An Interview with Roger

Catch Fanzine
Issue 3
Chris Galanis

It's Sunday, November 12th 1995, and James (Nothing) and I are stuck in traffic. On my way to a little store called Uncle Otis in the civilized area of downtown Toronto, I'm going over all the things that can go wrong. Besides traffic, surprisingly nothing does, and I arrive half an hour late to walk up the steps and catch Roger and his very kind girlfriend Leslie on their way out. After quick intro.'s we drag Roger back into the store and take seats in his office located in the back room of the store. A glance around the room shows piles of clothes, and a framed picture of the band, signed by all. Another look around and it actually hits me that I'm sitting a few feet away from a member of the cure, something I dreamed of for years. I try thinking about the moment, to try and capture exactly what I'm feeling, but I'm much too excited. I take in everything around me quickly, the papers, furniture, and Roger sitting across from me, dressed in Stussy raver-ish type clothes (quite a different look compared to the older pictures of him dressed in black, looking "goff" and mysterious). The feeling of mystery and intelligence is still there, but he seems much more loose and less reserved. I look up and realize that I should actually try talking sometime around now, if this interview is to get anywhere...for the next couple of hours we sit in a small office on a chilly Sunday afternoon, chatting about two of my favourite topics, music and the cure. Sunday is usually the greyest day of the week for me for some reason...this one was a bit more wonderful than most.

I mumble something about the last issue of Catch, and pull it from my bag for Roger to glance through. This turns out to be one of the things that I can smile about now, but at the time it was terrible. While sifting through the pages, Roger comes across our review of the Glastonbury festival, and reads out the lines Roger smiled at Simon, usually they don't get along in that particular way British people do when they are mildly annoyed at something. At this point I could defend myself by reminding everyone that only one of the two editors of Catch were at Glastonbury, and that I've never been to England, but I won't. Simon and I, when I left the group in 1990 it was a big...whatever...we had a misunderstanding, but I left before we could resolve it for reasons of my own. And when you work closely with anybody, you fall out with people all the time, but only for ten minutes. I love Simon, he's like...we're all like brothers. How could you possibly be in a group and not get along with anybody? Well not in the cure anyway... After calling our 'zine a tissue of lies the conversation moves on to the touchy subject of bootlegging when Roger comes across our bootleg review section, and the idea that people on babble were making their own T-shirts using official pictures. They shouldn't be doing that you know, I hesitate to get involved in any of that anymore, but all this kind of bootlegging and stuff that's going on is really getting out of hand. Like, you can buy CD's from Glastonbury, and a few of the other shows. I mean, tapes that people do and just like, send to each other, that's one thing. But CD''s getting out of hand isn't it? And you can buy CD's of all the b-sides...but I spoke to Robert about it the other day, and we're going to umm, next Christmas we're releasing the singles from Kiss Me onwards, and we're also gonna do a b-sides CD. And it's going to be $5 or something, really cheap, and it'll have extra stuff on it as well. Anything from Lost Wishes? No not that, some new stuff. It'll be from Kiss Me to this one...maybe it'll come out in '97...and it'll have a new single on it.

We move on to his past, and how he got into music and the band. There was a piano at home, and I started playing it. I wasn't really interested in pop music, and then I started hanging out with a band in a pub, so I got friends with them and thought "oh, I can play piano with them!" and things just progressed from there. Ever take lessons? no. Musical influences... Frank Zappa, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Hendrix, Prince...umm..Weather Report... I'm really more into jazz and jazz fusion, that kinda stuff. Can we expect some more of the improv. stuff you did on Trust this summer to appear on the new album? (laugh) Hardly! I'm not really allowed to get away with anything like that...but there's two really jazzy songs on the new album. A perfect way to get into the state of the new album... Before I rejoined, they did the demos in this house last summer, and now we've come back to finish... Robert's been singing for the last six weeks, and mixing will be done at that house as well, so it's come full circle.

