Oor Magazine
(May 1989)

Scans of the article

Front page : “Cure confesses colour”


The Cure

“It’s about time we confess colour. Black!”

Hello Cure! The Cure in Thialf?

“We wanted to play somewhere in Holland where we hadn’t played before already,” says Robert Smith. “Now that we are booked there, everyone tells us it’s a horrible hangar and that no-one lives in the north, which is definitely untrue. Now we get the people who really want to see us, and are prepared to travel for that, whilst in Amsterdam or Rotterdam you get a bunch of people who happened to have nothing to do that evening and negatively influence the atmosphere in the place with their presence. Holland has always been the best place in Europe for us, but our latest concert in Rotterdam ( Ahoy’ ) was the lowest point of our latest tour.”

The visit to Heerenveen is part of a huge European tour which serves as promotion for the new Cure-album Disintegration. The complete group travels by bus, because Smith as well as Simon Gallup and guitarist Porl Thompson have fly-angst. The big festivals are being skipped. Smith:” We didn’t want to play at places where we already had a big name, but rather in countries as Hungary, Yugoslavia or Portugal, where we never played before. Because we travel by bus we had to pass through a whole bunch of countries, and so we thought: Let’s play there too. This being, this tour is the biggest tour of our history.
    “ People ask us why we didn’t choose smaller venues, but in that case we would’ve had to play multiple concerts in the same place, and it would’ve taken us even more time. At the end of the trip we would’ve been so exhausted, that our last concerts would be utter complete rubbish.”
    Change your life before it changes you, is The Cure’s motto. The most important change has been the departure of Laurence Tolhurst, at first drummer, but later keyboardist of The Cure. “ Lol was too obsessed with technological developments. He always walked around with folders of sampling machines and isolated himself more and more from the rest. His contribution to the writing of new numbers was almost nil after Faith.”
    But there were also small irritations on the personal side, who got to play an ever bigger role. Gallup: “ He seemed unable to exist without the group. When he ordered a pint, he immediately told he was member of The Cure with it.” Smith: “ He was the only one who used the groups name when ordering a table in a restaurant. It are small things, but they do shine a light on once personality.”
    Commercial intentions never played a dominating role with The Cure. In the first place, they always did what the wanted to do. Smith started about the clip to Fascination Street, the new single in America: “We wanted to react on all those rock & roll-on-the-road-video’s, whom you see so much these days. That’s why you see us playing on the corner of a street, and why we’ve recorded everything with minimal equipment. But I do were a black coat for the Gothic-effect!” ( laughs )
    Isn’t that a tat perverted, just now that you want to get rid of that Gothic-imago?
    “It’s high time we confess colour. Black! ( laughs ) No, it’s not perverted. It’s some sort of decision that keeps us going. It’s a very healthy step. For the Americans, we are still an underground band, which is fine, because you sell a bunch of records, whilst never being played on the radio. That’s better than being an accepted act.”

Disintegration in many ways means a return to the original sound of Seventeen Seconds  and Faith. The minimal, monochrome, atmospherical sound of the band in those years was often compared to Joy Division: the best of English depression. Pornography could also be added to this list. After that album, Gallup left the band, and Smith and Tolhurst went to occupy themselves with shorter, more eccentric, but light pop songs like Let’s Go To Bed, The Lovecats and The Caterpillar, who betray an obstinate sense of humour.
At least as eccentric and surreal were Tim Pope’s video-clips, who were to break the dark image of the group. After The Top ( 1985 ) Gallup returned to the Cure niche. Still, The Head on the Door and Kiss Me x3 where still quite eclectic en experimental. Nobody expected The Cure would ever made a club-hit, but Hot x3 proved the contrary. Without Tolhurst, but with drummer Boris Williams and keyboardist Roger McDonnell ( note: McDonnell, O’Donnell... what’s the difference anyway? ) ( ex-Psychedelic Furs ) to complete the band, The Cure is once more a five-member band.

