Lol Tolhurst talks to Anthony Strutt about his memoir ‘Cured’ and his long-standing friendship with Robert Smith


Laurence ‘Lol’ Tolhurst’ has written his memoir’ Cured’, which published by Quercus both in the UK and in the States, tells of his years as the drummer and then keyboardist in the Cure and his long-standing friendship with Robert Smith.

In the early 1970s Lol and Robert formed their first band Malice which evolved into Easy Cure, who recorded at least an album’s worth of decent material, which to this day remains officially unreleased but showed that there was immense talent there.

In 1978 they shortened their name to just the Cure, and for the next eleven years, they fought through the tough times of being outsiders and drunk far too much, which left Lol, who developed alcoholism, with blackouts. After they signed a record deal with Polydor offshoot Fiction Records and left their home town of Crawley behind, they slowly crawled their way up until the Cure became one of the biggest bands in the world.

Each chapter of ‘Cured’ goes through every stage in the band’s career as well as describing the history and making of their albums, beginning with their punky debut ‘Three Imaginary Boys’ (1979), and continuing with their more progressive follow-ups, ‘Seventeen Seconds’ (1980) and ‘Faith’ (1981). Lol then goes on to write about ‘Pornography’ (1982), the bleak masterpiece that is his favourite album, followed by the psychedelic-edged ‘The Top’ (1984), its more poppy follow-up ‘The Head on the Door’ (1985). He concludes by describing the band’s first double vinyl album 1987’s ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ and then ‘Disintegration’ from 1989, which saw Lol and the Cure’s relationship break down and his leaving of the band which lead to a long court case, which saw no winners and the destruction of one of Rock’s longest partnerships in the alternative music scene.

Lol and the Cure have now resolved their problems, and the end of the book finds him, having recovered from his alcoholic issues, reuniting with his former bandmates in 2011 to play some dates.

Pennyblackmusic caught up with Lol Tolhurst for a brief chat after an official Q and A at Rough Trade East in London to talk to him about ‘Cured’.


Pennyblackmusic: I have just finished reading ‘Cured’. It isn’t just about the friendship of two of rock’s greatest outsiders, whose vision united the lost and lonely of the world, but it is about one man’s journey into the world and what happened to him. Would you agree?

Laurence Tolhurst: Yes, it’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’, my version of it. I don’t want to be all pompous but that’s what it is absolutely.

PBM: For me the part of ‘Cured’ that hit home the most comes near the end when you are in the desert and you meet this old man from San Francisco who says to you, “Don’t worry, everything will be fine, son.” And from then on that is when your life improved and you got better and the next day you met your future wife, Cindy.

LT: Yeah, I don’t know if you believe in the subtle world, outside of the regular world, but I certainly have had examples of that, and that is an example of that to me.

PBM: Because you really don’t know what’s around the corner?

LT: Right.

PBM: Are you glad you met Cindy when you did and not as a member of the Cure?

LT: Yeah, she’s more glad still that I met her then (Laughs). No, definitely things happen for a reason. I don’t think that I would have met her earlier on. I had been to Los Angeles many, many times before, and I had never met her, so it was the right time. Everything was in season.

PBM: As well, as meeting Cindy, falling in love and getting married, you formed a new band Levinhurst in which Cindy sang and you played drums and keyboards. Did you not fancy giving singing a go yourself?

LT: My singing is kind of like my hand writing. It is best left to other people.

PBM: Did you ever keep diaries while you were growing up?

LT: No, the only thing I ever had like that when I was about ten. It just said, “Went to school, came home, went to school, came home,” and that was about it.

PBM: How long did it take to write the book and research it?

LT: I spent all of 2015 writing it. I decided to do it though in 2013, and started to do the research and get the ideas and to take some of the photographs back then. It took a couple of years basically.

PBM: You met Robert Smith when you were five years old.

LT: Right.

PBM: And you lived in Horley. Is that in Surrey or Sussex?

LT: It is in Surrey. There is Gatwick Airport in the middle with Horley on one side and Crawley. Crawley is in Sussex. Simon Gallup and I came from Horley but Robert lived in Crawley.

PBM: When the punk scene came along, did you find that you wasn’t really exposed to it as much as you would have been in London because you were based there?

