The Cure: A Curious Day Out in Bournemouth
April 28 The Cure and the Passions at Bournemouth Stateside - interviews by Tom and Chris after a tour of the Bournemouth Central bars, the Palace Vaults and the Criterion bars: We wander into the Village Bowl through all the hustle and bustle of roadies at work - and playing Space Invaders... but no bands. To pass the time we indulge in some more light refreshment. After what seems like hours the Cure and the Passions suddenly appear. Then it's more waiting while the Cure do the longest sound-check I've ever heard. Finally they do 'A Forest' and it sounds OK to me. They're satisfied as well, so this is the point where we step in. We introduce ourselves and hand over the last copies of Vague 3. As Robert Smith scurries off to get more cans, Lol Tolhurst updates us on the Cure line-up: Since the Banshees tour Mike Dempsey has left and Simon and Matthieu have joined... Robert - guitar/vocals, Lol - drums, Simon Gallup - bass and Matthieu Hartley - keyboards. They were promoting the 'Seventeen Seconds' album.
Robert Smith on playing with the Banshees and the Cure: "My loyalties were firmly in the Banshees camp. At that time I was not enjoying what the old Cure did. I really enjoyed playing with the Banshees and that was like the final straw for the Cure split... I'm used to writing and singing songs. I felt like I was in a cabaret band doing other people's stuff. The line-up was just a compromise and it was very frustrating. If I was just a guitarist it would have been perfect because I'm really into the Banshees. But it's Sioux and Steve's band... We split a week later, if you can call it that. Me and Lol remained. We both decided that we couldn't continue working with Mike Dempsey. At live gigs I was enjoying playing less and less, rather have given up altogether than carry on like that. We wouldn't have split before the Banshees tour but that didn't work out for us..."
We're just using different textures. 'Boys Don't Cry' was thought of by some people as a pop song. There started to be a Cure formula. You could tell our songs - they were getting too obvious. I personally didn't like numbers like 'Object' off the first album. I think we're moving on from there... The new songs were all written around the end of the Banshees tour when we were a 3-piece... The songs are more emotional now, like 'Foxy Lady' which has a distant quality. But we wouldn't like to play a set that people sit through, sometimes we like to play dance music... The LP's the band's statement. The press accuse us of being too serious. 'Seventeen Seconds' has no motives, it's just a mood, reflective more than depressive... As far as the lyrics are concerned I don't want to sing something I don't agree with. I don't want to sing about my ideas but I admire John Lydon. I was never really a punk in the dress sense but I liked the spirit of it...
"We all come from around Crawley. Simon and Matthieu used to be in another local band before they joined us. The Cure's first live gig was in December '76. We just got a name as a punk band the same as any other new band coming up around that time..." I asked if there were any problems due to Robert's popularity after the Banshees tour.
Robert: "What popularity? I don't think me playing with the Banshees has any effect on the Cure set-up. There's no star in this band, we are all equal and open about everything." Lol: "No, we're not." Robert: "Shut up." Lol tells me that Robert dominates the band, then to get a good review gives me 4 cans and sits on my knee. Robert: "Lol's also got a big crisis with his sexuality." I think the last question I asked was whether they all had mansions in the country or lived in squats in Notting Hill. Lol: "Yes, we've all got big yachts, we still live around Crawley... We don't have anything to do with the London scene, we're not into that hip scene."
At first the Cure might seem a bit distant but they are in fact very likeable... The Cure gave a resounding performance and won over a lot of sceptics (I didn't put that because of the cans either)... They begin with a couple of new numbers from '17 Seconds'... The audience, who couldn't have heard these numbers before, are surprisingly receptive. They are rewarded with a hyped up version of 'Killing An Arab' then '10.15'. The latter holds it's own with the new more experimental material. The rhythm jerks the audience into action but the distant feel is still there - cold, uncompromising and isolated... 'At Night' is similar, it also has this depressing feel to it, I've got to say it, reminiscent of Eno... but unlike Eno there is optimism there, this reflects in the amount of excitement they create... The encore is their piece de resistance; firstly they do 'Secrets', a distressing love song... and then it's the excellent, Vague record of the month, 'A Forest', which brought a great set to a climax... 'I hear her voice and start to run into the trees... into the trees, suddenly I stop but I know it's too late, lost in a forest all alone, but the girl is never, it's always the same, I'm running towards nothing again and again and again...'
I wish it could have ended there, a fantastic gig and the most helpful band to date, but we went back for more to congratulate the Cure. They're pleased, we talk for a while, they give us some more cans. Then all the teeny-boppers burst in, in search of autographs, kisses and the like. Amongst the kids I recognise a familiar face, Matt rushes over and says, "Here's someone you should meet - Paul Morley." Being slightly pissed, I challenge him about his recent article slagging off fanzines, he shyly defends himself saying he really approves of fanzines, thinks they're great... but I'm not going to pander to the journalist elite. We note rather a lot of sarcasm in his voice. Robert Smith sits there unimpressed with all the adoration. The others go through the motions. Is this what rock'n'roll is all about, maan? Then they depart, going back to the hotel with Morley for the serious interview. No, I don't mean that, I believe the Cure are genuine enough, it's just the scene we're all involved in. We wander back to Chris's flat slightly disillusioned...