Aftter Standing On The Beach ( The Singles ) ( note: The Beach, A Beach... once more all details nobody cares about! ) you said that by that means a chapter in Cure-history was closed. What has happened since then?
“In a strange way or another, Kiss Me x3 was a logical follow-up to that singles-album. It was a show-off of what we were capable of, but with new numbers. We did exactly what we wanted to do and mocked ourselves a bit.”
    Gallup:” It was our K-Tel album!”
    Smith: “ Our disco-album.” When Kiss Me was finished, it was time for reflection.  I wanted to sing songs with more depth again. Our new album is in a certain way a reference to The Cure of a few years ago. This new album is a unity around a certain theme, which hasn’t happened anymore since Pornography. On The Top and T.H.O.T.D. everything was squished in 3 minutes, and Kiss Me was a dance record. Disintegration means a return to our minimalist recording style.”
    At first, wasn’t it your intention to make a solo-record?
    “I made demo recordings of all the songs, and that way the primal reason for bringing out the album fell away for me, but maybe it’ll happen later on. A few years ago I got worried that The Cure would become too big and I wanted to make small songs. You don’t need a 6-member band if a Piano and Cello are sufficient. I first wanted to make this Cure record. Being in a band is so much better.”
How much different is Disintegration from the old Cure.
“First, I wanted to go back to the terrain we explored with Faith and Pornography, with a complete new band. Simon and I of course where in the band at that time, but the atmosphere in the group and the way of working are completely different. That’s why Disintegration sounds very different. Musically, we’ve all brought in our own influence. When we start making an album, we always give it a working title. Titles like Seventeen Seconds and T.H.O.T.D. don’t mean that much, but with Faith and Pornography we tried to express a certain theme. That way, everyone knows approximately how the record will sound from the images such a word invokes. I wanted everyone to work under the caller Disintegration, because that’s the way my lyrics were pointing. It’s a grey field, just like Pornography, a theme.
I wanted to make a record which lasted exactly an hour, the length of a CD ( note: the CD version of Disintegration lasts for 72m27s  ). I wanted to be able to stretch songs again for 8 or 9 minutes, and no easy short pop songs. I wish I’d had some more time with Faith to experiment a bit more with certain songs, but we were stuck with the facts that an LP side can not be longer then 20 minutes. The CD and the MC are more interesting, because they have 2 extra songs on them.

Pornography sounded very claustrophobic and oppressive, almost like The Cure where on the verge of breaking apart. Right after that, Simon left the band. Hadn’t it been better if that record was called Disintegration? Or does that title mean those feelings of oppression are always present?
    “Well, there aren’t, as was the case in the past, any songs based upon my dreams. More like nightmares in broad daylight! Most is based upon reality, things that happened after the last album, things that may not be that important to others. I’m still talking about getting older, and about how it always seems that what you do doesn’t really seem to make any sense, because these kind of feelings never seem to reach a climax, but rather a lowest point.”
Are you talking about what you previously called your “ lack of any believe”?
“The things I’m worried about are the things any healthy good-thinking person should worry about. I’m not administered a certain believe. I don’t believe in God or any spiritual force, and in the worst cases, I believe in nothing at all. I think everything is as it seems to be. I believe in myself and in others, but I don’t believe in life after death. The bleakness of many songs is due to that. It gives you this empty feeling you can’t seem to get rid of. People hang on to religion, because they are afraid and can’t accept there own finiteness. I don’t know. If you believe in something, then that’s true for you. I always face that confrontation, just as each time I step into a plane, I face my own mortality.
I can’t listen to The Cure’s music for my own pleasure. I get paralysed by it. I remember I got drunk in the summer of last year, and found a copy of Faith in my parents’ home. I listened to it and got in a trance! Like I was on another planet. I started crying.
    What do you listen too if you want to get in a good mood?
    “I’ve got a tape with ten songs who get me out of any down mood. That’s my get-up-and-go-tape when I can’t really get out of my bed. Kate Bush is on it with Running Up That Hill and New Order with Dreams Never End from their first album. Further Don’t Get Me Wrong by The Pretenders and Out Of Touch by Hall & Oates. The last addition is Stand Up by Paula Abdul with that brilliant tap-dance-beat.
But no Cure-songs?
“No, ‘cause that would be like fooling myself. Cure-songs send you to bed again! Just Like Heaven isn’t that bad nevertheless, and Inbetween Days still gives me a kick, just as the intro of Shake Dog Shake.”

