"Goth: A History" by Lol Tolhurst

Started by dsanchez, March 15, 2023, 20:30:59

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QuoteFollowing his memoir Cured, a fascinating deep dive into the dark Romanticism of Goth music, a misunderstood genre and culture by co-founder of The Cure, Lol Tolhurst

GOTH is an entertaining and engaging historical memoir of the genre of Goth music and culture, exploring creative giants like The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division, and many more great bands that offered a place of refuge for the misfits of the 80s and ever since. Written by Lol Tolhurst, co-founder of The Cure, this book offers a fascinating deep dive into the movers and shakers of goth with stories and anecdotes from Tolhurst's personal memories as well as the musicians, magicians, and artists, who made it all happen—the people, places, and events that made goth an inevitable and enduring movement.

Starting with the Origins of Goth, Tolhurst explores early art and literature that inspired the genre and looks into the work of T.S Eliot, Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath , Albert Camus and more. He also outlines the path of Gothic Forebears and shows how many musicians played in punk bands before transitioning into goth endeavors. Next, he introduces readers to the "Architects of Darkness "—Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy division  and The Cure—the godfathers of goth who established the genre's roots. Following these early bands, Tolhurst discusses a group he calls the " Spiritual Alchemists ", consisting of bands like Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins and more, who helped  the darkness expand into the culture. He also tracks the expansion of the genre overseas, from England to New York, Los Angeles, and beyond. Gothic fashion was an important part of the movement as well, and Tolhurst discusses  the clothing that accompanied and complemented the music. Finally, Tolhurst examines the legacy of goth music, and shows how its influence can still be seen to this day across music, film, TV, visual arts, social media, and so much more finally concluding "Why Goth matters!"
2023.11.22 Lima
2023.11.27 Montevideo


From Lol on Facebook:

QuoteWe're excited to announce that Lol's highly anticipated second book, GOTH: A History, will be released in the UK on September 21 and in the US on September 26. You can find all of the information, as well as the pre-order links, here -->https://bit.ly/406BIYc
Please stay tuned for updates and info on signed editions, author events and other fun stuff!

I'm walking slowly and quickly, but always away...


New interview about the book (and much more):


Quote"In conversations I've had all around the world," Tolhurst says, "the thing that's irked me is when people say: 'Oh but the music is so depressing and you're so depressed, and people listening must end up becoming more and more unhappy and even harming themselves.'

"Nothing could be further from the truth. The opposite is the truth! It's without this way of understanding life, and the expressions it gives rise to, that negative stuff becomes more likely. Listen, I'm not saying the Cure have been some great saviours or anything. But so much correspondence we have had – that I have personally had down the years – has been from people saying: 'Things were very bad for me and this music was my way out to a better place.'"

After meeting Pamela Des Barres – author of the LA rock groupie classic, I'm With the Band – Tolhurst gave her early drafts of a confessional memoir. Told he had clear literary talent, he produced the well-received Cured, published in 2016. A compelling account of the Cure's early rise, and an honest narration of his own self-destructive fall, one review described the book as among "the best accounts of alcoholism you will ever come across".

Goth is an attempt at a broader snapshot of the times that formed him. Observer readers of a certain vintage, brought up on a late-70s diet of the John Peel show, NME and the occasional French existentialist novel, will feel a warm glow of recognition. Via a litany of bands, and literary influences ranging from Rimbaud to Franz Kafka and Albert Camus, Tolhurst explores the alternative mindset that even managed to infiltrate Top of the Pops in the late 70s and early 80s. "People who enjoyed Cured," he says, "said they wanted to know more about where it all came from, that music and that world. So I've tried to locate the meaning, the whys and the wherefores."

So where did all the doominess come from? "Postwar in the UK," says Tolhurst, "you had the Beatles and then the idealistic, utopian stuff of the late 60s. During the economic crisis that put Thatcher into power, that all curdled. Punk was a cleansing." In the book, he draws on the work of Irish author and academic Tracy Fahey, whose work links the gothic in art to periods of acute social disruption. The Industrial Revolution delivered Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in 1818. The collapse of the postwar political consensus in the 1970s delivered punk. But Sex Pistols-style nihilism was never going to be enough for Tolhurst and Smith, two Catholic boys from suburban Crawley with a taste for the mystical and mysterious.

