Robert Smith

Robert Smith

The hair is bird's-nest perfect. The lipstick scrawled on with impeccable inaccuracy. The outfit a bleak cornucopia of black jogging top, jet granddad shirt, pitch baggy trousers and chunky boots of deepest ebony. He shuffles around the misty, Tim Burton-style cardboard forest NME has erected in his studio's live room with practised awkwardness, wringing his hands and pretending to shiver like an overgrown 10-year-old playing the lead in a school production of Edward Scissorhands.It's definitely a Robert Smith alright. But is it the Robert Smith?As our evening at Parkgate Studio in the wilds of East Sussex draws on, we find more and more reasons to believe The Cure have mischievously sent along one of Smith's many adoring clones to conduct their first interview in years. The Robert Smith, legend claims, is painfully timid, deeply morose and prone to explosive, egocentric, band-sacking tantrums. This Robert Smith, however, couldn't be more accommodating. He's keen to make sure we've all the beer and nibbles we desire, apologises when Interpol come on the studio iPod because, "I know you don't like them; is this painful for you?", and happily poses for over two hours of spooky snapshots with the modest proviso, "Is it OK if I wear black?" The day before the interview he'd emailed to ask what sort of tipple we'd like and our reply of "red wine, preferably Spanish" has led to the entire night having a Hispanic theme; all wines are Rioja, all beers San Miguel and dinner is paella.What's more, when we sit Smith down in the studio's front lounge for his only interview of 2008 we find him effusive, boisterous and constantly on the verge of a choking fit of giggles. He seems, well, really rather happy.

Anyone would think doom-rock's erstwhile Pope Of Mope was excited at the impending release of '4:13 Dream', The Cure's 13th studio album and easily their best since 1992's 'Wish'. But we know better.

Congratulations, Robert Smith! The Cure are set to be crowned next year's NME Godlike Geniuses!

"It's very nice of NME to offer it to us," says the man affectionately known as Uncle Bob, in a Crawley twang strangely reminiscent of an even chirpier Noel Fielding.

"It came a bit out of the blue. Some of the people who have won it. I've got a list of the people and some of them are well deserving of that honour and some, perhaps, in my opinion, not so. Does it devalue the award? Not necessarily. Do I think we're deserving of it? Yes, probably, if anyone else is. Over the course of 30 years I've probably done enough to warrant getting an award."

Not arf, Bobster. Indeed, it's difficult to imagine a band more worthy of the accolade. Not only were The Cure (alongside Joy Division, Sonic Youth and The Smiths) the original architects of everything we now know as 'indie', from its jittering heartbeat to its chiming maelstrom guitars to its slapdash way with a mascara stick, but they did it all while being the UK's best pop band disguised as glowery freakazoid zombie clowns with permanently priapic hairdos.

They're the enduring '80s icons who provided emotional succour for the desolate and dislocated with majestically moody masterpieces such as 'Pornography' and 'Disintegration' and jumped around whooping whopping great pop tunes such as 'The Lovecats', 'Close To Me', and 'Friday I'm In Love' dressed as bears for everybody else.

They were cool enough to invent goth and then disown it in time to invent every emotional rock band from Cocteau Twins to Arcade Fire instead. And if The Cure hadn't wrestled the big, blustery synths from the new romantics and beaten them bloody with deviant razorwire guitars back in the early-'80s, rock music today would be nothing but weedy, reedy janglebottoms ripping off The La's and The Killers would sound like Starsailor. FACT.

"Do I ever feel Godlike?" Smith ponders. "Rarely. I used to, occasionally. I think the job that I do and attaining a certain level of success, it often brings you feelings of omnipotence, hand-in-hand with taking vast amounts of drugs, but it's not a bad thing as long as you don't wake up in the morning still believing you are that person.

"We've been talking about what we're going to do at the awards, about trying to segue every hit. If we can put them all in the same key and just run through, it would be really cool to do a six-minute piece that took in everything. It would be a big arse though, because if anyone forgets just one of them, you're fucked."

Ambition, drunkenness, drama, opulence, jubilation, drug mania, suicide and despair. And playing acid tennis with himself, snorting five-foot lines of speed with Lemmy and being the only member of Siouxie And The Banshees in pyjamas. Why are The Cure next year's Godlike Geniuses? Show me, show me, show me.

Check out part two of the interview where Robert Smith discusses The legacy, the pop in their pomp, growing old gracefully and what it’s like still being relevant after all these years.

Check out Part Two of the interview here.

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