We found that there was a lot of disinformation on the Internet about the band, says the Cure"s Robert Smith. We might as well have a voice in the things that are being said about us.
The Cure's Web site is being presented by Robert Goodale, executive producer of the official David Bowie and Rolling Stones Web sites and music site SonicNet.
When the Cure begins its first North American tour in four years this August, it will bring along a digital camera that transmits live images of the tour to the Internet. However, unlike most previous netcasts by other acts, the Cure"s will go beyond its stage show.
We'll take it backstage or set it up in our dressing room, as well as the performance stage, says Cure keyboardist Roger O'Donnell. We might even take it to the bar with us after the show.
The site"s "house page" is graphically based on an old mansion in west England in which the act lived during the recording of its latest album, Wild Mood Swings. The online "house" contains several rooms that the Web surfer can enter, including a lounge, kitchen, and library.
The lounge contains exclusive music by the Cure that has not been released before. For example, users can download the Cure's eight-minute version of the Doors' Hello, I Love You, which was originally recorded for the Elektra 40th-anniversary album Rubaiyat. A shorter rendition of the song was used for the album.
There are some home demos and other completed songs that we will put there, says Smith. We hope to illuminate the evolution of some of our songs. We may put up some older, unreleased stuff, but it will mostly be fan-oriented material.
The lounge also contains an unreleased music video for the Cure's current single, Mint Car.
The latest news and tour information is cookin" in the kitchen, while the library contains audio samples from Wild Mood Swings and the Cure"s catalog of albums. Site visitors who want to purchase any of the Cure"s releases can click on an online link to electronic retailer CDnow.
Cure fans can chat in the conservatory, while the "skeleton closet" contains Web pages individually designed for each band member.
Several rare and personal pictures from the band are scattered throughout the site, which contains an ongoing tour diary, with frequent entries by each band member.
It's rare that artists put so much time and effort into their Web presence, says Nicholas Butterworth, creative director for New York-based SonicNet. This site is unique in that it really reflects the band's personality through their input.
Band members will regularly "log on" to the site and visit with fans in the conservatory chat room. Visitors to the site will instantly know if a member is present if they see a black van parked on the "house page." If a light is on in the window of the house, then Web visitors know that the band is netcasting live video and pictures to the site.
We'll be as hands-on with this Web site as we possibly can be, says O'Donnell, who programmed much of the site; the rest of the group contributed to the site's design.
It's kind of an extension of the punk ethic, he says. We are in complete control of the content. Each member has designed their own room in the house so that it reflects their own personality.
O'Donnell, who rejoined the group for Wild Mood Swings after departing the band in 1990, says that the Cure became more computer-savvy in his absence.
Roger tried to get us into computers back in the late '80s, but we resisted, says Smith. But by the time he came back into the group in '94, we all had laptops.
However, Smith admits that he is not completely convinced that the Internet is ready for "prime time."
The problem with a lot of this technology is how slow it still is, says Smith. It can be incredibly frustrating. Someone may want to find out more about a band but will end up staring at blank space while they wait.
Goodale, the site's executive producer, characterizes the project as state of the art but not experimental.
We wanted to make sure that all the technology used was functional, Goodale says. Robert was concerned about making the Web experience compelling, rather than confusing.
Smith says that he is weary of the potential for both intimacy and isolation on the Internet.
There's a lot of ego in setting something like this up, say Smith. I guess that I still have to adjust to the idea that people might be interested in what I do. I've always resisted that. I've tried to not allow myself to be validated by what I do with the Cure. I've only once been online with Roger and chatted. But I felt uncomfortable because people knew it was me. It is quite difficult for me because, by nature, I want to keep some things distant from other people.
O'Donnell says that the site will likely stay on the Internet even after the band has finished touring in support of its album.
Next year is the band's 20th anniversary, and there's tons of archival stuff that we are looking at releasing to mark that, says O'Donnell. The Internet may be an appropriate place for some of it.