Before the dawn of The Cure, the iconic pasty poster boy of the goth sect of the British post-punk wave, Robert Smith, set out in 1973 with his Crawley schoolmates to form their first band, named Obelisk. This was a short-lived five-piece band with Smith in a surprising role on the piano, his first instrument before he ever thought of becoming a guitarist.
Smith later decided that he must learn to play the guitar if he was to ever outshine his younger sister, Janet, who was allegedly a dab-hand on the ivory. Smith grew competent as a rhythm guitarist through the mid-1970s and began to play in an altered line-up and formation of Obelisk, named Malice, who played mostly covers of David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix hits. By 1977, the band had shifted its roster for the final time before rebranding as Easy Cure.
The core trio of the band consisted of Smith on lead vocals and guitar, Mike Dempsey on bass guitar, and Lol Tolhurst on percussion. After gaining a small following in the south of the country, they recorded their first demos at the Sound and Vision Studios in London. The early demos were sent out to the German record label Hansa. The label had been advertising in London as they were looking for more talent emerging British talent in the late 1970s following their success with Boney M.
Hansa signed Easy Cure after hearing five early demos and brought the group back to London to record some further sessions. But Smith had purportedly been cautious about proceeding with the label and was worried that they seemed to be more focussed on how the band looked than how they sounded.
Smith’s suspicions were confirmed after Hansa expressed their views on the next batch of demos from the young punks. The label told the band: “Even people in prison wouldn’t like this!” when referring to the avant-garde punk sound of the early recordings like ‘Plastic Passion’ and ‘Killing An Arab’. Hansa subsequently cut ties with Easy Cure, but fortunately, Smith insisted that the label return all of the rights to the early tracks.
Tolhurst later reflected on this pivotal time for the band in an interview with Radio X. “We could have lost a lot of good songs, and they could have probably made a lot of money out of something they really didn’t want,” he said. “So it probably worked out best for both of us. But to lose songs like ‘Boys Don’t Cry’… that would have been a terrible, terrible thing”.
By 1978, Easy Cure had finally been renamed as The Cure, as Smith recalled: “I had always thought Easy Cure was a bit hippyish, a bit American-sounding, a bit West Coast, and I hated it, which put Lol’s back up as he’d thought of it. Every other group we liked had ‘The’ in front of their name but The Easy Cure sounded stupid so we just changed it to The Cure instead.”
He added, “It upset a few old fans but I thought The Cure sounded much more it.”
Listen below to Easy Cure’s first set of demos recorded in 1977 for Hansa. The tracks list as follows:
- ‘See the Childred’
- ‘I Want To Be Old’
- ‘I Just Need Myself’