Prepared For A Nightmare by Mayflower Madame – Album Premiere and Interview

Mayflower Madame, the Norwegian Post-Punk / Psych band comprised of Trond Fagernes, Håvard Haga, and Ola J. Kyrkjeeide, are excited to premiere their album, Prepared For A Nightmare, here at DISARM!

The album is being released digitally on March 27, to be followed by the physical release, on both vinyl and CD, May 15th via Only Lovers Records, in collaboration with Portland’s Little Cloud Records and Parisian label Icy Cold Records.

While you enjoy the stream of the new record, you can also check out these DISARMing questions we asked Trond Fagernes. So press play, enjoy the record, and read on!

DISARM: What are you listening to right now?

Trond: Right now I’m listening a lot to LA band Sextile. They’re doing some kind of raw combination of Post-Punk and Synth-Wave that I find really, really cool.

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

I remember getting some Beatles CDs when I was really young, one of them was Revolver. The first two CDs I bought myself was Nirvana’s Nevermind and Unplugged in New York which I still can very much enjoy listening to today.

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

I prefer vinyl, but still listen to CDs also. I’m definitely a sucker for the physical format when it comes to music.

What are your favourite bands?

Hmm, always a hard question, so many to choose from… The first that comes to mind are early Clinic, Psychic Ills, DIIV, and Bauhaus. I should also mention Sextile again. And Nirvana will always have a special place in my heart.

Why do you live where you do?

Simply because Oslo is the most central place to be in a small country like Norway.

What is your favourite journey?

Also a hard question, again so many great to choose from… But I guess there’s not much that I have enjoyed more than doing a road trip along the US west coast or driving in between the mountains and national parks of Utah.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Sleeping undisturbed until I wake up (without a hangover) after staying up late the night before. Then a long breakfast with my girlfriend before I go to our studio for a couple of hours (feeling very creative and motivated of course). After that perhaps going to a museum or gallery followed by a nice dinner with some wine and then a lazy evening watching a movie and listening to some of my favourite vinyl.

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

Preferably someone interesting to talk with and a good novel (or a band or artist biography if in the need for some “easy entertainment”). A notebook is always handy as well.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

I guess it would be the same answer as for my favourite journey. Either that or traveling throughout Japan for a month or so.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

I would definitely look up the best art gallery/museum and the best record shop. Then I would find a nice neighbourhood to stroll around for a little while before wrapping it up at a cozy bar with great drinks and good music.

Photo by Miriam Brenne

What inspired you to take up music?

As long as I can remember, I’ve felt the need to express myself creatively. I was not impressed by my own drawing abilities and I think I’ve always been too impatient to be a writer, but when I first picked up a guitar it felt right at once. It didn’t take that long before I could copy some of my heroes and then I found out that it didn’t require that much technical abilities to create something myself that I actually also thought sounded cool.

What was your most memorable day job?

My first day job was as an assistant janitor at a nursing home for elders with dementia. It was kind of ironic that I ended up there because I was not a “handyman” at all and I didn’t really enjoy my tasks at that time, but I learned a lot, mostly from the contact with the patients (I’m still not a handyman), and even today I think about that job quite often.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

I don’t really remember any, I must have ignored/suppressed them all. You learn as you live – I guess that’s been my motto.

What should everyone shut up about?

Everyone who says global warming and climate change is not real should shut up right now.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what the menu be?

I would invite Bill Hicks for some tacos and discussions about music, art and politics. I imagine it would be a fun meal.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Hmm, I’m not sure if I have any particular fictional heroes anymore, but as a kid I was a really big fan of Zorro!

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

As a fan I think it’s either Pulp at Oya Festival in Oslo during their reunion tour in 2011 or Clinic at Oslo Psych Fest in 2015. As an artist it’s just too difficult to pick out one or two, but maybe one of the more obscure ones that I really enjoyed was a house show in Boise on our first US tour in 2017. A big living room in a suburban house packed with really cool, friendly people and goats in the backyard. Great vibes.

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

Another difficult one. For news I do my best to avoid the tabloids and I prefer a Norwegian newspaper called Aftenposten. I don’t really read that many blogs or magazines regularly. There’s a lot of great music blogs out there though – like Disarm Magazine 🙂

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

German Expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s street scenes from Berlin 1913-15. I wrote my master thesis in art history about these works and I would gladly do it again – they’ve never stopped fascinating me. If I had to pick one of them, it would be a painting called “Potsdamer Platz” from 1914.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

I guess we’ll be either stuck at home because of the Corona virus pandemic or touring around Europe and North America in support of our upcoming album Prepared For A Nightmare.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Meet them!

Thanks Trond!  You can check out more from Mayflower Madame and get Prepared For A Nightmare on their Bandcamp page HERE.

21 DISARMing Questions for Dom and Vanee of HALLOWS

Looming in the Darkwave, Post-Punk and Goth Electro realms, HALLOWS formed in 2018 in Minneapolis / St. Paul and since made their way to the west coast. Consisting of Dom R. (vocals, guitar, synth, drum programming) and Vanee D. (vocals, synth, bass), their music presents layers of yearning sounds that bleed into uplifting, sanguine beats. Their compositions offer intimate messages about modern-day malaise conveyed through an exposed, vulnerable lens.