    Recently, Robert Smith married Mary, the girl that has been his girlfriend since age fifteen. They got married in a Benedictine monastery. Despite his gloomy songs, he makes a pretty happy impression.
    “I’m getting more and more aware of how absurd it actually is. All things considered I’ve nothing to complain about, and in fact, I don’t want to. I don’t want to become no Morrissey, because I can only laugh about that kind of professional moaners ( note: yeah! touché! that’s my hero! ). I try to find a balance between what touches me personally and what touches others so that they can recognize what I’m talking about. A universal Disintegration if you like, but in a very personal way. Maybe I’m saying something very stupid now, but in a perverse way I envy people who never think and just do things. Sometimes I hate myself because I think so much. I hate myself for the quantities of drugs I’ve taken in the past, and the amounts of alcohol I’ve drunk. The most was escapism: trying to get rid of the idea that everything is fugitive and pointless.
    However it sounds very weak if I say that because I’m not really like that. In fact I never complain about anything except the fact that I’ll die. A huge complaint, that can’t be taken seriously however because there is nothing you can do about it. It’s like howling against the dying daylight or the wind. The need to do that is always there, but the need to communicate about it with an audience is getting smaller, because it’s getting more and more superfluous. However it’s still possible, because some gigs are so colourful and real, and you get such a kick from standing there, on stage, and sing... I miss that kick in my every day life. Maybe it’s not very realistic... it feels very unreal, but that’s what makes it so good! I don’t know... I don’t know why I’m doing so intellectual about it, while I should just let it happen.”
    Isn’t there a lack of sense of humour on Disintegration?( note: Haha, joker! )
    “That’s an annoying question. Let’s see... Closedown was written a long time ago, which explains why it sounds so gloomy. Love Song is about being in love, and in fact very up. Plainsong enlightens different aspects of an obsession. Last Dance is about the disappointment I felt after a meeting with someone from old times who’s not anymore like he or she used to be. Lullaby is about the fear of sleeping. Fascination Street is booze and drugs, let’s just say. Prayers For Rain is about how someone can stop your mouth. The Same Deep Water As You is about the expectations people have from you, and how you never can live up to those expectations. Disintegration is obvious, it’s my scream against everything falling apart, and my right to quit with it when I want to. Homesick is about the attraction of forbidden fruits, and Untitled about how making an album is an utterly pointless occupation, hahaha! Not much humour thus. But on the opposite stands the fact that we are pictured laughing on all new publicity photo’s. And whoever sees the video of Lullaby can’t possibly deny the humour of it.
    The lyrics of Disintegration reflect how I felt during the six months they were shaped. I feel different now. I don’t understand Homesick anymore, because I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol since six weeks. I was crying during the recording of The Same Deep Water As You, but when I say that like this, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s even a bit embarrassing that I could care so much about those lyrics at that time. I can’t talk about this album without sounding pretentious. Some people will find this a terrific record, and applaud the fact that we made a record like this one once again. I’m really happy about it too, even if Faith and Pornography were devastated by the critics when they came out ( note: now that tells us something about the critics, doesn’t it? ). The difference with then is that in the mean time we’ve proved that we have humour and that this is the flipside of our music.”
    Gallup:” That’s how it always goes. When we released the single Charlotte Sometimes, someone sent it back to me, shattered in pieces, with the message: I don’t understand how you can do such a thing. And when we went back the other way, there were others writing to us they felt betrayed. There’s always a side of us which gets cankered, but that’s not our problem.”
    Robert:” I feel like we’ve neglected a side of our music. The most beautiful is still yet a record to which you can get seated, and enjoy in all loneliness. Those records which after you’ve listened to them give you the feeling you’re really an experience richer, on the contrary of our latest records who where good, but who didn’t really profoundly touched anyone.”
    Don’t you find it annoying that Disintegration enforces the old depri-image of The Cure?
    “We haven’t made that much depri-music through the years, really. I often found our music to be quite uplifting. But then I wrote the songs, I lost them. Every record that leaves profound traces behind is a positive experience, even if it gives you a deep feeling of despair.  At least you feel something again, you’re not blunted, no matter how paradoxical that may sound.
    The essence of this album is the disgust concerning the loss of the ability to feel profound feelings when you grow older. That’s the disintegration I mean. I’m concerned about it, just as about everybody else I know of my age.”
    Are you afraid of death?
    “No, that would be stupid. It’s more like frustration. When you’re young, you loathe old age, but with getting older you’ll get to accept it more. It’s precisely that acceptance to which you’ve revolted so much when being young. Nevertheless, you can’t do anything about it. It’s always been like that.”
    How old are you now?
    “Thirty, but that’s not as bad as being eighteen.”