LT: We had to go and find it a bit. Some bands did, however, come to Crawley. I remember the Clash came to play, and it was just a huge riot. Suicide were opening for them. I always remember this skinhead getting up and trying to do something to Suicide, and Joe Strummer came out and said, “Stop doing this. You are being really stupid. Let them play!” That’s when I noticed you had the power to do something good, rather then something stupid with music.

PBM: After a brief deal with Hansa, you signed to Fiction. How did you first meet Chris Parry then?

LT: We met him because we sent him a tape and he worked for Polydor, so he called us up and said that he liked what we were doing. We met him at The Lamb and Flag at St Christopher Place which is at the back of Oxford Street.

PBM: I believe that you never liked the artwork for ‘Three Imaginary Boys’.

LT: Right. It was something that we set up, but then we didn’t like it and it wasn’t really us.

PB: So after that you took back control?

LT: We had a couple of people involved in the artwork initially but we got one person to take over which was much better because it was then all in house really.

PBM: ‘Three Imaginary Boys’ is punky but it was quite different from most bands associated with punk. Do you think it sounded different because having been in Malice and Easy Cure first you had the time to grow?

LT: Yeah, absolutely, and we didn’t live in London. We were outside, and -I write about it in the book – the things that influenced us were the asylums and the countryside, and all that’s there.

PBM: ‘Seventeen Seconds’ is my favourite album., You road tested it on the road in America before recording it. Did it change much between touring it and recording it.

LT: Yeah, Some of it. You have to remember that in 1977 ‘Low’, the Bowie album, came out, and Robert and I loved that. That is where we pulled some of that stuff from that such as Dennis Davidson’s drum sound. It has a more open sound, with lots of highs and space in the middle.

PBM: We lost Bowie this year. Did it affect you?

LT: It affected my life a lot. It was like guess what? We are next (Laughs).

PBM: On ‘Seventeen Seconds’ there is also my favourite Cure song of all time, ‘A Forest’. How did that song come about?

LT: I had a bigger title for that and Robert pulled the words out for that. We had this metronomic thing that came from that, and what I like about that song is we are like running but everything is standing still. It’s like we are running on the spot basically. It was one of those things in which music sometimes just evolves very quickly out of thin air.

PBM: ‘Pornography’ is your favourite album. Why is it your favourite?

LT: Just because it’s the ultimate three-piece Cure album. We had defined our whole sound, and the way to play it. It stood the test of time, and doesn’t sound old, doesn’t sound fashionable. It just sounds like us.

PBM: I believe the original producer of ‘Pornography’ was going to be Conny Plank, Kraftwerk’s producer.

LT: Well, we talked about it but in the end we got Phil Thornalley in. Later on Conny passed away, and that put an end to that.

PBM: Thank you.

© Pennyblackmusic

I Cure e Robert Smith, supereroe del rock che non invecchia mai

English rock band The Cure performs live in Milano, Italy

È bello pensare che esistano per davvero i supereroi, invariabili nel vestire e nell’acconciarsi, sempre con la stessa età, loro che possono permettersi di non invecchiare mai. Ed è bello scoprire che qualcosa o meglio qualcuno di simile a quei protagonisti di carta si materializzi in carne ed ossa. Com’è accaduto martedì al Forum di Assago.

Già. Che lo si sia visto nel 1999, nel 2005, nel 2012 e, finalmente nel 2016, Robert Smith, il nostro supereroe del rock’n’roll, è sempre, straordinariamente, uguale. Perché oltre alla capigliatura e all’uniforme, cerone e zazzera nera sparata in aria (anche se gli anni sono ormai 58 anni all’anagrafe) non sono mutate nemmeno la voce, l’attitudine. E la generosità sul palco, come si è avuto modo di comprovare al Forum (replica mercoledì, ci sono ancora biglietti, in cassa ad Assago, a partire dal pomeriggio) quando si è presentato con i suoi Cure. Loro sì in formazione a volte cangiante, ma sempre comunque una garanzia. A partire dal sempiterno e tarantolato Simon Gallup al basso per finire con il compassato e ineccepibile Roger O’ Donnell alle tastiere.