We caught up with the duo to ask them about music, art, and life outside of HALLOWS.  This is what they shared with us.

DISARM: What are you listening to right now?

Dom: I have been hooked on Dancing Plague, Years of Denial, and revisiting Oathbreaker’s catalogue lately. I just saw Blu Anxxiety live yesterday so I suspect I will revisit them too soon.

Vanee: My current playlist is varied and somewhat disjointed. In the wave-nowave/post-punk realms, I am listening to tons of HIDE, Odonis Odonis, SRSQ, Buzz Kull, ACTORS, Drab Majesty, and BOAN. Then throw in a mix of frequent returns to older-ish music from Light Bearer, Mogwai & Have A Nice Life, True Widow & Low. It’s a trip.

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

D: At around 6 years old, Smash by The Offspring came out. I was really intrigued by the album art and convinced my parents to buy it for me on cassette. I would listen to it weekly while doing chores on my Walkman. The Offspring became my first “favorite” band.

V: That would be an erratic mixed tape (when it was totally a thing) where I would non-stop listen to tracks from No Doubt, The Cranberries, and Radiohead back in 1995/1996.

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

D: All three. I like vinyl because it is cool and want to support artists who take the financial hit to get their releases pressed. However, some records just sound better on CD and digital is probably the highest quality out there.

V: Anything to support music that artists put out there. I do have a soft spot for vinyl because they feel like a delicate ornament. 

What are your favourite bands?

D: That’s tough… I will say that Neurosis and AmenRa have been the two bands that have influenced me the most in the past decade. However, at the moment I will say that Ritual Howls and Kaelan Mikla are my two favs. They have definitely shaped the way HALLOWS sounds.

Editors: Kaelan Mikla!  Yes!

V: Yes, tough one indeed. I would say Have a Nice Life really speaks to me and inspires the melancholy that I bring in writing music for HALLOWS. Ritual Howls and Drab Majesty are solid acts to experience live and have constantly put out incredible work. Light Asylum is a force!

Editors:  Drab Majesty!  Yes!  🙂

Why do you live where you do?

V: After more than a decade of schooling in Minnesota, most of which was in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dom and I decided to choose a path where we could do what we really love doing (playing music/arts, going to shows, hanging with our animals, etc.) in tandem with pursuing a career. Seattle offered that and we are so stoked to be in this community. Shout out to our friends in Seattle and the Twin Cities.

What is your favourite journey?

D: Driving around the desert near Joshua Tree in California is probably some of my favorite travels ever. V and I have done this a few times and it is surreal to just drive around that area while blasting some good music.

V: D and I once walked around the streets of Paris with no aim for hours. We talked, stopped by cafes to have coffee/drinks, people watched, and basically just chilled. It was a low-key, serene, cloudy day – perfect for the soul.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

D: Lounging with our three pets, HALLOWS practice, hanging at the cafe on top of our practice space (Cafe Petti Rosso rules).

V: We basically have the same routine on Sundays: long morning talks with coffee, late breakfast, pets, practice/music, food, walks, and TV shows.

Photo by Daniel Kastner

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

D: Headphones and music.

V: Bandaids, lotion, headphones, and D. 

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

D: V and I are from a tropical island (Mauritius) and we miss warm sunny places. I would say anywhere with beaches, sun, and warmth.

V: Sun and water – I am in. And throw in some nice goth/dark-wave/post-punk shows happening in that locale, we are truly golden.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

D: Figure out where the locals hang and try to grasp the local culture.

V: If I am at an airport, I would stick around. I have this peculiar liking of hanging at airports, eating terrible airport food, having the not-so-tasty drinks, walking around, hauling luggage, watching people jet by – it’s calming and odd… don’t ask me more. If I am already in a city that I traveled to, probably a nap.   

What inspired you to take up music?

D: I started being obsessed with music at a very young age so playing music was a logical step. For HALLOWS, V had just picked up her instruments (she learned to sing, play bass, and synths over the course of a summer believe it or not) and I wanted to support her by jamming. We ended up liking what we were creating and we decided to start a band one night while having a drink in San Diego.

V: I’ve liked singing since childhood, I had a bad guitar when I was younger, and owned a bass when I was 18. However, I have always been anxious and under-confident, so I never really pursued any of these avenues seriously. I decided to start jamming on my keys and bass sometime in late 2018 and D would join in. We really liked where it was going, but had no intention of performing. Then one day (I did not remember it was in San Diego, but the timing is correct) we were like, let’s be a band.

What was your most memorable day job?

D: When I was doing my undergrad, I was somewhat of a glorified janitor for the university’s student union. It was not glamorous but I had fun doing it and met some good people. It also allowed me to branch out and do live sound for their music events at some point.

V: My past students may be unhappy I am not saying it is teaching, if they read this. But, I worked at a coffee shop in between my undergrad and graduate school. I had regulars that would come hang out and I got good at making delicious fancy coffee drinks. Made me somewhat of a coffee snob for a while there, although I drink black drip coffee almost always.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

D: Sleep more and drink more water.

