THE CURE VISITING: ROBERT SMITH PISSING IN
IN YOUR BATH, SMOKING THE CURTAINS AND
DOING IT WITH THE HOSTESS.
'I WOULD NEVER INVITE MYSELF TO A PARTY'
You could call it a phenominal, megalominal
or just an original idea: trilogy, a dvd on which the cure plays 3 of it's
classic albums live, altogether 2and a half hours of music (3 if you add the encores) pornography, disintegration and
bloodflowers. The gig in Vorst on November 7th last year was a dress rehersal for the shows that were recorded in
Tricky has just covered Lovecats. Robert Smith
hasn't heared it yet.I lend him my portable cd layer and lose 4
minutes of interview time while Smith listens, motionless to what an even bigger wierdo has done with his old hit.
Than he grins and takes the headphones off.
Robert Smith - It sounds as it was to be expected:
wierd and wonderfull. Tricky has slowed down the skipping happy
rhythm to a kind of death march but that doesn't surprise me. Maybe he's listend to the lyrics: in fact this song is
not about cats but about a suicide pact between 2 lovers. Hence the text 'into the sea, you and me...' My idea of a
lovesong. That's probably why he made it into a duet. I liked the contrast between the dark lyrics and the summery
rhythms and liked at the time how a darksong like that became a hit. But ok, maybe Tricky is just more
consequental than me.I knew he was a fan. And i'm glad to hear a cover that isn't a copy. I've played a few covers
of my youth-heroes thin lizzy and Alex Harvey cause i wanted to test how those songs would sound with our current
line-up. Not so good (laughs). I don't like covers. We once recorded a cover of a Hendrix song and i thought:
WRONG! We sometimes play a cover during rehersals but only if we're drunk and as a joke.
Humo - Have you ever met Tricky?
RS - I don't know. We migt once have been in the same room...
H - I can't imagine that you'd meet someone like Tricky and forget about it.
RS - You'd be surprised of what i manage to
forget (thinking out loud) Tricky is not who he seems (caught out) Eh...
I know people who know him well and... Well, that's all I can say about it. Last month we were guests of Dom Joly
from Trigger happy TV. Do you know him? Believe me: he's the new Ali G. He has a new show, a variation on
Dame Edna and Alan Partidge. His guests are sometimes real and sometimes actors and the audience never knows
who's who. He asked me on as a guest cause he's a curefan but that didn't stop him from getting heavy on me.'Why
are you so fat?' he asked. We were also able to play our new single cause he chooses the music. I like that kind of
arrogance. But he also started about money and i didn't like that.
H - why?
RS - Because I've been in the to 20 of wealthiest
popstars and that's obscene. That kind of info overshadows the
music. It also irritates me that the really rich, who've made their money in alot less ellegant ways never end up in a
top 20 like that. Where are the weapons traders? But what i wanted to say: Dom Joly invited us to a party after the
show for all the guests and he promised me Goldie would be there. A nice prospect i thought, but how is it at parties
like that? When you're famous everyone jumps at you and so i did not get to see Goldie. To cut a long story short: i
might have stood a meter away from Tricky at a party but we never spoke to each other. For some reason I can't go
up and talk to people if they don't talk to me first. I don't think I've gone up to anyone in the last 20 years and said :
hi i'm Robert Smith and... That's one of the disadvantages of fame, you never make the first move, not in love, not
in business, not in normal social activities.
H - On trilogy the audiance sings as one: it doesn't matter if we all die. How does that feel?
RS - Eh, I've never really thought about that.
That they know all lyrics without exception says alot about what kind
of fans we have and what kind of band we are. But i doubt they realy all want to die. Oh it's easy to move a crowd,
it's a piece of piss. The funny thing is, you write that line on your own and i'm sure the first time they all sang along i
was shocked but that's too long ago to remember.
H - In the same context: You live near beachy
head, a famous suicide spot for the last 100 years. Going by your
image i'd say you have reasons for living there?
RS - No, i'm not that morbid. I saw a house
i liked and it hapened to be in that neighbourhood. I love the place, not
depressing at all. I walk there sometimes and it cheers me up.That that place is a pilgimage spot for suicidals is
because of the film Quadrophenia. At the end someone drives a cool scooter off the cliff. i bought a book on the
history of the cliff in the souvenier shop.
H - a suicide hotspot has a souvenier shop?
RS - Yes and a pub too, very cozy and you can
buy tshirts with the cliffs on it and a little black dot jumping off it.
H - so it's not a spot you avoid? After all you make a certein kind of music and have a certain image...
