A personal tale of how one man happened to navigate life despite his personal demons.
The new memoir from Cure co-founder Laurence “Lol” Tolhurst is reflective, raw, emotional and real. Much like the band that emerged out of the grey, suburban confines of a south London suburb, there is a magic in this book that is entirely unexpected. While many Cure fans have a general sense of the band’s history, Cured gives us a nearly chronological recounting that assembles fragmentary puzzle pieces into a cohesive whole.
Readers may be surprised that there’s not more Robert Smith here, but Tolhurst opted to portray the band’s history from his own perspective. Through his eyes, an entire lifetime unfolds for a pair of young suburban kids who grew up quickly under the exhausting pressures of the music industry. Tolhurst documents a career that was launched by simultaneously evolving the countercultural trend of late ’70s punk into something completely different. Punk democratized music (as did technology), and the Cure twisted that ethic into minimalistic soundscapes that alienated early band members and reflected an alienation of their own.
From the culture and dreary weather of England to the picturesque villas of Southern France to the parched deserts of Southern California, Tolhurst reveals intense connections to geography. These places come to life with his straight-man narrative, and the reader feels that they’re right with the band, whether in a dingy club in the ‘70s or in an arena in the ‘80s.
Tolhurst was never known as an extraordinary musician. And some of that becomes self-fulfilling and explained in the later chapters. Tolhurst is hyper aware of this but still lays out the multiple means in which he was a contributor to the band. He details his experiences with shifting memberships and the shifting alliances over the course of the band’s career which led to his own weakness in judgment, in resentment, in heartbreak.
What Tolhurst did bring to the band was authenticity, lyrics, curiosity, electronics–most of these seem to be overlooked in the of the lore around the band.
Being in a band is not all fun and games; musicians constantly walk a fine line between pleasing others and their own artistic pressures. The legal and business side of the industry is ever at odds with the creative side, and the exhausting schedules of touring all but guarantee an inevitable meltdown, especially among young musicians barely out of their twenties. While a familiar story of booze and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, Cured tells this story with a flavor that resembles the band’s music. Tolhurst lays out the facts and the feelings of being in a band that managed to work together despite growing up together, frequently waking up hungover and arguing like brothers.
Still, the author has a history of heartbreak and resentment with the band. Tolhurst was kicked out of The Cure in the late ‘80s and sued Smith for royalties in a case that went on for years. Tolhurst is candid about this drama and his feelings of revenge, fear and grief. The legal battle, which overshadows Tolhurst’s creative input, is put into a reasonable perspective: once lawyers get involved, things take on a mind of their own. Yet his is also a story of forgiveness and reconciliation, ultimately resulting in his rejoining the band for a reunion tour that covered the Cure’s earliest work.
Cured is more than a memoir, and more than a loving tribute to the band. It is a personal tale of how one man happened to navigate life despite his personal demons. It’s also a story of minor characters that give this tale flavor and added dimension, from road crew personalities to overarching themes of anger and alcohol. Tolhurst honestly admits his own failings. Our musical idols sacrifice their privacy much of their lives to make our lives richer. But Tolhurst doesn’t whine. Well-written, exciting, in-depth, this is a story about being human, and of how band-mates are often more like family than your own blood relatives.