The titles of the Cure’s classic albums are so goth that arranging them together forms the greatest tortured abstract poetry you’ve ever heard. “faith….. pornography….. disintegration….wish…. B L O O D F L O W E R.” The point being, they’re already one of the defining goth bands even before adding in their voluminous guitar/synth landscapes and Robert Smith’s German Expressionist stage getup. Sadly for goths worldwide, Smith is rejecting the label that he and his band have been unofficial symbols of for decades.
In a new interview with Time Out magazine, the Cure frontman and Gothfather explained that he got “stuck” with the goth aesthetic “at a certain time when goths first started.” He says that his signature makeup was a result of his early gig playing guitar with goth pioneers Siouxsie & the Banshees and “having to play the part” to presumably keep up with Siouxsie Sioux’s OG goth aesthetic. He’s only kept wearing the makeup for about 35 years because he says it’s now become part of his concert ritual and because “I have ill-defined features and naturally pale skin.”
This isn’t the first time Smith has distanced himself from goth culture: he told Reuters in 2006 that “it’s so pitiful when ‘goth’ is still tagged onto the name The Cure. We’re not categorizable.” To me, this just the begs the question of why The Cure chose to do a song for gothic film totem The Crow if they don’t identify as goth in the first place, which is probably answered in the Time Out interview when the writer asks Smith about what he thinks of goths themselves.
Every goth I’ve ever met has been very nice, you know? As a subculture, I think it’s full of wonderful people. But I have never liked what’s classified as goth music.
Now you’ve really gotta wonder: is it in fact more goth to say you’re not goth? Perhaps Smith played us. Then again, “gothic rock” has always been a nebulous term and The Cure are probably best-defined as a cool, unique group that bridged the gap from post-punk to early alt-rock. Maybe the real goths were the songs we cried to along the way. You can read the rest of Smith’s Time Out interview here.
Phil is on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Noisey CA.