Cure mastermind Robert Smith may have just the explanation for why fans of
his dark pop are so rabid about the band that the build-up to its two recent U.S.
club dates practically turned into mini-riots.
"I think there are two driving forces to our fan base in the U.S.," said Smith just a
few weeks before the incidents in New York and L.A. "One is an almost
indefinable sense of an ethic that is at the core of what the group does and how
we're perceived. We've never used sponsorship. We never take tour support.
We never allow music to be used for [advertisements]."
In remaining true to their music and only their music, he added, the Cure are
bound to attract fans who feel a special affiliation with their sound and purpose.
In other words, the Cure speak to their fans on many more levels than just
"But we're idiots in that way," he continued. "We're kind of like old-fashioned
fools because we haven't been drawn into that crass commercialization of
everything that you do, which, unfortunately, many groups do end up doing.
Even though they've already got more money than they know what to do with."
The Cure, who have even avoided putting out greatest hits albums during their
long career, are currently promoting their second collection of singles,
Galore-- The Singles 1987-1997 (Oct. 28), which features the song
Number"(RealAudio excerpt), a song which has been on heavy radio
rotation and is currently climbing the alternative rock charts.
On Oct. 24, hundreds of Cure fans, many of whom spent a night sleeping on the
sidewalk, were turned away by police from a line to buy tickets for the band's
Halloween night show at New York's Irving Plaza. Close to 1,000 fans went
home angry and empty-handed after only 250 pairs of tickets were made
available for the show. More than 30 officers were dispatched to the scene to
disperse the disappointed mob.
Just three days later, during an in-store appearance at the Sunset Boulevard
Virgin Megastore in L.A., a melee erupted when 3,000 fans attempted to gain
entrance to the store. An estimated 500 of them had received wristbands from
the KROQ radio station to participate in the event, but only 300 were allowed to
enter the store. Eventually police helicopters and dozens of officers in riot gear
were called out to quell the angry mob.
But if you ask Smith, he'd tell you it's not surprising. The Cure has made a
career of giving its fans something to feel passionate about, he said, for better or
"I've met people who think I'm an idiot for not taking that sponsorship money,"
Smith said. "I could have made 50 times what I have if only I'd sold the group's
name, but I think it's demeaning.
"But that's not the point. And it's only the people that understand the point that
understand the group," he added. "They can appreciate that what we've done
has been done on our own terms. They like that. They like that the idea of the
group succeeding without bowing down before money or the business. That's
why they stay with us."
Of course, hand-in-hand with that, Smith said, goes the music: a unique blend
of upbeat pop and downbeat ideas that have captured the hearts of millions
around the world since the band released its first single in 1979, "Killing an Arab".
"The greatest soap-boxing in the world won't make people listen to you if you
haven't got good songs. The two are inseparable with us and without the former
you won't get the fan base that will stay with you, even if they think some of the
early singles are lightweight or they want you to go back to something you did
three albums ago. They're still prepared to stick with the group because they
know that I'm writing songs and recording them not to be famous, but because I
want to." [Sat., Nov. 8, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]