Ma è ovviamente Robert a calamitare le attenzioni dell’eterogeneo pubblico presente ad Assago (un po’ di tutto ormai e non più sottoculturale, darkettoni e stop, come negli anni’80) nelle oltre tre ore di concerto. Dei recordman, alla maniera di uno Springsteen, i Cure, eppure mai noiosi, mai un momento di stanca. Perché la scaletta è composita (e cambia sempre peraltro) in modo da accontentare tutti, con tre corposi bis. E non ci sono diavolerie o stravolgimenti alle canzoni: così come erano, sono. Una scaletta che dunque si scatena e prende corpo su A Night Like This, emoziona con Lovesong o CharlotteSometimes, s’infiamma, ormai nei bis, con la corvina Burn e l’elegia della nostra gioventù, A Forest . E chiude in grande stile con il trittico aureo Boys Don’t Cry-Close to Me- Why Can’t I Be You.

Il tutto, impeccabile, a livello sonoro. E pure sul piano estetico, con visual semplici ed efficaci che non sovrastano ( o peggio, come accade in altri megashow, non si sostituiscono) alla musica. Un concerto che, per chi può, va visto sottopalco, nelle prime file. Ti sembra di salirci infatti, su quel palco, mentre Robert dipinge le sue traiettorie fantasiose. E non si avverte nessuna distanza, mentre il nostro fumetto procede instancabile. E, dunque, piacevolmente, immutabile. Già, qualche anno fa ci disse: «Credo sia il nostro ultimo tour», mentendo e sapendo di mentire. Perché i fumetti non vanno mai in pensione.

The Cure sono in Italia per un tour… da lacrime


I Cure sono in Italia! Robert Smith e soci hanno suonato sabato 29 ottobre a Bologna mentre ieri sera erano di scena a Roma, dove sono andati avanti per tre ore. Chiuderanno il tour italiano con due date a Milano, martedì 1 novembre e mercoledì 2. Gli eventi sono organizzati da Barleyarts Promotion.

Ragionare su un concerto dei Cure nel 2016, potrebbe risultare vagamente anacronistico; eppure, considerando i sold out fin qui ottenuti con il tour mondiale in corso, vien da pensare che quando Manuel Agnelli cantava “non si esce vivi dagli anni 80” aveva proprio ragione! Quindi diffidate dai soliti darkettoni pronti a mostrare orgogliosi «la propria memoria», i Cure suonano oggi come allora e considerando le scalette proposte a Bologna e Roma, non c’è da dubitare! Parliamo di playlist da lacrime interamente concentrate sui lavori migliori della band inglese, apparsa sui palco in grande forma.

Ricapitolando, Robert Smith dopo aver tentato (invano) di produrre dischi all’altezza del proprio aureo passato, pare, dunque, concentrato sulle esibizioni live orientate all’interno di una produzione discografica che non lascia scampo. A parere di chi scrive, è questa una cosa saggia che dovrebbe essere presa ad esempio da altri gruppi anni 80 ancora in orbita. Della serie: “Se proprio non riuscite a fare come Michael Stipe con i suoi Rem, provate a mostrare il meglio di voi senza aver la presunzione di pensare che ciò debba essere ancora concepito”, i gioielli – se tali – risplendono per sempre.

Anche perché diciamolo chiaro, ciò che ci si aspetta da formazioni così longeve, non sono certamente le produzioni tardive, quelle sono appannaggio di giovani neofiti ai quali si chiede costantemente di compiere uno sforzo, non soltanto nel cotonarsi i capelli ma soprattutto per studiare sistematicamente e filologicamente certa musica.

 Ma che tipo di fauna attrae, al giorno d’oggi, un live di Robert Smith? Immaginare un folto pubblico di ultra quarantenni non è un azzardo, sebbene anche le nuove generazioni, soprattutto quelle connesse alla nicchia musicale, siano estremamente partecipative e non esclusivamente costituite da “poser scellerati”; in ambito esistono giovani appassionati e sinceri, in grado di declamare senza affanno alcuno la solennità di certi versi.

Il rovescio della medaglia è certamente costituito dalla figura del darkettone vecchio stampo; viaggia intorno ai cinquanta e siccome gli anni 80 li ha vissuti da protagonista, ritiene di poter declamare gli stessi versi come nessun altro. Ha forse ragione? Di certo sappiamo che l’allure che lo circonda è indiscutibilmente parte di un tradizionale folklore dal quale non è possibile sottrarsi, come fosse un meraviglioso gioco delle parti. Anche in tal caso, esiste in contrapposizione, un esercito di appassionati che lascia ben sperare sulle sorti di un genere musicale il cui denominatore comune – capace di mettere tutti d’accordo – resta inequivocabilmente la passione.

