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Music

The three punk bands who inspired The Cure

The Cure exist in a world of their own. Being pedantic about genres is a personal pet peeve, and The Cure happily defy being ushered into a labelled rack within the record store. They simply sound, well, like The Cure. They are goths who have extolled enough sonic sunshine to give your eardrums a Saint Tropez tan, and are joyously unapologetic about the dose of UV amid their darkness.

This unique styling is very much by design. From the get-go, they have refused to let tropes tug at the integrity of the tune itself. Thus, they might have been spawned from the punk mentality, but they weren’t willing to get involved with the tribalist fashions that sadly came along with the tail-end of it. As Johnny Ramone once said: “To me, punk is about being an individual and going against the grain and standing up and saying, ‘This is who I am’.”

They became an entity in 1976 when punk was filtering over from America and anarchy was soon to stir up a manic movement on the UK side of the pond. However, the Sex Pistols and the likes were never much of an influence on Robert Smith and co, as the frizzy-haired frontman said himself when he was asked whether bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Damned had a bearing on him: “No, I was inspired by the attitude.”

The ever-thoughtful Smith then mused: “I liked people rather than the people that you were saying. I preferred groups like the Buzzcocks, who were part of that movement. I mean, the only real hardcore punk band that I liked was the Banshees and the Stranglers, possibly, even though they were really old then.”

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And even the Banshees which he was a firm fixture of were heavily mimicked. As Mark E. Smith famously said to an overzealous leather-clad punk at a famed The Fall gig in Sheffield: “Ello Siouxsie Sioux, how you doing?” And in a heartbeat, he denounced the notion of adhering to ‘a look’ while casually perched behind the mic like a man smoking a woodbine outside of a Ladbrokes. 

Thus, Smith disavowed the cliches of punk on clung to the tenets that spawned it. He stated: “it was just more than the music, it was the attitude that we adopted, and we were part of. We were never fashionably punk, and that was what was wrong with punk: It had a uniform. I mean, I hate those new fashions in music which there’s always something like ‘You have to wear a certain outfit to be part of it.’”

The Cure had their own uniform and their own sound, borne from the words of Patti Smith more so than her drainpipe trousers, as she once decreed: “To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It’s freedom.” The Cure relished in that freedom and found a scintillating niche.

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