Man of a thousand faces


He’s fat! He’s thin! He’s a genius! He’s an idiot! He’s off his rocker! He’s Mr. Sensible! Cure singer Robert Smith has heard it all, but is he as schizo as those funny journalist people like to think? David Giles goes to see Robert armed with his old press cuttings to find out.


“Sort of delirious”

“That’s true from time to time – it’s true of everyone from time to time. I don’t think I’m as delirious now as I was when that was written, about 1983/84. I’m much calmer now… I just wanted to see howe excessive I could be. I don’t regret it now, but it could have been dumb if I’d fallen out of a window!”


“A libidinous, drug-headed weasel”

“I think I know who wrote that – it was horrible girl who did the Face interview. Obviously written by someone who didn’t know me, had never spolen to me. None of the above adjectives apply to me at all – except ‘headed’!”


“Mad Bob/No more Mad Bob”

“That was the Melody Maker… I suppose that bunch were taken into confidence at a certain time when we were delirious; I suppose they thought that we would be like that all the time… it was just another way of interpreting my actions, I suppose. I was quietly irrational for a couple of years, and I suppose if people got near to me they’d have thought some of my actions were a little peculiar. Sometimes I don’t recognise the sort of person I was then – I wasn’t a very nice person then, wasn’t very entertaining to be around.”


“Just to damned effete to live”

“Yeah, that was David Hepworth… he said I had a handshake like a wet kipper! It’s all fabricated, because I’ve got a body temperature of 100 degrees – I don’t know how I could ever feel like a wet kipper! No, I wasn’t effete – that was a long time ago, and it was just because I was wearing this green check suit and I was emaciated then.

“He said that because I was drinking Perrier water when he met me – it was about 1pm and I was only 19! We’d just met at the preview of Quadrophoenia and I got into a fight with that horrible kid out of Secret Affair (70s mod band) – Ian Page. He was a tosser!”


“His mind a constant whirl of activity”

“Unfortunately that’s true – it gets in my way now. It never used to, I can remember being very tranquil, able to lie down somewhere and vaporise clouds, but I’ve become hyperactive. I’m sure you can contract it…”


“The thinking teen’s pin-up”

“Er, there’s no such thing as a ‘thinking teen’… it must mean someone who sits with the curtains closed – they’d have to have the curtains closed if they had me as a pin-up! I got sent a very bitter photo by someone – one of the people that I’d been corresponding for a long time – and she was tearing all the pictures of the Cure down. She was having a cathartic (No, we don’t know what the pretentious drip is on about either, but it says in our dictionary that cathartic means ‘purifying experience’, – Ed) experience she said, and had realised that cirrhosis of the liver wasn’t what she wanted – and she had a picture of ‘Before and After’. It was really sad to see remnants of my cheecks and bits of my hair on the wall…”



“Yeah, to some people in the past I’ve been haunting – and I’ve been haunted by myself. I’m haunted sometimes in the fear that I’m changing for the worse rather than for the better – I don’t worry about it publicly, I just think about what I’ve done, what I could do, and what I actually am doing, in terms of writing, and living…”


“The messiah of angst”

“The what of angst? Yeah, I suppose in things like ‘Seventeen Seconds’ the lyrics were about fear of existence, but now other people have adopted that particular cross.”



“Um… (Robert hesitates)… I suppose I am. I’m hesitant when I speak, when I do interviews – I’m not when I think. I’m just slow. I would be more hesitant in a situation like this, ‘cos I don’t really know you, and I’m thinking I should say something that’s worthwhile saying. Whereas in normal conversation I’m not hesitant, because 99 per cent of what people talk about is garbage. When I’m hesitant I’m usually thinking about four different choices of what to say, and quite often I don’t say anything, and that’s why people think I’m quiet.”


“Ill, thin and pale”

“Yeah, you see – someone thought I was thin! My body weight fluctuates between stones! I have been ill, thin and pale at times, in the true tradition of being in a pop group.”


“On a fine line between agitation and boredom”

“That’s not true. I can be in an abnormal situation such as an interview. But I never get bored, never. Never in my whole life. I don’t see how you could be bored, when you’ve got everything inside your head. I suppose you could be bored if you had a job that required a degree of concentration, making sure everything went in the right place that it actually excluded thought. I’ve only ever had two jobs, both of them for less that a week. I’m not suited to employment.”



“I could be, but I’m not. I always say what I think to people, about anything. I never feel the need to be devious. I hate that, you meet so many people who say one thing, about someone, and then say another – that’s so hypocritical.”



“I’ve always found it difficult to define eccentricity, because I can’t really accept any kind or normality. If you put me into under-five playgroup I would be very, very boring, but if you put me into the middle of a bank in America, and I was drunk, I would be very eccentric.”



“I’ve never been shy. People always equate ‘quiet’ with ‘shy’. I’ve always been very confident. I would never start a conversation at a bus stop, but that’s not being shy, that’s just not being forward. Not being American.”


“A pretty good midfield player”

“What an insult! A masterfly player! I used to be a left-winger, but as I slowed down I moved into midfield. I play the Glenn Hoddle role in the Cure team.”



“That’s now. I’m a born-again comic.”


“A moggy replete with whiskas”/”An old, comfortable persian cat”

“Yeah, that horrible bloke from the NME wrote those – they’ve got that sanctified air about them. I don’t think I’m like a cat, no more so than anyone else. (Then he suddenly realises that there is a pint of milk on the table in front of him).”


“Fat boy”

“It’s true. But that’s through my love of milk! I am at the moment, but I wasn’t two weeks ago… I stopped drinking because we were doing a video. If I stop drinking for four days I revert back to my fighting days, but I do still tend to drink too much – and it all goes on to my face. I’m really conscious of it, I hate feeling fat ‘cos it just makes you feel uncomfortable. But I’ve never been fat – just podgy.”



“That was written about me, was it?I use that as an expletive quite often in the studio, if something goes exactly as I’d planned it, I see a big balloon saying ‘Brilliant!’ like a Young Ones sort of balloon. If people are going to bandy adjectives like ‘brilliant’ about they may as well apply it to us as much as anyone!”

October 10, 1987

© David Giles & No. 1



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