Il solito dj qualunque, in rigoroso total black, tornerà per l’ennesima volta a vedere i Cure dal vivo mercoledì a Milano, declamando a sproposito la propria memoria insieme agli amici di sempre, come fosse un meraviglioso gioco delle parti.

9 canzoni 9… dei Cure

Lato A

A Forest

A Strange Day

Shake Dog Shake

Charlotte Sometimes


Lato B


One Hundred Years

Fascination Street

Killing an Arab


© Marco Pipitone & Il Fatto Quotidiano

The Cure in concerto a Roma: quando il dark diventa un grande “Lullaby”


Di anni ormai ne ha 57, ma la voce è sempre quella. Robert Smith ti rapisce per quasi tre ore di concerto. Ieri sera al Palalottomatica di Roma: oltre 30 ‘ninna nanne’ dei suoi ‘The Cure’, capolavoro riuscito di dark wave e post punk che ha dettato legge dalla seconda metà degli anni ’70 fino ai ’90. Tenero, gentile col pubblico e anche scherzoso, quel tanto che basta per confermare che con lui il dark assume sempre il volto di un peluche da coccolare.

Robert Smith scalda. Con lui il gotico diventa sempre rifugio per chi oltre ai Cure ama – o amava – perdersi negli incubi dei Joy Division o imbottirsi delle acidità di Siouxie and the Banshees. Mettici anche il tempo che è passato e il ricordo che si fa nostalgia: è un attimo e un concerto del leader dei Cure nel 2016 diventa un abbraccio confortante. Chi l’avrebbe mai detto?

Tutti i fans che ieri hanno riempito il Palalottomatica, certo. Esordio con ‘Shake dog shake’, subito dopo la splendida ‘Fascination Street’ e ‘A night like this’, pezzi noti da ‘Pictures of you’ a ‘Lullaby’ fino a ‘Boys don’t cry’ e ‘Close to me’ che vengono riservate per i bis finali: ben tre.

Ci sono i pannelli a far da scenografia: talvolta servono per portare in primo piano il faccione pallido con rossetto e kajal di Robert. Altre volte proiettano immagini di proteste e oppressione, migranti in mare e Mohammed Alì sul ring, guerre e fungo atomico. Oppure l’ombra di una ragazza che danza in kimono, a dire del fascino per l’oriente che ha rapito tanti 30-40 anni fa, da Smith a David Bowie, David Sylvian. Poi alla fine del primo bis quegli stessi pannelli ti prendono per mano e ti portano tra gli alberi, nella notte: ‘into the trees’ di ‘A forest’, uno dei brani più riusciti del concerto.

Robert Smith piace. Perché è uno di quelli che non si preoccupano di finire come Sean Penn del film ‘This must be the place’, ex rockstar in pensione, triste prigioniero del cerone e della cipria a 60 anni. Il leader dei Cure pure non molla gli strumenti del mestiere, è l’unico del gruppo a non aver abbandonato la band: non si preoccupa di risultare fuori sincrono, almeno fino a quando continuerà a riempire i palasport. Il tour del 2016 è lunghissimo, attraversa tutta l’Europa (Germania, Belgio, Olanda, Spagna, Francia…) per finire in madrepatria, la Gran Bretagna. Oltre 30 pezzi di un genere musicale, post-punk e dark, molto frequentato negli anni ‘70-80, ma che i Cure sono riusciti a personalizzare e anche a commercializzare di più, giocando con le note della tristezza. Con loro sono diventate tanti, brillanti, esempi di ‘Lullaby’.

© HuffingtonPost Italia

The Cure, l’incredibile show della vita e della morte


Il dark e il pop, il nero e tutti i colori, messi in scena dalla band nel tour italiano e interpretati da quella immortale maschera horror e clownesca che porta il nome di Robert Smith

Il nero dei capelli. Il nero della matita intorno agli occhi piena di sbavature. Il nero degli abiti. E poi sempre più dentro, fino al nero che è l’unico colore che si riesce a vedere nei momenti bui.