V: Have boundaries.


What should everyone shut up about?

D: Everyone should just shut up about policing what is cool or not. Let people have things as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.

V: Many need to shut up about playing nice and hearing “others” (aka bigots) out. Bigoted thoughts, actions, and behaviors do hurt a large scale of people. Call people out, speak up, be difficult, radical, and resolute.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

D: Steve von Till from Neurosis because he is a huge inspiration for me. I’d cook whatever he wants!

V: I would love to host Dolores O’Riordian (RIP) from The Cranberries. I would make country fried vegan seitan or even cook up some real steak in our sweet cast iron skillet, if Dolores would serenade me to “No need to Argue” after dinner.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

D: I don’t really have a favorite. I like anti-heroes better. They are more realistic.

V: Hannibal Lecter comes to mind. Although my most badass fictional hero would be Lee Geum-ja in Lady Vengeance by Chan Wook Park.

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

D: We attended Substance in LA last year (2019) and it was incredible. So many good performances and great artists. It was really inspiring to both of us and encouraged us to push HALLOWS as far as possible. Maybe one day we’ll play it…

V: Yes, Substance in LA was the recent memorable one. Just an incredible line up of the most talented artists in the genre – a real treat.

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

D: because they cover almost everything that I like.

V: Ditto about I also binge read The New York Times and The Hard Times (hah!).

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

D: Almost everything by Neurosis. They are a huge influence in how I write music. It may not be very apparent in the HALLOWS material but they are key to my contributions to that project.

V: The movie Dogville. I reluctantly appreciate the rawness, injustice, and unfairness englobed in the movie, and cherish the minimalism and legitimized violence. It is a beautiful piece of art. In HALLOWS, I often write about the cruelties of humanity, deception, and vulnerabilities, which, in my perspective, are the essence of this movie.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

D: We want to have a successful release of “Subtle” then try to plan a mini-tour in the Fall (work in progress). We are also neck deep in writing our first full length record. The goal is to have it composed by the end of the Summer, then record it soon after.

V: We are working on a video for “The Call//Ravenous” featuring some of our talented friends as characters. We are stoked for our EP “Subtle” release on April 3rd, 2020. The title track is already available for streaming. We are working on some exciting new songs where we are getting out of our comfort zone and experimenting. It makes for a more challenging, but gratifying process.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

D: I tent to not like rules very much so I am not sure which one I agree with. I think that meeting your heroes might be ok because people are complex beings. You should be ready to deal with disappointment though. Some of your heroes might be jerks but some might be kind. The one hero who is kind makes up for all the other jerks in my opinion. For example, I met Colin from AmenRa once and he was a very sweet person.

V: It has gone both ways in the past, so I would not hold myself back by decree. I usually go for meeting my heroes if the setting is right. Not making excuses, but it’s also key to empathize and understand that heroes (especially artists) are also often exhausted when touring and on the road. Though, heroes who turn out to be legit terrible humans, well, farewell. I cannot separate the art from the artist in those circumstances. Most have been absolute gems so far though.

Thanks Dom and Vanee!  Check out more from HALLOWS on their Bandcamp page HERE.

Music Travel Diaries: The Cure, Daydream, Pasadena & L.A.

By Jacqueline Howell. Photos by Dave MacIntyre with Jacqueline Howell.

In our new series about traveling for live music, we’ll discuss live music that forms the basis of our travel, feature in-depth or capsule live music reviews of shows and festivals and review these unique experience of travel done our way: off the beaten tourist path, loosely planned wherever possible, and with appreciation for local culture, flavours and random discovery.

Pasadena is an appealing L.A. suburb which is probably best known to outsiders for its Rose Bowl and for my generation, the site of Depeche Mode’s legendary 1989 concert / live album / concert film Depeche Mode 101. “Good Evening, Pasadena!” (shouted in our best Rock Star) was the defining theme of our months leading up to our first-ever trip to the West Coast. We could see that Pasadena seemed somewhat walkable (something we are used to at home and the great benefit of all safe, walkable cities) and had all the conveniences that make travelers comfortable and the transition easier, but with a too-easy familiarity that makes the need and effort to find “real culture” of a given city a more deliberate one. There’s Starbucks, as it often is, in strip malls and in satellite form at major hotel chains that are the same everywhere as a matter of branding. There are the chain restaurants that blanket the globe, and there are uniquely American ones, regional and California ones, and there are real places – mom and pop shops, diners, what we think of when we think of finding America. More on those later.

We visited for a short trip built, like most of our trips are, out of a combination of writing and photography and a very short vacation. In our loose plan to see at least one new festival in a new place once per year – which evolved this year to mean several trips including one especially to see The Cure in a new city / one-day festival of Robert Smith’s own design – the L.A. Pasadena trip was to be even more unique for us, combined with a reunion with an old friend from back home, and her daughter we’d not seen since she was small. All of us are big fans of the Cure and so the trip was planned as a reunion and celebration of all of these milestones, and for some, a correction of time too long away from live music.

