The Cure are one of the most talked-about acts slated to play Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits this year, and with a new wave of fans discovering the band’s classic alternative tunes, it’s suffice to say the Cure are hot. The band would be little without its legendary frontman Robert Smith, and in honor of the Cure’s upcoming U.S. festival run, we decided to look back on Smith and his eyeliner-wearing, goth-laced legacy with these choice quotes.
On what he remembers from being a very new band, as told to Word (via CraigJParker.blogspot.com):
“When we started doing this, I was still at school. When we did Three Imaginary Boys it was spiky, it wasn’t really me. I remember bending Lol’s ear to be a bit more like XTC. I played with the Banshees [after their guitarist John McGeoch suddenly left] through our first tour, and it allowed me to think beyond what we were doing. I wanted to have a band that does what Steve Severin and Budgie do, where they just get a bassline and the drum part and Siouxsie wails.”
On gaining mainstream success, as told to SPIN in 1993 (via The Guardian and Rock’s Backpages):
“I’m sort of worried about the fact that we've become quite popular in America, but this is it – we've hit our level. We won’t get any bigger, which is a relief in a way!”
On what he was listening to when the Cure were first getting their feet wet, as told to Word (via CraigJParker.blogspot.com):
Nick Drake and Van Morrison were my touchstones. And funnily enough, Space Oddity. But I also listened to the Gayane Ballet Suite by Khachaturian, which sounds terribly pretentious, but if anyone listens to it, they’ll discover the most brilliant sound. I wanted to incorporate all that into an album, and that was what Seventeen Seconds was all about. My dream was to be someone who could go anywhere and play music: in some ways that’s still my dream.
On not wanting the single “Let’s Go To Bed” to ever be released, as told to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Alternative Show in 1983 (via Impression of Sounds):
“It wasn’t as dumb as I wanted it to be. It was really me reacting against the Cure’s image, the states we've gone through. So I wanted to do something that was really, really dumb and pop. The words mean nothing. Once I recorded it I thought maybe this isn't quite right. And it was taken over and taken to its logical conclusion and released... Looking back maybe it wasn't such a bad thing. But at the time I was really, really angry ‘cause I didn’t want it released.”
On not having any downtime, as told to SPIN in 1993 (via The Guardian and Rock’s Backpages):
“Reading is something I've really missed, not being able to enter people's worlds. But I never seem to have time for it: I'm either too tired or I've been drinking. Last night I don't know where I ended up! I remember walking through a hotel reception and it was daylight. I was still drinking at six o'clock in the morning and I thought, I wouldn't be doing this if I was at home." He sounds exasperated. "I started out in the Cure reflecting things that I thought were important, and it's reached a point where it takes over and becomes the thing that is important. I'd like to take a lot of time off – maybe all through next year – and do things as a person rather than a singer or someone in the Cure. But I suppose it was always at the back of my mind that people would forget who we were. There's always people around sowing seeds of doubt. ‘If you go away for too long, you can’t really come back.’ I’m confident enough now to know what's rubbish. I think if we took a two-year break, it wouldn't matter at all as long as what we did next was good.”
On whether he ever wanted to be a “pop star,” as told to Word (via CraigJParker.blogspot.com):
No! I just wanted to not regret anything. That was my driving force. It sounds really old-fashioned and naive, but integrity was paramount. That’s why I liked Alex Harvey and Nick Drake and Jimi Hendrix, because they had integrity.
On living the anti-rock star lifestyle, as told to The Quietus in 1989:
“I never think of myself as a rock star. I never even think I’m in a group unless I’m doing an interview. I still shop at the same cake shop. I live in the same basement fiat in Maida Vale. Drive the same old jeep. I spend a lot of time doing pointless things like, um...keeping all our artwork going but I never even pick a guitar up nowadays because.... I dunno.... I never get any better. I would prefer to read than play the guitar. And I’ll read anything because I’m ... cursed. I have to finish a book once I’ve started it, um....which means that I read a lot of dross.”
On wearing makeup, as told to Ear Candy in 2004 (via Blog.SeattlePi.com):
“I wore makeup when I was at school and I wore makeup when glam started. I started wearing it again when punk started. I’ve always been drawn to wearing it. It’s partly ritualistic, partly theatrical and partly just because I think I look better with it on.”
On social media, as told to The Guardian in 2011:
“I’ve got a Facebook page, but I’ve never put anything on it. I’ve got a presence on all the social networks, in fact, but I’ve never once sent a message. I’m there because otherwise, someone’s going to pretend to be me. The idea of doing an interview nowadays ... I have no interest or desire in having a conversation with anyone other than the people that I know. I'm in the strange position of the world drifting away from me, but you know what? I'm actually quite content with that. It doesn't bother me in the slightest. I don’t feel like, ‘Oh God, I’m being left behind.’”