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10/9/2000  JJJ Radio Interview

Part 1

"While interview was being played bits of Faith , Watching Me Fall , A Forest and The Last Day Of Summer were played in the background.

D.J - ..to eleven.Your with Francis Leach here on JJJ's morning show. Well since they first started back in 1977 with their first record the cure have always been part of the JJJ family. Each time they release a record Cure fans ring the station up demanding that they get to hear it , that we play it , that we talk about The Cure , and through successive hottest 100's The Cure have always been perennial favourites , in fact that if we did a list of the band that has featured most in the hottest 100 there is no doubt The Cure would win by a mile. And so with their current Australian tour almost certain to be their last it was time to talk to Robert Smith about his remarkable band and their incredible career. He came into the JJJ studio a couple of days ago to talk to me and it was great fun having a chat with him , and I began by asking him whether this particular tour the Dream Tour felt different to the other ones that he'd done over the last 20 years.

R.S - Yeah it feel's totally different to anything weve done really since the Disintegration tour 10 years ago because I was very adamant we were um , were sort of talking about whether we should you know go out and tour this year and how much we should do and that I would only do it if I get my own way entirely and just sang the songs that I wanted to sing cos I think that with the other's 1 or 2 other members of the band worry that we need to put crowd pleasing songs in like the hit's to get audiences going but um I just thought itd be , I figured that the stuff that I like that The Cure does is much more in the theme of Blood Flowers the album and so we pulled together like 50 songs that I felt all all complimented stretching right the way back. There's very little of the first album but really from the second album onwards we've got like quite a lot of stuff from each record.

D.J - Im wondering how you go about selecting songs that fit that mood , I mean is there a particular theme that runs through the show itself or is it just about the feel of the songs that matters to you?

R.S - Its probably... half the songs kinda pick themselves cos there just like I feel like there our best songs , a lot of them are pretty well known certainly to concert going Cure fans , ah songs like From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea , ah Trust , songs like that , um and the other half are really songs that we havent played for so long , um I felt that if that this was going to be the last time that we did it I would like to have just one last go at singing them , songs like All Cats Are Grey from the Faith album , and quite a few , you know a couple of songs from 17 Seconds and like The Kiss from the Kiss Me album has come back into the set and stayed. Weve kind of like re discovered , ive personally re discovered a lot of the old stuff like the reasons why I enjoyed being in The Cure I suppose in the last decade , well 2 decades ago now it was ( laughs ).

D.J - I read that its part of a trilogy and its no surprise to long term cure fans that Blood Flowers sits very comfortably along the feel of Disintegration and stretches back to Pornography in 1982. Is it simply the mood that links them or is it chronological about the experience of those 3 records? Youd be a very brave person id suggest if you sat down and listened to all 3 in 1 sitting.

R.S - ( laughs ) Yeah I mean it wasn't really um , when I started saying that I was kind of aiming it more at the band when I first suggested that it was the 3rd part of a trilogy. Obvioussly when we were doing Pornography I had no idea that wed make another record , or draw another breath nevermind do a trilogy that culminated 18 years later. Um on a personal level Pornography , Disintegration and Blood Flowers have all happened at kind of important moments in my life and they reflect kind of lyrically , that I think ive kinda.... It's a sort of taking stock moment and looking back moment. I think musically there are kind of themes, lyrically obviously because of the nature of the songs there are themes. I really wanted the others in the band before we started recording to understand the mood that I wanted to get with it. It helped in that Simon and Roger were there for Disintegration and Simon was there for Pornography. I mean they were kind of distur! bed that I would wanna ( laughs ) make a 3rd part of this imaginary trilogy because they..... I think they realised very quickly what it would entail which is like extreme moodiness in the studio and me being kind of pretty uncommunicative but um , hopefully the end result justified the torture that I put everyone through.

D.J - But you've always been interested in pushing it a little bit havent you I mean listening back to 17 Seconds and Faith you basically created a world of your own on each of these records for people to disappear into , and that obviously meant that you worked very very hard to find a sound that you felt fitted with where you were at that time.

