When the Cure’s Robert Smith took the stage during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Barclays Center on Friday, he kept things succinct. “As Trent [Reznor, who introduced the band] said, it’s 40 years since our first album came out. It doesn’t seem like that. And in that time, there’s obviously been a lot of people who’ve played a part in the Cure story, for better or worse. And I’m not going to stand here and read off a load of names because that’s… I shouldn’t say too much, really, but that’s quite tedious. And I’m no good with stories. I’m a very bad communicator.”
Smith was more forthcoming when Rolling Stone caught up with him backstage, with the goth/post-punk veteran discussing his initial reservations with the awards show, the upcoming 30th anniversary of his Disintegration and a new Cure album that’s currently in the works.
How does it feel to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
I should know by now [to] have a glib answer to offer. There are so many people who have done that I actually admire hugely and inspired me and the band that I think my reservations, such as they were, were kind of pretty immaterial, as it turns out.
What were your reservations?
When we came to the building and we did the red carpet thing, my initial response, because I hadn’t quite thought it through [was] I was a bit glib and said despite my best efforts at being alternative, we’d been subsumed into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. There’s an element of truth to that, but to fight against it would be slightly churlish. It doesn’t change how we do, or how I think about, what we do.
Simon [Gallup] said we should do it because people will see us onstage, know who we are, and we’ll play songs for them. That’s kind of what the band does. He made the band come back down to Earth and stop theorizing about what it really means and what it represents. We’ll just play some songs to people. They’ll either like us or they won’t. Then we’ll go and have a beer. He’s a much more down to earth character than I. I think sometimes I worry too much.
How’s the next album going? A lot of people are excited about it.
Because it’s the anniversary of Disintegration, I was thinking about how we did that, and how we turned that into something and what my mindset was. A key part of it was everyone being away from home, being away from everything they loved and being in one place at the same time. So for the first time in 20 years, we went into a studio — we actually went into the studio where they did “Bohemian Rhapsody,” funnily enough. It’s a great studio in the middle of nowhere. We just played music for three weeks. And it’s great. I know everyone says that. But it really is fucking great.
It’s so dark. It’s incredibly intense. And I’ve waited 10 years to do something that means something. It’s going to work really well. I’m not sure how much of it we’ll play this summer at festivals. It’s not really festival music. The songs are like 10 minutes, 12 minutes long. We recorded 19 songs. So I have no idea what to do now. The others are saying, “Triple album!” I’m saying, no let’s not. I’ll pick six or maybe eight songs and do like a single album. But I think it will delight our hardcore fans. And probably really, really infuriate everyone else. At my age, I’m still doom and gloom.
When do you want to put this out?
We’ll finish it before we start in the summer, and it’ll be mixed through the summer. And then so release date, I don’t know, October? Halloween! Come on!
Are you gonna do Disintegration in the U.S.?
It’s inevitable, I think. When we did the last festival, I said, “this is it.” But once we’ve rehearsed it, I know it’s going to be really good. We’re holding home theaters in New York and Los Angeles. But I kind of feel like we should do it in a bigger venue. I’d like to a big show with it, really. It’s a bigger album. I think when we did the first three albums we did three nights at the Beacon in New York. It was much more punky. We were trying to recreate that vibe. But I think Disintegration is just big. So we need to do somewhere that’s just big. But probably about Christmas time we’ll come back.
This year is your 40th anniversary. What does that mean to you?
It means I’m fucking old!
The Cure have become a legendary band. You could do three nights at Madison Square Garden.
I think it’s because we haven’t changed that much in a funny way. I know Radiohead talked about integrity and authenticity and stuff. It’s kind of like an unspoken thing with us. We don’t bang on about it. But that’s why we retain so many fans, I think. Because they know we’re not pretending what we do. It doesn’t change the world, but it’s everything. Those five songs, I’m just there. It’s good being in the band, in the Cure at the moment. It’s such a wonderful thing to have this lineup; and for me to be this age and still love it.