As Robert Smith grew older, his little band The Cure gained popularity. They still have difficulties digesting that success. Smith confesses the video to Lullaby was the first one with which he was completely sober. He could always playback only when he was drunk.
    “The more successful the band became, the stranger I found it to be. Sometimes I take some hold from it, and wonder what for Heaven’s sake we’re doing exactly?”
    Do you feel the breath of the competition in your neck?
    Who is the competition? Bros? I don’t feel like we have to compete against them. When we started we did have the feeling we had to compete against all those other bands, but now it’s just one big bunch of people making music, which is a lot healthier. It was naive and stupid of us to want to become famous.”
    What do you think about other popular bands like U2 and Simple Minds, who take off ambitious political statements, something The Cure does not ( note: and let’s all thank God for that! )?
    “Those are Rock&Roll bands. They think it’s great to be popular. They haven’t found out yet it doesn’t really do you any good.”

    Smith admits the contradiction between his own lack of believe in a higher instance, and the fact the fans of the band venerate him as a demigod. For instance the tour across the South America last year was rich of hysterical scenes.
    “The experience has washed away my memory for a big deal. The group divides itself in two parts. Simon, Perl ( note: that must have been a little typo, ‘cause they got his name right earlier in the article... ) and I couldn’t enjoy it, the others could. We couldn’t escape it, because our haircuts and pale faces showed we were no tourists. We played in gigantic stadiums and stayed in luxurious hotels. But despite all that, you felt like a prisoner inside your hotel room, because there were constantly hordes of fans waiting for you downstairs. Sometimes I felt like running downstairs and scream: Here I am, just rip me to pieces! To see all those faces of people who lost hope but still stayed around the hotel, from the window of your limousine. It was perverted. I could by no means find it a terrific experience. The shows however are amongst the best we gave. Rich of emotions. You could see how long people had been waiting for it, and how they wanted to suck every last breath out of us. At the same time, that was very frightening. At a certain point, a barrier broke right when we got out of the bus. Suddenly, I found myself lying on the ground with a bunch of people on top of me. I though:” What a fucked up way to die, overwhelmed by sixty million Brazilians... “ The others found it quite amusing by the way, but I was pretty shocked by it. I’m from Crawley you know, South of London and it doesn’t mean a thing! I never really got over it.”
    The European tour from The Cure is ironically called: The Prayer Tour. Smith:” That word calls up the idea of believing and by that means points out in a sublime way to the Faith-era.”

    Robert Smith is still looking for a cure.

(Thanks to Laurent Mertens for translating and typing it all up)