“See into the dark, just follow your eyes”… Ancora: “The sound is deep, in the dark, I hear her voice”. Parole di A forest, che con quel basso insistente, alla vigilia di Halloween, all’interno del Palalottomatica di Roma, rimbombano. Fin troppo, colpa della pessima acustica del palazzetto.

Ma i Cure vanno avanti, ad immergersi nel buio, a scavarlo per scoprire che dentro ci sono un sacco di persone che vedono nero. “But the fear takes hold, creeping up the stairs in the dark, waiting for the death blow”. E ancora “Under a black flag, a hundred years of blood”. Così canta Robert Smith in One hundred years, brano antimilitarista accompagnato da immagini in bianco e nero (c’è anche Mussolini), uno dei momenti più bui, che apriva quell’occhiata nel terrore che era Pornography, del 1982, composto al culmine della depressione di Smith. All’interno del palazzetto vecchi darkettoni e giovani adepti del culto ascoltano in silenzio.

E invece no. Il concerto non è solo questo. Non è il tour della trilogia dark, non è una black celebration. “Troppo pop”, è il commento di chi sperava in un tuffo in Faith e dintorni. “Pop” è solo uno dei tanti colori che da quel nero man mano emergono. “Pop” alla maniera unica di Robert Smith. Che attacca alle 20:30, inaugurando le 2 ore e 40 minuti di live con Shake dog shake. Un modo tutto suo di dimostrare solidarietà con l’Italia scossa dal terremoto? No, spesso in questo tour partito il 10 maggio da New Orleans iniziano così. E subito dallo scarno palco nero iniziano a colorarsi i laser, le proiezioni, i filmati. Inizia così un viaggio attraverso l’arcobaleno pop e rock di 40 anni di musica vissuta davvero senza compromessi. Che colore era quello delle schitarrate allegre di In between days? E la wave era già new quando nel 1980 pubblicavano Play for today, a suo modo perfetta anche per gli stadi? Il nero diventa fumettistico e si tinge di rosso e ragnatele per Lullaby, che rientra nella categoria “singoli strani” che i Cure hanno sempre tirato fuori anche quando sembrava che il nero fosse l’unico colore possibile. Il post punk era già un ricordo quando con Let’s go to bed (ma al palazzetto si sente malissimo) sembravano i Depeche Mode di Some great reward? Colori, generi ed emozioni sempre diverse. I Cure sono anche quelli funk di Hot hot hot!!! Addirittura quelli cabarettistici di Lovecats. E quelli che a cavallo degli anni Novanta declinarono a modo loro anche le sonorità Madchester: a Roma dopo Never enough arriva anche Wrong number in un arrangiamento che sembrano gli Stone Roses. I Cure – in formazione con Smith e Simon Gallup è tornato anche il tastierista Roger O’Donnell a rimpolpare il sound – sono anche quelli di Lovesong, di cui Adele ha realizzato una cover nel suo album super best seller che ancora rimpingua le casse di Robert Smith.

Troppo pop? Ditelo a quella meraviglia di The edge of the deep green sea, cavalcata monumentale risalente alle seconda, terza vita dei Cure, che nonostante sia interpretata da Smith evitando accuratamente le note più alte (le primavere sono comunque 57 per l’artista) rimane uno splendido racconto breve (prima o poi magari qualcuno azzarderà candidarlo al Nobel). La stessa cosa per ora non si può dire dei due inediti che propongono in tour, il primo materiale inedito in quasi dieci anni: Step into the light e It can never be the same ricalcano i percorsi già ampiamente battuti. Ma c’è Just like heaven. C’è Pictures of you. Anche Friday I’m in love: altro che nero, pochi sono in grado di scrivere canzoni così euforiche.

Il merito è delle canzoni, del nero e del pop, dell’immaginario creato dai Cure. Ma anche e soprattutto di una geniale intuizione narrativa, un po’ cinematografica e un po’ letteraria. La creazione di una maschera immortale che rende tutto questo plausibile, la tristezza e l’euforia, la depressione e la voglia di condivisione. Si chiama Robert Smith ma ha un aspetto poco umano, quasi indefinibile. È un clown nero ma anche una rockstar post esaurimento nervoso. I capelli arruffati tenuti miracolosamente con la lacca. Gli occhi bistrati di nero che si spalancano fino a impaurire e poi si socchiudono indifesi. E poi c’è quella camminata a spalle strette che diventa poetico balletto da mimo impazzito. Non invecchierà mai questa maschera. Horror, circense, Tim Burton, Sorrentino. Invecchierà il suo interprete ma la maschera no. Ancora una volta abbandonerà l’amata chitarra con cui si protegge per guadagnarsi la scena durante Close to me e un po’ più svociata ma ancora più tragica interpreterà “l’incredibile spettacolo della vita e della morte”. Questa è la cura di Robert Smith per la vita.

