May 1992 Article

Rocknet News
May 12th,1996
Dean Goodman

Los Angeles - Cure leader Robert Smith has just turned 37, meaning he has spent more than half his life leading a band whose plaintive anthems like "Boys Don't Cry" and "Love Song" helped lay the foundation for the burgeoning modern rock format.

But don't suggest his increased maturity makes it harder for him to relate to the angst ridden teens who find rest in the Cure's relentlessly downbeat songs.

He claims to still be a child at heart and that's because he and wife Mary don't have any of their own; nor do they appear to be in a hurry to foist any cherubs with electrified hair and bold lipstick onto the world.

"I can literally walk out the front door now and not come back. I don't have anything to tie me down. In that sense mentally, I don't lead a kind of adult life," he says, adding for the record that he hopes Mary would follow him out the door.

Just to make sure that he didn't turn into a grumpy old rocker, Smith spent plenty of time with his 17 nieces and nephews in the four-year gap before releasing the Cure's latest album, "Wild Mood Swings," which is now in stores."I've become like a bizarre uncle," he proudly proclaims.

As the title suggests, the album covers a range of emotions from the exhortatory "Gone!" and the joyous "Mint Car," to the self-questioning "Club America" and rankly despondent "Bare."

The general consensus on the last studio album, 1992's "Wish," was that it was a less bummer experience, thanks to "Friday I'm in Love" and "Doing the Unstuck," than 1990's "Disintegration," although that was enlivened by "Love Song" and "Lullaby." Smith says "Wild Mood Swings" is harder to define, but perhaps a more accessible effort.

He co-produced the 14-track album with engineer Steve Lyon and the pair brought in nine people to help them mix the various songs. "I really wanted something that was like a Radio Cure Hour: you've had a good hour's experience,but it wasn't going to leave you feeling a certain way."

"In some ways it's less difficult than a lot of records that we've made - it doesn't really ask as much of the listener as some of our other albums."

Yet Smith says none of the Cure's albums have been that challenging, because music should be an entertaining or moving experience. "We've never really taken ourselves seriously and said, 'This is our big opus.'"

For all the hilarity, the cure have been pigeonholed as masters of the melancholy since formation in 1977 and visions of black-clad fans with deathly countenances add to the perception. Smith claims the "goth" crowd is a very small minority and says he gets fan mail from pre- teens to people in their mid-40s. "The fact that we're as successful as we are kind of points to the idea that we do appeal in a much broader way than we're generally given credit for," he says.

Indeed the Cure have sold an estimated 30 million records worldwide and drawn big crowds on their various world tours. Smith will be on the road until Christmas with the line-up that featured on "Wild Mood Swings:" incumbent bassist Simon Gallup and guitarist Perry Bamonte, re-hired keyboardist Roger O'Donnell and new drummer Jason Cooper who answered an ad in the paper.

As the sole constant member of the Cure, Smith provides generously for the people who pass through the band. All members share equally in the songwriting credits, live performances and merchandising. "I've never wanted a group to ever fall out about money. It's not important. We earn far more than we should anyway."

One former member who thought he was entitled to more than he got was co-founder Lol Tolhurst, who had left the band in 1989. He took Smith to court in 1994 demanding a higher cut of the band's royalties and the right to release records under the Cure's name. Smith would have been happy to settle the royalties issue with his childhood friend out of court, but the Cure name was not negotiable. Thus the world heard wonderful tales of rock'n'roll excess for several months as Smith and Tolhurst argued who was the bigger drunk. In the end, the judge ruled in Smith's favor and Tolhurst was left with a legal bill estimated at more than a million pounds.

"Effectively he's bankrupted himself, which I did warn him before it all started that that would be the outcome. I felt genuinely sorry for him at the end. It was tragic really."

Still, Smith's in no hurry to make up with Tolhurst whose current whereabouts are unknown. Defending the case cost him more than 100,000 pounds and he had nothing to win. "I walked out of court three months after I went in, in exactly the same condition except a lot poorer."

Smith can expect to make that up fairly quickly on the Cure's tour, although he won't be cutting any corners on the expenses side.

"I've reached that point in my life where I have no desire to go out and kill myself for the sake of playing concerts. I want to enjoy the concerts and I also want to enjoy the traveling side of it and I also want to enjoy the company that I'm with."

"It just requires a degree of thought and also a degree of financial freedom, I suppose, to be able to do it. But it is a doable thing."

Last Revised: Monday, 15-May-2006 14:59:58 CDT

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