The Cure frontman Robert Smith has always been one to speak of his guiding influences and musical admirations. In his early days with The Cure, he would regularly cite the likes of David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix as key influences. During early Cure gigs in the mid to late 1970s, the group would play covers of their 1960s and early ‘70s rock icons and even included a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ on their debut LP Three Imaginary Boys.
Later, when The Cure were working on their 1982 masterpiece of darkness, Pornography, Smith would later admit that they had been greatly inspired by The Psychedelic Furs and wanted to make an album that was instrumentally similar to their eponymous debut album.
The Cure built upon their trademark post-punk sound throughout the 1980s and brought the genre to the masses with Smith’s accessible and catchy compositions. All the while, Smith was a sponge of sorts, soaking in influences from all corners of the musical landscape. By the late 1980s, a new genre characterised by the heavy use of distortion pedals named shoegaze had become increasingly popular. It seems Smith was among the fans.
As champions of the same dour and gloomy alternative music, shoegaze groups seem to have received a fair share of attention and respect from their post-punk forefathers. In the early 1990s, Smith met the members of Ride when the Oxford group supported The Cure at the Great British Weekend event in 1991. The two groups became close and admired each other’s work greatly. The Cure had been a key influence on Ride’s short musical journey, but it seems they also had quite the impact on Smith, too, over the 1990s and beyond.
The track that drew Smith to Ride the most was ‘Vapour Trail’ from their 1990 seminal debut album Nowhere. The track has become one of the guiding lights in shoegaze music and a classic anthem of ’90s alternative music. Smith expressed his particular admiration for the song in the 2014 shoegaze documentary Beautiful Noise, which looked at the ongoing influence of shoegaze, including legends such as Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine. Smith said of the track, “‘Vapour Trail’, it’s one of the best fifteen-second intros of all time.”
Smith was such a fan of the track that he contributed two remixed versions of ‘Vapour Trail’, entitled ‘Vapour Mix’ and ‘Trail Mix’, in 2015 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Nowhere. Shoegaze as a genre has clearly had a huge impact on some of The Cure’s later work, but seemingly no bands more so than Ride. ‘The Hungry Ghost’, appearing on The Cure’s 2008 album 4:13 Dream, has a particularly familiar intro.
Give ‘The Hungry Ghost’ by The Cure and Ride’s Vapour Trail below and see if you can hear the likeness.