The crack up

Name checked by alt-rock upstarts like Hot Hot Heat and The Rapture, The Cure are suddenly hip again. Alexis Petridis delves into their mid 80’s Goth swathed glory days – LSD lunacy, beer can sculpture, existential despair, and, of course, smudged lipstick. “I thought we should be making Mahler symphonies, not pop music,” reasons Robert Smith.


In June 1982, The Cure played a gig at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels. It was the final date of the Pornography tour, a spectacularly ill-tempered and unpleasant jaunt around Europe in support of a bleak, difficult album, their fourth. They tended to take the stage with lipstick smeared around their eyes and mouths. As they sweated under the lights, the lipstick would melt and run, making it look, as singer Robert Smith put it “like we’d been smacked in the face.” It was meant to symbolise the violence of the new songs – hulking discordant distorted and grim – but violence of a rather more tangible kind had blighted the tour from the start. Depressed and frustrated, The Cure fought. Sometimes they fought with the audience, Smith and bassist Simon Gallup leaping from the stage mid-set to attack mouthy punters. Sometimes they fought with biker gangs or recalcitrant staff in Continental nightclubs – Smith, whose ability to last out was in no way matched by his physical prowess, had been on the receiving end of a couple of beatings. And sometimes, they fought with each other. An argument about a bar bill in a Belgian club has ended with Smith and Gallup, once best friends, rolling around on the floor, exchanging drunken punches. In the aftermath, both had quit the band and flown back to England, only to return a few days later to complete the tour.

By the time they reached the Ancienne Belgique, the atmosphere between Gallup and Smith had become murderous. Backstage, Smith refused to sing, insisting that he was going to play the drums. Gallup elected to play guitar, drummer Lol Tolhurst played bass. The ensuing racket was further enlivened by a roadie called Gary Biddles, who staggered on stage, grabbed the mic, and began shouting about what a cunt Robert Smith was. Another fight ensued. While Smith and Biddles and Gallup punched it out, and the audience whistled and booed, the hapless Tolhurst dutifully kept playing the bass.

And that, as far as all were concerned, was the end of The Cure, a minor new wave band with a gloomy demeanour and one modest hit single to their name.

Twenty-one years later, Robert Smith sits on a sofa in south London’s Olympic Studios. He is friendly and charming, if slightly disconcerted by the effort of “pretending to remember what happened” to The Cure in the early 80’s, a period which saw them transformed from post-punk underdogs to the biggest alt rock band in the world.

As has often been remarked, Smith offers an intriguing combination of enigmatic charisma and blokey earthliness. Today he is wearing black eyeliner and a smudge of red lipstick, but he’s also sporting some chunky, distinctly geezerish sliver jewellery. Slightly chubby, face partly obscured by tendrils of black hair, he looks not unlike a Goth taxi driver. His conversational references shift from Gustav Mahler to Stuart Pearce, whose autobiography, Psycho, is apparently a Smith favourite.

After a decade of declining sales and critical opprobrium, fashion has recently, once again, turned in The Cure’s favour. Virtually every hip American band, from Hot Hot Heat to The Rapture, bears The Cure’s influence in their spindly guitar lines and atonal vocals. More bizarrely, their 1982 album, Pornography has become a kind of set text for such outré metal bands as The Deftones. The next Cure album is to be produced by nu-metal mogul, Ross Robinson: “These days,” smiles Smith, “I’m in a position where I don’t have to do anything I don’t feel like doing.”


It was not ever thus. According to Robert Smith, life as a member of The Cure in 1981 was far from a barrel of laughs. A year before, the band had been on an upward curve. They had successfully engineered a shift in style, from the Buzzcocks influenced pop of their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, to something darker, more mysterious and in keeping with the post punk climate of ominous introspection on 1980’s Seventeen Seconds. It had paid commercial dividends: the album had been a hit around Europe and New Zealand. They had even been on Top of the Pops, performing A Forest, a top 40 hit in April. But sessions for the follow up, Faith, had been strained, and the accompanying tour despondent. The music was too sombre and glacial, even for the overcoat clad Cure audience. Their attempt to score a second hit single, the synthesizer heavy Charlotte Sometimes, flopped. Lol Tolhurst’s mother had died in the middle of the tour. The band’s partying had taken on a hint of desperation, exacerbated by the presence on the tour of Siouxsie and the Banshees bassist, Steve Severin, who was performing with support act Lydia Lunch. Severin had introduced Smith to LSD, and was now doing his best to stir up chaos in The Cure. “I used to either steal Lol’s drinks or spike them when he was playing” he chuckles. “I was always asking Robert to disband The Cure and join the Banshees. I was definitely sowing the seeds of discontent.”