The topic of where he's been for the last few years then pops up. I've been living in Toronto, and I produced a solo album. I'll put it on if you like. This was a welcome surprise.. He pulls out a CD from a bag and lets us look over it. Of the 1000 which were pressed, there's two formats. One is the mass produced format, which comes with the box. The other is done by a friend from art school which is hand done, comes with 4 postcards and a MIDI disk so you can put it on your own computer. They're not sold, but given out to whomever wants one. Unfortunately there was no sleeves left for the CD's, so I didn't have the good fortune to get a copy of my own. The CD is mostly jazzy, all instrumental, though there's a few songs that are cure-ish. I also produced a local band called Parade, I kinda helped them with 4 or 5 songs and I played on two of them. Later it's revealed that Supergrass could possibly open for them on the upcoming tour. There's a rumour, possibly Portisehead, but I suppose that wouldn't go down with the goth crowd... And how about past bands that opened for them? Love & Rockets - ergmmm... that wasn't our choice. The'd you get along with them? uhhh, didn't. I hate that bitch, the bass player...I watched them...the first time they played with us was at a festival in Germany, with the Sugarcubes (Bjork is a goddess) I went out front and watched from the mixing desk, and I couldn't believe how bad the Pixies were, so completely out of tune. And then when we came off stage, they'd already left, but they left a note in our dressing room; "enjoyed the show, it's a shame just like heaven was so badly out of tune." And I go, they wouldn't know how to tune if it hit them in the face! I'm not into that, I'm a musician, I'm not into people not being able to play.

What's your favourite cure song? Like cockatoos...which you will be hearing on the next tour. Is there any kind of list of what will be played yet, possibly breathe? (a subtle request) no...breathe? That was a b-side wasn't it? There's 24 new songs! How can we play breathe? It's then revealed that of the 24 new songs, 16 will be on the album, and there will be 2 b-sides off each of the 4 singles. Also revealed, Mint Car will not be the first single, the actual song Bare might not make it on the album, it's very good, long and acoustic, Want will possibly be the first track on the album, and of the 5 workable album titles, Wild Mood Swings is Robert's the time this has been printed, Robert's choice has become the official title, which seems to be a title that sums up the entire era of recording the album, as well as that of fans who have waited almost four years for another studio album since Wish. When inquiring about the sound of the new album, Roger revealed that it is very laid back, and is quite acoustic (in Jupiter Crash style). As well, there's lots of strings throughout, including the use of string quartets, and brass sections. There was also mention of a new song that is very Mexican influenced, and a drum machine is used for another song. This variety of songs makes the title of the album seem quite appropriate.

And you've been wondering what Boris has been up to since leaving the cure? He's in a new band called Piggle, along with Caroline, and Roberto Suave, who took over bass from Simon for a short while on the Wish tour. We should be expecting something new from them shortly. And when can we expect something new from the cure? They played two shows in Brazil in January, and while they were there a video for the new single was to be shot, directed by Tim Pope. After that, it's back to England to start rehearsal for the upcoming tour which is scheduled to begin in Stockholm around the end of March. They will finish the European leg of the tour on June 3rd in England, at which time they will take time off for the European soccer championship. The North American tour begins July 17th on the east coast for around 10 weeks. New material will apparently be released during the time of the European tour, with the album release date slated for May 4th. The release date for the first single has become an excellent birthday present for me, both fall upon April 15th.

I ask Roger to name some of his best moments have been in within the band. He of course takes the most simple approach to the question, and answers too many. Did you ever think you'd ever be in this type of band? No, not really...when Boris told me he joined the cure, I didn't know the cure's music. This was 1984. I saw the cure in 1985...I think that was the first time...and then I saw them at Wonderland (Toronto) in 1985...and I didn't like them. I liked the pop songs, but I didn't like the uhh...goff... So you didn't really like the early albums? Uhh, don't...well I like them...I guess... They just don't do much for you? I don't listen to them...well, no one in the group listens to them. I did start listening to Disintegration about a month before Robert phoned me to come back to the group. But up until then it was a bit too painful. He just called you one day, that's how it all happened? I was at the auto show, and I was getting brochures for him for the Hummer, 'cause he likes big 4-wheel drives. And when I got back to the shop, Leslie said Robert phoned and left a message for you. And I'm like, "ah". So we went back home and I phoned the studio and I spoke to Perry for about an hour, and we were talking about that the other day. 'Cause I hadn't spoken to him since he joined the group, replacing me...not replacing me, but whatever you want to call it. And he said he'd waited five years for that conversation, so we really cleared the air. Although I'd never had any animosity...obviously why should I, I left the group. So it was like the thing between keyboardists, new and old? Perry's not a keyboardist, is he? Well he wrote Trust... Yeah. I think he's a way better guitarist than he is keyboard player. I think he'll be the first to admit that he's not a keyboard player. So they just kind of stuck him on keys when you left? was convenient. He was perfect, he should have always been a member of the cure. He always was, he just wasn't a playing member. So where were we...Oh, so I talked to Perry and then I spoke to Robert and Robert said he thought it had come full circle, and that it was right for me to come back. Actually at first he just wanted me to come and play piano on four songs. And when I got over there I said, "I'm not leaving." A funny smile comes over Roger's face as he says this, and I can completely feel the happiness that he's found again in rejoining the group. And it was very excellent...I arrived there, and Simon immediately gave me a beer, and then we went into the studio where all the gear was set up, and started playing. And we jammed all night. We never used to jam really, but now it's a different group, different attitude. Everyone's all positive, everyone wants to work. Robert's even talking about the next album which he's never done before. What were your worst moments in the band? I left? Day before I left? Was there any discussion that you might come back? When I left? Yeah. I just got in the car and drove away. I didn't say anything to anybody, I left a note under Robert's door. Just drove away, 8 o'clock in the morning. It had to be done, it was my decision, I left for my own reasons, not because of anything else. And it was nothing to do with money. I read that a lot. What are some strange or funny thing's that have happened to you on tour? The funniest thing that I can remember, is we were in L.A. driving away from a show. And me and Robert were in the car together and this black guy runs up and starts hammering on the window, going "I want to be your next black drummer!" Umm while playing, two funny was the last show in France and we were going back to England that night and Boris was in a real hurry to get home, and he was playing everything really fast. So he counted in Close To Me like, blinding speed! And the keyboard part on Close To Me is really tricky. And Porl turned around, 'cause he used to play it and taught it to me, and he turned around and looked at me and we both fell over laughing. I did it, I managed to do it. And we were playing on the Kiss me tour, that flute song, I don't know what it's called...anyway we were in Paris. And the whole scene was lighters, and the music was just drifting, and it was just amazing, and the lights...and I was playing this flute line, and I was the one that changed, I would play this line and then the band would come with me. And I didn't change, I just kept playing it over and over again. I was completely lost! And Robert comes over and he's playing the six string bass, dum da da dum, you know. And he comes walking over and he's like, change! And I'm like, what? Change! So me and him changed and none of the others changed.

