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Robert Smith band photo-shoot
Robert James Smith
21 April 1959 Blackpool, England
Robert James Smith (born on 21 April 1959) is an English musician. He is the lead singer, guitar player and principal songwriter of the rock band The Cure, and its only constant member since its founding in 1976. NY Rock calls him "pop culture's unkempt poster child of doom and gloom", and describes his songs as "sombre introspection over lush, brooding guitars".
His intricate guitar playing and innovative use of flanging, chorusing and phasing effects has led him to be considered a pioneer guitarist in the goth and new wave genres. He also played in the band Siouxsie and the Banshees. Besides guitar, Smith plays the 6-string bass and keyboards.
He is also known for his appearance - teased hair, black clothes, pale skin, smudged red lipstick and black eyeliner - as well as his distinctive voice.
Early years and personal lifeEdit
Robert Smith was born in Blackpool and is the third of four children born to Alex and Rita Smith. His siblings are Richard, Margaret and Janet. When he was three years old his family moved to Horley in Surrey, then finally to Crawley four years later. Smith was raised as a Catholic and went to Notre Dame Middle School and St. Wilfrid's Comprehensive School in Crawley. He was an accomplished student who maintained high marks, but after he began playing guitar at the age of 11 his primary focus quickly became his music. He was influenced by The Beatles, Nick Drake, Jimi Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, The Stranglers, Wire, Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Ink Spots, The Statler Brothers, Syd Barrett, Joy Division and David Bowie.
Role in The CureEdit
When The Cure was first formed, Smith did not intend to become the lead vocalist; he only began singing after the original singer left and the group could not find a suitable replacement. From the late 1970s and into the 1980s, Smith composed some of The Cure's songs on a Hammond organ with a built-in tape recorder, including a complete demo of the song "10:15 Saturday Night".
Smith has written or co-written the bulk of the band's music and lyrics over its 30 year lifespan. With Lol Tolhurst, Smith wrote such songs as "The Lovecats", "Let's Go to Bed", and "The Walk". He wrote the album The Top between stints as Siouxsie and the Banshees' guitarist. Smith has co-produced most of the band's material.
Stage persona and imageEdit
Smith began sporting his trademark style of smeared red lipstick, eye-liner, pale complexion, sleeping in graves, artfully dishevelled black hair, black clothes, and trainers in the early 1980s, around the same time as the Goth subculture got its start. However, Smith denies any link and claims it's a coincidence that the styles are similar, stating that he has worn make-up since he was young and saying, "It's so pitiful when 'goth' is still tagged onto the name The Cure."
His song writing for the band's early albums centered around themes of depression, loneliness, and isolation. The sombre mood of these early albums, along with Smith's on-stage persona, cemented the band's "gothic" image.
The band's aesthetic went from gloomy to psychedelic beginning with the album The Top. In 1986, Smith further altered his image by appearing on-stage and in press photos sporting short spiky hair and polo shirts (this can be seen in The Cure in Orange, a concert in the south of France released on video in 1987). His new haircut made the headlines on MTV news.
Although Smith's public persona suggests a depressed image, he has said that his songs do not convey how he feels all, or even most, of the time:
- "At the time we wrote Disintegration ... it's just about what I was doing really, how I felt. But I'm not like that all the time. That's the difficulty of writing songs that are a bit depressing. People think you're like that all the time, but I don't think that. I just usually write when I'm depressed."
In the band's earliest period, Smith used a soft vocal style on the demos of "10:15 Saturday Night" and "Boys Don't Cry", and a frenetic punk style on "I Just Need Myself". Both of those styles were left behind as a third emerged during the production of the band's debut album, Three Imaginary Boys. This new sound, which can be heard on most of the final versions of songs from that period, became the signature Smith sound, which he generally employed until the 2000 album Bloodflowers. Around that time, Smith said he wanted to improve his singing, the opposite of his goal in 1984: he remarked in the documentary Ten Imaginary Years that he tried to sing badly on the album The Top.
Smith's songwriting has shown a range of styles and themes over the years. Early songs incorporated literary paraphrase (of Camus' novel L'Etranger in "Killing an Arab"), punk metafiction ("So What"), surrealism ("Accuracy"), straight-forward rock/pop ("Boys Don't Cry", "I'm Cold"), and poetic mood pieces ("Another Day" and "Fire in Cairo"). In subsequent decades, Smith explored more poetic moods, which accorded with New Order and other bands of that genre.
Smith's songwriting took a more pop-oriented turn following Pornography. Even Smith's seemingly upbeat tracks often contain dark themes; for example, the single "In Between Days" contrasts a bouncy pop-rock beat with lyrics about sadness and heartbreak.
In an interview in 2000, Smith said that "... there is one particular kind of music, an atmospheric type of music, that I enjoy making with the Cure. I enjoy it a lot more than any other kind of sound". When Smith was asked about the 'sound' of his songwriting, Smith said that he did not "... think there is such a thing as a typical Cure sound. I think there are various Cure sounds from different periods and different line-ups."
Smith has also been involved in other musical projects, including stints in 1979 and 1982–84 as guitarist with Siouxsie and the Banshees, and a side project in 1983 with Banshee bassist Steven Severin called The Glove.
In 1980, Smith sang backing vocals on the song "The Affectionate Punch" on the Associates' debut album The Affectionate Punch. At the time, the Associates were also signed to Fiction Records. The Cure song, "Cut Here", is about the Associates' singer Billy MacKenzie's suicide.
