Former The Treatment drummer Lol Tolhurst has spoken to NME about exploring the origins of goth for his new ebook, how his former band have been a part of the style all alongside, and the way the likes of David Bowie, Pleasure Division and 9 Inch Nails formed the scene.
In his far-reaching new ebook, Goth: A Historical past, Tolhurst explores the music, literature and artwork that formed the style, in addition to the band he co-founded with Robert Smith in 1977. “Despite our passionate insistence that The Cure was not a goth group,” Tolhurst writes within the ebook, “The Cure was very much a goth group.”
Talking to NME from his dwelling in LA, the musician laughed off The Treatment’s insistence to not be termed a goth band. “We were kind of aware that any bandwagon you were on or anything that you were labelled by are very fashion orientated,” he mentioned. “So when you attach yourself to something, as soon as that goes down, you’re done.”
Half goth historical past, half memoir, the ebook tells the story of the music that formed The Treatment’s goth leanings – from David Bowie to Bauhaus, Pleasure Division to 9 Inch Nails – although Tolhurst’s personal recollections. The ebook delves into the grim Thatcherite world of the late ’70s and views it by a gothic lens, discovering some unsung goth heroes too – like Nico, Scott Walker and Alice Cooper – who aren’t at all times instantly related to the scene.
“Alice Cooper was really shocking when he first came out,” mentioned Tolhurst. “It was completely mind-blowing. In fact, first time I ever played as The Cure, I persuaded my mother to get me this black zip-up studded jump suit because I thought it looked a bit like Alice Cooper. Robert’s wife Mary, who went to school with us, did my eyes like him so they would all be weird.”
The ebook additionally describes how goth music helped to convey Tolhurst back-from-the-brink when his alcoholism led to his sacking from The Treatment in 1989. “Music has the power to save you,” Tolhurst instructed NME. “Of that, I’m certain.”
Howdy Lol. The place did the thought to write down a ebook about goth come from?
Tolhurst: “I found an old box of records when I was still formulating the idea for the book. I just started listening to them and it absolutely amazed me because everything that The Cure did was in those records. Everything we became was there. I thought ‘OK, that’s what I’m going to write about. I’m going to put those connections together for people.’.”
A kind of data was Bowie’s ‘Low’ and you describe him as one of many founders of the style. John Robb in his current goth ebook mentioned, ‘No Bowie, no scene’, do you agree?
“It’s true. I can keep in mind going to a celebration once I was 19, listening to ‘Sound and Vision’ and considering that is all the pieces I desire a pop single to be as a result of it’s catchy, it’s pretty however it’s additionally a lot deeper and darker.
“I was watching people and thinking it’s great to dance to and it makes you feel good, but there’s something more there too. I knew that was what I wanted to do with music. I wanted to do something that was accessible but can give you that feeling as well. Bowie’s ‘Low’ was a template for me and I know it was for Robert as well. We played Bowie songs a lot when we started. I still listen to ‘Low’ probably once every couple of weeks.”
Within the ebook, you additionally discuss so much in regards to the affect of punk on the goth scene…
“As morbid as this sounds, I’ve a playlist for my demise! I’ve instructed my son ‘OK this is what I want you to play [if anything happens]’ and it will get greater on a regular basis. It’s going to be a really lengthy playlist. The Conflict are on there in fact as a result of they modified all the pieces.
“The night I saw The Clash with Robert, it was a revelation because it was like ‘OK, we can do that.’ I’d seen them at the carnival with Pearl [Thompson] too and it just felt like everything was changing. I remember reading Melody Maker and NME in Robert’s parents’ house and finding all the [punk] bands to see, like The Stranglers at The Red Deer in Croydon – all these influences fed into what goth was [to become].”
You describe Pleasure Division within the ebook as one among goth’s primary “architects of darkness”…
“I can keep in mind going to The Batcave years in the past with Robert. The factor that at all times struck me about that place was sure there was individuals wearing what you’d contemplate goth [clothes] however there was lots of people who weren’t and I favored that as a result of it wasn’t like, ‘Well if you don’t have the uniform, you’re not coming in.’ I feel that’s the way in which I take a look at Pleasure Division. It’s like perhaps they weren’t sporting the suitable uniform, however they’re nonetheless very a lot part of it.
“When I wrote that particular chapter, I was thinking a lot about who to put in there. I could see Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees and I know how I feel about The Cure…but I always thought Joy Division were that too. It was bleak and I always associated that with [goth].”
You recall your reminiscence of assembly Ian Curtis within the ebook too…
“Yes, that was the first time we played something seriously big at The Marquee. I do have an image I remember of him sitting on the chair and just looking very down. That was the one thing that stuck in my mind [vividly] and it wasn’t until later that I sort of put that together with what was happening. Especially when I saw them at the end and I was like ‘OK, something’s not good here, something’s not correct.’ I suddenly saw where the music was coming from; life imitating art. I could see where it was going.”
Has Robert learn the ebook?
“For the first book, I gave him a copy of it before it was out and asked him to have a read through, to see if there’s anything [he] think shouldn’t be in there or whatever whereas with this, I haven’t given it to anybody. I saw Robert about a month ago when [The Cure] were out here playing the Hollywood Bowl and I went along to see everybody. It’s [still] a family affair and like going back to the pub in 1977. We didn’t really talk about [the book]. We talked about other things and you know, they’re my family.”
Did they offer you any updates on when The Treatment’s subsequent album may arrive?
“Robert’s exact words to me were ‘I think we finish with all this touring and then the album’. He’s always said that’s going to be the last thing, always. I don’t actually believe anything’s going to be the last thing until he shuffles off the mortal coil!”
You discuss within the ebook in regards to the significance of goth music in bringing you again from the brink whenever you have been battling alcoholism, like 9 Inch Nails’ ‘The Downward Spiral’…
“Listening to that album when I was first here [in LA], everything had gone sideways in my life. There was no more band; I was going through a divorce. I had this big court case where I lost this huge amount of money and I did what I always do in those situations: I ran away. I ran here and I was a stranger in a strange land. At various points in my life, I’ve listened to different albums which I felt have helped and that [album] helped at that point because I felt like I was on a downward spiral. There’s a redemption at the end that is hopeful. There’s a redemption in [The Cure’s] ‘Pornography’ at the end too, there’s hope and that’s what I get from it.”
And naturally Trent Reznor inducted you into The Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame…
“Yes, they asked me who would you like to induct you and I said Trent because I know he has a similar world view. The first thing he said when he got on stage was about how he grew up in small town USA, Mercer, Pennsylvania, looking out on the fields and you know, how what was coming through the radio was what saved [him] and pushed [him] out there. It was the same for me in Crawley – with Bowie and the rest. I still see it today. I’ve travelled all around America for the last 40 years and I go to small towns. Immediately I can pick out the 5-10 goth kids that are there ready and waiting to escape!”
Goth: A Historical past is revealed by Quercus and is out now. Lol Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee launch collaborative album ‘Los Angeles’ on November 3