Fanatical Cure Fans Terminally Obsessed

Frontman Robert Smith says band appeals to those who love their music as well as anti-commercialism

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

musical.

"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

HREF="http://media.addict.com/music/Cure,_The/Wrong_Number.ram">"Wrong

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

worse.

"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]