In 1992-1993 Smith formed a friendship with The Cranes, whom he asked to open shows on The Wish Tour to support the Wish album. Smith later contributed some guitar work on an alternate version of The Cranes' "Jewel" single.
In 1998, Smith formed a "one-off" side project with Jason Cooper and wikipedia:Reeves Gabrels under the name COGASM, releasing the track "A Sign from God" for the film Orgazmo. In 2000, Smith contributed to the track "Yesterday's Gone" on Reeves Gabrels' solo album Ulysses (Della Notte).
In 2003, Smith collaborated with the wikipedia:pop punk band Blink-182 on the track "All of This" on their self-titled Blink-182 album. He also provided vocals for Junior Jack for the club hit "Da Hype".
In 2004, Smith co-wrote and supplied vocals for the Tweaker song "Truth Is". Smith collaborated again with Junior Jack on a remix of "Da Hype", featured on the album Trust It. Blank & Jones remixed "wikipedia:A Forest" featuring Smith on vocals. He was also featured as a vocalist and co-writer on wikipedia:JunkieXL's "Perfect Blue Sky".
In 2005, Smith teamed up with wikipedia:Billy Corgan, lead singer and lead guitarist of both wikipedia:The Smashing Pumpkins and wikipedia:Zwan, to do a cover of the wikipedia:Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" on Corgan's first solo release, wikipedia:TheFutureEmbrace.
2011 Smith collaborated with wikipedia:The Japanese Popstars on their track "Take Forever".
In 1993, Smith appeared as himself in the BBC2 comedy show Newman & Baddiel In Pieces. Standing by a grave, Smith—who was often fondly parodied by the two comedians—says "I've never felt so miserable".
In 2004, Smith stood in as one of three guest presenters for John Peel on BBC Radio 1, a week before Peel's death. In November, he joined Placebo on stage at their Wembley arena gig to sing the band's hit song "Without You I'm Nothing", as well as the Cure staple "Boys Don't Cry".
Also in 2004 Smith made a guest appearance with the popular pop-punk band Blink-182 to perform the song "All of This" and The Cure hit "Boys Don't Cry".
He was also in an episode of South Park, in which he battles "Mecha" Barbra Streisand in a battle that completely destroys the town of South Park. Smith looks very similar to Mothra of the Godzilla movies, but has the ability of "robot punch" to take out the "Godzilla (Mecha) version" of Streisand. In one scene, he offers to roshambo Cartman in order to get his Walkie-Talkie back, and immediately kicks Cartman in the groin, causing him to drop the walkie-talkie. At the end of the episode as Smith walks off into the sunset, Kyle remarks "Disintegration is the best album ever!" In recording the lines for the episode, Trey Parker and Matt Stone deliberately did not provide any context for his lines, for a more humorous effect.
He also has a guest spot on the soundtrack to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. His track on "Almost Alice" is titled "Very Good Advice" which is a cover of one of the songs from the 1951 film adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
Smith appeared on 65daysofstatic's fourth album We Were Exploding Anyway on the song, "Come to Me". The major shift from math rock to electronica and dance music in the album is believed to be partially due to influence from The Cure after the two toured on The Cure's 2009 tour. Robert Smith was also going to be on the third studio album This Is War of US rock band 30 Seconds To Mars but at the time Robert was busy.
With The CureEdit
See The Cure discography from 1976 (start) to present
With The GloveEdit
- Blue Sunshine (1983)
With Siouxsie and the BansheesEdit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Robert Smith on Craziness, Commercialism and Cure by Numbers (NY Rock Interview)". Nyrock.com. http://www.nyrock.com/interviews/2000/cure.htm. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ↑ "Contactmusic.com". Contactmusic.com. http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/robert%20smith%20happy%20without%20children. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ↑ voconces (2009-05-29). "Independent.co.uk". London: Independent.co.uk. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/robert-smith--what-becomes-of-the-brokenhearted-997591.html. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ↑ "Blender.com". Blender.com. 2004-07-15. http://www.blender.com/guide/67574/dear-superstar-robert-smith.html. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ↑ Zoe Williams (12 June 2004). "Guardian.co.uk". London: Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2004/jun/12/popandrock1. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ↑ "Picturesofyou.us". Picturesofyou.us. http://www.picturesofyou.us/88/88-starhits-holiday88-weddingparty.htm. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ↑ "Robert Smith: Not Goth, Has Writer's Block". Stereogum. 2006-06-12. http://stereogum.com/archives/robert-smith-not-goth-has-writers-block_004111.html. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
- ↑ http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/the-cure-biography/272826fee27fcf974825683100151947
- ↑ The Holy Hour a July 1989 interview for the French fanzine Three Imaginary Boys
- ↑ "Blog Archive » 65Propaganda 030210". 65daysofstatic. http://www.65daysofstatic.com/blog/2010/02/03/65propaganda-030210/. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ↑ "Pitchfork: The Playlist: Crystal Castles: "Not in Love" ft. Robert Smith". Pitchfork. 2010-10-27. http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/12025-not-in-love-remix-ft-robert-smith/. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- ↑ "Youtube - Newman & Baddiel In Pieces". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5h2HaYraEY. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
- ↑ "Music - Review of 65daysofstatic - We Were Exploding Anyway". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/5xnv. Retrieved 2010-05-02.