“In my own mind there have been five bands called The Cure that I’m in”: Robert Smith on the ever-changing line-up of his goth trailblazers

The Cure in 1987
(Image credit: Ross Marino/Getty Images)

Over a lifespan of four and a half decades, The Cure have been through a raft of line-up changes around leader and frontman Robert Smith. Members have left, members have come back, members have left again – basically, you shouldn’t get too cosy if you’re a member of The Cure. Plus goths shouldn’t get cosy anyway, it just doesn’t go.

The reasons for the numerous departures and arrivals vary, but speaking in an interview with Swedish TV channel STV2 in 2002, Smith said the underlying principle in The Cure was to keep shaking things up. “I hate the idea of people knowing what the band does,” Smith said. “In my own mind there have been five bands called The Cure that I’m in… The Cure has been an unusual band. We will never shake the goth tag - I still have to field questions about being the godfather of goth. We cover a breadth of material but we’re pigeonholed despite that. I can live with it because I know that anyone who’s into the band knows there’s slightly more to it than doom and gloom.”

Looking back over the band’s career, Smith revealed that some of their sonic diversions were to purposely escape what had just gone before. “With Pornography, I got fed up with the audience as well,” he says, referring to one of the group’s darkest records. “I couldn’t bare to do another show where I was looking out and people were looking back at me going [Smith pulls a depressed face], I wanted to do something more upbeat.”

Smith says there have been two periods in the group where he’s thought of something more drastic than a line-up change and considered disbanding The Cure, with one moment following the tour to support 1987’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me marking a particular low point. “I’d had enough,” he tells the interviewer. “But that’s because we toured for 14 months and I fucking hated everyone in the band. Throughout the 80s, it was 350 days a year I was in The Cure whereas now it’s 150 days a year, if that. The perspective is different and the balance is different. The others feel the same - it’s just I’m the only one who ever gets interviewed!”

These days, The Cure have settled on a fairly steady line-up, with the majority of the group in the band since 2012. The most recent addition was Perry Bamonte, who joined in 2022, but who was also in the group from 1990-2005. He was probably due another go.

Watch the interview from 2002 below:

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.