THE CURE’S AMERICAN BREAKTHROUGH
Tolhurst, Parry and Cure producer David M. Allen on comedowns, departures and devil’s advocacy.
DMA: “I started working with The Cure on [1983 single] The Lovecats, and I was like an extra band member for a long time [producing five Cure albums between ‘83 and ‘91). They were a gang then, fun to hang around with. After shows, it would be ‘Club Smith’ or ‘Club Gallup’ with the boombox, and they’d play dance music, not Leonard Cohen. Likewise, on Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me – everyone was attracted to different styles. To do a disco song like Hot Hot Hot!!! was brave, but it all fitted the Cure canon. But maybe Kiss Me… didn’t hang together. One reviewer called it shambolic, which definitely influenced my thoughts on Disintegration, to make a huge slab of the same thing. It’s an amazing album, a definite statement at the peak of goth. To me, all Robert’s love songs were about [long-time girlfriend] Mary and all the hate songs were about Lol, and when you take that balance away… To watch Lol, the friend you’ve known since childhood, become a shambling mess, drinking two bottles of Grand Marnier a day – you have Disintegration right there. Everyone in the band was relieved when Lol went, though I wasn’t. You could view Lol as a muse, and a band’s chemistry is a very difficult thing to
“DISINTEGRATION… A HUGE SLAB OF THE SAME THING.”
David M. Allen
calculate, or mess with. After he had left, when we made [1992 album] Wish, I encouraged a hate gallery of Lol, in the control room, as if he was there in person.”
LT: “We’d gone from playing colleges to arenas, which changes a band. I saw Rob’s antipathy toward being this new rock star, so he had to change things again, and that’s Disintegration – darker and heavier and more focused. But the centre wouldn’t hold, namely my situation, which I think is why it’s called ‘Disintegration’. Certainly, I was disintegrating, I was so isolated in my own madness, I didn’t notice what was going on around me. When Robert sent me a letter to say I’d been fired, I agree that he saved my life [Tolhurst immediately booked into the Priory rehab clinic].”
CP: “Most Cure members came to me and complained about Lol. I was reluctant to see him go. Call me old-fashioned, but T. Rex had two players, didn’t they? And earlier on, Lol had been really helpful in keeping The Cure alive. But the band were adults and I never counselled Rob. The best thing was to involve him with as little stuff as possible – just get him into the box so he could play, whether it was a small room or an arena, or Giants Stadium in New York. I know Rob struggled with the madness of touring, and the disconnect with arena crowds, and sometimes he said, ‘This is it, the last tour’. But to me that was him carping on, playing devil’s advocate. You have to measure it by the man you know today, and The Cure are still playing.”
Robert Smith’s Meltdown runs at London’s Southbank Centre from June 15 to June 24. Lol Tolhurst’s memoir Cured is published by Quercus.
Closedown: (clockwise from main) Robert Smith in the US, September ’89; the post-Tolhurst line-up with Roger O’Donnell (centre), MTV Awards, 1989; Disintegration; David M. Allen; Disintegration 45s.