La scaletta del concerto

Shake Dog Shake
Fascination Street
A Night Like This
The Walk
In Between Days
Play for Today
Step Into the Light
Pictures of You
Kyoto Song
Charlotte Sometimes
Just Like Heaven
From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
One Hundred Years
Give Me It

It Can Never Be the Same
A Forest

Never Enough
Wrong Number

The Lovecats
Hot Hot Hot!!!
Let’s Go to Bed
Friday I’m in Love
Boys Don’t Cry
Close to Me
Why Can’t I Be You?

© Gianni Santoro

The Night We Created The Cure

“So the first bit of lyric we pull out of the hat will be our new band name, right?”


Editor’s Note: LaurenceLol” Tolhurst is a co-founder of The Cure—as its drummer, he helped write and record the band’s first four albums. In this excerpt from his new book, Mr. Tolhurst provides an insider’s account of the early days of the band and a revealing look at the artistic evolution of his childhood friend, the enigmatic Robert Smith.

We finally got a gig at the Rocket in May 1977. We were now all eighteen, so Fred, the Rocket’s landlord, wouldn’t fall afoul of the child work laws or something. Clever old Fred.

He actually didn’t ask us outright anyway. Rather, our friend’s band Amulet, fronted by ex-Malice guitarist Marc Ceccagno, couldn’t do the gig they had been booked for at the Rocket, so, sens­ing an opportunity to actually get us out there in front of real people, I called Fred.

“Er, yes… the Rocket public house?”

The phone was answered by Fred himself in the voice I pre­sumed he usually reserved for outstanding creditors.

“Yes, hello, Fred? I heard that Amulet can’t play the pub this week. They all have bad colds, they asked us to fill in for them?”

Fred sounded a little suspicious, “And what are you lot called, then?”

“Easy Cure.”

We had literally pulled the new name for the band out of a hat. After our disastrous gig at St. Wilfrid’s it seemed like a wise idea to change the name, but we couldn’t agree on one. Robert [Smith] hit on a solu­tion. He had seen something about Bowie or William Burroughs cutting up phrases from their writings into strips and reassembling them into new prose or song lyrics. So we cut all our own lyrics up and put them into a hat. The first fragment we pulled out would be the name of the band. It seemed both democratic and punky all at the same time.

We sat in the small hallway of the Smith’s house, by the harmo­nium we sometimes utilized for the triptych songs we were currently making.

“So the first bit of lyric we pull out of the hat will be our new band name, right?” Robert asked.

“Sounds good to me,” I said.

Robert reached in and pulled out a small, white, screwed-up scrap.

“What’s it say?” Michael and I asked.

“Easy Cure,” said Robert, who looked a little crestfallen that one of his word fragments wasn’t the plum pulled from the pudding. “Easy Cure” was from a lyric that I had partially written.

“Anyway, fair’s fair, so Easy Cure it is!” I thought out loud.

However, Robert got his way later on, because we changed it to The Cure, which he thought sounded much more punky and now than Easy Cure, which sounded more hippie-fied.

I couldn’t really argue with that. I wanted us to be more punk anyway.

“So what kind of music does Easy Cure play?” asked Fred.

I panicked slightly. I hadn’t really thought about that one. We just wrote songs from our own experiences and thoughts. I don’t think we thought about labels, although we were certainly influenced by the current rash of punk bands we were now seeing whenever we could. In addition to The Stranglers at the Red Deer and Crawley College we saw Buzzcocks at the Lyceum.

“Um, well, we do some of our own stuff and a few popular cov­ers,” I offered hopefully.

“Yeah, well, they like to hear something they know, so play some­thing they know,” said Fred, hammering his point home. “Be here at 6 p.m., start playing at 6:30–7 p.m. You play two sets and you have to finish before last orders at 10:30 p.m.”

