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Interview with Robert Smith. 18 mins


TRANSCRIPT

Interviewer : We have tracked down the elusive, mysterious Robert Smith... What is it this week ? What band are you in this time ? The Cure ? Or is it the Glove or is it the Banshees ?

Robert : It's difficult really. It's the Cure up until six o'clock then I'll go to the studio with the Banshees.

Interviewer : When does the Glove come in ?

Robert : I think the Glove is gonna be on ice for a while. Due to the lack of attention.

Interviewer : It sounds like an after midnight group.

Robert : It was very after midnight, yeah.

Interviewer : You just have completed a trilogy of what I've heard refers to a fantasy singles with The Lovecats... Where did that ever come from ?

Robert : The idea behind it, doing something a bit more jazzy, was there over a year ago. I sort of had the notion I'd like to do something completely off the wall. Something noone would expect the Cure to do. And after the Walk, a sort of partial success in England, we wanted to finish off the three singles even though we were a bit reluctant because we didn't want to do a follow-up single. Which is what it would have seemed like, had we done anything like The Walk. So we just started to play in America this time around, in August I think, and we did a festival in France. We stayed in France, we went to Paris, used Polydor's studio there, booked in for five days. It was very light-hearted. It sounds quite amazing for us but it turned out how I wanted to. It's pretty much a one-off single.

Interviewer : You've been working with Steve Severin on and off for probably years now, finally doing a project that you said wasn't given maybe the proper attention, the Glove. When I got the album I expected... Who is Landray ?

Robert : She's a girl we've known for quite a few years. Her profession is a dancer, sounds pretty dubious but it's true. She actually choreographes a lot of people who have dances in videos, a lot of pop videos. She did the Slowdive video with the Banshees... We auditioned for at least two months. We wanted a girl to sing for lots of reasons, not only sexist reasons I suppose, that would be creepy. We wanted someone to shout at, that was another criteria we had to fill... We auditioned these girls, we did a few boys as well but the logic behind it was : if there's any tracks a boy would sing on, I was going to sing them. As we didn't really want another boy singer, we wanted someone with a very different voice.

We just couldn't find the right person and in the end, Jeanette -Landray is her surname and her stage name- who never sang before, just came along one day when we were just sitting there pulling our hair out and said : "let me have a go"... Maybe not the ideal voice for all the songs but there was a certain quality about her voice. In fact it was almost unfortunate 'cause her voice got much better as we rehearsed the songs through. She started to sound like Marianne Faithfull, something very crocky. She actually developped a singing voice in the course of the record and demanded that she re-did the ones that sounded all crocky. In a way, I almost prefer the original versions.

Interviewer : One of the songs that was very odd to me was Sex-Eye Make Up.

Robert : Musically the whole album is just between the two of us. Sometimes one of us would get the basic idea and the other would elaborate or the other way around. Lyrically the album was split right down the middle, we wrote words and we did one together which is Punish Me With Kisses.

Interviewer : On the album you're using instruments that aren't associated with the Cure : violin, piano... Did you feel confined by the Cure's image ?

Robert : Not really. It wasn't as conscious as that. When we were going to the studio, we were working from about 11pm to 5 or 6am, mainly 'cause we work better at night anyway. You get more of that sort of eerie feeling in what you do. We decided right from the start not to use conventional instruments. For Severin, not to walk into the studio with a bass guitar on his neck and me, not walking with a guitar on my neck. So we just really phoned all the hiring places in London hiding a lot of instruments... We just picked instruments by name, we had no idea what they did. Mystical sounding names and that. They turned out to be small wooden boxes and sounded really awful but... A lot of them were quite good like kotos and things like that.

Then Anne and Ginny, who were part of Marc Almond's set up, just came along one night, 'cause they were interested in what we were doing and ended up playing on three or four of the tracks. And the same as we started to work on the album, we were using a small Roland CR-78 drum machine and we had it mic'ed from ten different places in the studio or going through funny speakers and resonate in pianos and stuff like that. And then in the end, we decided the album needed some kind of pulse to it, so we got Andy who recently played with the Cure in America this time around. We got him to come and do the drums. So it ended up with quite a few people involved. This other kid, Martin, came and played some cello parts... On certain tracks we were on the brink of being too self indulgent.

Interviewer : Did at any point the album develop into a monster that started getting away from you ? You know, out of control ?

Robert : Yeah. When it gets to that stage, we take a night off and let Nick, the engineer and co-producer do what he wants to.

Interviewer : Sort them out.

Robert : Yeah and he did. I'd have this spectacular guitar venture I've done the night before, in a total haze, that had been erased. And he was like : "I didn't like that"... It was good fun. I mean, it was a very strange way of working.

Interviewer : Any of the tracks really special to you ?

Robert : I like Blues In Drag. I think that's my favorite one. Just a very slow piano piece. I wouldn't like to work like that all the time. It took at least a year off my life.