RS My image? Do you mean that if someone is
considering killing themselves, they will do it when they see me
coming out of the mists? Actually, just like heaven is about a night i spent there. We'd been drinking and someone
thought it would be cool to go for a walk. But suddenly the fog came in and i lost sight of my friends and could not
see a hand before my eyes. I thought i might fall down the cliff if i moved another foot so i had to sit down until
dawn. Later i heard my friends didn't even look for me.
H - nice friends! do you still see them?
RS - One of them, yes. The bastards! Their
explanation: ah it was nearly 5am and we thought it'll be light soon. i
remember thinking to myself that i had to enjoy the moment. you now get a involuntary glimps of the real beachy
head, try to learn something. I also heard voices... i nearly started believing in ghosts.
H - During the end of the year show of the
Antwerp fashion academy, one of the designers used the cure as the
soundtrack to the collection. The models walked to boys don't cry played backwards.
RS - (completly uninterested) oh? Roger would
find that interesting, he likes dating models. Sorry if i'm not more
enthusiastic but you just touched on one of my pet hates. Nothing is as overrated as fashion designers. And i
principally protest against the dictatorship of fashion. Isn't it insulting that a group of egocentric queers tells us
what to wear for the next year? and what colours are hip? And it's a law you know: try finding trousers with flairs if
fashion says you should wear narrow ones. I hate that kind of herd-mentality. It's against everything I stand for:
individuality, originality. Absolute fucking rubbish. And they all copy each other! a designer flicks through a book of
19th century costumes and then his collection is a hommage to...Fuck off! And i don't know all those guys. After the
gig for bowies birthday in which i played with him, there was a party at the loft of the painter Julian Schnabel. they
put me at a table with 7 fashion designers. Later i found out they are all famous names but i'd never heard of them.
There was also a supermodel at the table but i forgot her name. She wanted me to take part in a fashion show
because they would only play cure songs during the show and that was true: some art pope had decided we should
have a gothic revival! A historic mistake, as the cure, contrary to what music encyclopedia's will tell you, are not
H - so what did you do all night?
RS - I peed in Schnabel's bath. Perry filmed it so i can always say it was a performance. (laughs)
H - How would you react if someone peed in your bath?
RS - I'd never invite someone like me to my
house! (laughs) I did it out of revenge. We were near the fire alarm and
someone who was drunk thought it might be funny to set it off. I saw who did it but did not want to tell on them so
security thought it was me! Very unfair, it was like being in school again: there i also got punished for stuff i didn't
do all the time.Bastards.And i was dying for a piss and there was a long queue for the official guest toilets so... i was
so drunk i only noticed on my way back from the bathroom that there were 3 people fucking in the bedroom, 2 men
and a woman. One of the men looked at me and went : 'do you mind!?' No it wasn't Lou Reed. Before i forget: do
you know those belgians, the ones from the bootleg mixes? Too... something?
H - 2 man dj's, stephen and david dewaele.
they both have remarkably small penises but for the rest they are cool
RS - someone told me they used a cure song didn't they? well if you see them tell them they can: i'm a fan!
H - what other song can they mix? something by an artist you like?
RS - no no, it can be someone i HATE, as long
as it sounds good.I'm dyoing to hear what clever mix they make up.
PRESENT FROM HANNIBAL LECTER
H - I've had a look at your official website and and i found it a)rather boring and b)last updated 6 months ago.
RS - I know. We're gonna do something about
it, or no, we're gonna make a totally new website. I hate the internet
but that's mainly because i live rather secluded and haven't got a digital line so everything is terribly slow. And
anyway: there are already so many fansites, and many bad ones too. Let me tell you something: most artists are
irritated by the fansites. The official site has to stick to many rules but the cowboys can write all the nonsense they
want. We were going to tour South America and the preliminary list of gigs was straight away on all of these sites: a
friend of a friend of a co worker of the promoter had said something, whatever... Months of rumours and
speculations later, the real dates were on our site but we were the LAST ones to publish them. If we are first and
something changes we get screwed...
H - on your old site you name 'my dentist is dead' as one of your favourite bands. is that a joke?
RS - No, those guys are for real, they're a
rather obscure band from france who were our opening act a few times 2
years ago. I really liked them but i'm not sure if they still exist. And i did tell them at the time that their name was
silly but they wondered, totally justified, why that was my business.
H - On your site there was also a very long
but interesting writing about Prince Rupert Drops. Other artists talk
about totally different things on their site.