R.S - Yeah looking back to certainly those 2 albums I wanted to strip everything back , I mean it was almost.... if im being honest I almost didn't want to make music, it was weird. I.... and so I wanted to make as little music as possible whilst putting across ( laughs ) an idea , ah it was like hugely minimalist in concepts and it was only because we were kind of discouraged from.... I mean to me they were cluttered even as they are and I actually wanted less on them. Im glad I was kinda talked around a little bit mainly by Simon who felt that you know that if there was no bass on there at all there wouldn't be much point in him being in the band ( laughs ).

D.J - The moment I heard Out Of This World from Blood Flowers it sounded like a goodbye from a much loved friend. Was that the sense you had when you made Blood Flowers that it was like saying goodbye to friends who had travelled a path with you for over 20 years?

R.S - Yeah I think that particularly with Out Of This World I was just trying to get that sense that I often have which is a kind of curse that whenever I'm enjoying something im always thinking that its gonna end... and then i realised that within that framework that I could actually make you know , use it to like you know....use it too..... i was imagining that I would be on stage singing it when I was kinda like fine tuning it. So it was intentional opening the album like that , we open the show with it as well we have done every night this year and it kinda sets the mood. The weird thing is that in the course of this year ive had so much fun with the band I think because of the songs that weve been playing and just the mood generally onstage that um , im very loathed to just walk away from it without trying something new so um at the moment weve got a pretty firm plan to go back into the studio virtually as soon as we get home from Australia.

D.J - Robert Smith there , never say never they might still record a new album. Playing tonight in Adelaide THEN ANNOUNCES REST OF AUSTRALIAN SHOWS AND THAT ROBERT WILL BE ON JJJ ON 14th OCT AT 4:PM FOR 1HR AS GUEST D.J. THEN OUT OF THIS WORLD IS PLAYED."

Part 2

Background music: Jumping Someone Else's Train, Let's Go To Bed, Lullaby

FS: The Cure are touring around Australia at the moment doing some shows leading up to the Livid Festival, and a lot of people are very excited to see them because Robert Smith has said that though the band might record a new record this is probably the last time they're going to tour. And they're performing in Sydney on Saturday and Sunday nights, just finished a show in Adelaide last night, Melbourne next Tuesday and at the Livid festival next Saturday week. Now, Robert Smith came into the studio earlier this week to have a chat about the band's amazing career, and he spoke to me about the influence that punk rock had on The Cure, of course the Cure started around the time that punk was in full flight, but the Cure never were a punk band, and Robert explains why:

RS: Well the thing that we all enjoyed about punk was really just that 'do it yourself' ethic, the music didn't really appeal, we were never really a punk band. Me and Simon used to go and see the Stranglers[?] and I liked the Sex Pistols and the Clash - but I think it was actually not wanting to be part of a movement, which was the reason why we weren't punks.. I mean I've always shied away from.. we've been lumped in with various movements, usually goth over the years, but I've never felt part of a movement its just not really in my nature, and I do.. I hate people who follow fashion I think its ludicrous, and that's want punk very quickly turned into, a uniform, so it wasn't just the musical constraints, but I mean that... I just didn't ever feel inside myself that I was ever really like gonna make an 'Anarchy in the UK' kind of album (laughs), I was more drawn.. I mean even though I really liked the energy of punk I liked the stuff that the Buzzcocks were doing, because I thought it was more melodic and I just enjoyed it more, and Elvis Costello, looking back, was the person who had the most effect on me from that era, you know, the very early days of punk, and certainly his first album, 'My Aim Is True', I mean I love the kind of.. the cheap sounds on it, I thought it was very clever the way he achieved, you know, the way it all worked together, but I'd loved the idea of using just like using really really kind of.. I mean they weren't actually cheap instruments, I found out later (laughs), but it just sounded you know like they were just kind of like... plug-in-and-play sort of music, and that's... I wanted to have that kind of spontaneity.