"One of the things post-punk liberated," Tolhurst argues, "was the sense of romantic longing that is inherent in teen lives. It allowed us to jump out of the musical quicksand of the 70s, cross over the bridge of punk, and give a voice to the thousand bedsit poets in love with the melancholy beauty of existence."

In provincial towns across Britain, one of the byproducts of this transition was a thriving subculture made up of black-clad, pale-faced, hairsprayed gloomsters. In clubs such as the Batcave in London and the Bastille in Bristol, songs devoted to doomed love, transience, decay and death packed dancefloors. Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Damned, Bauhaus and the Cure provided the soundtrack for a new darkly romantic aesthetic. It was, he says, about "far more than spiking your hair up and putting on black clothes".

Old graveyard habits die hard. When on the road, Tolhurst and his assistant, Margie, generally make a point of visiting what they call the local "death exhibits", such as the JFK memorial sites in Dallas. While in Peru attending a book festival, he remembers being captivated by a museum display at the Catholic University of Santa Maria in Arequipa. Freezing temperatures had preserved the body of an Inca girl sacrificed to the gods in the 15th century, and she was on permanent display. "It was like something out of a David Lynch movie," he says. Latin America was a revelation to Tolhurst. Cured went down notably well there, leading him to do events in Chile and Argentina, as well as Peru. "There's more reverence for the transcendental," he comments. "I think growing up Catholic sets you up for it."...

In the three decades since Tolhurst's departure, the Cure have only got bigger. During the summer, they came to play at the Hollywood Bowl, a few miles down the road from where Tolhurst has constructed his new life.

In 2011, Smith invited his oldest friend back to play in a series of shows to celebrate the band's first three albums.

Nevertheless, it still felt like a big moment when Tolhurst went backstage at the Bowl for a reunion. "It was very strange," he says. "The dressing room was right in the bowels and when I went down there it was like being back in 1977. It was such a weird feeling! I took my niece who is 21 and she'd never experienced so many English people all speaking together in the same place. There were a lot of children of various members of the Cure that I knew about, but had never met."

Between Smith, Simon Gallup, the Cure's longtime bassist, and himself, there remain, Tolhurst thinks, things to be talked through and mulled over. "Talking to Simon, he said we have got a lot of history. We need to talk about it. And I got the impression that Robert wants... not necessarily to tie up loose ends but to make sure that everything's together and helpful and good, because he's a good person. He actually said that to me – that we've got a lot to talk about but backstage at the Hollywood Bowl is not the place!"
I'm walking slowly and quickly, but always away...


Review by Julianne Regan (All About Eve):


QuoteThere have been a lot of goth books this year following LTW editor John Robb's 'The Art of Darkness – The History Of Goth'. The latest is by former member of The Cure, Lol Tolhurst.

With Lol's good friend and collaborator Budgie having penned the foreword, there's a wholly reliable endorsement of what's to come.

Here comes my declaration of interest. I first met Lol back in September 2016 when invited by his publisher to do a Q&A for the release of his previous book, Cured. We've not since asked one another round for tea as there's an ocean between us, but we've remained cyberfriends. While writing this book, I was one of a number of people from whom Lol sought input. I was/am an outsider, a misfit, and yes, a post-punk goth. I told him how much The Cure had meant to me as a sad and shy young girl who'd just moved to London, and we shared experiences of what it was like to grow up in Coventry, in my case, and in his, Crawley. We were hicks dreaming of what the rest of the world might offer, itching to wriggle from our respective cocoons and flutter off into an imagined widescreen, panoramic future, suffering/enjoying what Lol calls a 'melancholy longing'.

Outsiders often find inspiration in literature, and literature certainly features in Lol's tome as he shares how at a tender age, he was significantly influenced by something of a holy trinity; Sylvia Plath, (for whom he has great affection and considers '...the patron saint of postmodern feminist Goths'), Albert Camus (whose novel L'Étranger (The Stranger) inspired The Cure Song 'Killing An Arab'), and Jean-Paul Sartre, (who Lol posits '...directly inspired the interior explorations of goth bands like Joy Division and The Cure.'). As Lol puts it, "Literature inspired music and music inspired literature in an endless recursive loop."

Lol, who grew up at a tantalisingly and comparatively close-but-no-cigar distance from London, has now lived in Los Angeles for over a quarter of a century and is therefore well placed to view and comment upon goth from a transatlantic if not global perspective. He can authoritatively explore, for example, both the English / European pastoral gothicity of And Also The Trees, and conversely the 'bohemian ghost' of Jim Morrison and The Doors – who for many mark the ground zero of goth – that still haunts his local beach.