“By the end of the tour, we weren’t in the best of health mentally,” says Smith. “Night after night playing those songs. Most nights after the show were pretty demented as a response to what we were doing musically. I was in a really depressed frame of mind between 1981 and 1982, and I was taking an awful lot of drugs, anything and everything. We all were. It was all right, because we were young enough to cope with it, but inevitably, it sent your mental equilibrium awry. Looking back, I was really disappointed with what we were doing. I thought we should be going somewhere else, not in success terms, but I thought we should be making music that was on a par with Mahler symphonies, not pop music. I was completely fed up with what the! group was, in every way. I thought we were going down hill. I just felt I was not doing what I wanted to do, your classic early twenties crisis.”

After the tour, an abortive series of recording sessions with producer Phil Thornalley did little to lift Smith’s gloom. Fleeing the studio for the unlikely environs of a windmill in Guilford, he spent a weekend writing new songs with a stream-of-consciousness lyrics. He resolved to make one final effort with The Cure, before accepting Severin’s invitation to join the Banshees. “When we came to do Pornography, I really thought that was it for the group. I had every intention of signing off. I wanted to make the ultimate fuck-off record, then The Cure would stop. Whatever I did next, I would have achieved one lasting thing with the band. So Pornography, from the moment we started it, we knew that was it.”

The sessions were tense and ill-tempered, a situation exacerbated by alcohol and LSD and by The Cure’s decision to save money, by sleeping in the central London offices of their record label, Fiction.


“It was like Groundhog Day,” groans Smith. “You knew what you were going to be doing, what drugs you were going to take, you knew how you were going to feel the following morning. It just became a sort of bizarre routine. At the time, I lost every friend I had, everyone, without exception, because I was incredibly obnoxious, appalling, self-centred. I was obsessed by the idea of making a really great album. The tension in the studio was palpable, really. It was dismal. In a strange way, it was sort of fun to do because it was so bad.”

“Kim Wilde was in the next studio,” remembers Tolhurst. “She would come in at a normal time, about midday, leave at eight. We’d turn up at eight, and leave at midday, we’d meet her on the way out, looking fairly deranged, I would imagine. We had an arrangement with the off-licence up the road, every night they would bring in supplies. We decided we weren’t going to throw anything out. We built this mountain of empties in the corner, a gigantic pile of debris in the corner. It just grew and grew. I’ve still got a photo of it.”

The music they made in the studio was startling. In the past, The Cure had seemed unable to entirely transcend their influences and origins. The spectre of Ian Curtis hung over Seventeen Seconds and Faith, yet no matter how thickly The Cure piled on the frosty synthesizers, elegiac melodies and existential despair, they always ended up sounding slightly tinny and suburban, precisely the sort of records you would expect Joy Division fans from Crawley to make. By contrast, Pornography really did not sound like anything else. It was dense and foreboding noise, swathed in cavernous reverb, powered by thundering drums and featuring what may be the most disheartening opening line in rock: “Doesn’t matter if we all die,! ” wailed Smith on One Hundred Years. Often, the album wasn’t as cheerful as that. The lyrics were filled with fragmentary, acid-induced images: birds falling from the sky, freshly squashed flies, objects falling out of people’s mouths. It sounded like a band hurtling towards a brick wall at high speed.

Pornography was The Cure’s most successful album to date, reaching number 9 in May of 1982: a fairly remarkable feat, given its contents. Bewilderingly, Smith was not only convinced the album was an artistic failure, but a commercial disaster to boot: “I didn’t think I’d made that good an album. We thought it was all right, but not that good. No one liked us. From Faith to Pornography, we didn’t seem to move up at all. We’d been on TOTP with A Forest and Hanging Garden went nowhere. Nothing got played on the radio. It wasn’t released in America for ages. It wasn’t like we were aiming of that kind of success, but it was a barometer. No one was into it.”


