As far as he's concerned at least, Robert Smith has been newly liberated by
"I've brought myself up to speed on sampling and loops," said the Cure
frontman, excited about having a studio at home for the first time. "Now I've got
myself to the point where I can sit at home and do a demo and end up the
following day with a finished song."
And, from the sound of it, Smith has been spending a lot of time at home.
He's been working not just on the Cure's next album, scheduled for release in
the spring of 1998, but also on a career-spanning collection of rarities, b-sides,
soundtrack work and other marginalia, as well as one other secret project that's
the current apple of his eye.
"I've been seriously toying with the idea lately of releasing a dance album under
a different name with some guest vocalist," said Smith, who speculated that he
would never sing on such a project, since as soon as he opened his mouth, "it
would be a Cure song regardless." Although Smith said the latest electronica
fashions may not suit the mood of the Cure's music, his fascination with dance
culture still needs an outlet, even as he cautioned "you won't start seeing me
dressing in tangerine and going clubbing."
The still-untitled b-sides project, which he suspected would be a triple-CD, will
most likely be available through the Cure's official website. "There's just so
much stuff we've done over the years that's hard to find and this is the best kind
of thing for hard-core fans who want the soundtrack songs we did in the '80s,
the soundtrack to the 20-minute film we used on the 'Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me'
tour, which I have the only copy of and other things only die-hard fans know
The singer started to compile the material in April of this year, and it's taken
much longer than he imagined to gather the songs, which will be taken from
everything from obscure bootlegs to the band's one-off Spanish language
single. "I'm still trying to track down tapes," Smith said. "I've got my own tapes
and I've been going through boxes and boxes of ancient material at my mom
and dad's with old reel-to-reel tape, posters, everything. I have to physically sit
down and listen to all of it, some of which is enjoyable and some very tedious."
Jennifer Dickert, 22, webmaster of the Cure-centric Mintcar site, said the Cure e-
mail lists Babble and Descent have been buzzing for the past few months about
the possibility of a b-sides collection. "We were all curious to know if there
would be a b-sides collection to go along with [the Cure's new singles
compilation] Galore," said Dickert, who launched her site earlier this
Dickert was especially excited about such a collection, she said, since her b-
sides are all currently on vinyl, which she doesn't listen to as much. Among the
songs on her wish list are the rarities "Fear of Ghosts" and "This Twilight
Garden," "which is supposed to be their best song ever. "
Home recording technology has already affected the recording of the next Cure
album, their 13th. "Being able to record at home, which I've done already with
five of the seven songs we've completed so far," said Smith, "has brought back
the technical side of the band that's been missing over the past few years."
Smith said the band is back to their old working situation, where he can call up
drummer Jason Cooper and request a 120 bpm (beats per minute) tempo, loop
that beat at home and have a finished track that afternoon. "They missed me
being like this, with a singularity of purpose."
Another change is the possibility of outside help, spurred by Smith's
collaboration with former Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels on the song
"Wrong Number," from the band's singles retrospective Galore. "Working
with Reeves led me into an area where I've been talking with the rest of the
group about my determination to work with outsiders," Smith said. "It will
broaden our scope and allows me to experiment in ways that will change the
way I write songs."
Smith said he'd approached several collaborators already, but was not yet
willing to reveal their identities. Among his favorite new songs so far is one
called "Another Happy Birthday," which he described as "unlike anything the
Cure have done before. It's not a verse-chorus-verse type of song, but more