Radio Forth (FM)

Interview with Robert Smith. 20 mins
Interviewer : Why call it Pornography ?

Robert : A cheap gimmick to grab people's attention really.

Interviewer : But the title track doesn't sound like a cheap gimmick; it's very experimental sounding.

Robert : Yeah, humm... We had loads of titles and the reason why... They were all based around the idea of pornography. It wasn't actually ever gonna be called Pornography, until we had the finished article in front of us, and we wanted to strip a title onto it, so we decided that we'd have Pornography after all.

Interviewer : What about the title song itself then ? It's sort of a curious mix on it. Everything is very fuzzy, is that about anything in particular or just the idea of pornography in general ?

Robert : When it was recorded, it was recorded in a very angry state, and there was a really angry feeling in the studio at the time. That one and A Short Term Effect are the two that I actually mixed. There was no-one else in the studio and I just did it on my own and they ended up on the record. I mean, we did loads of strange songs for this album but a lot of them were scrapped because we thought we had to have like a balance between things like that and the more songy stuff like Hanging Garden because otherwise people would have thought, I suppose, that we were trying to get away completely from a Cure sound, and it would have been too much of an obvious step I think.

Interviewer : The drums seem a lot more prominent than on your previous records. Was that something that was planned, or it came out as you were recording it ?

Robert : Um... The sounds were... We did actually go into the studio this time with the specific intention of not making another record that sounded like The Cure you know, we were constantly trying to get away from our definitive sound, but it wasn't a conscious decision of what to make it sound like until we were actually in the studio. A lot of the songs were like experimental things we were trying out in the studio. And the drums were actually... I mean, the album as a whole was technologically backwards compared to the previous two things we've done. Like we just had big mics stuck up all around the studio - it was just ambient, the whole kit was really ambient. Whereas on everything else we've done is always been really close mic'ed and so it does actually sound like a real drum kit for the first time ever really. The first record we have ever done that. It sounds more like a conventional kit, I suppose. It sounds like it's recorded in a bathroom. That basic drum sound, as it was so big, forced us into using other sounds that were big, and like more natural, I suppose, in sounds we've been using before...

Interviewer : Yet despise vaguely oriental titles like Hanging Garden and Siamese Twins. It sounds like you've gone for a very 'in vogue' oriental sounds - it's still got a fair bit of the old Cure in it.

Robert : Yeah, the oriental thing always seems to come up in whatever we do, there always seems to be some Eastern tie in for some reason. I don't know. Eastern Culture I find fascinating I suppose, but I mean, that is like you said, "in vogue", so therefore we tend to tone it down a lot, because it does get really irrattating... You know, people put Japan in every single chorus and expect to sell records. That's really irritating.

Interviewer : Does that date from the days of Killing An Arab or...?

Robert : Yeah. I mean, there's been that and Fire in Cairo, there's always been that tinge. I don't know, it's not a fixation. Siamese Twins is really just an analogy of sex. It didn't really have much to do with Siam.

Interviewer : You're in a curious position in that you sell a reasonable amount of LPs and you fill out large concert halls around the country, and you've never had a big single record. Is that something you're conscious of ?

Robert : Yeah we are conscious of it, but we don't worry about it. We haven't released a single off this album, and we won't. There's a promotionnal 12" that is going to go about just like into clubs and things. I don't know why, I suppose it's because people just play 12" in clubs rather than albums for some reason. But there won't be a single release, which irritated, you know... The record company was screaming. Not Fiction so much as he can't scream any more 'cos too old, but Polydor were a bit worried when we said we weren't gonna have a single there saying how are you going to promote the album with no single. But I just thought it would be really pointless for us to release another single that go into the lower reaches of the Top 30 and dropped out again. I mean, it's just like : here Cure fans, here's another single, they'll all have the album anyway. So it's stupid.
Until we actually write a single, that is a single that won't be on an album, we won't release another single because there's at the moment a lot of really strong singles around, or there are a lot of bands that do release strong singles, bands like The Human League and things. We wouldn't even bother to compete I suppose in that - which is all it is, in the singles market. Unless you're actually releasing a single for its own sake which we did with Charlotte Sometimes. We knew we would never get anywhere near the charts, but that was released because it would never got onto an album but we liked it as a song. Therefore we released it as a single, but to release a single as a marketing tool for an album to get into the charts and to draw attention to the fact that you have a record out, is really awful... So that's why we won't release another single until we have something that stands up on its own. Which maybe be never ! (laughs)

Interviewer : Do you not feel that many of your contempories have altered their approach, commercialism has become very very popular now. It never crossed your mind ?

