Robert Smith: "I can't think we will do anything else (after the next record)"

Started by dsanchez, June 13, 2021, 13:22:14

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QuoteI've struggled more with finishing the words to these new Cure recordings than at any other point. We recorded 20-odd songs and I wrote nothing. I mean, I wrote a lot, but at the end I looked at it and thought, 'This is rubbish.' The difficulty is I've become such a harsh critic of myself I think, 'Who's going to be interested in that?' It is really that bad. I was listening, thinking this is the best music this band has made and my words are drivel.

"Last year I just gave up. I thought, 'I can't do it. They can all be instrumentals.' And this year I sort of came back to it. Last year was difficult for a number of reasons, not least the pandemic, but what I wrote this year I have enjoyed."

Quote from: undefinedThe new Cure stuff is very emotional. It's ten years of life distilled into a couple of hours of intense stuff. I can't think we'll ever do anything else.
2023.11.22 Lima
2023.11.27 Montevideo


Terrific interview, with some really interesting things discussed. the flow of it was quite undulating 😂

Thanks for sharing!
"Where the flesh meets the spirit world,
Where the traffic is thin..."


There's one thing worse than working with other people's expectations of you (high or low), if you care about those (and most of us do to an extent whether we want to or not) - and that's working with your own expectations, particularly if you're a perfectionist (or even over the years a somewhat more mellowed perfectionist).

It also seems to me there's a significant difference between people starting out and not knowing they'll ever be heard above the din, and people who have widely established reputations and audiences sending creative work out into the world. You'd go from, "Well, here it is!" to, "OMG, is this going to be on a formal curriculum somewhere with students being made to examine it under a microscope? Are people going to have theories about this?" - or even just thinking about the reactions of your established audience, if you think about that (and it's possible to care too much about these things). It's probably far more of an issue if you're thought of as a serious artist, than if you're just having fun and experimenting with what you do...

Isn't it interesting too how it's often the most accomplished people who are also their own worst critics? On the one hand, it helps drive accomplishment and in making exceptional things in the first place, and on the other, it can start to hinder that process.

Reflecting on my own life (so look away if that bothers you, but it's a common midlife lens - and if we don't work on a reasonable understanding of ourselves, how can we hope to understand anyone else?): I'm a high achiever; the stuff I achieved early in life (dux at high school, lots of academic prizes, science scholarship into university at age 16, top graduating student and more academic prizes) was never even on my radar, it was just a by-product of enjoying learning, and if I'd thought about those things I might have tied myself in knots. I was always very surprised when I got a "big award" - but I guess that was in part because I'd been taught by my unexcited parents to have low expectations of myself. My parents didn't care one way or the other what I achieved, they were much too preoccupied with their own baggage; and while that was a lonely experience, I also think that gave me a freedom I would not have had if my parents had been pushy parents who wanted me to achieve big things so that they could appease their own egos/baggage. If they'd been like that I think I'd have chucked it in - but because they weren't, learning remained my own private universe, and a sort of personal cubby-house I could enjoy.

I guess ideal parenting of a high achiever would look like this: Parents who were happy and excited about what you achieved, but who also made a distinction between your person and external achievements, and who valued you as a person over and above your achievements - who never made one conditional on the other. So then you learn it's OK just to be, and just to be yourself, and you don't always have to excel at some kind of Life Olympics.

I've no idea how Robert Smith was parented, but a general observation is that kids who are born late in the family constellation are usually born to parents who are no longer super-excited about babies and toddlerhood - it's often kind of, "Ho hum, another baby/toddler, been there, done that, got the T-shirt." You're competing with the older siblings for parental attention, and because age makes them more accomplished by default at that stage in life, younger siblings don't often take the "competent" role - unless older siblings, perhaps under achievement pressure from parents with baggage in that direction, actively reject that role. Significantly younger siblings are often playing "look at me" to be noticed - unless being noticed by their parents is a really unpleasant experience (but sometimes even then).

Though parenting and early experiences tend to set up our subconscious "programming" and our autopilots, there's also how we react to things at the time - and then as a reflecting adult later on, we can look at how we'd like to be and re-programme ourselves to an extent (of course, life experiences also continue to shape us, and we can start to direct the flow of life experiences to a point, knowing this).

Once you've achieved super-high standards as a youngish person, you do sooner or later come up against the idea that you've always got to do as well or better than before (in yourself and in others), and that's actually completely unrealistic, and making a whip for your own back. If you're fortunate, you'll go back to your intrinsic motivations and do a reasonable job at ignoring the external stuff like you did as a child, and enjoy being in the flow and doing things that interest you, without too much, "I should be this/that" etc.