For the day-job having music traveler on a budget, you find that you are naturally driven for reasons of time and economy away from the norms of international or even typical vacation travel. While conventional thinking (much of it leftover from an earlier time when trips were always thought of as once-in-a-lifetime, an almost aberration / lottery-win) would dictate that Canadians must do three weeks and propel themselves on fumes to conquer all of the U.K. and half of Europe (or not at all) or that a trip to California MUST include the brutally expensive and highly-specific sort of exhausting fun of Disneyland, Universal Studios, Star map tours, and the reportedly seedy & sketchy downtown stretches of the Hollywood Walk of Fame X 8 or 10 days, there is another way, a better way, for folks like us. Our kind of travel also allows for a moment of radical rock star weirdness to friends and co-workers who live differently. “You’re going to California? For FOUR DAYS?” That look alone is worth the jet lag. (Sorry to disappoint, but I have no answers for jet lag, and my jet lag is another story shared with me, one stoic traveling companion, sometimes passing strangers in random airports, and more intuitive Uber drivers.)

Pasadena Daydream was announced in April amid a steady stream of announcements from The Cure who’ve been on a beautiful 40th Anniversary buzz they’ve shared with their fans in far-flung & more expected places for the past year and a bit. The Cure lives outside of time, adhering only to the 40th in their fluid, spiderwebby way. Around now was the first time we played a gig as The Cure. This is close to the release date of that record or single. (A band races to play 10:15 Saturday night at that time). And, one feels in her bones, a number of quietly acknowledged and rarely spoken private milestones beheld like contents of a locket by one of the most romantic bands left alive, who thrive and are in their finest form in decades despite any of the ravages of life, or time.

During the second year of the anniversary period, The Cure is still on a beautiful, elegant, and quietly ass-kicking roll. They were always different, and they still are, now with the keys to their own kingdom. They produce their own music, on their own schedule. There will be a new album, sometime soon. When it’s ready. Hyde Park was a legendary day in July 2018, and it was made into a globally screened concert film by Tim Pope, which the whole world of Cure fans watched on the same day, as close as possible to the anniversary, of the anniversary show (you see?) We will always treasure that we were at Hyde Park in London last year with 60,000 others singing out loud, and this year, in the cinema reliving it (by kismet, no planning needed) with Toronto friends who also attended Hyde, who love and pursue Cure shows both at home and anywhere else they can afford to go.

When you start to indulge the strange little voice inside that beckons you forth to do offbeat, tourism-free, bursts of music-based travel, you get the nagging in your gut that often must be ignored (though Scotland seemed like the magical one, maybe) and occasionally is given into. You run, or pretend to run, on a clock and a map that is radically different than the one you were shown as a child. You listen to signs and invent the same, and so you have to use care with such invented mysticism and calls from the universe. Sometimes the universe seems to be shouting. Occasionally it warns you to stay home. It runs free of life’s ups and downs and the unforgiving inflexibility of airline commitments. It’s a bit of a risky way to live. But it’s living.

Due to traveling with friends who were getting their first passports, old friends who (along with myself) always liked to obsesses over details as a way to look forward, the plan for Pasadena was different than our other music trips as a couple and the simplicity of answering only to ourselves and our weird, self-invented photo-journalism ways. All spring, I indulged myself in endless hours looking at suitcases and backpacks (for carrying on as well as a festival day bag) and mapped out where IN-and-OUT Burger and Target were, only to end up with my old (fine) suitcase and in the end, missing ample chances to try the Double Burger with Animal-Style Fries. My friends joining us have less travel experience but are yet more focused, becoming able packers and clear pre-planners – with foreign airport transfers booked months ahead while I laze into my usual Uber mode.

The Pasadena / Daydream plan is the sort people need to get through a long, dark spring in the northern part of the world, where short days and inconsistent weather including snow, ice, sleet and cold rain feel like a seasonless purgatory for 8-5 workers. And it gets us through. My friend and I find each other late at night in chats that need only the same Cure gifs we overuse as private shorthand or a line of a song to set our tired hearts right. And we all feel romantic too – not that we’d ever admit it. New tattoos to mark the occasion are planned, and in some cases carried out. Some of us can just never decide, or should maybe stick to T-shirts. All summer, while The Cure snakes through Australia, Japan, and headline almost every major UK and European festival at a pace we can only marvel at, we stay close to home and look forward to the end of summer. Pasadena Daydream will mark the official end of a band’s summer season, and at the precise end of summer.

And so it unfolds.

Here are the most important and most romantic things I take from that trip, that was over planned for the good of our spirits and under executed due, in part to jet lag; that led us down magical roads of stardust while we never saw any hand prints in cement at all; and where the Hollywood sign was just a distant blur in the smoggy fog spotted from a freeway, captured in a photo I had to define as “alleged”.

