Despite laying down hints that American audiences would see The Cure play Disintegration in full later this year, Robert Smith made it clear in a radio interview Friday that it’s unlikely that’ll happen — and the band isn’t planning to mount a tour of the U.S. before 2020.
Instead, though, Smith dropped a huge piece of news: He’s personally curating a festival in the Los Angeles area later this year that will feature performances by The Cure and 10 other bands.
On Friday afternoon, Smith called in to the “Debatable” program on Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s Volume channel, and had a wide-ranging, 40-plus minute discussion with hosts Mark Goodman and Alan Light about the recording of Disintegration, the band’s recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, two upcoming concert films, touring plans and the recording of The Cure’s next album.
Los Angeles-area festival
Smith dropped the news of the festival when the hosts asked him about the band’s just-announced headlining slot at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in October.
“We’ll be announcing another one later this month, which will be a really special one, actually, because we’re curating it,” Smith said. “So it’s going to be on the West Coast. There’s going to be about 10 other acts, all hand-picked. I just wanted to do something a bit like (last summer’s 40th anniversary concert at London’s) Hyde Park. Something a bit celebratory.
“It isn’t going to be a Disintegration show, I’ll be very clear about that. It’s going to be just a celebratory show with a load of artists who all in their own right deserve to headline festivals.”
Smith said the festival “will be in and around L.A.,” and he wasn’t yet sure whether it’ll be a single- or multiple-day event. He added that they tried to stage the event in New York, but it will be held “slightly too late in the year” and the outdoor location they’d been eyeing fell through.
“I can’t wait to announce it,” he said. “It’s such a great bill.”
The Cure is slated to perform Disintegration at five concerts in Sydney at the end of this month, the last of which was just added, and will be broadcast worldwide via internet livestream. When discussing those shows at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in March, Smith said “we’ll probably do it here a bit later in the year.” But it sounds like that may no longer be the case.
“I don’t really want to dedicate the rest of the year to celebrating something that happened 30 years ago,” Smith said. “I’d much rather celebrate what we’re doing now. So the idea of the global stream of Disintegration was really to give me a bit of an out in case I decided we’re not going to do it again.”
Instead, Smith said, “I’ve got some ideas of how we could incorporate it into some of the things we might do later in the year.” Still, he left the door open. Later in the interview, when discussing the Los Angeles festival, he brought it up again.
“So if we end up playing a Disintegration show, we’ll end up playing a Disintegreation show at some point, somewhere,” Smith said. “But if we don’t, it doesn’t matter. Just watch the livestream.”
Other topics discussed in the interview:
‘Final’ studio album?
Smith has been dropping hints about a new Cure studio album for months, and he talked at more length in Friday’s interview. He said he expects it out before Christmas, and that he still needs to record vocals — including for a pair of 10-minute-long songs — and the band may need to record one more song.
“My only dilemma at the moment is getting a running order that works,” he said. “I’ve gone through so many different running orders. My favorite running order is so utterly bereft of hope, it’s so morose. I played it to a couple of people whose opinions I value and they just look at me and think it’s so dismal, in a really good way. It’s just relentless. My favorite running order is about 47 minutes of just relentless doom and gloom.”
Because of this, Smith said, he’s considering getting the band to record a he’d written and demoed but hadn’t planned to use. “But I actually think the album needs just something ever-so-slightly off kilter to make the rest of the songs work better,” he said.
The hosts mentioned they’d spoken to Cure keyboardist Roger O’Donnell the day before, and he’d suggested this would be the final Cure album. Smith, of course, noted that he declares every album he makes the last Cure album, and had done so for decades.
“As far as I’m concerned, yeah, this is it,” he said. “But I’ve gone into every album thinking this is it, and not glibly. I actually think this is it. … (but) we’ve already recorded two albums worth of stuff. It’s either going to be a double album or there’s two albums made, if I can get the words and the singing done.
“So it won’t be the last Cure album, right.”
More U.S. concerts
The only specific American performances that Smith acknowledged in the interview were the Austin City Limits dates and the yet-to-be-announced Los Angeles-area festival.
But the band is planning to return in 2020.
“We’re already talking about what we’re going to do coming back to America next year,” he said. “I want to do something with new songs. I want to bring a new show to America rather than do something nostalgic.”
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction
Smith acknowledges that he didn’t decide whether The Cure would participate in the March 29 ceremony until it was just a few weeks away, and suggests he was considering boycotting the event because the Rock Hall would not induct former members Matthieu Hartley, Phil Thornalley and the late Andy Anderson, who died in February.
“All I wanted was a reason why these three were being excluded while the rest of us were being included,” Smith said. “I didn’t really get a clear answer, and I thought it was worth taking a stand.”
But in the end, he said, “I kind of figured, well, there are better battles to fight than this one.”
The rest of 4.13 Dream
Smith famously announced in 2014 that he would be releasing the second half of the band’s 2008 album 4:13 Dream “in the next few months.” The collection, which was to have been titled 4:14 Scream, was recorded alongside what remains the last studio album released by the band.
In Friday’s interview, Smith described how he wanted to release 4:13 Dream as a double album, with a second disc of instrumental songs.
“I was too tired by the end of the project to really hold my ground and I caved in and allowed it to be a single album, all vocals,” he said. “And it wasn’t as good as it should have been. It wasn’t as good as it could have been. It would have been a fantastic double album. I would have felt happier about it.”
Smith added that there’s “a whole album left over” from those sessions that he’ll probably put out as a deluxe edition of 4:13 Dream. “I was supposed to be doing that for its 10th anniversary,” he said. “I think I missed it. I’m not very good with deadlines, you may have noticed.”
Two concert films
Smith is hoping to release a pair of concert films this summer, one, directed by longtime video director Tim Pope, chronicling the band’s 40th anniversary performance in Hyde Park, the other capturing its Meltdown Festival appearance earlier in the year. Smith said he signed off on the Hyde Park film on Friday, and it will be released in theaters globally this summer.
“It’s another bit of nostalgia,” he said, “but it’s such a good show. I just wanted it to be known. It’s a legacy piece, really, and Tim’s done a fantastic job with it.”
Later in the interview, Smith reveals that he’s also finished work on the Meltdown film. “The two are coming out side-by-side, an anniversary piece,” he said.
The hosts asked Smith if he’d ever considered writing a memoir, and the frontman confirmed that he’s been approached a few times in recent years, but he’s not particularly interested in a conventional book. He says he’s been digitizing “everything The Cure’s ever done,” and has been thinking of a new project.
“At some point, maybe next year, I was going to narrate the story of the band,” he said. “I don’t really want it to be a memoir. I’d rather it be like my version of what the band is and why it’s done what it’s done, and how it’s done what it’s done. I don’t feel any great rush to do it because I want to include what we do next in it.
“It’s still ongoing, so I’m not in any hurry. I don’t really like memoirs, to be honest, I particularly hate memoirs written by people who are still only halfway through their careers — like I am,” he said, laughing.
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