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
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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