Interviewer : I've heard when Let's Go To Bed came out that you didn't care for that single in the least ! Was that true ?

Robert : Yeah. 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.

Interviewer : It was quite strange to hear something like Let's Go To Bed, that particular light dance sort of thing after growing up with tunes of yours such as Faith, All Cats Are Grey...

Robert : I think a lot of it came out... It wasn't premantic 'cause obviously if I've had the song anyway I would have considered... I didn't think to myself I'd write a song like this. It was a reaction against, I suppose, being typecast which is something I always loathe the idea of. And I realized another set of records maybe of this nature, like doing the same areas, would have typecast me. Because I mean, with Pornography especially, I explored that particular area of going just a step too far, you know.

Interviewer : Was Pornography a purge period for you ?

Robert : Yeah. That's why the band disintegrated after it. There wasn't really very much else that we could do in that incarnation. Since then it's been a very flexible line-up, I think at least four or five people have played with me and Lawrence. But we're now lining up some live dates for next April/May which will probably have more of a settled line-up although I have no idea who (laughs). It depends who's drifting to the studio in the next two weeks.

Interviewer : What have you been doing with the Banshees ?

Robert : All this year, I 've been playing with them in places like Israel, Italy...

Interviewer : They've just got their new live album out this week, Nocturne. Are you on that ?

Robert : Yeah. That was recorded at the Albert Hall five weeks ago now. This year, we've been going in the studios, finishing off... So far Dear Prudence has come out as another EP with some old Banshees songs re-done with strings and re-arranged. And there's the live album... We've made a film for Channel 4 and all four Banshees wear blonde wigs and dresses and it's a half hour short. There's a video cassette of the Albert Hall's concert because it was all filmed as well. Then there's the new studio album which is virtually complete apart from one song which I'm gonna finish tonight, the guitar in it, which hasn't got a title yet. But it's due for, I don't know, a February release.

Interviewer : Any of the songs really stick out at this point ?

Robert : All of them do. It's a really weird Banshees album. Because I'm playing, it's got a lot more keyboards, a lot more diverse instrumentation on it than any previous Banshees album. There's a lot of funny things. Sitars and...

Interviewer : I thought the last one was pretty diverse...

Robert : Yeah but it's even more. I think the Banshees aimed to go to America now as I'm sitting here. But I wanted to do the Cure album in December.

Interviewer : So there's a new Cure album on the way.

Robert : Yeah, by Christmas it should be done.

Interviewer : You've got a title yet ?

Robert : Yeah, it's called The Top.

Interviewer : Having fun working on it ?

Robert : I haven't started. I start on Monday.

Interviewer : You've got three weeks or fifteen days, something like that... It's possible for you to work that fast ?

Robert : Yeah. I'm going to the studio with a collection of songs so it's not that difficult... I hope it'll be done by Christmas because I'd like to have a break at Christmas.

Interviewer : You seem to have a very flippant attitude about it.

Robert : It's not really flippant, I'm looking forward to probably more than any other record I've done this year because it will be the first thing I know I'll have control, complete control, I have fascist tendancies that run through me. I know exactly how the vocals are gonna sound like, I know the content of the songs and I know how I want the whole thing to sound so it's good. Part of it will be trying to achieve that particular sound I can hear but it's always a good challenge. I suppose I won't finish it by Christmas because it always takes longer... I think everything will be recorded by Christmas but I pretty much doubt it will be mixed by Christmas. But that's got a definitive release date because the artwork is being done. Just because I want to capture that excitement anyway, rather than leave it. It's been over a year and a half now since the last Cure album. In fact it's going to be two years since we started recording the last Cure album...

Interviewer : There will be a new phase for 1984 for the Cure...

Robert : Yeah, there'll be... a new line-up, more on a permanent basis I think. Andy definitely plays drums. We'll be a five piece when we play live.

Interviewer : Will you be taking another American tour ?

Robert : Yeah, that's being lined up for, will I get it right, end of May. We're doing ten dates or something which for us is mega...

Interviewer : I want to encourage you to come down South.

Robert : We are going to Texas this time. I don't know if we're playing Houston or Austin. Not Dallas, I don't think.

Interviewer : Come on... Have you heard anybody coming up, any new talent that's really deserving ?

Robert : No. The only people I've really heard are the people I've been aware of anyway. That's another thing... Because of the time I get for myself, I tend to involve myself in other areas. Normal things like reading books, watching films, rather than going to see other groups because I think I'd probably overdose popular music. Most of the music I'm listening to now, whenever I'm travelling, whenever I'm home are the classical things like Frank Sinatra and stuff like that (laughs). It's more refreshing.

Interviewer : Is there one song that we can close this out with ? Your favorite at the moment ?

Robert : I think still... Probably my favorite Cure song is A Hundred Years.


BROADCAST HISTORY

00.12.1983 - Unknown Radio (USA)