Roger then fills me in on his party he threw on his 40th birthday, complete with pictures he had on him. They left at five in the morning, and almost everyone in the pictures looks like they're having an excellent time. There's this one picture where Roger and Alan Wilder (former Depeche Mode) are standing together, and both of them look completely numb. They also had a big bonfire on Guy Folks night in England where Perry, Jason and Roger drank a bottle of Brandy while Perry decided he wasn't going to buy a house, but a big field with a bonfire. And Robert the next day said it was funny, cause Perry doesn't often get drunk. And Robert said it was really strange, Teddy being more drunk than he was. And the next day Jason and Perry and I were walking around like zombies, and Robert's going "you guys are such lightweights, I feel like that every day of my life!" Do you guys drink a lot playing live? He does! Not before, but he'll have two bottles of red wine on stage, mixed with orange juice.

Eventually my ride got impatient and we had to get going, but Roger suggested we do this again soon because we didn't really finish up everything. He was only in Toronto for two more weeks before he finished up business here and moved back to London permanently. He showed us pictures of his new house, as well as some designs for new cure merchandise they were working on. James got some photos of the store, and we eventually left, knowing I would hopefully get to talk to Roger some more within the next two weeks.

On Wednesday I called Roger at his store to ask if he was free anytime soon. He suggested Sunday, and that was great with me too. Apparently we both found Sunday's really boring, and he said he'd be happy to talk some more instead of just sitting around the store. By Sunday I had compiled another list of questions to fire at him, but unfortunately the day didn't go as planned. The City of Toronto decided to have a big Santa Clause parade that exact day, and they closed off almost every street in the downtown area. I'll skip the frustrations and complaints I had while we drove around doing U-turns for an hour. Eventually it was getting so late that I just got out of the car in the middle of the street and walked to the nearest subway stop. From there I took the subway to somewhere around Roger's store and walked the rest of the way. I was quite late, and when I got there Roger and Leslie were in the store. Leslie's father was also there, and he and Leslie were on their way to get lunch. Since Roger was the only one in the store, we sat on one of the benches in the store and did the interview there, as people walked in and out of the store. Quite a few of the people knew Roger personally, and even though he said he hated it in Toronto, I'm sure there's a bunch of Roger's friends who miss him, and he probably hasn't forgotten them.

