Interview with Lol Tolhurst of The Cure

November 19, 2011

Interview with Lol Tolhurst of The CureInterview by: Louie Bones
Big Wheel Staff Reporter

Big Wheel touched base with Lol Tolhurst to discuss the highs, lows and new found reality of playing in the worlds most successful post-Punk band of all time - THE CURE
First of all thank you Lol for taking the time with us, we appreciate your time.

BW: Fans all over the world are extremely excited that you are playing keyboards in The Cure for these special set of shows (Many flying in from all over the world to witness this small run of gigs), can you tell us how "Reflections" came about? Was it something Robert put forth, or were you pushing to work together with The Cure in a live capacity again?

Lol: I wrote to Robert last year and said how much fun I had playing the Three Imaginary Boys songs with Michael on the last Levinhurst tour. We played them alongside our regular set. I have always loved the songs I did with The Cure. Robert had been offered the Vivid Festival in Sydney, so he suggested we could play the first three albums there to make a special event.
He was the motivation behind this tour and he's done an excellent job I think.

You have played either drums or keyboards on every Cure recording from 1979's Three Imaginary Boys to 1987's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me; your contributions played a role in the huge success the band saw throughout the 80's, which many consider The Cures 'first golden era'. How many years went by before you and Robert began to become friendly again? How did that come about, and was playing with The Cure again something you imagined a possibility?

I think that it was quite a few years ago that we started talking again. I had written to Robert and we met up when The Cure played in LA. I've lived here since 1994. When my first marriage was dissolving and the court case in the UK had finished I wanted to go somewhere, anywhere else!

I've been asking myself recently why I live in LA and I think it's because the first tours we did in the US in the early 80's were some of my favourite times in my life. I felt very happy here so it's a natural progression to live here. I think I found the freedom to be me again here and got rid of some of my demons too. I love to go to the desert because for me it is a very cleansing spiritual place.
Out there I discovered that anything is possible. I believe if you change you, you can change what comes into your life. So as I became more positive and healed so was my life! For instance I now have a wonderful married life and a measure of serenity that I never felt before, or maybe I just grew up a little! It certainly helped me make amends with Robert and others I had hurt and that helps make things right again.

It is known that you weren't at the top of your game musically speaking during the Kissing Tour and making of Disintegration; you had an alcohol problem which led to you exiting the band. When did you begin to overcome your demons and start making playing music again a priority? How was that transition, was it difficult adjusting to normal non rock n' roll tour life?

I have been clean and sober for over 22 years now, I don't smoke and I'm a vegan (I also exercise regularly!) so the polar opposite of my early life!
Robert made the observation to me when we were in Sydney this year that at the time we were living pretty much on the edge and didn't know what might happen so we had to live to the full each day. I still live for the present moment but a lot less destructively!

He also observed that every one around us would party for a day with us in their town then recover but we were on the road doing that nearly every day for years! We never got a break!

I think what happened was kind of inevitable. The intensity of those early days made it almost certain that something or someone would break!
I was mercifully able to find the way out of that particular maze for which I am eternally grateful to many people but especially Robert. I feel he saved my life by firing me. It forced me to find a solution to my problems and join life again. He had to do that to get me to wake up really.

It wasn't hard so much to go back to normal life as to find away to do music again without the insanity. I think I was afraid I couldn't do it again but I found the truth is you're able to be much more creative when you’re not preoccupied with the stupid stuff and trappings of the rock and roll "lifestyle"!

Of The Cure albums you played drums on, which are you most fond of and why?

Pornography is my favourite because of the great sound of the drums and the whole record! The way we recorded the drums gave them such a big huge sound it was beautiful. The drums on that record are like a monolithic mantra!

Of The Cure albums you played keyboards on, which are you most fond of and why?

I think my keyboard skill is pretty minimal. Both Roger and Robert are able to play keys much better than me! But I do love making sounds and atmospheres. We were lucky enough to have some of the first samplers and new tech for keyboards in the 80’s so on Kiss Me’ and The Head On The Door and( The Top a little ) we were able to use unusual sounds that nobody else had that's what I like to find and do. They are endlessly fascinating to me. I have a mod can modular synth at home and the same sound never comes out of it twice!

Which Cure record after your era are you most into?

It's different for me as I wasn't involved in making them! I like certain songs rather than whole records because of that. Mostly Wish and Blood Flowers songs but 4:13 (Dream) has so ones I like too.

Can you describe what it was like stepping into the rehearsal space with the band for the first time in over 20 years? What thoughts were going through your head, and how emotional of an experience was it? Did you feel the way the band prepares and works together had changed much? Did things come together quite natural and "easy"? Are you currently using a keyboard/synth (what kind) that you used live on previous Cure tours? (All the musician/gear/tech nerds out there would love to know)

It was a wonderful emotional experience to work again with my childhood friends Robert and Simon and good to renew my friendship with Roger and great to get to know Jason better as he is a very good man and drummer for The Cure to have. I think that the work ethic of the band is stronger and more professional now in some ways and in others the process is as it always was! It has been very easy to get used to playing again on stage as my memory on stage is that Simon is always in front of me with Robert so that it feels very natural to be there! We are using nothing that I used twenty years ago keys wise but I do have roto toms!

You have known everyone in this lineup of The Cure for over 24 years or more, having played with Robert and Simon even longer. Jason Cooper (drums) is the only member in which you are playing with for the first time this year (joined a few years after Lols departure). Are there any noticeable differences to you in the way or style he is drumming on songs you originally tracked in studio and played live on?

Jason is a very capable and creative musician and I am amazed by his versions of songs I played on! He has everything down and adds his own style too. Plus he is such a pleasant man. This tour I am facing him on stage and that's a great way for us to integrate together very tightly. It’s a joy to play with him!

If for any reason Jason Cooper had to sit out the Reflections Tour, could you easily get behind the kit and drum all those classic songs again?

It’s like riding a bicycle! But I am very happy that Jason is there to play such a long set as he's younger! But seriously he's The Cures drummer and that's the way it should be.

The Cure have toured through Los Angeles more than any other British band, having played just about every small venue in town to giant arenas and stadiums along the way. Los Angeles crowds have remained loyal to The Cure for years, why do you think The Cure and LA get on so well? What are your earliest memories of touring through LA and what was that experience like for a young band 6,000 miles away from home in your early 20's? Any fond memories or strange occurrences on some of the larger tours where you guys headlined Irvine Meadows or The Forum in Inglewood?

As I said before I realized recently the fact I loved the early tours through Los Angeles etc and I think that is one reason there is that bond. We were always welcomed here. We also played some of the small clubs before we played Irvine meadows etc which makes people identify with you like a local band. That made us like adopted sons and I think that's why we understand each other if you like.

What are your immediate plans regarding playing music after Reflections last show, is there more Levinhurst music for fans to watch out for?

I have been recording some new Levinhurst songs recently and I'm sure they will be out next year with some shows too. I try however to stay in the present, it's pretty dynamic place to be right now!

Big Wheel would like to thank Lol for his time, and most importantly for playing on some of the greatest albums of all time. Much like the 8 thousand or so fans that scored tickets to see The Cure next week in Hollywood, we look forward to witnessing such historic concerts as well as bringing our readers the best coverage possible. See you at The Cure Reflections' shows!




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