/end reflection

Funny isn't it, how Robert Smith was pretty much always saying, "I'm never doing this again!" after working on an album. Of course, one day it's going to be true, but if it takes rather more of you than is comfortable to do a certain thing, of course you're going to feel like that. We were like that when we finished building our house: "Never, ever, ever again!!!!" - even though it's come out above our expectations and we love it and so do the vast majority of people who come to stay with us. There was, however, so much of our own blood and guts in this project that it nearly killed us, and it went on and on far longer than we thought - five years, not two (mostly because I wouldn't give up on my standards; also some major curveballs) - and the thought of doing something like that ever again makes us want to scream... (although recently, and this is five years after we finished the house, Brett said, "You know, it would be kind of fun to make a really tiny cottage."  :lol:)

Or maybe an alternative-architecture doghouse. But wait, we already have one of those!  :winking_tongue

Anyway, I both empathise, and am really looking forward to the new albums.  ;)  :smth023  I'm willing to bet they're going to have been worth the time that was invested in them (even if it doesn't necessarily feel like that yet to the people who left their blood and guts on the floor to do it). ♥
SueC is time travelling


Good interview, thanks for sharing.

Other newschannels have picked up on it, someone sent me this:

Quote"The new Cure stuff is very emotional," Smith told The Sunday Times. "It's 10 years of life distilled into a couple of hours of intense stuff."

He then added: "And I can't think we'll ever do anything else. I definitely can't do this again."
I'm walking slowly and quickly, but always away...


Quote from: RSI want to sing as I speak and my vocabulary is reasonably OK, so I thought, 'I'll put "undulating" in a song.' That is one I tried. Then I think, 'You're not singing f*cking "undulating"!'"

En cette nation [Russie] qui n'a pas eu de théoriciens et de démagogues,
les pires ferments de destruction ont apparu. (J. Péladan)


Quote from: MeltingMan on June 15, 2021, 11:23:41
Quote from: RSI want to sing as I speak and my vocabulary is reasonably OK, so I thought, 'I'll put "undulating" in a song.' That is one I tried. Then I think, 'You're not singing f*cking "undulating"!'"



He could've tried "infrastructure" or "antidisestablishmentarianism" or "supercalifragilistic"...

(or Donaudampferschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänsmützenstern...:yum:)
SueC is time travelling


Quote from: RSI want to sing as I speak and my vocabulary is reasonably OK, so I thought, 'I'll put "undulating" in a song.' That is one I tried. Then I think, 'You're not singing f*cking "undulating"!'"

It's a pity really, undulating is such a nice word!  :yum:  Also, ululating, which superficially has similarities but sounds very different and obviously has a wildly different denotation. It would be quite an apt word though to include in some styles of music... :P

You could even combine them - undulating ululations, for example (although ululating undulations probably belong in a science fiction film).  :beaming-face

Other cool words that would be interesting to see in songs include crenellations, bombastic, indurated, hypoxia... :angel

Brett would like a song with a typography theme, with words like kerning, leading, serifs, x-height, and the phrase clown vomit (=wildly inappropriate colour choices).  :cool

And if somebody, anybody out there could actually use the word decimate correctly, we'd do a dance to celebrate. (It means to reduce by 10% - for example, "The GST decimates your pocket money!" - it is not a synonym for annihilate or destroy widely or devastate...)

Has Robert Smith ever ululated? I mean, on tape or other sound recording mechanism, for serious purposes?
SueC is time travelling


It's not for me to know Robert Smith's inner emotional landscape, however we were told that his writing was informed by losing folk really dear to him in the last few years. Perhaps in an ideal world this writing should have been for him and him alone for now. It is difficult to imagine writing about something so raw under pressure of time, wanting to do it justice and knowing at the same time that this was going to be devoured by hundreds of thousands of strangers eventually.

I think most of us would have understood if he had taken more time and been a bit kinder to himself. He should never tell Cure fans or journalists that an album is on the way until it's done and just spare himself!

Everything comes to an end eventually, as will The Cure, but I'd hate to think that this lyric writing experience would be the thing to discourage RS. He's a creative man by nature it seems so I hope that he will not throw the towel in completely.

He mentioned repetition and the Jung-influenced theory on the seven basic story plots, but everything is plagiarism/ self-plagiarism to an extent. It's the perspective that makes it unique, and he is writing as a mature man now. We have listened to him grow up over the years, and we've grown alongside him. I think we will always want to listen. It's good to know someone feels those things too.