The Cure’s Robert Smith doesn’t consider himself goth: “I never really took the whole culture thing seriously”

Smith credits his signature look to his "ill-defined features and naturally pale skin"

the cure robert smith goth
Robert Smith, photo by Debi Del Grande

The Cure’s Robert Smith is a goth icon, having helped articulate the moody subgenre’s gloomy, performative aesthetic. The thing is, his music often exudes a chipper quality, with singles like “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Close To Me” sporting some of the sunniest melodies to emerge out of the ’80s. It’s perhaps not as surprising as one might think, then, to learn that Smith feels no particularly affinity with the movement.

In a new interview with Time Out—just his second in five years— promoting this summer’s Meltdown Festival, which he curated, Smith credited his aesthetic to his “ill-defined features and naturally pale skin,” as well as his stint playing guitar with Siouxsie And The Banshees. “[I] had to play the part,” he said. “Goth was like pantomime to me. I never really took the whole culture thing seriously.”

Smith, who also revealed that the interview prompted him to put on makeup for the first time in 18 months, is more than happy to call goths among his fans, however. “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.”

(Read: Dusting ’Em Off: The Cure – Disintegration)

The whole interview is worth a read, as Smith’s good humor shines through as he discusses his Meltdown curation and why he curated solo instead of with the whole band. “It’s actually a good thing, because it would have been utterly impractical to have a five-piece curating a festival,” he said. “We can’t even agree what to listen to on a tour bus.”

Now in its 25th year, the 10-day Meltdown Festival kicks off this Friday in London. The impressive lineup includes Nine Inch Nails, My Bloody Valentine, Deftones, Placebo, Manic Street Preachers, The Libertines, Mogwai, and Mono