Smith’s mood boded rather badly for the forthcoming tour. In addition, his relationship with bassist Simon Gallup was deteriorating. “There was always a slight kind of tension, because I was getting more attention than him,” says Smith. “After the Faith album, there was obviously a conscious decision by Fiction to push me a little bit more. Simon took it very badly, and had a couple of people who were poisoning his ear, really. The shows we played were mayhem. Me and Simon would jump into the audience and fight people. It was so out of character. Looking back, I must have been pretty seriously disturbed. I don’t even remember it very well. I used to be in a rage before I even went on-stage. It wasn’t even people not receiving ! the music. I was angry at everything. Rather than thinking, We should take a break, we’ve been around each other for much too long, we just carried on with it to it’s logical conclusion.”

The tour lurched grimly into Europe, where tensions finally erupted in a Strasbourg nightclub. “I was off talking to the support band, and all of a sudden, there was this almighty commotion at the bar,” Tolhurst remembers. “Robert and Simon had got into it somehow, then they disappeared. I thought, oh well, you know, I’ll carry on here talking to the band, then went back to the hotel. The next day, I found out that Robert and Simon had both gone back to England.”

“Even on the way back home from Gatwick,” chuckles Smith “I knew what my dad was going to say – get right back out on that tour! People have bought tickets! Sure enough, he did. So we cancelled one show, I rang someone at Fiction and said, I’m going back out on tour, ring Simon and tell him. The final night of the tour in Brussels was extraordinary. I thought, I’m not going through this pantomime, because I knew it was going to kick off, I knew it was the last chance we had to make this memorable in the worst possible way. I’d never played the drums in public at all, I don’t even think Lol knew which way up a bass went. We just launched into feedback and noise and this roadie started screaming obscenities abo ut me down the mike. We started having a ruck on stage, there was a kind of mini riot in the audience, and we went home.”

“I remember sitting in the dressing room thinking, Oh well, that’s the end of the band, then,” says Tolhurst. “I went off to France for a bit. I guess I ran away. Escaping from the reality of The Cure.”


Back in England, Smith went on a month’s camping holiday to the Lake District to “clean up – I only drank beer” and consider his options. He’d accepted Severin’s offer to join the Banshees, then a much bigger band than The Cure, but had written some new songs, one of which was completely different from anything The Cure had attempted before, a blatantly commercial attempt to get on the radio. “When I wrote Let’s Go To Bed, I thought it was stupid. It’s rubbish, it’s a joke. All pop songs are basically saying ‘please go to bed with me.’ So I’m going to make it as blatant as possible, set it to this cheesy synth riff – everything I hated about music at that time. It was junk. Lol and I recorded it, Fiction put it out, and suddenly we’re getting 15 plays a day on American radio. Sod’s law, isn’t it?”

Smith was faced with the choice between satisfying his urge to play ‘serious music’ as the Banshees’ guitarist and fronting the new, pop-orientated Cure, about whom he’d become “more pragmatic. I though, I can make a living out of this if I play my cards right.” Much to the fury of Fiction, who were keen to capitalise on the unexpected success of Let’s Go To Bed, Smith elected to do both, recording another decidedly ‘pop’ single, The Walk, with Tolhurst, and working on the Banshees’ album Hyena. Severin’s delight that he’d finally got his way was tempered by the dawning realisation that the arrangement was untenable: “The pressure from the record label was immense. They were always waiting in the wings like vultures. It was like, ‘If we don’t give Robert something to do with the Banshees, he’ll be off doing something with The Cure, so lets think of something: a rehearsal, a festival, a photo-shoot, anything to keep him away from Fiction. We certainly weren’t going to play second fiddle to The Cure. We came first. The Cure has just had a hit as we started Hyena, and suddenly, he’s being dragged all over the place to do promotion for The Walk. It was a bit annoying that he put us in the situation where he was hardly ever there.”

Still, after finishing Hyena, Smith and Severin decided to embark on another project, a psychedelic album with vocalist Jeanette Landray, under the name, The Glove, a title stolen from a character in The Beatles’ 1968 full-length cartoon feature, Yellow Submarine. Even by Cure standards, the sessions for Blue Sunshine were indulgent. “It was a fantastic time, that Glove album,” remembers Smith. “Acid made me feel very connected to Severin. We used to walk around London, living in this Yellow Submarine cartoon world. It was really upbeat and fun, because I’d got rid of all the bad stuff with Pornography. When you’re taking acid with someone you really like, then it’s really, really funny.”

“The sessions were pretty insane,” says Severin. “I don’t think we actually took any acid while we were making it, but there was an on-going party in Britannia Row studios. Marc Almond’s band would be there, The Associates…it was like a train station. We were recording from 6pm till 6am. We’d go back home and unwind by watching video nasties. It went on and on, day after day.”

