JJJ: essentially the story of the Cure is the story of Robert Smith, the bands founder and leader. The bands development and artistic growth has closely mirrored the evolution of Smith's own personality. Recently he's abandoned his electric socket hairdo and shaved his head [has he?] and his stock in trade moody anthems have given way to something a little bit more upbeat, that's because Robert Smith says he's the happiest he's ever been. The Cure have just released their latest album, its their 11th we think, its called Wild Mood Swings, and Robert Smith says its their best yet, its so good, he says, its scary. Robert Smith spoke to Rachel Kerr recently...
RS: its called wild mood swings, and its got 14 songs on it, it's just over an hour long, and its very diverse, it's very weird, its the best album we've ever done, its so good its scary!
at the very start of the project what I wanted was an album done in a weekend and it was based around a string quartet and a piano, and it was going to be very stripped down, very kind of sparse and it was going to be called 'bare' and it was based around this one particular song I had called 'bare' and as it turned out, a year later we had the most random bizarre collection of songs, we did 27 songs altogether, and I had to like pick out 12, or it turned out being 14, songs to turn into an album.
JJJ: you're sounding very upbeat at the moment, are you in a good mood?
RS: umm, I...I had a very excellent last year, so I'm in a really good mood anyway. I'm in a much better frame of mind generally than I have been ever I think, actually.
JJJ: why is that?
RS: umm...'cause I feel the break that I've had from doing this since the wish album, I've kinda done a lot of other things and I have satisfied myself I'm doing this because I want to and not because I have to
(bare stops, the 13th starts playing)
RS: ..(inaudible).. deluded in the U2 sorta sense, in that hey yeah, we sell a lot of records but really we're an underground band, but we're not, we're dead mainstream.
JJJ: what has happened to the mainstream, because certainly the cure didn't use to be mainstream?
RS: no...I think in some respects it has changed over, certainly over the last 5 years, um to accommodate us, but I don't think, you know, its not one of those things, like, say, I'm not deluded in that I think we've had something to do with it. I just think that umm, its just market pressure, if enough people like alternative music, alternative becomes the mainstream, its as simple as that.
If you kind of remain, oblivious, you don't let it encroach into what you do creatively, I don't really think it makes much difference, I mean I would much prefer we sold 100 million albums than one, but I would never change a single note for the sake of selling 100 million albums, I'd rather sell one, so you know, it's a balance, the thing is we've always managed to do what we want and people like it.
(this is a lie begins)
I've really, I've never subscribed to that kind of musical snobbery whereby if a lot of people like it must necessarily be bad, I mean unfortunately a lot of the times it is umm..but umm...it is it isn't always the case, there are people who are successful and still retain their original kind of integrity and ideals
JJJ: you've said in many interviews "I don't consider myself a rock star" so, what are you?
RS: ah..I..its such a pejorative term, its just horrible, I've always just had an aversion like certain people have...
JJJ: "Rock star" euphemism for wanker...
RS: ....yeah...yeah, I mean its just the word 'rock' you know, its also its kind of like its an easy road to madness if you start glibly answering questions like that saying "oh well its actually like you know" ummm, 'cause I don't wake up in the morning and think, you know, I don't look in the mirror and think "rock star" its like...not..or I don't think "idol", I'm not aware of...I mean I live within the premise of what we do, the fact that we like, we live communally, in a big house together. I lead a pretty normal life, I take my turn washing up and cooking and getting the food, so it's kind of, you know, the basic kind of mundane things that everyone does, I walk round the supermarket with my trolley and I know how much milk costs, so it's..you know...its sort of, living in England I think, gives you the perspective, its very difficult to be a rock star, even if you wanted to be, in England 'cause people take the piss out of you something rotten. You're not really allowed, people don't want you to be a rock star so its umm, which suits me fine, its not something I've ever really aspired to be
JJJ: you've said a couple of times what with Disintegration and Wish albums that they were your last, are you thinking about stopping?
RS: yes, from a purely kind of cheap psychological point of view when we go in and make a record I...have to have everybody believing that it is the last thing that we're gonna do, I mean, one of them will be the last thing that we do, and I don't know which one it's gonna be, I mean, it obviously, it hasn't been any of the ones so far, but it could be this one. umm when we're doing it I have to have everyone, including myself believing that this is it, and if, you know, and this has to be the best thing we're ever gonna do because it could be the last, otherwise, you think well, we'll let that go because we'll get it right on the next album, you know, it kind of introduces a complacency which would be really out of place in the way that we work, and I need everyone to kind of really believe that this is it, otherwise it wouldn't work, it wouldn't have the right kind of intensity to it
JJJ: how do you think that you can tell, in the music industry, when you're time is up? the expiry date?
(round &round starts)
RS: the way that I look at what I do and how I figure out if it's worth something is...is purely based on instinct, and its just me and my instinct, and that's it, that's as far as it goes. I...I don't know, I mean there's enough people around with, that have been there for a long time, but I kind of, if I'd gone completely deranged would be, you know, would probably gleefully inform me, but umm, but I'm sort of...I...have the same attitude to what we do as I had when I started, and I kind of think well if it was valued in whatever terms, you know, you value that, being in a group, or making music, then its valued now. I kind of don't know, its certainly not to do with sales, because the first 3 or 4 albums the Cure did sold *pitifully*, you know, I mean but, it didn't devalue works of music, or devalue the experience I had making them, or it didn't take anything away, I mean, in the same way that it doesn't vindicate me now to think "oh...see, we were right, now we sell like lots of records", it doesn't matter to me its like a much more a kind of instinctive thing why we are doing it and how we are doing it, its just, like, and as I've changed, as I inevitably do, as everyone does, umm, I'm sure, my perspective on what I do and what the Cure does will change and I think that's how it will naturally stop. I don't think its got anything to do with what anyone else thinks about it.
JJJ: Robert Smith speaking to Rachel Kerr and the album Wild Mood Swings was officially released yesterday [May13] although you may have to wait until next week, there's not many copies around at the moment apparently. If you want to see how buoyant he really is, get a load of this track, its called Mint Car...
(mint car begins)