
RS: Some of them do. They have all been to the shows. The younger ones saw me portrayed on "South Park." But they didn't really care who I was until then. Suddenly, I am the coolest uncle they could possibly wish for. It's sort of embarrassing. All the kids at their schools know who I am now -- even the headmaster knows who I am now. All that I've done is redundant, compared to this one cartoon appearance.
bn.com: Do you feel better at 40 than at 30?
RS: Much, much better. I thought I would be a complete vegetable or a deeply unhappy person but, in fact, I am very comfortable with who I am and what I am doing. I did make a decision in my mid-30s that by the time I hit 40, I should really have accomplished everything that I could with the band. I've worked in a band called The Cure for all my adult life. It's quite a big step to suddenly think, "that is it." I thought by the time I got to 40, I would have such urges to do something else, that it would be really easy to do. And I found that I hadn't really gotten those urges. The urges are still to make music.
bn.com: Do you fear becoming a parody of yourself?
RS: There are elements of what we do that are cartoon-like anyway. That is why it didn't really bother me 'cause I think we are halfway there.
bn.com: Do you read books to be inspired or for enjoyment?
RS: Not to write songs, though I have stolen from Baudelaire and Kafka. Part of Iain Banks's THE CROW ROAD dealt with themes that are also in "The Birds Always Sing." When I read books, I am always underlining things. I keep scrapbooks of stuff that act almost like weird diaries. Right now, I'm reading the updated version of THE SELFISH GENE by Richard Dawkins. It's about genetics. All that matters in evolutionary terms is that we all have genes that we carry around. That is the drive from the day we emerge from the primordial slime. Other advances that are emotional, spiritual, or literary are really just by the by. But you feel that you have to attach some weight to art, and I resent the idea that I only exist to carry genes -- and if I do, then fuck them because I am not having children anyway. So I've won!