Pasadena Daydream is a smaller, two stage, well-curated line up of bands who make sense together. The scale and scope of the thing is one that ought to, and I think will, set the new bar for what festivals in North America should be aiming for and a format that can be scaled logically within most budgets whether in rock clubs, city parks or stadiums. Look at what The Cure did, organizers in Canada and U.S., and even modest capabilities. We dream of being part of such new festivals here at home, where we truly need to embrace the very British “one-dayer” in all its perfection. It must be noted that the promoter / administration at the Pasadena venue (getting in during record high heat waves on melting tar) has been widely criticized by attendees, and rightly so. We’ve been to a lot of festivals – mostly, but not only at home – and never seen such disorganization, lack of signage or void of people in charge of making sure customers have the few arrows to what they need to enjoy themselves or be wrist-banded correctly to access areas, a gap in organization creating rough and avoidable situations for too many. Time is money, and too much of it is spent in lines, full stop, to enjoy the first half of the day. There are long lines everywhere, VIP seems oversold and inconvenient, and it becomes difficult to enjoy any of the day’s offerings besides the bands themselves. We’ve avoided complaining about festival logistics in the past, but the things we and others experience here are especially frustrating both as they are easily correctable and also because they serve to undermine the good aspects of the day and take some time to recover from (physically). Logistics like this do a disservice to the bands and the name atop this whole thing, something all of us fans are protective over and believe in unconditionally, too.

The festival occurring on two stages, on the other hand, is executed very effectively. Here, it’s apparent that the people in charge of this side of things are more than qualified. While the always excellent and tireless Twilight Sad has some frustrating sound problems during their set, most of the rest of the day goes smoothly, and while internet service is patchy, attendees and a few media-types are able to exclaim about the excellent time had, notably at the reunited Throwing Muses, who bring an impressively devoted draw who’ve waited for this as well as followed Kristen Hersh’s extensive solo work.

Unwilling to travel anymore, we settle for the rest of our day with views of the main stage, where Deftones, Pixies, and The Cure deliver lengthy, flawless performances and crowd positions are found and held onto for dear life. We work out an awkward, mobile-less field system of landmarking with our friends, knowing I sound like my father back in another century, but putting in the time so I can at least find my oldest friend doing her one of a kind dances to “Caterpillar Girl”, which she is. I think, then, and later, of my friend Craig, who once united three groups of us in the pitch dark in a mass of thousands with no landmarks at all but with blinding lights and pyro coming from a faraway Prodigy stage, somehow intuiting a certain garbage can and eyeballing metres like the skilled tradesman he is, working a miracle of boy scouting, helping Dave find us all the way back there from the photo pit where he shot his bucket list band while dancing compulsively. Such achievements are what help define these experiences, when the frustrations, the money splashed out, and the sunburn fades away. These little wins make us real, proud music people.

One can evaluate the success of a live show, in a certain sense, by the churn of the crowd. The churn is minimal on this beautiful evening, especially as the sun starts to relent and Pixies deliver a headline-worthy epic set of 25 songs. I say this as a Kim Deal / current day Breeders and early Pixies devotee, they kill it. “Wave of Mutilation” is still my anthem in my heart. Find me another such line that you can dance through a crowd so (obscenely) happily uttering aloud: (sung breezily, without a care in the world):

They think I’m dead, but I sail away…on a Wave of Mutilation….Wave of Mutilation….Wa-a-a-a-ve. Wa-a-a-ve.”

In moments like that, your enemies are more than just thousands of miles away and behind you. They are in another orbit, and you are free. The Cure, in their quietly vampiric-romantic fashion, through planning this day as they did, tonight honour their contemporaries, Pixies, with an almost co-headline length set. It has all been done, one thinks, to remind all who remember outside of time as we true music believers live, of the triumphant 1989 Prayer Tour, when Pixies opened for The Cure on their US dates through the shimmering, meteoric heat of the instantly iconic Disintegration. At home, people who forget or wish to believe that the best is behind us for alternative music (or for culture) circulate The Prayer Tour poster online for likes. But we are free of nostalgia. We are all here, tonight. In the hard-won moment. Despite health concerns, fear of travel, sadness and stresses waiting back home, or the constrains of money itself.

One of the only drawbacks of Hyde Park (like Bestival Toronto before that, when the sun had the bloody nerve to beat down on Robert, Simon, Roger, Reeves and Jason, each clad in defiant black and gravity immune hair) was that the time of early /midsummer they occurred meant our heroes had to appear before the earth turned to meet them at the appointed time of dusk-where-dark-falls within minutes. Magic hour. But tonight (as me and my friend obsessively figured out a month ahead of time) the fading season is at last ideal for The Cure to take the stage.

This is a band who needs no extravagance or welcomes-to-the-stage, but we are in the age of necessary high-calibre screens and we appreciate the attractive effects, and tonight for our first time live, we get to see these things done to full effect (reportedly Bestival Toronto in 2016 was an early test / debut for the new feature, one interrupted by weather and sound issues outdoors, as well as having a limited impact due to that infernal daylight). Everyone, now, standing at every corner of this large golf course-by-day, can enjoy some sort of view. Everyone gets the full show, even if getting close to the stage is just a myth for most of us who like to eat, drink, move and get merch. The Cure is perfect tonight, the set not unfamiliar to those of us who’ve imbibed to near-overdose all summer on the joy of official live streams and secreted BBC footage, watched and cheered from our homes in midday from across time zones with dregs of old wine in hand at solo parties before the triumphant shows in Sydney, Glastonbury, and Rock en Seine.

