When considering The Cure, most people normally think of something along the lines of goth, and all the hairspray and eyeliner that goes with it. In terms of popular culture, The Cure are hailed as one of the foremost post-punk and goth bands, with their early 1980s period having a significant impact on the development of the burgeoning goth subculture.
The band’s only constant member and mastermind, Robert Smith, is one of the most enduring icons in the history of rock music, and his constant desire to push for progression has given the band a colourful and refreshing edge, setting them apart from many of their peers.
It’s one of the defining characteristics of The Cure that they’ve had many distinct chapters, touching on post-punk, psychedelia, pop, dance and new wave and everything in between. Recounting their extensive history is akin to picking up an entry in a series of novels, which in many ways, has created this endurance, you move from one to the next seamlessly.
For the strict goth adherents, you can listen to The Cure’s early output, for those with a penchant for sugary pop melodies, The Head on the Door or Wish are the albums for you, or if you’re into all things psychedelic, The Top should be your go-to.
Considering that the band have had such a varied career, there’s no surprise that Smith cites an extensive list of legends as having a significant impact on informing his artistry. At different points over his career, he’s mentioned The Beatles, David Bowie, Buzzcocks and his former bandmates, Siouxsie and the Banshees as influences.
A versatile artist with a sponge-like approach to music consumption, this is what has truly underpinned The Cure’s consistent success over the years. Smith understands music as a whole, and it shows. The interesting thing about his musical development is that he was first exposed to music by his older siblings, Richard and Margaret, and it was they who guided his early musical growth.
Of this formative period, Smith said: “My brother was also crazy about Captain Beefheart, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, so much so that when I was 7 or 8, to the despair of my parents, I became some kinda little devil fed on psychedelic rock”.
As a teenager, Smith’s tastes had developed, but as punk was yet to happen, he was still a fan of the biggest rock acts of the day. In a discussion with Rolling Stone, he recalled the first concert he ever went to on his own, and it may surprise you. Smith said: “The very first concert I ever went to on my own was actually Rory Gallagher. In a one-month period in 1973 or ’74, I saw him, Thin Lizzy and the Rolling Stones. I wasn’t really a big Rory Gallagher fan, but I thought his guitar playing was fabulous. But 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.”
Even though Smith has a varied musical taste, at first it’s surprising that Smith was a fan of Thin Lizzy. However, regardless of musical background or subculture, Thin Lizzy is a splendid outfit. Phil Lynott was undeniably iconic, and like The Rolling Stones, they have something that appeals to everyone, and counting Robert Smith amongst their fans is a testament to their legacy.