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The band The Cure's Robert Smith called "better than drinking"

Robert Smith, the creative mastermind of The Cure, is one of the most complex and interesting characters in the whole of rock and roll. The only consistent member of The Cure since their formation in Crawley, Sussex in 1978, his various personal and creative journeys have informed The Cure’s consistently developing sound. One thing is clear, without Smith, there would be no Cure. 

Looking back on the career and music of The Cure, you realise that The Cure is Robert Smith and Robert Smith is The Cure. We mean this in the sense that he has been the captain of the ship since their formation. Crew members have come and gone, but he has always steered the way.

His personal life has informed the musical direction of The Cure, probably more than any factor. Whether it be Seventeen SecondsPornography or Disintegration, Smith’s thoughts and feelings have always determined what creative direction the band have gone in.

One interesting facet of The Cure’s ’80s era, was the influence of drugs on Smith’s writing. In 1988, he told SPIN: “I’ve tried a lot of different drugs because I’ve been interested in trying them, and I haven’t for a couple of years because I’ve had mood swings and it’s because I was aware of my body getting old; I wanted to try the blue sky and fresh air for awhile.”

He explained: “I’d spent a couple of years being hideously introspective which, at the time was really good fun, but I’ve never made any bones about advocating people to try drugs as long as they don’t get addicted. It’s not destructive like drink or types of food or lifestyles. I have always been completely anti-addiction, but I’ve always been pro-experiment.”

This adherence to experimentation might stem from the fact that as a child, he was exposed to some of the most experimental music of the day, which had a symbiotic relationship with drugs. Smith loved the records of Captain Beefheart, Cream and Jimi Hendrix, recalling that “I became some kinda little devil fed on psychedelic rock”.

It wasn’t all drugs though, Smith had a penchant for drinking too. In the 1988 SPIN interview, he said: “Mary (Smith’s wife) drinks much more than me. I just drink to help her along (Laughs).”

The Cure’s Robert Smith and David Bowie once interviewed each other

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In a 2004 interview with Rolling Stone, Smith cast his mind back to the first show he ever went to and said: “Thin Lizzy, they were fabulous. I saw them probably ten times in two years. The actual sound of them live was just so overpowering, it was better than drinking.”

Thin Lizzy live were better than drinking. This a huge statement from Smith. Pretty ironic for the band that popularised ‘Whiskey in the Jar’, don’t you think? 

Smith does have a point though, in their heyday, Thin Lizzy live were electrifying. Fronted by the ice-cool Phil Lynott, we could only imagine how much of a transformative experience this must have been for the teenage Smith, and many others like him.

Listen to Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy below.