RS - Exactly. Where as i reckon: our fans already
know most things about our music so i might as well recommend
them a good book or a nice museum. Prince Rupert drops are glass drops that are really hard. they look small and
fragile but you can not smash them, not even with a hammer. Unless you softly press one point on them, then they
explode. Someone gave me an antique Prince Rupert drop in a lovely silver pouch, that was in the days when fans
still gave me artistic presents.
H - I thought a bat like you would get very bizarre presents from fans.
RS - I could write a somewhat bizarre expose
about the presents i got through the years. In the 80's i used to get
loads of cuddly toys: we were making inkblack albums but the teddies and stuffed cats kept coming. From
disintegration on something changed. Especially in the States our fans suddenly thought it was trendy to throw test
tubes with blood on stage like some sort of sacrifice. I wasn't waiting for that. I have blood of my own, thank you!
H - Who knows, all the blood came from one fanatic fan who followed you on tour...
RS - a very skinny and pale maniac! (laughs).No
it wasn't funny. To make myself clear: i may make passionate
intense and sometimes somber music but that does not mean i'm into self mutilation. Especially Simon used to hate
the test tubes:'keep those fucking things away from me!' Ironic because outsiders always think Simon is the heavy
guy of the band. The most scary present we ever got was a scale model of a room or cellar that a fan had made for
us. It looked amazing, very detailed but my hair was standing on end: the creator had made miniature models of all
bandmembers made of wood and cardboard. It was as if he was some kind of Hannibal Lecter who wanted to lock us
in that little room. When i unpacked it, backstage after a gig i wanted to leave straight away, i was worried that guy
would be waiting for us. But that room had a very bizarre false perspective that we very opportunistically stole as an
idea for the video for never enough. From Wild mood swings on we got cuddly toys again. Who can tell me the logic
behind that? Oh yes, and on the bloodflowers tour we got nothing but books. I appreciate those most. Even though
our fans always give us books in their language: even romanian fans seem to assume that i read romanian. I also
find it a bit perverted that young people give presents to a much older and much richer pop singer. It's very sweet
you know, but they could better spend their money on other things.
H - On your site i also read something about
synesthesia, a condition that affects your senses: you hear colours and
you see sounds. I would think that happens to musicians.
RS - that condition does not affect me but
i have experienced it under the influence of psychedelic drugs. I always
used to give Tim Pope synesthetic instructions. I once told him: 'the opening scene of the video has to hurt like a
snakebite'. he subsequently started filming Chris Parry, our manager who we had just discovered was a fraud.
H - you write on the site that synesthesia often is linked to being very gifted. It sounds like a wish...
RS - you got me! (laughs). It's an interesting
question: do you want people to see you as a genius if that implies they
also see you as a weirdo? aren't all artists a bit proud of their eccentricity? Don't we all try to use our weird
conditions to our advantage?
H - Do you also give guidelines to your musicians like Tom Yorke does?
RS - No, i always put something symbolic on
the studio door to mark the border between cureland and the outside
world. sometimes it's a few lines from a 19th century poem, sometimes a print of a painting. and i tend to put a verse
from some long forgotten poem on our covers. Out of this world is about how the cure operates in some wonderland,
a parallel universe, the cure is an island, it always has been. But i don't believe in vague instructions: 'i want this to
sound fluffier or i want this to sound beige'... What does it all mean? that's like musicians who want to learn as few
techniques as possible because they fear they would no longer sound pure. As if you loose credibility if you know
how to use Protools. I think it's a pose. not that i have anything against radiohead but i'm alot more pragmatic than
H - before every gig you still smear lipstick
on. do you ever consider stopping that? Especially now that others do it
too? From Robert Smith to Marilyn Manson is not such a big step...
RS - WHAT!? I think it is! And i would never
not do something because someone else does the same thing,
especially not if i did it first. But i'm not a fan of Manson if you want to know. I've long stopped noticing that i put
that lipstick on, it's automatic, a ritual. And also a bit of a mask- i feel more at ease on stage in make up. But the
days when mtv did an hourly update on my make up are thankfully long gone. That kind of silliness is no longer
OZZY AND RICKY
H - have you ever met a fellow pop star who you can't stand in a totally unexpected place?
RS - I once was at a petrol station when a
car stopped next to me. The driver got out to get petrol but he could not
get the pump nozzle in the tank. He started swearing, but he didn't do anything, like a small child waiting for mummy
to help. It was Ozzy Osbourne. I of course started laughing and I remember thinking:’ he’s never going to get out of
here and he'll never get that car started!' But ok, the other drivers probably thought the same about me.