While Smith was expanding his consciousness, The Cure had become a successful pop band almost by mistake. Despite baring an alarming, but apparently accidental resemblance to New Order’s Blue Monday (“plenty of people have ripped us odd,” remarked a truculent Peter Hook, “but The Cure really take the piss sometimes”), The Walk has been a top 20 hit in Britain. Desperate for a band to promote it, Smith and Tolhurst first enlisted a drummer, Andy Anderson, a friend of Killing Joke producer Youth, then returned to the unlikely figure of Phil Thornalley, the in-house engineer at Mickie Most’s RAK studios, who had last been seen during the making of Pornography. Smith claims that Thornalley was so traumatis ed by the Pornography ! experience that he was forced to plead with him to join the band: “I said, Honestly Phil, I’ve changed. It’s going to be really nice from now on, I promise. It’s going to be like a little holiday.” Thornalley, these days a vastly successful song writer-for-hire whose clients include Natalie Imbruglia, Bryan Adams and Mel C, disputes this. “I don’t remember Pornography being a difficult session at all, I don’t really remember any big arguments. Robert said they were looking for a bass player, I’d been a bass player since I was 14. I said I’d do it, thought it was a bit of a challenge. I guess my ego was titillated by playing in a rock and roll band, not doing pub venues, but straight into something with a fan base.”

Quite aside from the shift from cavernous, doom-mongering to synthesized pop, there was another important factor in The Cure’s rise. Around the time of Let’s Go To Bed, Smith had been introduced to video director, Tim Pope via is management, a maverick at a time when most rock videos consisted of straightforward performance shorts or ‘pretend’ feature films. Pope had barley heard of The Cure, so knew nothing of their history as a gloomy overcoat band. When he listened to Let’s Go To Bed and The Walk, he didn’t hear a minor post-punk band attempting to go pop, but “this dreamlike, imaginary word, full of nightmares, like a child’s perception of the world, very English.” He tried to express this in a series of videos for the band. “Something in my fetid imagination just fitted in with Robert’s fetid imagination,” he says. “For the Let’s Go To Bed video, he was very, very shy. I don’t know whether the videos brought him out of his shell, I just think I happened to be around at a time when he wanted to come out of his shell. To be honest with you, I haven’t a clue. We always used to pretend we understood what each other was saying, but I don’t think either of us had a fucking clue.”

Before Pope’s arrival, The Cure’s image had been deliberately low profile. On album sleeves, their photographs had been blurred, or non-existent – on the cover of their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, the band members were represented by pictures of mundane household appliances. Their videos were either hopelessly over produced new romantic pseudo epics in which the band rarely featured, or boring beyond belief. Pope changed all that. The band who had skulked around giving meaningful glances to the camera for The Hanging Garden, were to be found splashing around in a paddling pool for The Walk, or dresses in oversized animal costumes miming trumpets for it’s follow up, The Lovecats.


In addition, Smith’s personal image had undergone something of an overhaul. The bleeding-eyes look was out. In its place came the style that eventually launched a thousand sixth form copyists: a mess of spiked hair and poorly applied lipstick. Steve Severin is quick to note Smith’s resemblance to male version of Siouxsie Sioux. “He was definitely influenced by Siouxsie. You only have to look at him before and after the Banshees to see that. I have one version of where the lipstick came from. We all went to a club in the West End called Legends. I don’t know if it was opium or LSD, but something was added to the blend. He borrowed Siouxsie’s lipstick, went to the toilet and when he came back he had the trademark wonky lipstick on. And that was it, forever on.”

Recorded in Paris with Thornalley and Anderson, The Lovecats was The Cure’s biggest hit to date. It remains their best know song, a student disco staple, its combination of goonish double bass lines, camply cartoonish lyrics and a radio friendly pop chorus, utterly unrecognisable as the same band who had made Pornography. It reached number 12 in November 1983, but by then, Smith’s packed schedule and hallucinogenic diet had caught up with him. “I ended up having a kind of breakdown,” Smith remembers. “I was just physically exhausted. I used to do the Banshees album at Eel Pie in Richmond, then travel out to Genetic Studios in Reading in a taxi. We were all staying in a pub, so I’d meet up with the othe rs, who were all a bit pi! ssed by then. I’d have a few drinks then go into the studio. We’d start recording at 2am. Andy would make a pot of magic mushroom tea. Then I’d go back to Eel Pie. I used to sleep in the taxi, so I’d have about 4 hours’ sleep a day. I did that for about six weeks. I kept going till the end of 1983, then fell apart. It was like the vengeance of God, my skin started ripping apart, falling off. It was almost as though my body was saying, Well, if you refuse to stop, I will stop you. I had everything you can imagine going wrong with me. It was blood poisoning, but my body couldn’t cope. I thought you could manage without sleep in those days. I picked myself up and went on to do The Top.”