This is the capsule of emotions and memory I write post-show through jet lagged ( / panic attack) tears, for social media in a writer’s sleepless hours. I have learned to find the romance in life, all of life. It took me ages. We who found all this music long ago in the unromantic circumstances of young loves, follow the sounds of romantic music like a beacon. There can be no regrets. Enough of all that:

Trip comedown well underway, even while still here, as friends leaving early am. We’ll never forget you, Pasadena, your lovely warm people, The Cure’s music ringing as perfect & timeless as ever in the dark summer night, our special reunion with our dear friend & her beautiful daughter and your palm trees.

Nothing is perfect. Travel is hard. Nervous excitement is exhausting. Some caterpillars bite (true story) real, authentic Diners (and the people who understand real food) still exist. American people are good & full of heart, and almost every single local person we’ve met here has the kind of faces Tr*mp & co. would disgracefully target. Shocking. Real America will not be bowed by hate or politicking. We heard none, we felt none, we were in a safe place – while a part of my mind finally admitted much relief that no shots rang out, in a large gathering such as it was. Whether in range or in earshot, it would have destroyed me.

When your hotel room is positioned just like your childhood front doors were for 20 years with your friend you are seeing for the first time in a decade, it is a sign.

Home is in your hearts. Like love, Music is immune to time, age, trends, loss or polar ice caps melting. It is tribal, transcendent, primal, religious. There are 100 ways to enjoy a festival, none of them wrong. Many of them bumbling, costly, time-wasting. It’s OK. You were there. Your very own words brought your own new group of near strangers here, now. And nearby, swirling around you, are eight-year-old wild-eyed children playing hide-and-go-seek in the dark in the crowd during the music that defines your personhood, which makes you finally relax, ignore your programmed tension and be fully present, in that magic. That’s what you’ve been looking for since you were their age, and before, it seems. That’s what you will keep. A souvenir, worth all of it. All of it! Those kids are not a strange family of four like you thought but really total strangers who had become a gang for a moment in time (not) lost in the dark. They insist with their peals of laughter that they can’t hear inside their giant ear protector headsets, this music of their parents’ youth the backdrop to their own burgeoning lives, that your worries are but a sand trap, everything will go on and real life is organic, sustainable, innate, stubborn, messy and beautiful.

And through this trip and all the best laid plans I am reminded that kids often want nothing more than endless hours in a bathwater warm swimming pool in the endless sun. For we rarely get strong, endless sun in the north. A pool that is almost private. It’s never, ever warm as bathwater in our north. Teens are right to maximize their time in the sun and under the moon, they are banking it for the long Canadian winter not far enough ahead. They are pretty smart.

Here are the unplanned discoveries we made in Pasadena and our short time going through downtown LA en route to LAX:

ANDY’S COFFEE SHOP: 1234 East Colorado Blvd. Pasadena

Located on a quiet stretch of the old Route 66 that runs through Pasadena, we visited Andy’s twice for full, hearty, traveler-fueling breakfast, avoiding the hotel restaurant & fast food chains. This is a classic, authentic diner and a place where locals eat. The prices are reasonable and the menu is large, as are the servings, and the coffee is of course, bottomless, a detail almost forgotten in today’s climate. Andy’s offers all manner of classic diner fare and was the perfect place for morning after Huevos Rancheros. While the dish is a staple in the few diners that remain in our part of the world, Andy’s felt truly authentic, with style and fresh tortillas to spare. Like true diners and the best authentic eateries everywhere, Andy’s dining room and kitchen are run by long time restaurant pros who’ve worked together for a few decades. It felt like home.

CANTERBURY RECORDS. INC.: 805 East Colorado Blvd. Pasadena

A man who’s stayed with records through more than a few music format changes tells me without apology: “We don’t have T-shirts or any of that stuff.” I’m a hopeless tote bag collector and now slip mats have become an easy and useful souvenir, and they have none of this stuff for sale. We’ve stumbled onto this record shop, a real one. Two large rooms carry a wide inventory of original pressings and quite on point reissues from the range of genres only possible for older record collectors and surviving record stores. I’m drawn by a range of very inexpensive Christmas albums from earlier eras I’ve never seen, but we ultimately buy a handful of well-priced reissues to fill holes in our collection.

AMOEBA MUSIC: The World’s Largest Independent Record Store: 6400 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

Obviously. Amoeba is a LA institution where you are as likely to find your favourite touring musician shopping as to find ways to spend all your money in minutes. The place defies description, and photos don’t do it justice. It overwhelms. It’s simply everything we miss and have almost entirely lost in the world, certainly in my hometown, and that cannot be replaced even if vinyl were to come back strong forever. It is an endlessly layered but organized hall of wonders, with added-on rooms opening up around corners and with all the old film and music posters for sale to the height of very high ceilings you’ve missed since they silently disappeared, a place chock full of memorabilia, rare out of print music books you didn’t know existed but you need urgently, T-Shirts, and music, music, music. Visit one of their three LA area locations while you can.

