Interview With Robert

May, 1996

After a 4 year gap they're back: The new album from the cure is called "Wild Mood 'Swings", and Robert Smith is totally pleased with it. " perhaps the best album that the cure have ever made" he said when interviewed in the English country house, in whose elegant ambiance the album developed. Despite the changed line-up, the aid of studio musicians and the time that has elapsed since "wish", the connections between "Wild Mood Swings" and it's predecessor can be clearly heard. Also some of the key themes (unattainable wishes for example, which even comes across in the title ) are tackled again. Want, one of the new songs is a song which does this.

"YES" nods Robert, " a few of the songs are very, very similar, although the atmosphere and the mood are a bit different at least. 'To wish impossible things' is fairly resigned, you sit there and feel the senselessness and the doubting, of course you can hope but at the same time you know that the dream will never be realized. 'Want' is a lot more aggressive. I wanted to express the feeling that was, even then taking me over. The feeling of when I really have everything, when I do something that should really leave me completely satisfied, there is something in me that always wants more and more. 'Never enough' belongs to this cycle of songs as well. It is a side of my character which really frustrates me. The good thing about it is that I try again and again to be even better. It isn't really ambition, more honestly a type of longing. The bad thing about it is that I'm simply never happy:"

This discontentment, the striving after more, isn't that an impulse which an artist saves, so as to stay on a level? Robert looks contemplatively at his hands.

"But don't you think you could call it greed?"

If it was only with material things perhaps, but it is not really like that.

"No certainly not. I don't think I've ever written about material things. When I didn't have any money I was just as happy or unhappy as I am now. Money buys freedom, I've come to recognize that, but it doesn't buy happiness. That is a very fleeting, difficult to touch feeling. When I'm happy it is almost as if I'm waiting for the time to be unhappy again."

A well known phenomena, you don't trust yourself to enjoy a good time, because it could all to soon come to a sudden end. So you sit yourself down, write hymns to unhappiness, and enjoy your black phases to the full. Or you try and numb yourself.

"That lead earlier to my experimentation with drugs and alcohol" says Robert. "Then you lose mainly this feeling of inhibition and fear, and you experience happiness in a very pure form. You lose yourself in it and step foot into another world. I only go back to that very occasionally these days. It is a type of running away, from it I know, if I walk down this road to happiness to far then........." the sharp, black bordered eyes blink.

" I've seen how many of my friends have ended up on this road. This road leads to very short term happiness. Finally it leads to a form of brain death and absolute unhappiness. Therefore I'm trying to find other ways. These days I'm a lot more relaxed.

Indeed, apart from the demon of his own constantly growing demands which is to do with the creativity, Robert doesn't give out the impression of being unhappy. -He has always himself contested the cliché of the manic depressive, of being in love with death, that has accompanied him from the time of the albums like "Faith" or "Pornography". He appears at least to have a happy and balanced private life. For more than 20 years twenty Robert has been together with his child sweetheart Mary, who he married in 1988. Possibly within lies the source for the lyrics in which Robert is searching for a close, exclusive love, which he then pushes away because it is too constricting. The newest example of this is "This is a lie".

" With this song I've taken a stand point that doesn't really represent me." explains Robert. "We had a few discussions in the band about monogamy, whether the physical and spiritual intimacy which you reach in a monogamous relationship is as fulfilling as a short more superficial intimacy with different people. For me the depth which you can ultimately experience with one person is really worth doing without these various experiences for. I have the feeling that if I had to share myself between so many people, each one of them would only be able to get very little from me. Others in the band see it differently. I tried to portray that in the song. They certainly weren't happy that I then called it "this is a lie". It was really strange to write a song with their outlook and not mine, but this time that happens on 2 or 3 songs. For the first time a record reflects a band attitude and not just my own. A lot of the time I also just watched."

Robert contemplates for a moment and then goes back to the previous topic. "I was always searching for happiness. Over last year I became a lot more happy I think. I think I'm a lot less dependent on a specific life style. I've started getting happy about really simple things again, just like a child.

In a 400 year old country house with 4-poster beds, marquetry tables(?), and park grounds that sounds a little unbelievable.

