Channel NewsAsia
(July 10th, 2007)

Here comes The Cure
By Zul Othman, TODAY | Posted: 10 July 2007 1215 hrs
What: The Cure - Live In Singapore
When: Aug 1, 8pm
Where: Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Tickets: $178, $148, $118 and $78, from SISTIC

Robert Smith, front man for The Cure and supposed Godfather of Goth to many, is in a good mood.

The reason? A new album is in the works, and he is looking forward to the prospect of unleashing it to legions of fans early next year.

"I've given myself a deadline to finish before Christmas, and I should be shot if I don't finish on time," the 48-year-old told Today in a phone interview from a recording studio in South London on Friday where he was promoting The Cure's highly-anticipated Singapore Indoor Stadium debut on Aug 1.

Over the phone, Smith sounded in high spirits, as if he had forgotten the tough last few years for the iconic British outfit, which burst onto the music scene in 1977.

The Cure — which for the past two years have also comprised guitarist Porl Thompson, bassist Simon Gallup and drummer Jason Cooper — belongs in the pantheon of hugely influential cult bands, and is best remembered for their sombre post-punk melodies as well as Smith's smudged lipstick and gravity-defying hair.

To date, the band has 12 studio albums and five live ones, selling over 27 million copies worldwide. This, despite the fact that their last three albums, Wild Mood Swings (1996), Bloodflowers (2000) and erstwhile swansong, The Cure (2004), barely registered on the public radar.

Smith expressed his excitement for the upcoming concert, but his voice shuddered slightly when talk of events leading up to the last album came up. "Recording the last album was a harrowing experience," he said. "We had contracted a brand new producer, Ross Robinson. It was the first time we've ever done anything like that.

"I wanted to trust someone, let go of my responsibilities and just be a singer for a change. I wanted a person I could trust and respect, and Ross was that person. He had no interest in telling me how to do what I do; he just wanted us to sound as best as we could."

It proved too much for the rest of The Cure, which lead to a break-up in late 2004. "The character of the band was fractured by what Ross did," Smith sighed. "(We) had become slightly complacent — perhaps towards each other — and Ross tore that apart. As an album, The Cure is slightly too long and unfocused in parts. But that wasn't Ross' fault but more to do with the band."

>> Album No 13 <<

Bringing an outsider to size up your shortcomings was not easy, Smith admitted. "Under Ross, I was screamed at. That never happened before for as long as I've done music, but I found it strangely liberating," he said.

Smith then took a few months off but was enticed back in 2005 by his brother-in-law and long time The Cure associate, Porl Thompson.

The latter first debuted on their 1979 album, Three Imaginary Boys, but the long-time friends also shared a tumultuous musical history and often fought over the band's creative direction. Deciding he had enough, Thompson left in 1993 to take up a stint as a guitarist in Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page touring band.

Nonetheless, Smith was delighted by Thompson's offer to be part of The Cure again.

"Porl's the real catalyst for us getting back together," he quipped. "When he offered to rejoin, I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up. We set aside our differences and two years on, we're hard at work."

Initially, Smith confessed that he wasn't too eager to re-form. "I was worried about getting new band members and not having anything in common with them. Thankfully, Porl shares our experiences and our backgrounds so he's a natural fit," he said.

Bassist Gallup has been in the band on-and-off since 1979, while drummer Cooper has been playing drums for The Cure since 1995.

Pleased that his band is up and running yet again, rock's poster boy for doom and gloom sounds like a man who got his groove back.

For a rocker who's spent three decades in the game, Smith is surprisingly down to earth: During the 30-minute chat, Smith was a polite, witty and affable fellow who seemed completely at odds with his reputation as a British music icon. While humbled by the fact that newer bands like Interpol and My Chemical Romance are constantly singing praises about The Cure, Smith said his real focus is getting album 13 out to the stores as soon as possible.

Not that he needs to hurry, of course.

Judging by his vast body of work, Smith may never have to compose another song again: The Cure have left behind classic albums such as 1987's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, 1989's Disintegration, and songs like Charlotte Sometimes, The Hanging Garden, Just Like Heaven, In Between Days, Lullaby, Friday I'm In Love, along with over 100 others.

But Smith has a more personal reason for buckling down to work. "It's been 20 years since one of our most famous albums Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me was released in 1987," he said.

"That has been one of my touchstones when it came to preparing album number 13. I'm hoping this thing we're working on right now can be seen as a continuation to Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, (that) there will be there some songs on our new album that people will remember in 20 years time."

So what's the album title?

"Only I know that, not even the band knows what (it) will be called. Until we announce the exact release date, I'm not telling anyone. Not even my own mother!" he said, playing coy.

>> IT's not about fame <<

Smith is confident that their latest album will go down well with fans, but The Cure's continued cult success leaves him in a quandary.

Although he has no problems playing to audiences half his age, Smith finds it "distressing" that some critics are deriding The Cure's recent re-forming as "1980s has-beens trading on past glories."

It's sad to know The Cure are now on the same level as Duran Duran, he joked.

"Duran Duran epitomised the worst excesses of 1980s music," he scoffed. "Seeing that we gained prominence in the 1980s ourselves, I don't think I'm being hypocritical. If you were British at that time, things were split down the middle: On one side, you had (then) Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher bringing in a money-grubbing 'me me me' culture which spawned the detestable, despicable and greedy people of the time," he said.

For Smith, Duran Duran was a manifestation of that Thatcherite ideal: The five-piece outfit is remembered for many excesses and were wantonly spending money on the most frivolous things like making a music video for their single, Save A Prayer, in Sri Lanka, circa 1982.

"Although we weren't a politicised band, The Cure represented a less materialistic view of England. The Cure would go to play in stadiums across America and no one could understand how we did it. We were an underground band who sold millions of albums and playing concerts in front of thousands of people. Duran Duran and bands like that tried everything to be famous while The Cure couldn't care less about fame," he laughed.

Be that as it may, fans can rest assured that advancing age hasn't stifled any of Smith's so called eccentricities. He assures that at the upcoming Singapore show, the lipstick and gravity-defying hairstyle will be present and correct.

When asked about what sets him apart from the other bands, Smith said The Cure have survived this long because they're not in it for the fame.

"I'm glad we shied away from all that rock star grandstanding, and I'm proud to say there isn't a single picture of me from the 1980s that I would call embarrassing," he said.

"When I think about it, every single band in the whole f****** world looks s*** when compared to The Cure!" - TODAY/fa

At least one part of this "new" interview was pulled from a DotMusic interview from last December. So that Christmas deadline was from LAST YEAR. Sort of makes you wonder about the rest of this "interview". 

(Thanks Pam and to Natalie for finding the old interview)