TREJO’S CANTINA:  1556 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles

Around the corner from Amoeba Records sits actor Danny Trejo’s joint, Trejo’s Cantina. Trejo has a few taco spots including one at LAX Terminal 1, as well as a coffee and donut business, and the Cantina has a delightful casual vibe and intimate atmosphere. Most importantly, the tacos are delicious, traditional, varied and you have no choice but to try one of everything and then try a few more. My favourite was the Carnitas, and Dave loved the Beef Barbacoa best. The O.G. Margarita is perfection. The servers are friendly and laid back (as should you be) and rumour has it that Trejo pops in pretty regularly and is happy to say hello tableside, as he did with us. You win some, and you lose some. The trip feels appropriately Hollywood. Trejo’s brand, simple, well made and utterly downtown L.A. is poised and perfect for wider expansion, and would surely be a hit worldwide. It would shake my hometown to its core.

Special mention: We made our first trip to Trader Joe’s, the amazing grocery store of that region, for supplies. The cashier happened to notice my partner’s T-shirt, featuring The Twilight Sad’s newest album cover art. She says, out of the blue, “I love your T-shirt. I always thought it looked like a picture of Robert and Mary Smith.” “Get out! Me too.” I say. She asks us what brings us to town “A festival at the Rose Bowl…” I say. “DON’T EVEN!” she cries. “I’m dying to go to that and I’m stuck working. My favourite bands!” Oh how I wish we could have brought Arin along. By the time our groceries are bagged, we’re hugging goodbye. This was the mood we found in Pasadena. Friendly, open, and pure.

Pro tip: Unlike where we’re from, Uber in L.A. sometimes subcontracts out calls to outside companies. This was a surprise to us on the low-speed chase to always, always, traffic snarled LAX, where our driver entertained, chatted, and used the politest techniques we’ve ever seen to get other drivers to co-operate, and because of him we got there instead of hitting the road shoulder in desperation like other travelers. As Uber is cashless and the tip is entered on the app, this type of driver deserves a proper cash-in-hand tip. On the upside he said he’s paid hourly, so maybe it works out well for them.

With thanks to my partner and my travel companions, all the nice people we met in L.A. and Pasadena and our fellow music fans, especially the one with “The Smith / “Smiths” Tshirts featuring the hero of that sunshine-y day.

Disintegration: For The Ages

By Jacqueline Howell

Thirty years later, Disintegration is both transformative and transcendent. The chronicle of a break down and survival has grown with us into a uniquely life-affirming artistic statement.

DISINTEGRATION, as is the fashion these days, is celebrating an anniversary. Or is it a birthday? With passing time, with invented mini-holidays for all and sundry, and with the ease of online, free of the discomfort of the “Happy Birthday” song, we celebrate these milestones of new classic records.

We fans celebrate them wholeheartedly. Disintegration’s anniversary is couched within the larger anniversary of The Cure themselves: a band at the milestone of 40 with no signs of slowing, a band with a face unlined and gaze still sharp, and one with a voice THE SAME as ever, as clear, even singing in the same youthful key. The Cure’s legacy is not bronzed and flattened, rather, it’s a vivid one, an event in defiance of time, age, and expectations. The Cure’s recent milestones have been marked in their own way. Conceding to the rare public spectacle, there they all were at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction (providing a mini concert and even an unlikely, endearing meme for forever fans and casual observers, both). Celebrations more personal included Robert Smith’s curation of Meltdown Festival in London last summer, followed shortly by the legendary concert (/mini festival) in Hyde Park in July (filmed by Tim Pope for a future feature-length concert film) which saw 50,000 of us singing entire verses like football chants while the intro notes were still issuing into the shimmering heat wave atmosphere. Among many other cues, a DISINTEGRATION fan will never hear a stray neighbourhood wind chime the same way. It sets off “Plainsong” in our hearts.

None of The Cure’s 40th Anniversary events have been anything other than what feels appropriate for a band immune to branding, hype-resistant, stoic and incorruptible, whose genre is CUREMUSIC and CUREMUSIC only. This band, like few others, has moved into the difficult digital and downright messy social media age with their own unique take on grace. There are only rare, gem-like all-caps updates from on high. Occasional, mannered calls for pressing issues of the day. Do vote. Tour news, sent out just once, needing nothing more. The communiques are never mundane or shallow – and so millions choose to read them as personal correspondence.