[Start of Lovecats]

FL: When you started recording that trilogy of songs after Pornography - Let's Go To Bed, The Walk, and Lovecats, were you surprised at how good you were at writing pop songs?

RS: Well I think though the first album, the Three Imaginary Boys album, was a pop album. It was um... songs like Boys Don't Cry and Jumping Someone Else's Train, I mean I was trying to write three minute Beatles pop singles when were first started out, it was only really after that first album I got it out of my system and thought 'right, what do I wanna do now?', and that then lead on to the more sort of atmospheric stuff. And I think Pornography I'd got it out of my system again, and I was just looking around and thinking 'well what would I really like to do?' Also there was a lot of um, kind of baggage i suppose I was carrying around at the time, and I'd become.. I was sort of turning into a person I didn't really want to be, and people were expecting me to act a certain way, and it all became a bit kind of grizzly and I just figured that Let's Go To Bed was a good way for me to kind of shake all that out of my hair really - I mean it sort of upset me in a funny way doing it (laughs), because I realised I was kind of taking tentative steps down a very different road, and um.. in its turn that actually got a bit much for me as well and that kind of culminated in so much.. kind of like success on a level that I wasn't really hoping to achieve, and becoming so recognisable and so well know that I did actually kind of try and destroy that.. I mean after the Kiss Me album which is what it kind of culminated in, um Disintegration was s'posed to be a kind of retaliation against all the pop stuff (laughs) - I know it didn't work, that's the weird thing about it which... everything would have been very different about it if you know.. I imagined Disintegration was going to kind of destroy our audience again, cast off all the people who had kind of latched on to the pop side um.. and we'd be going back to being a kind of underground band again, but I miscalculated (laughs).

FL: Robert Smith from the Cure talking about the success that he just couldn't avoid, and of course you can catch Robert with Richard Kingsmill tomorrow from four on the radio playing his favourite tunes and in Sydney this weekend performing two shows, Melbourne next Tuesday night and of course at the Livid festival in Brisbane on Saturday the 21st of October - should be a great gig that one Lou Reed, Greenday, and a bunch of other great bands performing there as well. We'll play you more of that interview next week here on the morning show...

Part 3

Tom Waits - (Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night

RS: "What a beautiful song. You're listening to Triple J, this is Robert from The Cure. That's a song I play more and more as the year wears on, on a saturday afternoon. Although it's still Saturday morning for me in a strange way. Uh, anyway I'll play a bit more music before I start waffling too much. The next one is a Nirvana song called Come As You Are."

Nirvana - Come As You Are.

Jimi Hendrix - Bold As Love

RS: "That was Bold As Love by Jimi Hendrix, and um, I think I better find some people who are still living actually, I just realized there's a bit of a theme developing here. Um yea, your listening to Robert of The Cure on Triple J, home of the hits. Not necessarily hits of this particular year, but now I think I'm going to take a call from someone."

Caller: "Yes, hello"

RS: "Hello, who am I talking to?"

Caller: "This is Jody. How are you Robert?"

RS: "Hello Jody. all right, thank you."

Caller: "This is fantastic, I can't believe I'm speaking to you."

RS: "Where are you calling from?"

Caller: "I'm in Wannapool (I have no idea) which is pretty close to Melbourne."

RS: "Yeah, I know it really well."

Caller: "I've been a fan for years, and I must say that your work is brilliant."

RS: "Thank you."

Caller: "I just wanted to ask about the possibility of you making a solo album after The Cure are finished."

RS: "Um yeah I've already sort of done it. I keep putting it off because I'm enjoying myself with the band too much, so most of its written and I've contacted the various people, other artists that I want to play on it to see if they're interested and most of them have said yes. So I expect I'll start it sometime next year, probably next spring. But I think what we are going to try first when we get home from Australia, I think we're all going to into the studio and try another Cure album. See what happens, but if it doesn't work, you know....anyway, thank you for asking. I'm going to go back to music now, because I feel like I'm ??? myself up through the Saturday. And someone who's still alive thankfully, this is 1979 by the Smashing Pumpkins."