Robert : Not really, because I don't think we could ever do it well. So therefore I don't think we should bother to attempt it. I mean, a band like the Associates, let's say, who are like our contempories, they were signed to Fiction at the same time as us, three years ago, and we've known them for over three years... Their intention has always been to be like the next Abba, that sort of thing, and to be commercial, and the way they go about is really good, it's really funny to hear things like what should they do - to be like an insider. But I mean, we could never do that, mainly because I haven't really got the ambition or the drive, I suppose, really to compete. You really need to be hardened to bother to get involved with all that. It's completely different to making an album. Making an album is just debauched fun...

Interviewer : People used to mention The Cure and The Associates in the same breath. They don't seem to have such a harmonious relationship with Fiction as yourselves, they ran into a lot of difficulty after making their first LP which had them titled as next year big thing.

Robert : Yeah. The reason why was purely because of us. Because like Chris Parry is Fiction records and is really noone else... They just felt that he was devoting too much time to us, which was true. I mean, there was never any argument and it was all amicably settled. He still helps them out even now with a lot of things, even now. He sort of runs a lot of their affairs. But from a record company point of view, what they wanted to achieve was impractical. a) through just one person - there would have been too much work involved. And secondly, through like just one independant. Because the way they do it is they play record companies against each other. It's really clever, it's really good to watch. But that was it, they just felt limited, whereas with us, we just sitck with Fiction, because we've got everything we need there. It's just really an outlet for us. When we want to put out a record, we just put it out on Fiction. That's as far as it goes really. There's never any pressure to do anything else.

Interviewer : This new one follows quite hard on the wheels of Faith. Are you very busy and prolific as far as creating new stuff goes ?

Robert : Hummm. It come in waves, really... I don't know, we reject so much stuff, that sometimes it gets to the absurd the amount of stuff that we do reject. Like we can have about probably 20 songs in total and use about 2 of them, and then reject those two because the next lot that we write is nothing like them. It goes on. And suddenly, we'd hit a point where something would happen, like an event that would catalyse everything and then everything occurs at the same moment and we write like 6 really strong songs and quickly go into the studio and we record them. And then reject two of those and write another 4. Once we're in the studio, the pressure really starts to build because we usually only allow ourselves 3 weeks to do an album. And so the first week, by the Friday night, it's complete. It's real madness in the studio. Especially with this album, we've recorded it at RAK, which is like the home of the "pop hits". Mickey Most was working in one studio and we were in the other, and he just couldn't believe it, he was bringing people in specifically to see. It was the complete opposite to the way anyone worked before... He was bringing people like Hot Chocolate, Kim Wilde... We were like performing animals or something, it was quite good...

Interviewer : You said earlier that doing an album was some good debauched fun - do you feel the same way about going out on this tour ?

Robert : I don't... No, not really. I've never really found touring that enjoyable, the only aspect I like is playing, actually playing on stage. The rest of it is just a real pain. I can't see us touring for that much longer really. I can't see the live side of the Cure continuing for very much longer. Because over a period, it's been over two years now, it just really starts to way you down. And you start to revolve around the idea of being a group rather than expressing yourself through the means of the group. It just tends to get more and more stiflen. I find myself dreading the prospect of going on tour.

Interviewer : Where will you channel your energies then if you do give that up ?

Robert : There's loads of things. In anyway; we're gonna take like a sabbatical, I suppose, from each other, later on this year. There's loads of people that I'd like to work with. Just a few individual people whose work I admire I'd like to do things with, you know, musically as well as... There's loads of things. I'd like just to be normal for a few months anyway...

Interviewer : Anyone in particular you want to get involved with ?

Robert : Yeah, I'd like to do things with Jobson (from The Skids -ed) 'cause I think what he's doing at the moment is really good. And Severin, out of the Banshees, we're supposed to be doing a single. And a few other people like that...

Interviewer : You said sabbatical, that's not a euphemism for a split ?

Robert : No, 'cause I don't see the three of us ever being able to split really, in the accepted sense. Because I've known Lawrence now for... 17 years, I sort of have been friends with him, and Simon for... nearly 10 years now. So it's not really likely that we'd split, you know. The Cure may cease to function and probably will, that's inevitable it will at some point. But I don't think we'll move to different parts of the country or anything. I don't feel limited at all within the format of the Cure. It's not like we're trapped. We do have built up a reputation for certain types of music but it changes on every album and it has changed again with Pornography. I don't feel that restricted, and I don't think the other two do either, but there are, on the other hand, certain restrictions within the format of working with the same people all the time.There are disadvantages and advantages. You know what someone is gonna do. Which is an advantage but at the same time can be a disadvantage sometimes. You can tend to relax too much...
12.05.1982 - Radio Forth (UK)