Just when everyone thought that the Cure were out for the count, the melancholy British band returns with the mighty fine Bloodflowers. Early rumors suggested the album would be the last of its lengthy career, but similar murmurings have preceded nearly every Cure disc over the past decade. Is it an elaborate publicity stunt? Singer-songwriter Robert Smith, 42, dismissed the notion, as the band gears up for its upcoming American tour.
Every time you put out a record, you say it's going to be your last. Do you have a truth deficit disorder?
No. I had every intention of Bloodflowers being the last Cure record. I thought it would be fantastic to finish with the best thing we've ever done, but I wasn't sure we could pull it off.
So have you already changed your mind again?
Well, the wierd thing is I really enjoyed doing it. I love how it's turned out, and I'm really enthusiastic about the band again, which I haven't been for a while. So, it's made me have a bit of a rethink about it being the last album. I'm not so sure now.
You must like all the attention.
It used to make me feel uncomfortable, but I've just grown used to it. It's part of what I do. When we first started to get successful, I felt awkward a lot of the time. I'm really short-sighted and I've never worn contacts or glasses when I'm with the band, because I don't want to see people look at me. It's quite a good defense mechanism.
Do you ever feel silly wearing lipstick and big hair in your forties?
Not really. I've worn a bit of makeup for as long as I can remember, ever since I was 10. It's just something I enjoy doing. I wear more or less depending on how I feel when I wake up. And my hair, if I don't cut it off, it just grows into a mess and that's what I look like.
Have you ever woken up and thought, "I don't feel like being Robert Smith today?"
No, because my real like outside of the band is really anonymous. I don't live in London, and I don't drink in fabulous places. I don't go out to openings and such. Apart from that fact that I've got a strange job, I do lead a fairly normal life. I do my own shopping. I don't feel constrained by who I am because of what I do. I often feel disappointed by my lack of ability. I get frustrated at myself, but I think everyone does.
Is that why your songs are always so sad?
The songs, lyrically, reflect only a part of my personality. They don't really give away what I'm like as a person. The 90 percent of me that isn't in the songs is just dead boring. It doesn't inspire me to write. The part that does is genuinely when I'm feeling melancholy or nostalgic or just plain sad, as much as anyone else. It's really easy to slide into a depression fueled by the pointlessness of existance. It's going to make for a good morning read.
How many times do you try to kill yourself on an average day?
There were only two times in my life when I've actually felt down about things and gotten myself into a full mental mess. One of the times was in 1982. I had a horrible time for a few months and felt pretty desperate. Then again in 1984, for various reasons, not all of them within my control. Since then I just wander in and out of black moods. Most of the time, particularly in the last decade, I've spent more time smiling than crying.
Do you enjoy the here and now, or are you always expecting things to get better?
I suffer from a bit of a dual personality, which is, in the main part, generated by being in the band because we know what we're going so far in advance. I know until August of this year pretty much everyday. So I've tried really hard in my other life not to plan anything. I live day-to-day. If I have any time off, I really enjoy it. I suppose the biggest difference from leading a normal life is that I don't have to go to work. I do try and enjoy every day as if it's my last in my real life. When I'm with the band, I actually have to think every day is the last. I'm not dissatisfied in that way. I don't wish things were different or better. I just try to make the most of whatever I'm doing.
What are some fun things to do when you feel depressed?
I suppose, since I spent a lot of time at home over the last few years, I've got a huge extended family on both sides. I've got over 20 nephews and nieces, so I've become an uncle over the last few years. I entertain the children. I go to watch crap films at the cinema and take them for days out. It's very pleasurable because it's something I've never experienced in my adult life. The last time I went out for a day out and had ice cream was when I was a child myself.
Are you going to have your own kids?
I do play the uncle role well, but I don't think I can do the dad role well. I don't think I can handle the responsibilty. On a philosophical level, I find it really difficult to bring a life into the world. But the main reason is they would probably get me up in the morning.
Have you indulged in your every desire at this point?
No I haven't. The ones I haven't indulged are through sheer lack of courage. I'm determined I'll jump out of a plane with a parachute on. I'd also like to attempt to climb a seriously big mountain. Also, I've never been diving. That's something I'd like to try. All things I could have done, but haven't. I still have a wish list. Life would be pretty awful if I didn't. I used to do more things like that when I was younger, but as I get older I'm worried that my bones will break more easily. I'm told at home to stay away from dangerous sports. But I'm going white-water rafting when we get back from this trip.
Can you tell me about all the things that are bad about Marilyn Manson?
Well, I've met a lot of people in groups that are inspired by how we've done things. I'm always very flattered. It doesn't matter whether I like them or not. I know there are people who have admitted to being influenced by us that I feel are particularly awful, but I like anyone that's doing something. You see, I'm much less aggressive than I used to be. I'd rather people did something than nothing.
Bill Graham once said of The Grateful Dead, "They're not the best at what they do, they're the only ones that do what they do." Does that apply to the Cure?
I suppose. It's funny, because I've spent a lot of wasted time fighting the notion that the Cure only makes Cure music. I've always found it's slightly unfair because we've always experimented in different areas, some wildly successful. But I have, over the past two years, come to terms that we do make one particular type of music better than any kind. And we do it better than anyone else.