While live music shows no signs of returning any time soon, the current health crisis has allowed us the chance to reflect on some of the more poignant rock and roll moments. Here, we revisit the moment The Cure frontman Robert Smith looked back on the band’s legacy in what has been a landmark year for the group.
In a conversation which was based around the celebrations of their 40th anniversary, The Cure was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, headlined Glastonbury Festival and played a major career-spanning show at London’s Hyde Park all while writing new material for their forthcoming new album.
While the band rarely take time to reminisce about the past, it has proven only natural for moments of reflection as The Cure continually push boundaries of their musical vision. While attention has been focused on what the band has achieved, Smith remained typically dismissive of how their achievements may be perceived: “I don’t care. I’ve never thought about legacy,” he said somewhat defiantly to Rolling Stone.
However, in the midst of refusing the band’s link to the goth movement in the same interview, Smith did confess that he was struck by a moment of clarity while performing on the Pyramid Stage earlier this year: “I was singing [‘Boys Don’t Cry’] at Glastonbury and I realised that it has a very contemporary resonance with all the rainbow stripes and stuff flying in the crowd,” Smith said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “When I was growing up, there was peer pressure on you to conform to be a certain way.
“And as an English boy at the time, you’re encouraged not to show your emotion to any degree. And I couldn’t help but show my emotions when I was younger. I never found it awkward showing my emotions. I couldn’t really continue without showing my emotions; you’d have to be a pretty boring singer to do that.
“So I kind of made a big thing about it. I thought, ‘Well, it’s part of my nature to rail against being told not to do something’.”
In other Cure-related news, Smith has detailed a family tragedy which has shaped the forthcoming new album from the band.
The follow up to 2008’s 4:13 Dream, which was previously described by frontman Smith as “so dark” and “incredibly intense”, will arrive imminently as the band ride the wave of success following their landmark headline performance at Glastonbury Festival 2019.
Discussing the progress, Smith admitted that his vocals are somewhat slowing down the completion date: “We’re going back in [the studio] three days after we get back from Pasadena for me to try and finish the vocals, which is, as ever, what’s holding up the album,” Smith explained in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “I keep going back over and redoing them, which is silly. At some point, I have to say that’s it.”
When pushed further on the album’s themes, Smith explained that personal tragedy has had a huge effort on the material: “It’s very much on the darker side of the spectrum,” he added. “I lost my mother and my father and my brother recently, and obviously it had an effect on me. It’s not relentlessly doom and gloom. It has soundscapes on it, like Disintegration, I suppose. I was trying to create a big palette, a big wash of sound.”
Smith continued: “The working title was Live From the Moon, because I was enthralled by the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landing in the summer. We had a big moon hanging in the studio and lunar-related stuff lying around. I’ve always been a stargazer.”
Speaking about the album in more detail, Smith said recently in an interview with NME: “The lyrics I’ve been writing for this album, for me personally, are more true. They’re more honest. That’s probably why the album itself is a little bit more doom and gloom.”
“I feel I want to do something that expresses the darker side of what I’ve experienced over the last few years – but in a way that will engage people. Some of the albums like ‘Pornography’ and ‘Disintegration’ are kind of relentless. I levelled ‘Disintegration’ with some songs like ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Lovesong’, but I think this one is more like ‘Pornography’ because it hasn’t got any of those songs that lighten the mood at all.”
He concluded: “I feel intent on it being a 2019 release and would be extremely bitter if it isn’t. At some point I will have to say ‘this is it’, otherwise we’ll just keep recording like we have done in the past. It never gets any better. We’re due one more session then we’re done.”