Smashing Pumpkins - 1979

Joy Division - The Eternal

RS: "....No one told me it was ending. That was two songs back to back, 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins and a song recorded in 1979, what a link, Eternal from Joy Division. That's like falling from summer into winter in about 5 minutes. This is Triple J and this is Robert from The Cure, the unfamiliar voice that you're hearing. I'm going to take a couple of calls now, the first one's Fletch. Hello Fletch."

Caller: "Hello Robert. I wanted to ask you why there weren't any music videos for the last album?"

RS: "Primarily because I got fed up making them. We did one for Wrong Number, the single off the Galore album and no one showed it, so it seemed like a bit of a waste of time making another one that no one was going to show."

Caller: "What, you just don't want the inconvenience of it any more or..."

RS: "It's mainly that, but there's also the idea I think that The Cure are, I mean with Bloodflowers there was no intention of having anything played on the radio, I mean it wasn't like we were thinking 'we're going to make an album that isn't gonna get played on the radio', but we sort of realized that we'd have to compromise what we wanted to do in order to get played on the radio and the two pretty much go hand in hand these days. I think the days of us making a darkly-funny video and getting it shown on MTV are gone really and I'm sort of thankful they are."

Caller: "What about like on your website, like with Radiohead, how they've done a lot of visual sort of stuff? Why couldn't you get into art, like the art side of it on your website?"

RS: "We always mean to, I mean like between us we have a couple of handhelds and we are filming stuff all the time. It's really like getting around to doing it because we want to do it all ourselves. I mean our website is very up to date, but unvisual I suppose. But if you try to go on-line in England you'd understand why, it takes forever you know. I think we probably will...we're going into the studio when we get home and I think probably there'll be some down time for certain members of the band, hehe, and they can probably utilize that by putting stuff together. Hopefully by Christmas we'll have something a bit more visual put together, we're intending to change the website at Christmas anyway, so we'll try and incorporate it, it's a good idea."

Caller: "One last question, would you be able to play the Drowning Man tonight? I mean are you playing it or...?"

RS: "Yeah, well we haven't done it yet, but yeah, if I remember."

Caller: "Just my little request, that's all."

Robert: "I'll try and bear it in mind when I'm putting together the setlist."

Caller: "Ok, it was awesome talking to you. I'm huge fan. See you tonight."

RS: "Thank you, hope you enjoy it. And next I've got Lorenzo."

Caller: "Hi, how are you?"

RS: "Fine, thank you."

Caller: "I'm sure you're sick of hearing people say I'm a huge fan and everything else, but I am. I just had a quick question. I read somewhere that in the past you guys used to send Perry into the crowd before a show with a video camera, speaking to people, asking what songs they'd like to hear in particular."

RS: "Yeah that had to stop when he joined the band though. He insisted, it was part of the deal. Anyway, sorry carry on."

Caller: "I just wanted to know when was the last time you did that?"

RS: "In fact even when he joined the band, because we've known Perry for a long time before he joined, I think it was 1990 the first time he played with us, he was still doing that on certain dates of the Wish tour in 1992, he was still going out to the crowds, I think he got a bit hooked. It's good way to meet people anyway. No, it was interesting, its like we did through most of the 80's actually, just like we used to watch the videos of people, it gave us an idea of who was in the crowd and what they wanted to hear, and we felt we were playing to people. We don't do it now because, you know, we can't find anyone...I mean Perry's sort of had a certain rapport with the audience and managed to sort of pick the right people. We have tried it with other people and it's a bit disastrous because as you probably know, you react to the person behind the camera when you're talking to a camera and when Perry was doing it, we used to get a good reaction. We haven't found the right person to operate it, but I mean with the advent of the internet as well, we can find out what people want that much easier 'cause we just have to go to like fan sites and chat rooms and see what people are talking about what we've been doing at other shows, to find out what's going down and what people would rather hear. If we want to tailor what we're playing to what the fans want to hear, which of course we do, we just go on-line."

