Robert Smith distances The Cure from the goth movement: “I was never a big fan of goth”
The Cure frontman Robert Smith has once again insisted that the band are wrongly categorised when labelled as a major player in the 1980s goth movement.
The band, riding a wave of renewed success following their momentous headline performance at Glastonbury Festival earlier this year, were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the band’s 40th anniversary celebrations.
While The Cure are always looking to the future, none more so with the impending release of their new album, it is difficult not to reflect on past glories and the path that has led Smith and his bandmates to this point of undeniable rock and roll legacy. Sitting down with the Rolling Stone to discuss the release of their newest live concert film 40 Live – Curætion-25 + Anniversary, the discussion of the band’s affiliation to the goth movement was again brought up. “I don’t think of the Cure as a goth band,” Smith answered with assurance. “I never have. I grew up in a world where goth hadn’t quite been invented in the way that we know and love it. And I was part of this subculture in as much as I went to the Batcave with [Steve] Severin.
He added: “The Banshees were pretty much a goth band for a while. But even they really weren’t. But real goth bands were around — the ones that were part of that initial movement. They were goth bands, and I wasn’t.
“I was doing ‘Let’s Go to Bed’ when goth started. So we’d done ‘Pornography’ and ‘Hanging Garden’, and there’s a look and a kind of a vibe and an atmosphere, yeah. But was I responsible for goth? No. And if I was, I’d be very happy. But I wasn’t.”
While Smith was keen to move away from the goth label, the timing of the subculture’s rise alongside some of The Cure’s early breakthrough songs is undeniable. “Inevitably, I think it had some kind of influence,” Smith conceded when asked if goth had any impact on the Cure. “‘Cold’ from Pornography, I think, sounds gothic, inasmuch as you can say it’s got that particular sound. I’m aware we played a part in it, and I think that we’re part of the history of goth, without question, but like a footnote.”
“The Cure just aren’t a goth band,” he added. “When people say it to me, you’re goth, I say you either have never heard us play or you have no idea what goth is. One of those two has to be true because we’re not a goth band. I remember just for a while, goths were outraged that people would think we’re a goth band. They hated us because we’d kind of jumped ship, they thought. We weren’t anything to do with goth. It’s like we passed through that phase and I did a few things that sounded like we were a part of it, and then we moved on to something else.”
He concluded: “I was never a big fan of goth. I loved the subculture. I love subcultural stuff like that where people have a vision of what the world should be, how they should be. I think it can be really charming.”
“I’d rather goths than skinheads. And I also like the fact that it represented kind of “other.” It’s a dangerous thing to look like a goth. In certain parts of England, you run the risk of a beating if you look like a goth, which I think is fucking outrageous. So in that sense, I feel a community of spirit with goths and other subcultures who choose to live an alternative lifestyle. But I wouldn’t consider myself to be a part of it.”