Mojo (UK) - - Contents -

In 1987 Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me threat­ened to make them into a pop band. The gothic weight of Dis­in­te­gra­tion saw Robert Smith tak­ing con­trol of his band's des­tiny. An Eye­wit­ness spe­cial goes into the hows, whys, and what?

With 1987’s sprawl­ing pop, goth and funk dou­ble LP Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Robert Smith’s bipo­lar chart­busters from Craw­ley found US suc­cess and beck­on­ing sta­dia across the world. Two years later, the hyp­no­tis­ing gloom of Dis­in­te­gra­tion turned up the chill to mark the group’s com­mer­cial zenith. But what sparked this re­trench­ment, and who were the ca­su­al­ties?

Keysman Lol Tol­hurst and Fic­tion la­bel boss/de facto man­ager Chris Parry re­call lux­ury, booze and meet’n’greets.

LT: I’ve al­ways thought there were two Cures – the orig­i­nal trio and what fans call the ‘Im­pe­rial Cure’ with Boris [Wil­liams, drums] and Pearl [Porl] Thompson (gui­tar), which made The Head On The Door (1985). The five-piece Cure could be more mu­si­cal, with the lux­ury to spread out. It wasn’t like we were out at goth clubs ev­ery night, our tastes were far more uni­ver­sal than that. We’d showed that on The Head On The Door, and when we started what be­came Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Robert said to bring ev­ery­thing we’d all been work­ing on – we all had lit­tle home stu­dios by then. It was a way to open things out fur­ther, and it turned into a dou­ble al­bum. We’d got to­gether at Boris’s house in Devon, we in­stalled a pool ta­ble in one room, the gear in an­other, and a cask of scrumpy be­tween them, and drank loads. Si­mon [Gallup] called Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me our K-Tel al­bum – it came out of be­ing hap­pier and less con­cerned with the out­side world. I felt I was the cus­to­dian of the spirit of The Cure. Who­ever came in, I’d en­gage the side of them I thought would fur­ther things for us. I’d known Pearl since we were 17, which helped, and Boris had a sim­i­lar out­look, and a good sense of hu­mour. We were like a gang, that’s why it worked. On tour, we’d roll into town each night, un­apolo­getic, hope you like it. But by the time we toured the US for Kiss Me…, be­ing all on one bus got a lit­tle chaotic, so we had the ‘cup of tea, read a book, go to bed’ bus and the ‘crazy motherfucker’ bus, which I ad­mit I was on al­most all the time. But au­di­ences had re­ally caught on to us by then. For Kiss Me… live, it sounds Spinal Tap, but the pro­duc­tion val­ues were the best we’d had. Each show started with us play­ing [Kiss Me… in­tro] The Kiss be­hind a kabuki cur­tain, so the au­di­ence couldn’t see us, and they only slowly re­alised it was us play­ing, and just when Rob [Robert Smith] started singing, the cur­tain would fall, and peo­ple went nuts, ev­ery time. You needed a spec­ta­cle to im­press big­ger au­di­ences, and be­cause Pearl’s gui­tar al­lowed Robert to wan­der around more, he could en­gage with au­di­ences, which helped with play­ing big­ger venues. It was a con­ver­gence of dif­fer­ent im­por­tant fac­tors, up an­other level.”


CP: [1982 sin­gle] Let’s Go To Bed had done the ini­tial hard work for The Cure in Amer­ica, but what broke them there was In­be­tween Days in 1985. Amer­ica had never been on Robert’s hori­zon, they’d never done a big tour there, and never any meet’n’greets or that side of stuff. They were still a cult band, with mys­tique, though they’d be­gun to im­preg­nate even pop ra­dio, but then we had a good US la­bel in Elek­tra, run by Bob Kras­now, a real An­glophile, who loved the idea of The Cure break­ing the US, as I did. Lots of British bands had been go­ing over, like New Or­der and The Psy­che­delic Furs. They were dif­fer­ent to US bands – very ex­cit­ing, and the kind of bands that Amer­i­can kids didn’t want to share with their par­ents. It was right place, right time. Stand­ing On A Beach [The Cure sin­gles com­pi­la­tion] had come out af­ter The Head On The Door, and [1978 de­but sin­gle] Killing An Arab was up­set­ting some Amer­i­cans even then. But that is­sue aside, it was a re­ally happy pe­riod for The Cure. They de­moed Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me in Mi­raval in the south of France, and Rob was writ­ing songs like Why Can’t I Be You? and Hot Hot Hot – it was a bit of a love-fest, slightly co­caine-driven, with lots of es­tate rosé wine… it was good they had good liv­ers – with lots of joie de vivre and ‘let’s do this and that, and make a dou­ble al­bum’. Whereas Dis­in­te­gra­tion, which fol­lowed, was more ‘let’s get into ke­tamine’. I mean, it wasn’t that par­tic­u­lar drug, but it felt more down. It took few pris­on­ers.”

Hot! Hot! Hot!!!: (main) pale boys The Cure (from left) Si­mon Gallup, Robert Smith, Lol Tol­hurst (top), Boris Wil­liams and Porl Thompson, Brazil, March 30, 1987; (right, from top) re­cent al­bums and sin­gles; Smith read­ies for his closeup; live in Fe­bru­ary ’87; old pals Thompson and Tol­hurst; Fic­tion boss Chris Parry with Cure sales award.

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