To this day I’ve no idea what they paid us. I probably didn’t take it in, as I was just so happy to get our first proper paying gig! And so it started. Paying our dues in the Rocket at first to the reg­ulars, and gradually, over the next year or so, to increasingly varied audiences from the area as word spread.

Of course, we had to play some covers, as Fred had predicted. “Locomotive Breath” by Jethro Tull, made completely punky by leaving out the long piano intro and flute(!), was one I recall that was particularly liked by the Rocket’s older patrons.

Gradually we honed our set to include more of our own material, crammed together on that tiny stage in the corner of the pub, and learned what every band must learn if they hope to establish them­selves as a real band.

We perfected the subtle signals between us all to enable the songs to come out sounding right and keep the show rolling along with intensity and power. We learned our stagecraft on that small stage all through the year, in between seeing some of the best bands of the punk revolution.

We played about thirteen gigs at the Rocket. It felt like we were there so often we were practically the house band. At every gig there were more people, and we grew in confidence as we honed our sound. In the autumn of 1977, Peter left the band. We had played a gig at the Rocket on September 11, and after the gig he told us it was his last.

“Hey, chaps, I think I have a different calling. I’m, um, off to a kibbutz in Israel.”

“Really?” I asked him somewhat incredulously. “That’s what you want to do?”

“Yeah Lol, that’s the plan.”

I was a little stunned. After all, we were just getting properly started. In retrospect it had been obvious the last few months that his heart wasn’t in it anymore. We wished him luck and looked around for another singer to replace him. It was frustrating, to say the least. We were starting to express our own ideas, finding our own raison d’être, and now we were in desperate need of a good front man to convey that to audiences who didn’t know us at all.

Then Robert did something that really changed the whole course of The Cure. Up until then I don’t think Robert had thought about being the guitarist and the singer, but I think he realized right then, when Peter left, that if he was going to make a difference in this world, if he was going to be able to get across what he wanted to say, he would have to be the front man, he would have to take that on.

I have a theory. There comes a day when every single one of us is confronted with the abyss. Sometimes it’s a heart-wrenching breakup. Sometimes it’s the loss of a loved one. Some have it early and some people get it late, but we all have that moment when we look down and there’s nothing fucking there. People want their rock stars to go further out on the edge and hang out there for a bit, take a good long look at that abyss, and then transmit what they find there through their art.

Ian Curtis did it. Kurt Cobain did it. So did Robert Smith, ex­cept he didn’t just look at the abyss, he was on intimate terms with it. He had things he had to say about the darkest parts of the human experience, and people were either attracted to that or repulsed by it. He’s been like that for as long as I’ve known him. Even at the very start, he had stuff he needed to say. He tried to fight it. I think that’s why he picked up the guitar, so he’d have something to put between himself and the abyss. In the beginning, he tried to hide behind it. He was just the guitar player. When Peter left and the band wasn’t working right and the music we were playing didn’t match the vision he had for it, he assumed the duties of the vocalist. We were still teenagers, but even then he knew what it meant, what he was getting into. It’s one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen anyone do.

The Rocket was where Robert taught himself how to front a band, how to be in the center of the storm and love being there.

In that dismal little room in deepest Sussex, a whole new future was started.

Excerpted from Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys by Lol Tolhurst. Copyright © 2016.

The Cure a Bologna, tre ore di dark show

Trentadue anni dopo, Robert Smith è tornato in città. In scaletta tutti i principali successi


Immaginate di aver passate l’infanzia ad ascoltare vostro padre cantarvi ninnananne che raccontano cose rassicuranti come “Dormi ora o non ti sveglierai mai più”. Certo, crescerete con un immaginario dark e un certo fascino per il buio e le tinte scure, ma magari da grandi ci scriverete pure su una canzone, che può addirittura finire per diventare un classico che interi palasport cantano e accolgono con un boato, tipo “Lullaby”, appunto.

A 32 anni dall’ultima volta, riecco finalmente The Cure a Bologna, e per farsi perdonare dalla lunga assenza propongono ai 16mila dell’Unipol Arena uno show vicino alle tre ore e una scaletta quasi didascalica di quella che è la storia della più importante band della scena dark wave e post punk inglese tuttora in attività. Nei prossimi giorni, poi, il, gruppo britannico sarà anche a Roma e due volte a Milano.