"OK, this house" says Robert and laughs a little embarrassed. "there are simply so many people living here. You know, I'm the only one that can really call it home., somewhere where I like to come back to. If I have to live in an enclosed space with a lot of people for a long time I become really up-tight and nervous. The house had to be big enough to give me the possibility to pull back. It is the same with the others as well. Here everyone has got there own room and bathroom. That is very important. If I had to wait for the bathroom to eventually become free every morning I could get really angry. I mean I'm in my mid-thirties and have got a beautiful house and so why the Hell would I be here and queue up to shower. It is like a commune. At the weekend there were 27 people here for dinner. When each of us just invites a few friends then there are already 15 or 16. But it is good like that, because the others haven't really got proper homes. We even all considered to live here in the last year. That went very well as well."

In recognizing this Robert appears a bit surprised himself. " It is really strange, because before there was always this underlying tension. But with this line up it is somehow totally different. I think it is mainly to do with Jason. Because he is younger than us he's given the band a sense of innocence again that has been missing from us in the last years. Many things that we do, he is doing for the first time and there is still this impact there. I noticed that when we went to Brasil

I'd perhaps already become a little cynical. OK, Brasil again, but then I looked at Jason and thought damn it, he's right. We're in Brasil and I should try to get as much as I can out of this weekend. In a nutshell, Robert is at one with himself and the world. In the "Inbetween days" he has even lost many of his phobias which he used to suffer from. Even his fear of spiders which he memorialized in 1989 with "lullaby", has become a little weaker.

" On New Years Eve we had a big party here" he says. "and pretty early on in the evening I saw a spider on the floor. It was really huge and looked like a real monster. I'd only had a couple of beers, and as everybody else was already terrified because of this beast I picked it up and carried it outside. I wasn't properly drunk, just in a good mood and enjoying the evening, and somehow I thought, it's really absurd, this poor little thing. Somebody is going to knock it on the head now, so I just took it outside. Normally I'm one of the people who shouts get it out, or kill it with a hammer, or something like that."

On a different subject, Robert has totally overcome his fear of flying and the vertigo.

" my fear of flying was probably a subconscious thing because I hadn't overcome my fear of death" supposes Robert. Since the last album there have been two deaths in my family which have completely changed my attitude towards death. I have lost this romantic image of death as something dignified. It is definitely not dignified. earlier I thought I'd come to an understanding with it and had personally overcome it, but that was absolutely not true. If you contemplate death when your younger, then it seems so far away that you can deal with it because you can't imagine that it really happens. And when it does happen, then it doesn't really matter because you can't feel it and so you don't have to fear it.-However I don't know.........anyway the fear of spiders is the only one that has stayed with me. Perhaps that is to do with something that happened to me when I was a small child. I can't explain it to myself any other way. In this sense the tour to Brasil was a real test. Oh God.....I remember as I was in the hotel and I switched the light on in the bathroom. I saw all the shadows which fled into the corners. My imagination just went haywire. I even looked under the bed, which really isn't my way(?).When I came home Mary let me unpack my things outside the front door to ensure that no spiders from Brasil had stowed away with us. We have this private joke that as I first came back from Brasil ten years ago I didn't unpack my things outside. Now whenever we find a spider at home Mary maintains it belongs to the family of Brasilian spiders which stowed away back that time and now live under the roof."

This time in Brasil Robert was hoping to meet the football legend Pele, but that wasn't to be because he was training with the national team in the USA. But still he left behind a signed football for "the passionate football fans of the cure". How can it be then that they found a new drummer who isn't football mad?

Robert grins.

"Boris wasn't interested in it either. Jason is so much alike to him in many ways that sometimes I think that it is Boris in a stupid disguise. He is a cricket fan, just like Boris. Perry isn't really interested in football either, that is just for Simon, Roger and myself. And Simon and Roger don't understand anything about football really, as arsenal and west ham fans. that certainly isn't football."

Robert supports the eternal relegation endangered Queens Park Rangers, since he first saw the team when he was 8 years old. He actually stood in the middle of the old curve until the middle of the seventies when hooligans made the stadium unsafe. Now, he says, he has drifted back to the football culture again, and it is once again enjoyable to watch the game live.

"Before it was very uncool to be a football fan, today it almost announced to much (???). Naturally there are still hooligans, but not many; the complete ecstasy-culture has taken over the football fans. It is already very unusual when these guys come to a game not drunk but totally on something. There is indeed no alcohol allowed in the stadium anymore, and hence they are all now changing over.-I have a very mellow attitude towards football anyway because my club has never ever won anything."

Last Revised: Monday, 15-May-2006 14:59:59 CDT

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