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The Cure comes back with Curiosa Festival
By Andy Argyrakis
From the pages of the Daily Journal

With twenty-five years under its belt and twenty seven million albums to show for it, The Cure could've very easily walked away at the top or ventured into other projects. After all, remaining relevant hasn't exactly easy, nor has dodging the music industry's dimness, which currently includes record label mergers, cutbacks, and product piracy. And though front man Robert Smith has frequently hinted at solo work and already participated in recent collaborations outside of the band with Blink-182 and Tweaker, the gang's remained in the ballgame thanks to a brand new record deal with Geffen. That move has also produced a progressive new self-titled project (even in Cure contexts) and is being supported by one of this summer's only surviving festivals called Curiosa (also featuring The Rapture, Interpol, Muse and Melissa Auf Der Maur). Group members Simon Gallup (bass) and Roger O'Donnell (keys) checked in with the Daily Journal from their Washington D.C. hotel to talk about the two-stage extravaganza and share why The Cure isn't calling it quits.

What has been the reaction so far on the Curiosa tour?

Gallup: It's been pretty good touring with it, but at the moment, it's been a bit strenuous and that's only because people are just getting used to the newer material. Like we'll play the new song "Before Three" and Robert and I will put a lot of effort into it, but we'll get a silent reaction because people don't know what to make of it. Still, it's been nice because as we do more dates, people are holding up banners with requests for new songs, so I know that they're at least getting into them. When you're touring with so many bands, time is limited on stage, so you've got to throw in old songs and new.

I'd imagine it's pretty challenging narrowing down the set list because there's been so much to come from your pop side, your goth side and the new album's experimentation.

Gallup: The set list is very difficult because there are two ways, actually three sides of looking at it. There's the pop element, the darker element and then there's those who go into the show pretending like they only like the dark, but actually like both. Robert and I have deep discussions- I like more aggressive and he leans towards pop- so consequently doing the list night after night is about keeping it fresh. The back catalogue is so vast that there's a lot to mix and match and we seem to know when it's best to leave something out.

What type of dimension has the festival experience added to how The Cure operates?

Gallup: It's brought what we do full circle because we're seeing a lot of bands on the bill that have cited us an influence. We've always done what we wanted to do and some people call that stubbornness or thought we weren't pliable enough, but even when we were out of fashion, we still carried on. That can be either a good thing or a bad thing and sure we misfired, but the sound is coming around again and the atmosphere between us and the other acts is absolutely suburb. I think everybody was a bit trepidatious at first, but egos have been put a side and we'll all go out and watch other artist's sets, which really gets you in the mood to play.

How has the self-titled disc stepped up a notch from the last record Bloodflowers, which wasn't received as warmly from a commercial perspective in the States?

O'Donnell: The main difference is that I really, in a lot of ways, see Bloodflowers as being a Robert solo album. We played on it, but it was a very protracted and isolated project with everybody doing parts on their own. On this record, we fulfilled the dream of playing live and working with each other, which of course still had some overdubs when going back, but was a much more involved experience.

Why hasn't Robert stepped out for a solo project like it's been hinted at for so long?

Gallup: The thing is that it's very difficult for me to answer, but as I sort of talked to Robert, I get the feeling he likes the idea of solo record in a way, but doesn't ever really want to do it. He'd never tour I don't think because he likes the idea of being in a band, even though he's focal point. He likes the group mentality, especially on the road when it's the five of us all doing the input.

Has sticking together for so long afforded the group liberty or restrictions?

O'Donnell: We're an institution and Cure musicianship has evolved, but I think it's more limiting than anything else after all these years, especially with shows. People come expecting to hear certain songs and that's somewhat restricting. As far as albums, if Robert really wanted, he could do what he wanted and we'll still sell to a certain amount of people.

What would be the band's ultimate dream in terms of breaking beyond expectations?

O'Donnell: I'd like us go into the studio as group and make a very experimental and very different album. It would be one without caring about who will listen to it or how it will sell, just a very honest album.

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