We began talking about someone we both knew who had visited the group where they were recording, and how Jason was interested in Brighton night life. Some great new news was that a song my friend overheard Robert singing what will be the cure's present to the soundtrack of The Crow II, which Tim Pope convinced them to do, since he's directing it. The song is called Adone, and it's somewhat dreamy, like Pictures of you. Roger also mentioned the group are interested in doing a complete soundtrack for a movie sometime in the future. There was a rumour going about that someone had somehow gotten their hands on instrumental demos from the new album, and Roger couldn't confirm or reject this rumour, because there is a possibility someone may actually have a copy of them. Since the interview, nothing has come out of this subject though. We also talked about the cure list Babble, explored why people are so un-trusting, and discussed how Roger conducts his e-mail. I delete anything I don't recognize. People have also accused him of only talking to girls through e-mail, and he reluctantly smiles, that's true. Leslie and her father come back and Roger starts munching away on Doritos and a banana as we continue speaking while a soundtrack of jazz fills up the store. Leslie's father keeps asking is the interview done yet? as he walks around the store and makes fun of Roger. I find out Roger and Leslie have been together for eleven years, and they moved to Toronto so Leslie could finish studying at York University. She is originally from Ottawa and they have been in Toronto for eight years. The conversation moves on to Lol and his band Presence, which Roger quickly skips, and he dismisses the bestiality rumour as nonsense. Roger enlightens me about his past-times, which include flying and race car driving. Ayrton Senna is his favourite driver, and he wore one of his shirts during one of the January Brazil shows. When I ask Roger what his favourate place in the world is, he asks Leslie, and she says London. Also mentioned are Athens and Los Angeles. Remembering the picture of Roger with Alan Wilder, I ask who else he knows from other groups. He mentions Ian Mculough, and Wayne Hussey if I can stop him from kissing me. And how 'bout everyone's favourite Morrissey? If Morrissey came anywhere near any of us, he would end up in a very sorry state. I can categorically state that every member of the cure hates Morrissey. How 'bout Johnny Marr? Well he played with Morrissey didn't he? I think he's overrated. Did you like anything about the smiths? I hated and detested everything they did. And Erasure. Eventually he will end up slagging R.E.M. as well, and stating that he hates every big band. Have you or anyone in the band ever gotten inflated ego's in the past? Well if we did I wouldn't tell you, would I? he smirks. Did you keep in contact with anyone from the group since leaving? Only Robert. When I left, Robert said; "Roger, even if you leave, I don't accept that you've left the group." I inquire about what Roger did for fun in Toronto while he lived here. I never go out in Toronto. All the bars and clubs here suck, especially Savage Garden. (local goth club) I haven't been, but I heard it's awful. So you do know some goths! Well, I produced Parade... So you don't detest every goth? Of course I don't, I like goths! I'd better, hadn't I? Otherwise I'm in big trouble. Well we make fun of them, like we call goth girls Mrs. boots. Leslie: Or spider women Roger: Or spider women...I like Mrs. boots better, 'cause they all wear boots. See we're not really goths ourselves..." Isn't Perry a Sisters of mercy fan? No he listens to David Bowie non-stop, that's all he listens to, it drives me mad! Leslie's father: Do you know what Paparazzi means Roger? Roger: Yeah, what women have done to find out if they've got that, you now that, cervical cancer isn't it? Leslie's father: The literal translation from Italian, is Mosquito. Roger: Is that right? Hey, that's an interesting note. I prefer to call them autograph hounds. Leslie's father: Let's get this thing over with. $1,200 an hour, is that what he's paying you an hour Roger?

