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3/1/1986  Video Rock Stars
The Cure
The Question Of Faith

When the Cure first performed in New York a little over five years ago, they played to a couple of hundred people in a late-night club called Hurrah. At that time the Cure were a quartet with singer Robert Smith, drummer Laurence "Lol" Tolhurst, keyboardist Matthieu Hartley and bassist Simon Gallup. It was fashionable to like them mainly because a) very few people knew about them and b) Robertís tortured vocals were emotionally authentic. Especially in the punk era, people thrived on appearing miserable.

Times change. The Cure are now a quintet, minus Matthieu, plus Porl Thompson on guitar and keyboards and Boris Williams on drums: Lol now plays keyboards as well. Everyoneís hair is a lot longer and Robert has been known to smile. One of the reasons for Robertís happier disposition has to do with the Cureís new album, Head On The Door, which has become the bandís first American hit. Theyíve sold about 10,000 seaters in the States and two hours before another American gig, Robert crimps his hair and talks about his role in the band he founded at age 16.

Iíve always felt that you are a person who would not be at ease with the idea of being famous.

Yeah, but it was obvious we were going to be successful when we did things like "Love Cats." Some of it was born out of frustration that when we were doing wasnít getting heard, so we had to do something that would make us more obvious and expose us more. And to do that, you had to deal with the media, and therefore I had to become something which Iím not really. Iím definitely a split personality. I used to be, not really shy, but quieter, whereas now Iím not so much.

Itís always been a popular notion, judging from your songs, that you enjoy being miserable.

I donít see it in the way Iíd perceive someone like Morrisey, as a professional moaner. Because in the past our work has been weighted more towards a darker side, a bleaker side of life, more despairing. I think itís become much more balanced. The new record, there are songs like "In Between Days," which, lyrically, I suppose, arenít very happy, but I just canít write happy songs. That doesnít mean Iím not happy. Because I am, a lot of the time. I spend more time smiling than I do crying.

Actually, getting it out is like therapy really. Onstage when we do a song like "Cold," I do get miserable then for a few minutes. I get involved in it and I remember how I felt when I wrote it. Similarly, with "Sinking." But then we can do "Letís Go To Bed" or "The Walk" onstage and that picks it up again.

Do you think the audience understand what your songs are about?

Understand. Thatís sort of a dangerous area because itís like giving a song more credit for one reason than another. For example, "Figurehead" is a better song than "Love Cats" because it has more emotional content in it. I think that was true in a certain way. But on the other hand, if someone likes "Love Cats" more because itís a better tune, I wouldnít be able to say that youíre wrong. Itís like arguing which is a better painting, one green line on a white background or a whole landscape painstakingly painted. I donít know.

The audience knows us because of our longevity. The Cure have been together for 10 years through various styles weíve been ?. When we came (to the States), some people thought "Letís Go To Bed" was our first record. And I thought, it doesnít matter, because whatever we do now doesnít invalidate what we did before. Some people thought "Letís Go To Bed" was utter sacrilege and they would burn their copies Faith because weíd done something that dumb. But it was a different time. All the things that we did then meant a lot to a few people comparatively. Whereas now, we probably mean not as much to more people.

Does going into your second decade frighten you?

It surprises me. I imagined Iíd still be doing something but I didnít think it would be as a performer. We definitely wonít be celebrating our second decade. Can you imagine Lol at 40? A freak show! Horrifying! Iíll wake up one morning and wonít want to go onstage anymore. Then Iíll probably get bored and reform the band.

- Toby Goldstein

 

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