Caller: "That was kind of my next question. I was looking at a lot of the setlists on your website that you've played in Europe and the States and they tend to be quite a lot different between one and the other. Are we going to get closer to what you're playing in Europe or closer to what you played in the States? Because it seems to be more commercial what you're doing in the States."

RS: "We didn't really, it's like if you look over all of them, we've played about 55 songs, maybe a bit more, like this year. And we played all of them in America as well as in Europe, I think occasionally we threw in a slightly more upbeat set in America, but the difference was that we were playing in Summer and we were playing outside and it's a slightly different sort of vibe. I mean probably here, looking out the window it's sunny, but once we're indoors and it starts to create an atmosphere?, it will probably be more like Europe."

Caller: "And just another quick one, sorry to take up all of your time, there's a few b-sides obviously from Bloodflowers, are we ever going to get a chance to hear them all? Are they going to be released with anything in particular?"

RS: "That's sort of like what I was saying earlier, it's all part of our master plan to update the website, is actually making everything available. Now that we're out of contract with all of the majors, we can hopefully just put all of that kind of stuff up, all the outtakes, all the b-sides, without me being hassled by lawyers from around the world. Which is really what's held things up to this point, because I just don't want to be bothered with dealing with it."

Caller: "Will that be the b-sides collection you were talking about last year or a few years ago?"

RS: "Yeah, I mean it's one of those things that is really time consuming and I don't know if I've got the right personality to sit down and sort things, I always think why am I wallowing in this, but I will get around to it, or someone will, I should learn to delegate a bit more. That'll be my New Year's resolution, hopefully it will be up on the website and you'll be able to hear it. Anyway, speaking of hearing things, thank you very much for calling in, pleasure to speak with you, hope you enjoy the concert, and now you'll hear Only Shallow from My Bloody Valentine."

My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow

Nick Drake - Pink Moon

The Pixies - Monkey Gone To Heaven

RS: "You're listening to Triple J, the unfamiliar voice being Robert from The Cure. You heard My Bloody Valentine and then Pink Moon from Nick Drake and Monkey Gone to Heaven by The Pixies. All part of an hour of very magical music. And I'm taking a couple more callers to stop me waffling on, the first one's I think Sebastian."

Caller: "Hi Robert, How are you?"

RS: "all right, thank you."

Caller: "My questions about the current tour. I was wondering what influenced the decision of this being the last one, I mean why's it the last?"

RS: "This is a tricky one. It's like instinct, like with anything I do with the band, I never really have very good reasons once I verbalize them, but it's just inside myself I know that I've enjoyed this year of touring more than any other year of playing with the band. I just can't see me doing it anymore. I don't necessarily think we'd stop playing completely, but doing a Cure tour is quite a big thing, 'cause if we go somewhere, there's usually alot of people who want to see us, and so it's like, I mean it's boring but there's like scale things and ergonomics and lots of people, lots of crew, lots of travel, I think you kind of have to want to do it and I've been doing it for a long time and I just figured if I don't make sort of a definite break from it, I'll find myself being wheeled in and out of venues."

Caller: "Yeah, yeah, I guess it would be very monotonous."

RS: "I mean once I'm doing it, I love it. Particularly when the shows are good. It's just the rest of it, all that goes with it, it's a little bit much I suppose and it's one of those things where you can either do one thing or another, and I feel there are probably other things I'd rather do.

Caller: "Ok, thanks very much. Have a great tour."

RS: "That's all right. Thank you very much. Next on the line I've got Chris I think."

Caller: "Robert, Hello. How are you doing?"

RS: "all right and you?"

