The ties that bind must be rather loosely knotted around the Cure. Since the gloomy British post-punkers became semi-cheerful pop phenoms in 1987 with the platinum Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, no two Cure albums have featured the same musicians. And with the latest CD, Wild Mood Swings (Elektra), out this week, front man Robert Smith is threatening to break up the group once and for all. "Next year will be 20 years of the Cure," says Smith, 37, "so I think a big retrospective year with an album at the end of it would be quite a nice way to go. Then I can walk away from it quietly."
People: It's been a long time since your last album, 1992's Wish. What if fans have forgotten about you?
Robert: I don't imagine for a minute that the world has been holding its breath waiting for the new Cure album. A lot of other [bands], if they had the same layoff, might come back and be very worried about who their audience is. No record we ever release relies on what we've done before to get us through. We've never been part of any movement. We don't follow fashion.
P : When you listen to your older work, how does it sound to you now?
Robert Smith : I find it difficult to reconcile the person who wrote some of those songs with the person that I am now. The group has gotten better as we've gone on. The whole idea of punk, which I came out of, was that you didn't have to be able to play. And I couldn't. That was the charm and the joy of it. Almost 20 years later, to still pretend that that's the charm and the joy of it would be disingenuous. I like the idea of the Cure now creating something that's got a bit more depth to it and, hopefully, is going to last longer.