Elegantly, Lol divides content largely into three distinct sections, with The Doors featuring in the chapter Prototypes in Part One (Origins), alongside Nico, Scott Walker and David Bowie. And Also The Trees, who Lol produced back in 1983, appear in Part Three (Legion), rightfully ensconced with Cocteau Twins (among others) in the chapter Spiritual Alchemists. But for the more casual reader, it may well be Part Two, (Eternals), that delivers the money shot, as it's here that you get the really big guns; Joy Division, Bauhaus, Siouxsie And The Banshees, and The Cure.

The overall tone of this work strikes a healthy and engaging balance between personal reminiscence and social anthropology.

Lol embraces all opportunity to diversify while seeking the dark melancholy in a wider context of which music is just part, and this includes fashion, art and architecture. In his view, The Cure albums Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography collide to form a Francis Bacon-style triptych, while elsewhere in the book he delves into German Expressionism in the context of art and cinema, making vibrant and solid links with goth.
(Read more at the link above)
I'm walking slowly and quickly, but always away...


"Goth" dedicated to CUREFANS.COM :oops:
2023.11.22 Lima
2023.11.27 Montevideo


Audio book also available:

QuoteAlanna McAuliffe: As a whole, the goth subculture seems to be largely misunderstood and mischaracterized. Your paradigm-shifting history seeks to change that. What new understandings do you ultimately hope listeners take away from Goth: A History?

Lol Tolhurst: When I think of what I want listeners to take away from Goth: A History, I am more concerned that people should understand the actual feelings and philosophy of the genre rather than the outward appearance or fashion of the subculture. Yes, I realize the external appearance is what most people consider "goth." Still, I also want people to understand that goth is a very ancient journey of understanding and personal evolution more than anything else. Everyone I know who subscribes to the culture of goth has arrived there by considering their place in this world and how to deal with feelings of being, for want of a better word, "outsiders." Goth is a way of dealing with that place and time we find ourselves.
Read more at:

I'm walking slowly and quickly, but always away...



Quote"I think once you find something that fits you, you don't want to leave it behind — you adapt," he said in a phone interview.

That's the thrust of his new book, "Goth: A History": Goth isn't a way of dressing or a genre of music, but a lens through which to see the world. Goth is for everyone, Tolhurst writes, and it's not a "phase" one has to outgrow.

"My life in Goth served as a kind of communal reverse meditation," Tolhurst writes. "By exploring the darkness of books, films, music, and paintings together, we escaped for a brief moment to better understand the place we all found ourselves in time and space. We kept floating but now (were) a little more liberated."

The reality of goth, Tolhurst said, is a fascination with "all those things that we don't really, as a culture, like to look at straightaway — death, darkness."

"It sounds paradoxical, but it's life-affirming," he said. "We don't have to be so afraid."

Goth was born from punk, Tolhurst writes, which itself was a response to the turmoil and hopelessness of 1970s England, where unemployment was rampant, racial discrimination targeted vibrant communities like Brixton in London and those who challenged the status quo were ostracized. Tolhurst and his co-founders of The Cure, Robert Smith and Michael Dempsey, saw it firsthand when they ventured into London as curious teens, witnessing clashes between police and citizens and the irascible performances by punk and post-punk artists.
I'm walking slowly and quickly, but always away...


Review incl. an exclusive excerpt from the audiobook:


QuoteTolhurst writes candidly about how this era shaped musical liberty today despite the persistence of uncertainty and avoidance in human nature. I notice the recurring themes of female inspiration, Sylvia Plath, Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie and the Banshees), Julianne Regan (All About Eve), and Tolhurst's mother, all emancipated, defying conventions.

The author illustrates the dynamic nature of musical genres, showing how they evolve and interact over time. Music is likened to a jigsaw puzzle, where each piece represents an artist, an influence, a creative project, or anything else that contributes to the musical landscape. The puzzle is complete with all of these pieces, which raises interesting questions about the historical development of music. Tolhurst says it best: "It taught me that being myself – with all the strange feelings and questions starting to manifest in me as a young adult – was enough, and I didn't have to conform to society's straitjacket."
I'm walking slowly and quickly, but always away...