More influenced by Smith’s experiments with Steve Severin than the chart-storming Lovecats, The Top was a peculiarly obtuse album. The charming single The Caterpillar aside, it was packed with droning psychedelia, bound to scare off the kids drawn in by The Cure’s recent pop success, “A really self indulgent album,” admits Smith. “A reaction against Lovecats in a way. I had to get it out of my system, but there are songs on there that were really pointing the way to what I wanted to do. Shake Dog Shake I really like, really heavy, full on, the first heavy thing since One Hundred Years – more a group song, everyone was contributing to it, everyone was playing on it.”

The subsequent UK tour was a happy affair, documented on the live album, Concert. When the band reached Europe, however, the atmosphere changed. Thornalley was the first to leave. “I didn’t really like touring. It was good to have that experience, but it wasn’t for me. The debauchery didn’t really appeal. I’m one of those people who’s never really been able to take their drink. I was totally in the wrong band.”

But his departure was overshadowed by the increasingly erratic behaviour of Andy Anderson. “People said to us, Oh, you should get Andy, he’s a really good drummer, but nobody told us that if we went on the road with him for too long, he went crazy,” says Tolhurst. “People who had worked with him before afterwards told us, ‘Oh yeah, did he go mental?’ Oh thanks.”

Smith thinks there were deeper reasons behind Anderson’s sudden decline than mere tour madness. “There was definitely some issues with racism. We were sort of oblivious to it, but when we went to places like Japan, you’d notice things, people’s attitudes, how difficult it was for him to get served in clubs. I think it really got to him, it made him frustrated and angry and his behaviour changed as a result.”

First, Anderson was arrested in Nice. “We came back late at night to our very nice hotel,” says Tolhurst. “He was walking down the corridor with a boombox on his shoulder, mirror shades on and paramilitary gear. The hotel security challenged him, he told them he was staying there, went to get his key out of his pocket. The security guy
thought he was going to do something else and maced him. Andy went berserk, chased this guy down the corridor, started banging on the door that he thought this guy had disappeared into. Unfortunately, behind the door was the mayor of Nice’s daughter. She was woken up at three in the morning by Andy banging on the door threatening to kill someone. I woke up the next day, and the guy from Polydor said ‘Oh, you know Andy? He’s in jail.’”

Anderson was released without charge on condition that The Cure left town. When the tour reached Tokyo, there was another incident at the hotel. The Cure were staying on a floor sealed off from other guests by the security guards. Anderson became embroiled in a fight with one of them, but this time, Anderson was fired from The Cure. The tour finished in some disarray, with Vince Ely from The Psychedelic Furs on drums. Back in England, Smith presented Siouxsie and the Banshees with a doctor’s note. He was in no condition to play on their forthcoming tour. “I realised if I went on the road with them, something serious was going to happen to me, so I went to the doctor’s. It was my family doctor, I’d know him si nce I was young. When I w! alked through the door, his face just fell. He said ‘Whatever it is your doing, you have to stop.’ I had another little break and during that period, I thought, No, what I really want to do is The Cure.”

With Boris Williams now on drums, long time Cure associate Porl Thompson on guitars and keyboards and Simon Gallup back in the band, The Cure began to work on their seventh album. It was to be as different from the psychedelic indulgences of The Top as Let’s Go To Bed had been from Pornography. “When we made The Head On The Door, I just knew instinctively that we were making what was going to be popular music,” says Smith. “The sound was really vibrant, the band was really good. It was so easy, the recording sessions, everything happened first take, it was a joy to make the record, and I thought, This is going to start something.”

