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Cure - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 31 / 7 / 2008

Cure - Interview


Anthony Strutt speaks to former and founder Cure member Lol Tolhurst about his sixteen years in the band, and his current group Levinhurst, which will be releasing their third album next year

Lol Tolhurst was a founder member of the Cure, forming it while still a school boy with Robert Smith in 1973. He played in the Cure from its early incarnations of the Obelisk, Malice and the Easy Cure and until, by the time of his departure in 1989, it had become a world-known stadium band. Born in 1959 and raised in the Sussex commuter town of Horley which is situated five miles from Crawley and between London and Brighton, Tolhurst was a member of the Cure for its first eight albums, 'Three Imaginary Boys'(1979), 'Seventeen Seconds' (1980), 'Faith' (1981), 'Pornography' (1982), 'The Top' (1984), 'The Head on the Door' (1985), 'Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me'(1987) and 'Disintegration' (1989). He began by playing drums, but switched to playing keyboards after 'Pornography'. On 'Disintegration', during the recording of which he was battling severe alcohol problems, he was credited simply as playing "other instruments". After leaving the Cure, Lol Tolhurst played keyboards in Presence, which also featured former Cure roadie Gary Biddles and original Cure bassist, Michael Dempsey. Presence broke up in 1993, shortly after releasing their debut album, 'Inside'. Since 2002, Tolhurst, who is now based in Los Angeles, has been the keyboardist and drummer in Levinhurst, the title of which is an amalgamation of his and singer Cindy Levinson's surnames. Levinhurst also originally featured Dayton Borders on guitar. There have been two albums to date, 'Perfect Life' (2004) and 'House By the Sea' (2007). A third album is promised for next year. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Lol Tolhurst about his time in the Cure, and his work since then with both Presence and Levinhurst. PB : You were born in Surrey and attended the same three schools as Robert Smith. Which School did you meet Robert at ? Was it St Francis, Notre Dame or St Wilfrid's ? LT : I met Robert at St Francis aged 5. Then we went to the same schools until we both left. PB : What were your first impressions of each other ? Can you remember back that far ? LT : Not much. We didn't have much to do with each other until we were teenagers and music united us. I have one memory, however, of a birthday party which we were both at when we were both about eight years old. PB : Was it just being into music that united your friendship ? LT : That and the fact that we also were both members of the Jimi Hendrix Fan Club ! PB : What was Crawley like in the early 70's when you were growing up ? It isn't very pleasant now. LT : An urban wasteland pretty much describes Crawley in the 70's. It was depressed post war hell really. PB : Did you both show an interest in music lessons in school? LT : Not really, although they let us use the music facilities from time to time. PB : Did you play in bands when you were at school ? LT : Yes Obelisk and Malice, which eventually became the Cure. PB : Was it the punk and new wave movement that made you both think we could do something like this, or were you both influenced by people like Bowie who were also alternative at the time ? LT : Punk gave us the green light, although our influences were very different. PB : Have you ever thought about singing yourself ? LT : Yes, I did some backing vocals on the early Cure records. PB : Why did you first form a band ? Was it something to do to kill the boredom of small town life ? LT : It was better than going to the pub. We planned our own entertainment by playing in a group. PB : What attracted you into being a drummer and then a keyboard player? LT : I am a rhythmic sort of person. PB : Did the Easy Cure come together quickly? LT : It was quick, really our only band. PB : Were you both in other projects as well until that came along ? LT : No. PB : How did you all write in the early days ? Did you write your parts then jam until you got the sound you were after ? The sound changed after the first album. After which album did you think we have something different here ? LT : We had starting points as ideas for songs which would come from anyone of us. That was usually the impetus. I don't think we were ever conscious enough to say at the time that we had something different. That came with hindsight. PB : With 'Faith' and 'Pornography' the Cure were branded as Goths. Did that bother the band ? LT : Like Robert I have never thought we were Goths. It's such a limited sound. We were interested in all music really. PB : To counteract this there was a big pop vibe to a lot of Cure numbers. Do you think the public mostly forgot about the poppy, fun side of the band and tracks like 'In Between Days' and 'Close to Me'? LT : No, I think only some people get the darker stuff. To many people, especially in the United States where I live, they think of us as a pop band too. PB : When The Cure toured in the 80's, you played massive long tours and long sets. Did that grate on you as a person or did you enjoy it ? LT : I was born to tour. I always loved it but I've only just started again as I wanted to bring up my son first. I tried to be here for the first 10 years as I see so many musicians that are absent fathers and I didn't want to be like that. PB : On the 'Pornography' tour of 1982 you were supported by And Also The Trees. You also produced several of their albums. How did that come about ? LT : And Also The Trees are a great band. We got sent a tape and we just hit it off immediately. They are great guys. PB : Did you enjoy the making of all those ground breaking videos ? LT : Yes and no. Videos involve very, very long days. They were also very expensive, so that was awful really, but the results were great and Tim Pope is lovely. PB : You are the longest continuous-serving member of the band other than Robert. Which of the other members did you bond with the most and why ? LT : Simon Gallup and Porl Thompson both come from Horley so I knew them for a long time. I used to go out with Porl's sister. That's how he met me and Robert. We also both go back a long way with Simon and his family. PB : Were most of the albums written and recorded quite quickly or did it become harder to write songs as you went along ? LT : We had a lot of songs for the first album, but as we got involved in playing longer and longer tours it became harder to write and record them. We were pretty inspired though for the first five years. PB : Other than in the Cure did you make many friends during that era who remain your friends to this day ? LT : I am still pals with Steve Severin. I just got an e-mail from him the other day. PB : You are credited as playing "other instruments" on 'Disintegration'. There are stories that you didn't play on it at all. Did you play on it ? LT : Yes, a little and I had a part in writing at least one song, 'Homesick', but not much else as I was pretty ill by then. PB : Did you leave the band at the time of your own accord or did it became an all round unworkable experience ? LT : Both really. If I had not been pushed I would have jumped. PB : After the Cure. your first post Cure band were Presence. How did that band come together ? Listening to 'Inside' now it really holds up. LT : For me Presence was too much too soon. I needed to recover after the Cure. PB : It was another eleven years until your next album. What did you get up to in the years in between ? LT : I raised my son mostly. PB : Levinhurst is your new project. It was originally a three piece now. Is it now just a two piecee and is Cindy Levinson Mrs Tolhurst ? LT : Now its a four piece with Eric Bradley on guitar and Michael Dempsey from the first line-up of the Cure on bass. Maybe we shall change the name. And, yes, Cindy is Mrs Tolhurst. PB : How would you describe Levinhurst to people who haven't heard the group yet ? LT : It's the most honest music Ive made since the start of the Cure. PB : Presence's album was released on your own label, Reality. Would you run a new label again now ? LT : Yes, I think we shall. PB : Why did you and Cindy decide to form this new band ? LT : It was a natural progression of our life together. PB : 'House by the Sea' is quite different from 'Perfect Life'? It is much more soundtrack like. What made you change direction ? LT : It's an on-going process. Unlike the Cure I don't want to get into a place where we have a certain sound that's almost expected of us. PB : What are your live shows like ? Do you use a lot of lights and effects ? LT : Ha ha ! Not much as we don't have a big budget. PB : And how are Cure fans liking it ? LT : 50% love it. 25% are indifferent and some hate it. I guess that is life really. PB : Do you have any plans to tour outside of your new home of America ? LT : Yes, if we can find a good promoter. PB : Why did you chose to move there ? LT : After the Cure I wanted to start again and to be a stranger in a strange land PB : What are your future plans ? LT : Look out for album number three next year. It's going to be a monster. PB : Thank you.

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