I bring up religion... We're all atheists. Leslie's father: No. No you're not. Roger: No actually we're devil worshipers. Leslie's father: I'm going to get the car, the interview ends in ten minutes. Roger: Twenty minutes. Was there anything in your upbringing that turned you away from religion? Any experiences in particular? No, we're all intelligent people, and intelligent people aren't religious. The one thing excludes the other, only idiots need religion. It's the opiate of the masses. Me: Karl Marx Roger: Karl Marx Leslie's father as he's walking out the door: I think it was Karl Marx that said that first. Roger: He said it first, and then I said it after him. Religion is something that the governments and ruling classes of the world use to repress the working class. So there you go, there's my nugget of truth for the day. We're all socialist, we're a very socialist band. Teddy voted Tory once, and we all kicked we didn't, we had a discussion with him to find out why. Leslie: And then you kicked the shit out of him. Roger: (laughs) We all hate Thatcher. So you're very much into politics? Yeah, we're all very politically inclined. What did you think about the recent executions in Nigeria? I think he had it coming to him. Bloody poet. I hate poetry, I think all poets should be hung. He was a poet wasn't he? I hate poetry, especially freedom poetry. No they should! Leslie is laughing and simply shaking her head at Roger. I suggest perhaps Roger string them all up beside Morrissey, and he agrees. What do you do with all the mail you guys get? What, fan mail? We never get it, it goes to the office and they burn it. Leslie: No they don't! Roger: Okay, it's not burned...initially. No, it gets filed in the round file, and then gets put in the garbage. We're very private people, we don't meet very many people we don't know. When we get off stage we stay really close, it's a really bonding sort of time. And Robert lies on the floor for about three hours, and I pour champagne and orange juice into his mouth. Do you usually meet anyone in the hotels? No, they get thrown out. So basically, there's no way for a fan to meet you. What, how does a raging fan meet the cure? Ok. Well, it's impossible. Virtually impossible. We might do a thing with babble...although I might not...where I give a certain amount of babble people from each town a backstage pass. But you can get to meet the cure, if you know where we're staying. And if there's a lot of people outside after a sound check, me and Boris used to go out and meet people. But Robert won't, 'cause they just go crazy, it's too intense. He's very quiet...he likes to talk to people one on one, he doesn't like big crowds. How about the whole turning 40 thing, did it bother you at all? It was a good party. It was a good excuse to have a mental party. Well, about a week before I began to freak out about it, see, you're very unlucky because I'm being very flippant, this is the flippant side of my character, you're not really getting any serious answers. But then again, I don't really want to reveal...maybe a few years ago I would've told everything, but I'm a very private person now. I'm not scared of death at all, while Robert is terrified of dying. But we're two completely different people. I think that everything that happens to me now is like a bonus, it's like a free gift. Everything is so good, I've done all the hard work in my life, and everything now is just a bonus. I couldn't ever ask for anything more. When I play a piano piece on a song, it's so, the creative thing. I don't know where it comes from, but it's so rewarding. I couldn't ever question it. Towards the end of the summer festivals, I felt completely at one with the keyboards. To be a part of the cure, you can take it for granted. But when you start playing one of the old classic songs, you start to think, I think of the history and all the memories of everyone I played with and being in the's a special moment for musicians on stage, and you only get two hours a day, four days a week when you're on tour. We did eleven shows in the summer, and when we got the news that we were doing another, we were all jumping up and down 'cause we were all excited. Do your wives and girlfriends come along on tour usually? No, Leslie only flies out for certain shows when she feels like it. How are Robert and Mary when you're on tour? They're the most loving couple I've ever met. Mary's really close, she's like a sister...a crazy sister but, she's one of my favourate people in the whole world. If Mary's not around, Robert's miserable. Have you ever considered having kids? I wouldn't mind them, but you'll have to talk to Leslie about that one. Leslie's father comes back into the store and announces it's time to leave. I ask one quick question, have you ever seen a U.F.O.? No, but I've seen a ghost. In St. Catherine's when we were making the record, first Steve said he had seen one, and we were all like "yeah right." So I'm in bed one night sleeping, and all of a sudden I wake up and my arms lift up in the air. Really? Did you believe in them? No, but that was pretty convincing!

We have to end it there, and they close up the store, and Roger and I are the last ones to walk out. Leslie and her father are waiting at the bottom of the steps in the car. We stop at the top off the stairs, and the cold night air is feeling really strange on my skin. I thank Roger for everything, and wish them the best with everything that lies ahead. He mentions that he'll see me in the summer, and when I give a somewhat questioning face, he replies that I'm invited backstage for the Toronto show and I can meet the band. I thank him again, and we shake hands politely. He vanishes into the red sports car, and they drive away, waving and smiling. I'm standing by myself in front of a small clothing store called Uncle Otis at 5 o'clock on a cold Sunday afternoon, it's already dark and there's no one really walking around at all. I'll end up waiting another twenty minutes for my sister to pick me up. The street lights look much dimmer, and the world seems like a much smaller place than it was two hours ago. I always imagined I'd be content just to actually see a member of the group in person, perhaps in passing at a show backstage, or I'd catch a glimpse as they're hurried into a hotel. But in reality, it turned out much differently. From this experience I've begun to see the members of the cure, and those around them, more as human beings then ever before. They aren't just images on my television, or sounds on my radio. The streets are very empty tonight, and it seems everyone has decided to stay in on this night. The warm summer lies ahead in the far distance, and I can't help letting my mind wander with endless possibilities of traveling around, meeting new people and seeing new places. And perhaps I'll see Roger again, after yet another excellent show, and we'll talk about Toronto and how awful it is to be standing alone in the street on a Sunday evening. But of course I won't be able to refer to this night. Tonight the streets are full of hopes and dreams. I'm humming the tune of Jupiter Crash in my head, and secretly thanking everyone in the group for supplying us with another album of strange notes and howls, which will colour even more nights and moments in the future. I decide that I must disagree with Roger on at least one thing he said. It is possible to meet the cure. It's impossible to actually know them. The cold polluted air circles all around me, pushing into my skin, and I draw my coat around myself even tighter. I try to remember how the second verse of Jupiter Crash starts off. There's nowhere else in the world I'd rather be.

Last Revised: Monday, 15-May-2006 14:59:53 CDT

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