The Cure have been recording for well over 30 years. Have you learnt the entire back catalogue?
No, I had two weeks to learn 54 songs when I started playing with them in 2012. That was just going to be for the summer because they had become a four piece at that point. Then at some point they asked me if I wanted to join and I said, “Are you kidding?!” I think we’re up to 100 songs now but we do have a habit of playing festivals that force us to only play for two and a half hours. I don’t think that promoters know what to make of a band that’s trying to push for more time. Mexico City last year we did four hours and twenty minutes and we still didn’t play everything. The next newest member of the band has been there for 19 years so I’m trying to catch up and they enjoy watching me squirm. I have a thick binder where I chart everything out in case something gets called in rehearsal.
So to what extent are you allowed to put your own spin on it or are you playing it faithfully to the original versions?
Well with a band that has that many hits, The Cure makes The Cure style music and you have to think of it from the fans’ point of view. To me it seems obvious which parts of a song need to be played true to the original but you also want to breathe new life into it; you don’t want it to be a greatest hits thing even though it is a greatest hits catalogue. About half the set I’m sticking to the parts and then maybe a quarter of it I’m embellishing it and trying to keep it fresh and then the other quarter of the material, Robert trusts me to know what to do. You have to leave your ego out of it and do the right thing. But also what I enjoy is when I feel the band go “ooh” because I’ve found a new spot on the back of their neck to give them some goose bumps. When I look back, I think one of the reasons why people have asked me to play their songs is because I seem to be able to bring a little bit of the unexpected and make it a little bit dangerous, or make it surprising but still not ruin it for the fans. Although I’m sure a bunch of people who came to see Tin Machine would feel otherwise! But then that was all original material; it was all stuff we wrote together.
Are there any plans for you to write some new material with The Cure?
Things like that with The Cure, there are always plans to do stuff but that question is for Robert to answer. I know the fans always think it’s the last time but I don’t think they have to worry. It’s alive and well, it’s just not my place to talk about those things. Robert likes to; it’s his band. I don’t want to be “that guy” (laughs).