I saw 1 episode of the Osbourns. I have a big
problem with reality shows: I feel like I am wasting precious time. I
prefer the Simpsons. The most fascinating moment in the Osbournes was when Sharon got cancer. MTV probably
swore alot because suddenly Sharon was no longer a cartoon figure but a woman of flesh and blood with a REAL
problem that threatened to take over the show. That was a good lesson: reality shows don't like too much reality.
A close second was my encounter with Ricky
Martin. We were in London recently to record and in the studio next
to ours I could hear party noises. Then the door opened: turned out Ricky and 2 mates were dancing to their own
music. He walked past me without even looking at me, not that I minded. I mainly noticed that he works office
hours: he stopped work when we arrived. We always tend to record at night, it's better for us for some reason.
H - Is there a thing like industrial espionage
in music? has it happened that for example moloko records in the
studio next door and 6 months later you hear your ideas on their cd?
RS - Not that, but I was shocked when... well,
I can't say who it was. That artist who was recording some songs
under an alias for the cd of a former spice girl. When they had gone for lunch I saw on the mixing table a letter
from the record company: instructions on how things should sound. it literally said:’ song x should sound like
Jennifer Lopez' latest hit- has to sound alot like it, but not so bad that they can take us to court. for song y take
the rhythm of Mariah Carey’s first hit and the melody of the last song on Shakira's cd etc...
Oh, does anyone still care? I have the impression everything I tolerated these days. They've all become
prostitutes. It's apparently generally accepted that artists lend their music for commercials. Sting does it, Celine Dion, Moby, even Bob Dylan... Fuck! That's still not done in my eyes. I don't want cure fans to think of
toothpaste when they hear the walk.
H - I’ve noticed alot of artists end up in
cureland whether they mean to or not. The video for there there by
radiohead looks alot like what Tim Pope did for you and Bjork.
RS - Really? I haven't seen it yet. I've noticed
alot of young bands naming us as an influence. The nme, a magazine
which has put us down for years even begged me for an interview yesterday, because all the young acts they spoke
to in the last 6 months turned out to be cure fans. I refused; I do not need to say yes to a magazine which has
ignored us when we still needed them.
I recently worked with that Dutch guy from
junky xl. And recently a young band recorded 3 versions of boys don't
cry for the bside of a single. It sounded really good. But i hear very few good young singers. Where are the great
voices of this generation? I mean: if Bowie sang the telephone guide I would listen. But where is the Bowie of this
H - do you mean the same Bowie who last year
at the meltdown festival sang Low from A to Z as a special
RS - you mean the Bowie I nicked the idea off
for trilogy? Yes (grins). Honestly I had thought of it before that but
his performance proved to me that it could be done. It was the best concert I saw by him by the way.
H - I’m going to be the devils advocate here,
but if you normally play a gig you play a kind of best off. but by
playing 3 complete albums you not only play the good songs but also the bad ones which lowers the quality of the
RS - you got me again. (grins) Look: we did
play our 3 BEST albums, and I don't think there's one bad song on
those. Plus: this was a one-off, which gave those evenings a freshness you don't get at other gigs. Whoever wasn't
there missed out eternally. And I don't make anyone buy the DVD.
H - trilogy is a DVD but the cure live is not
exactly a swinging occasion: you hardly move nor do the other band
members. have you ever considered making the static a bit more interesting?
RS - what, with dancers and decors? Absolutely
not! A part of Bloodflowers was recorded at Fisherlane Studio that
belongs to Genesis on a beautiful farm. In a big barn we found the decors of their first tours. Totally complete with
the stage costumes on models as if they could walk in any moment to play on. It looked like a cross between
Madame Tussauds and the cabinet of doctor Caligari. Spooky and Silly. I decided then: NEVER shall we use
decors! I think the static mood goes with our music. It would be out of place to start doing little dances, apart from
maybe during the walk or lovecats.
On the cover of Wild mood swings we put a picture
of a tin toy puppet that looks innocent and scary at the same
time. When we toured wit that album I wanted the same atmosphere in the decor: a defective roller coaster with big
dolls dangling out of it or something like that, Coney Island off season. I had that stuff built and when it was finished
the band wend to look at it. I saw the fear in their eyes: they were scared I was going to like it. Thankfully I thought
it looked ridiculous to0 so: let us be static. we'll save the kitsch for 'the cure the musical'. They already nicked Cats
from me, the bastards!
(Thanks to Vicky for translating and typing
all of this up!)