Fear of Spiders

WOM Journal
May 96
Kirsten Borchardt

The Cure took four years since their last album for a new one. After such a long time Robert Smith and bassist Simon Gallup naturally had a whole lot to talk about, not only over line-up changes, vertigo, and Wild Mood Swings.

Four years are a long time. How did the songs on Wild Mood Swings come about?

Simon: All of us have a small home studio, where we work the first concepts out alone. When each of us collects a couple songs, we meet and play them over and over again, until they start to sound like the Cure. It doesn't matter who brought the song, in the end it's always the whole band's song.

The lyrics are almost always Robert's work. Doesn't he let you near them, or do you have nothing to say?

Simon: I think that Robert would be very happy if each of us would write a couple hits. I'm such an emotional mess inside, it's better that I don't write it down. Besides, Robert is a genuinely good lyricist, what point would there be for me to try as well? That would be like a minor league team wanting to play against FC Arsenal.

After a long time there's been another line-up change with you. Was that a surprise?

Simon: Since the Wish tour we knew that Porl Thompson wanted to go, and we simply went on from there as four. The departure of our percussionist Boris Williams shocked us more. But it was better that way, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten to know our new drummer Jason Cooper. Since then, there's a whole new energy in the band, as though we were starting out from the beginning again.

Robert: Yes, Jason gave the band a sort of freedom, that was missing in the last few years. Many things that we were used to, he's doing for the first time, and there's still that sense of excitement there. I noticed it when we went to Brazil. I was simply already far too complacent - Yeah, Brazil again - but then I saw Jason and thought, damned if he isn't right, we're in Brazil, that's really insanely cool.

Has the line-up change changed your sound?

Robert: Somewhat - We had eight musicians who play orchestral stringed instruments with bows and seven musicians who play woodwinds with us this time. There were lots of strangers who played on the album, before we never had that. It gave the music new dimensions, that I'm very happy with. There are similarities between this disc and the last, but the new one is more up-beat, with a much wider spectrum. For me, Wish was the best that The Cure has made so far, but with a bit of luck Wild Mood Swings has turned out even better.

Lyrically, unfulfilled wishes play a big role this time, right?

Robert: Right. I wanted to demonstrate this searching feeling, that comes over me even when I really have everything or do something that should absorb me totally. Despite that, there's something in me that forever and always wants more. The positive of that is that I'm always trying to get better. But the flipside is that I'm simply never satisfied.

But that hasn't had anything to do with material things for a long time?

Robert: Absolutely not. I've written songs about material things. When I had nothing, I was exactly as happy or as unhappy as now. You can buy freedom with money, but not happiness. Happiness is very fleeting. When I'm happy, it's almost as though I'm just waiting to become unhappy again.

Are you afraid at those moments to really think that it might not last much longer?

Robert: Yes. That led me to my experiments with drugs and alcohol, because you then lose inhibitions and fears and experience a very pure form of happiness. Today I only rarely go back to that - I've seen what happened to many freinds who followed that path. In the last stages it leads to a sort of brain-death. I try to find other possibilities, I'm much more relaxed today.

Have you also lost the many anxieties that are often the subject of Cure songs?

Robert: Some of them. I've lost my fear of flying, and heights also. I think that that was really the fear of death, that I couldn't get a grip on. Since the last album there've been two deaths in my family, that have completely changed my views on death. I've lost the romantic notion that death is something to be respected, and brought myself to finally sort out the underlying fear. But my fear of spiders is still left over. It was horrible in Brazil... In the hotel I turned on the bathroom light and saw all the shadows that moved in the corners. That so scared me, I even looked under the bed, that's usually not my thing. When I returned, my wife Mary even unpacked all my stuff outside the front door, to make sure that I didn't bring any Brazilian spiders into the house.

Is there a Robert Smith sitting across from me today, who is generally in tune with himself?

Robert: There are only traces left of the old insecurity. But today I'm trying to reach realistic goals, I'm not beating my head against the wall like a crazy man.

In your lyrics goals play a big role. What is your concept of Love and Truth, anyway?

Robert: We had a discussion in the band over monogamy - -whether the physical and spiritual intimacy that you reach in a monagamous relationship is more fulfilling than the short and shallow intimacy with various people. I believe, that you experience everything much more intensively, when you try to reach it with one other person. If I had to give myself to many people, each of them would only get very little of me. Some in the band have other opinions. I've tried to show that in a song also - above all, I mean This Is A Lie. It was very strange to write a song over someone else's perspective, but on this disc it's not just about my feelings for the first time.

What does superstar status mean to you?

Robert: Mostly I laugh at the flattery, because I know, what I'm really like. Obviously, in this line of work an image is necessary, that is projected on me and that sometimes looks very cult-like. The people want to believe that there's something magic, a whole other planet. It's not at all like that. To dress up and put on a show, that's actually rather pretentious and rather silly. But sometimes there's more anyway: When we make music, for me that's really magic.

Last Revised: Monday, 15-May-2006 14:59:52 CDT

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