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A REFLECTION: Legendary Cure drummer Lol Tolhurst doesn’t cry over past in his autobiography "Cured"

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OKLAHOMA CITY — One half of the Two Imaginary Boys who founded rock and roll’s most ethereal, darkly transcendent groups to ever trod out of West Sussex, Lol Tolhurst was the driving beat behind the Cure from the very beginning. From their introductory nihilistic offerings to worldwide commercial success, Tolhurst was the pulse of a band that proudly wore its heart on its sleeve.

As the band was in the midst of reaching the apex of their success with the release of their absolutely seminal album Disintegration, Tolhurst was let go from the band due to his issues with alcohol. Almost 25 years later, however, a clean and sober (and ultimately grateful) Tolhurst is in the public eye again, touring across Europe and America in support of his critically-acclaimed autobiography Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys.

Tolhurst will be in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, November 29th at 2 p.m. in the ACM@UCO Songwriting Room, 25 S. Oklahoma Ave., 1st Floor, as part of their Masterclass Series. Admission is free and open to the public.

In-between days of book tour stops, Tolhurst sat down with Red Dirt Report and discussed his life as part of the Cure, the legacy of his music and Morrissey being, well, a “whingebag”…

Louis Fowler: The Cure was formed in the late 70s when punk was the big thing. What inspired you and the guys to go off in a darker, more introspective direction than what was popular at the time?

Lol Tolhurst: I think looking back on it, reflecting over that time, and especially where we grew up, it’s given me some good indication of why we went the way that we did. About a year ago I was doing one of those virtual journeys via Google or whatever, having a look at all the streets on the computer where we grew up and where we hung out when we were kids…it was immediately enhanced to me, looking at the dark, dank countryside, and the gray sky, all of that, it was immediately obvious to me why we made the kind of music that we did, because what we saw in front of us we interpreted into sound.

Do feel that decision to be sonically different is what not only led to the Cure’s eventual success, but their longevity as well?

Yeah, if you’re in a band or an artist, you want to be….not necessarily unique, but you do want to have something that differentiates you from everybody else…with our design, we did actually do that. It’s something that stuck with a lot of people, because it’s still resonating with people now. We have sixty year old fans and sixteen year old fans that were born long after I left the band.

Many people have put the Cure in this box as a Gothy, gloomy band when, truth be told, many of the band’s biggest hits have been poppy, upbeat numbers. From the inside, how did you always view the band’s sound?

I think there are a lot of misconceptions people have about the Cure. If somebody listens to the band and has never seen us before and came to see us backstage after the show, they would be surprised because I think a lot of people expect it to be black foliage and candles and a lot of crying and that’s not who we really were as people. We took what we did seriously, don’t get me wrong, we were very committed to what we were doing, but we were aware of the absurdity of most of it, so we didn’t take a lot of ourselves too seriously.

In America, in the 80s, many parents were afraid that music by bands like the Cure caused teenagers to be depressed and commit suicide. As a teenager, I found the music to be emotionally cathartic. What was it, do you feel, that fans understood about the music that parents didn’t get?

I’ve talked to lots of people on this book tour about that very question and I can tell you with all sincerity that at every stop I’ve made, at least two or three people come up to me and say “Thank you.”  They say “Look, I had a bad time when I was growing up, a bad period in my life and your music actually helped me through it, it helped me to live through it.” But parents and people would see it as a threat, when the actual, natural truth is it would be the opposite; the truth is I believe we were a helpful thing, even today, if I go to see Robert and everybody play, at the auditorium, or the theater, or the arena, I feel nothing but a sort of love from the camaraderie coming from the audience; people are very connected and in a positive way. I feel very good about that.

You’ve put down your life story in the autobiography Cured. What do you hope that fans of yourself and the band get out of reading the book?

I hope that they get what I got out of having the Cure as my family for most of my life: I hope they get that sense of longing, that sense of if you are an outsider, there are a whole bunch of people that are just the same and want to enjoy the same things that you and I do. Community is a helpful thing. I also want people to realize that yes, things can go bad, but, in the end, there is redemption. You can be better, things can be better. I wanted Cured to be hopeful, more than anything else.

In Cured, you’re very honest about the issues that ultimately led to you being fired from the band. If you could go back in time, would you do things differently, or, looking back, do you feel like it needed to happen?

I think the latter really. I wouldn’t want to second guess the universe or whatever is out there, whatever it has planned for me. What I do know is that I regret nothing; I think to myself if this is the way my life is supposed to be, I know that I have learned things from it and it has helped me. I’m in the second half of my life and I’ve found it very helpful to reflect on how and what has happened to me and be very grateful for it. I’m not in the slightest…I’m not regretful. I think it has made me who I am and what I am and I’m very happy for that.

You reunited with the Cure in 2011 for a series of momentous reunion shows. What did it feel like playing with your old bandmates after so long?

That was kind of cathartic too, and transcendent in its own way. I remembered saying to Simon (Gallup) when I got on stage the first time…we rehearsed a bit in England and I live in California so I flew over to England and we rehearsed in a town nearby to where we grew up and that was very nostalgic for me, lurking around that place that I’d been as a teenager and I said to Simon it feels just “natural” again and he said even though we’re older, when you step out on stage it’s like you “have no age.” You play as the Cure and it’s timeless and ageless for us and I really got that feeling. I looked out there and I saw some people I hadn’t seen in maybe 30 years and they look older, but they’re still the same people, they still have the same feelings. That was exactly what happened to me.

How has the outpouring of support been for you and the book since you’ve been out touring with it and meeting fans?

It’s been great. Most nights, we do between 100 to 200 people, who, believe you me, when you’re a first time author at a book signing event, is quite a lot of people. They are all engaged and they all understand about the book that, yes, it’s the story of the band but it’s also the story of a friendship and a cautionary tale about how things can go. It’s been very positive and the most creative thing I’ve done since I left the Cure. When I first started this, I asked people how long does an author normally go on the road for a tour and they said five to ten shows but I’ve been doing it so much, I think I’ve done over 60…it’s been really good to get out there and see people I haven’t seen in so many years and just tell them thank you, thank you for being a part of my life, thank you for helping me have a life, because I’ve had a life, a complete life.

Final question: Morrissey once called Robert Smith a “whingebag.” What is a “whingebag” and is he one?
A whingebag is quite a good word actually; it just means someone that is always moaning and complaining. I would actually think, having read Mr. Morrissey’s autobiography myself, that one could level that accusation at him a bit more. I really liked his book, the first few pages telling you all about Manchester, it was very good, very evocative, but then there’s that point at which he starts telling you how much he hates the drummer in the Smiths, and then pages later it’s still how much he hates the drummer in the Smiths. So, really, one might level that accusation at Mr. Morrissey, y’know?

For more info on Lol Tolhurst’s ACM@UCO appearance, check out the event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/332420270446685/

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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