Dei Cure originali resta solo il frontman Robert Smith, e anche se il tempo passa per tutti è come te lo immagini, come lo hai visto mille volte in foto, con il trucco bianco, il pallore, quei cappelli scomposti alla Edward mani di forbice. La voce, pure, è quella che ricordi e riconosceresti tra mille, e ha retto bene allo scorrere degli anni, pagando magari qualcosa nella coda dello show, ma dopo oltre trenta canzoni è comprensibile. C’è un po’ di tutto, tranne l’ostico “Pornography”, nella setlist di questo tour, pur in continuo aggiornamento data dopo data. Un inizio col piede sull’acceleratore, con “Plainsong” in apertura seguita a breve da “Closedown” e “Push”, poi dopo oltre un’ora e mezzo la prima pausa, che prelude a tre blocchi di bis che di fatto danno inizio a un altro concerto, a partire da un quartetto di canzoni tratte da “Seventeen seconds”, il secondo disco datato 1980. E pare che Smith abbia finalmente fatto pace anche con quelle super hit del loro repertorio di cui s’era disinnamorato proprio a causa dell’eccessiva popolarità che avevano guadagnato, vedi “Friday I’m in love”, arrivata in un finale che riserva i momenti più pop della serata subito prima dell’altro brano cult “Boys don’t cry”.

È forse l’autunno della malinconia rock, delle grandi band storiche che non s’arrendono al tempo che passa, mettono indietro le lancette e rivendicano ancora un ruolo primario nello scenario musicale odierno. Giusto un mese fa abbiamo visto in questo stesso palasport gli Who, sulla strada sono tornati Rolling Stones, Roger Waters, Bob Dylan e tanti altri. Tra cui i Cure, che di essere alla moda non si preoccupano affatto, fieramente fuori dai tempi col loro abbigliamento e con i toni cupi, a volte decisamente oscuri, della loro dark wave decadente. Per poi scoprire che quando parla Smith è capace addirittura di fare battute. Della serie, anche i principi del buio sanno ridere.

© Luca Bortolotti & La Repubblica

Philip Anselmo: Why I Love The Cure


Down frontman Philip Anselmo pays tribute to Robert Smith’s goth kings, The Cure

Having risen to fame with metal legends Pantera and kept things pounding along with Down, Philip Anselmo is not the most obvious advocate for The Cure’s darkly romantic goth anthems. And yet, as he explains here, Robert Smith’s gloomy mob are an essential part of his record collection…

I was a teenager, living in Texas, when I was first turned on to The Cure by a friend. I’ll be honest, it’s two of the older records that most absorbed me: Seventeen Seconds definitely my number one, and then Faith would be number two. I like certain songs off all their records, but those two in particular grabbed me. I have an incredible amount of respect for the band, but at a point they got so popular that I kinda lost interest, which I know is a little shady on my part.

But Seventeen Seconds is amazing. It almost sounds like a four-track recording, and essentially it’s Robert Smith and a drum machine, but there’s a great atmosphere and vibe on that record. I love the moodiness of the album. It’s a perfect evening-time record, with that dark, sexy atmosphere. And Faith is really great too.

One of the most impressive things about The Cure is the way Robert Smith could conjure up so much wonderful atmosphere to frame these great songs. You can do anything in that atmosphere: burn some candles, light some incense, cook food and hang out with a chick.

Like The Smiths, another band I love, The Cure aren’t a band for everyone, and certainly some of my teenage metalhead buddies back then were confused, to say the least, as to why I’d listen to them. But if they were supposed to be a guilty pleasure, I didn’t feel very guilty about listening to them. And most of my friends were open‑minded enough to understand why I would like them and what I could hear in them.

People might not necessarily hear any direct influence from Robert Smith in the albums I’ve made, but I’ve been sitting on a great wealth of four-track recordings that the world has never heard, and I think I’ve made some music among them that, while not similar to The Cure, is in the same vein in terms of mellow, atmospheric music.

I’ve definitely drawn a lot of inspiration from Robert Smith, with the simplicity of the music and the sounds he gets. His songs are… romantic, for lack of a better word. It’s rare to find songs that do what they do. They have a beauty to them and they definitely touch a spot in my heart.

© Team Rock