“I wanted us to take a step up in visibility, I was looking for a bigger audience. It wasn’t to do with being well known, I wanted more people to hear us. I thought we were in danger of disappearing a bit – I had been involved in lots of interesting things like the preceding 12 or 18 months, things like [Siouxsie and the Banshees’ single] Dear
Prudence, which was a really big hit. I’d tasted that glamour, I suppose. I wanted to make an album that was vibrant, like an old Beatles record, that would just have be listened to, would have to be played on the radio because they were so vibrant and so lively.”

His instincts proved correct. Released in the summer of 1985, The Head On The Door was The Cure’s breakthrough album, a cunning splice of their pop nous with the more sombre tones of Sinking and Kyoto Song. It made them the world’s pre-eminent alternative rock band: accessible enough to win over radio and propel Smith into the pages of Smash Hits, peculiar enough to maintain a mystique and a loyal cult fan base. It spawned two hit singles, Inbetween Days and Close To Me, both with remarkable Tim Pope videos. In the first, the band appeared to be menaced by a squadron of animated fluorescent socks: “Robert’s brief was to make it look fresh and vivacious. They were supposed to be a kind of blurry colour effect, but when we got t! he video back, the looked exactly like socks. Robert was really pissed off.” But it’s the video for Close To Me that everyone remembers: The Cure crammed into a wardrobe that was pushed off Beachy Head, the band singing as the wardrobe slowly filled with water. Pope admits that despite a subsequent career as an in-demand director of both TV commercials and Hollywood movies, it’s “the wardrobe video” he’ll be remembered for. “Wherever I go, someone mentions it. I just remember this tiny wardrobe with lights trained on it in the middle of this massive studio, and the unwise choice of food at lunchtime, curry. The afternoon was deeply unpleasant. Lol’s bowels were a problem in a very confined space.”

In fact, Tolhurst himself had become a problem. His indulgences, according to Smith, has caused problems as far back as The Walk, when he had switched from playing drums to keyboards: “We bought an Emulator sampler, £8,000. I said to Lol, This will be your instrument, I’ll come back to you in three months and you will be able to show me things I’ve never heard before. Three months later I came back to discover that he had spent the entire time taking coke and looking at the Emulator. He didn’t even know how to turn it on.”

By The Head On The Door, The Cure’s only other original member had a drink problem so serious that even Smith, who told a magazine in 1985 he got drunk every night that year, had begun to worry. “He became an alcoholic, basically, a real alcoholic. I was just dilly-dallying compared to Lol. He was drinking half a bottle of
spirits a day. When we were recording The Head On The Door, we used to carry Lol out, put him in a taxi at about eight o’clock – we’d barely even started recording. It was sad, I got really angry at him. He never caught up with the technology. When we did The Head On The Door, we had to get someone in to work the Emulator. So Lol would be sitting there getting pissed while someone else did his job.”


“I remember thinking, I know there’s something going wrong here, but I wasn’t aware enough to decide what the problem was. I just thought, Well, I’ll carry on drinking,” says Tolhurst, who has been sober since the early 90’s. “I’d sit in the studio getting very upset at myself for not being able to play something or think of a good idea, which I’d always been able to do before. My mind was in such disarray because I couldn’t do that. Unfortunately, as I now know, the most likely thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to use that as an excuse to drink some more. By the time we got to The Head On The Door, it was not funny any more.”

Tolhurst’s problems continued throughout The Cure’s most successful years. He was sacked in 1990. He later took Smith to court for a greater slice of Cure royalties. It was, most observers felt, a vicious battle. Tolhurst lost. After much mutual mud-slinging, the pair have been reconciled after a meeting in California, where Tolhurst now lives, performing with a new band, Levinhurst. Nevertheless, there’s still a hint of animosity in Smith’s voice whenever the court case is mentioned. “Nothing came out in the court case,” he says. “I could have won if I’d been Lol’s lawyer. Just the fucking mental cruelty that went on towards him. He was so out of it for so much of time that he couldn’t remember.”

As he drains the last of his lager, Robert Smith, 43, offers a final thought. Contrary to appearances, he says, he isn’t much different now to the 21-year-old thumping his band mates on stage at the Ancienne Belgique. “I still get very agitated about the same things that I did when I was 21. I just don’t let it ruin my life. You’d be very stupid to be in your forties and still living the same life. Or you’d be dead. If I’d attempted to live my life the way I did in 1982 and 1983, I’d have ended up killing myself.” He pauses, as if considering the wisdom of his words. He chuckles. “Still, you’re going to end up dying anyway. And, you know, it doesn’t matter if we all die.”

© Mojo Magazine



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