Caller: "Very well, thank you. First of all, thanks very much for bringing the show down to Australia, you have such a huge fan base, it's awesome to see you here. My question is you've mentioned doing some demos for the next album, I was wondering if it will be along the same lines as the trilogy or whether you're going to have a new direction once again?"

RS: "Well the others were expecting me to, I mean usually I react against, you know like when we did Disintegration, the next we did was Mixed Up which was like remixes, I think the others were expecting me to do something similar, but I'm surprised myself actually by continuing on in pretty much the same vein as Bloodflowers, I think because I've enjoyed making the album and playing the songs this year that the songs I've written are in a similar mood, if anything, they're more miserable. But I haven't quite decided on how to approach it lyrically yet, but certainly musically it's very, the more atmospheric side of the band, sort of like that part. There are no radio singles I fear on the next album either."

Caller: "Great. Thanks for continuing."

RS: "That's all right, I hope you enjoy the shows. all right next up we've got a song by Suzanne Vega. Small Blue Thing."

Suzanne Vega - Small Blue Thing

Depeche Mode - Walking In My Shoes

Mogwai - Come On Die Young

RS: "Yeah, from the album Come On Die Young that was Come On Die Young by Mogwai. Before that was Walking In My Shoes by Depeche Mode and before that, Small Blue Thing by Suzanne Vega. You're listening to the national countdown show on Triple J with Robert from The Cure. A couple more callers before I go. This one is Stephanie. Hello?"

Caller: "You doing well?"

RS: "Uh yeah, I think so."

Caller: "I'm fine thanks. My question is I was wondering if you have one stand out Cure track that you enjoy playing the most live?"

RS: "Probably through the course of the year I think Bloodflowers has become my favorite Cure song, 'cause we usually close the main set with it pretty much every night and it's become a very emotional moment."

RS: "There you go, that was it, that was my answer."

Caller: "Ah, thank you very much, it's one that I like too."

RS: "Thank you very much."

Caller: "Thank you for everything, the time, the music, the tours, all of it."

RS: "Thanks."

Caller: "And...

RS: "Oh, that was it. Richard I've got on next. I'm sorry about that, I'm not very used to doing this, it's not my real job. Hello Richard."

Caller: "Hi. My question is How was your trip over here?"

RS: "Well it landed. So it was fine. Apart from that I can't say much about it, I wasn't really all there for most of the trip. I brought my mum and dad over with me actually. They've never been to Australia before and I figured like as I'm giving up I may as well. They've got a lot of relations out here that they haven't seen in like years, so they kind of kept me occupied and um, I took (?) drink with me and time flew."

Caller: "I went over and saw you in the Wembley Arena and it totally went off. And I was wondering if it was going to be anything similar to tonight in Sydney?"

RS: "You think I can remember what we played at Wembley? Some of it's gonna be the same, I'm probably going to base tonight and tomorrow night on sort of what we did, we did 2 nights in Paris early in the year and 2 nights in Los Angeles and I figured out a good way of breaking up the 50 songs across the 2 nights, based on the idea that some people are gonna go both nights, so I'm not quite sure. I haven't done the setlist yet, I'll be doing it when I get down to the venue, so who knows."

Caller: "Cool. Anyway you're my hero at the moment. And it's great talking to you."

RS: "What do you mean "at the moment"?"

Caller: "Well it jumps you know?"

RS: "Yeah, until some other youngster comes along."

Caller: "Being a 15 year old I have to leave my options open."

RS: "Yeah, that's true, I keep forgetting how fickle teenagers are. All right, well I hope you enjoy it anyway. Ok, bye. Right, I've just about run out of time. I'm being allowed just 2 more songs. I've had a fantastic time, thank you very much Triple J for having me in here. We'll finish with Brand New Key from Melanie which is sort of a weird choice, but something I've always loved from the days when I was a teenager and Hello, Goodbye from The Beatles. Anyway, BYE"

Melanie - Brand New Key

The Beatles - Hello, Goodbye

- Francis Leach

 

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