April / May is the traditional season of new Cure releases, so we’ve had a lot to mark and celebrate along with the 40th. It’s also the time of year that the band’s founder celebrates (or ignores, for all we know) his birthday. In my home, we’ve re-named Record Store Day Robert Smith Day, as it fell on his birthday last year. And these last few have been special, so we’ve got to celebrate what we can, don’t we? We’ve lost too many artists we’ve loved blindly and fully, their lyrics tattooed across the skin of countless fans, their tours embedded in the fabric of countless lives, names out of songs bestowed upon a generation of babies, so many artists at once an indelible part of us, yet gone too soon, often painfully, even brutally. It seems everyone knows loss first hand now, as well as the universal pall of the Black Star, or a Firestarter, impossibly, extinguished. So we must rally for ourselves and our allies and our few worthy heroes like never before, with deeper context than rock and roll music was ever meant to carry, and especially, far beyond the industry’s low expectations for the too often dismissed post-punk “80s” which was called then “new wave” or dismissed by sneering critics as “haircut” music. Through all of this roller coaster of life we met The Cure’s music. And in the years since, we’ve continued to find new facets of The Cure, and prismatically, ways to understand our own lives.

Reeves Gabrels and Robert Smith of The Cure at Riot Fest, Toronto

DISINTEGRATION is, reportedly, an epic journey through early-mid life crisis. Is this common knowledge? From reliable sources?  From the source himself? Or have we intuited it? I’ve only ever taken liner notes as plain fact. You feel it, though, it permeates the work, with an urgency: an artist nearing age 30, having worked a lifetime already building this strange, beautiful creature, faced with his worst critic, the one inside, and pivotal questions both artistic and personal – ones not so different than the turning 30 moment that keeps us all awake. Do I marry? Have a family? Is love lasting? Is my best (work / life) behind me? Why do I feel so Goddamned old? What am I meant to be doing, if not this?

DISINTEGRATION came after a marathon run of albums and increasingly endless tours – at an output beyond the layperson’s comprehension- since the band’s formation in 1977. It marked a private breakdown not seen by us in the crowd, in the world: fans, devotees, Walkman owners. We were not consumers then. Not users. We scrambled for concert tickets- then just $15, tour T-Shirts and programs if we were lucky. We bought records or tapes, whatever our suburbias supplied us with – only looking at picture discs and imports. Music press was sparse in my part of the world, and we pored over any interviews and photos we could find, then, so limited and intriguing. There were never live photos of The Cure, just some studio things we cherished like fine art, sketched and tried to replicate, hung on the wall. A still from a TV appearance. The one with the flowered house dresses. This band was vividly alive in their Tim Pope-directed videos, a full carnival, and immense on the record. But on the wall, they were still, inbetween. A mystery. We were not the armchair quarterbacks and all-knowing experts fans claim to be today. We did not hold scorecards or make demands. Who would hear us? We were mannered. We waited, we showed up on time, we wore out vinyl discs, then tapes, and finally CDs.

My generation (at the time of DISINTEGRATION, angsty teens with our own sheen of faux-cool) had no inkling, then, that our beloved artists got depressed. There were only heavy metal car crashes and the sad slow death of Karen Carpenter, haunting in life and death, for reference. Despite what outsiders might say about our so-called “gloomy” music, we interpreted it correctly: as cathartic, as artistically profound, as art. We didn’t imagine young, strong musicians as ill, or that they might be white knuckling through addiction and withdrawal. We were naïve pre-Behind the Music VH1. No one knew how many musicians were wrecked from the pains of the road, or cratered occasionally with boredom, loneliness, and artist-torments they suffered, maybe cold-turkey, to enable creation itself. That the realest, who leave it all on the stage night after night, too-often burn out, the downside of making it. That fans turn on artists in their necessary evolutions. Even this band who mined and explained the depths of despair, hallucinogenic love / lust / pain / anger / the madness of young feelings to us, were miles and layers far away from our experience. We never thought to explain their significance to ourselves, and if we had, it would have included embarrassing-still baby-fat-cheeked words leftover in our vocabularies from the 1970s. Words like “magic.”

England, to Canadian kids, was just an imposing land mass. The Cure was an impenetrable entity. Our small reality was as detailed as veins, and as unremarkable. But we grabbed on tight to this music. It was our version of beach party music. We liked how it changed the air in the room like no other music. It was, like no one else, romantic and cinematic, befitting our dramas. It said what you weren’t supposed to say if you were a good girl or boy. It said it plainly, openly, bravely. It said it angrily, coldly, sarcastically. It showed us that even if our own diaries met their correct fates of being ripped up regularly, that such a thing was worth sharing when done artfully: with a twist, with a beat, and with a purpose. We were moved. Changed. Radicalized towards independent thought and authenticity which is not necessarily pretty, but is also beautiful in its way.

Reeves Gabrels at Bestival, Toronto

We knew from DISINTEGRATION that raging out musically was cathartic, and cool. The Cure asserted their firm place in the world by saying “we are allowed to be dark and messy and we demand to exist, whether you like it or not.” And there was no like, only love. We’d never heard such authenticity before that was our music. The Cure’s sounds and worldview was, by now, both an intriguing puzzle, and somehow touched us at our small, suburban knotted cores of still-malleable, still fragile self-identity. We were the five percent of the culture who connected with outsider music, innately and unconditionally fell in love with a few men in makeup, and dropped our beliefs in daddy-knows-best for something more sideways, eventually leading to our own voices. Post-Cure, we didn’t need the radio anymore to tell us or reflect back to us what was good. This music was passed, in Toronto, hand to hand, or experienced live more than through the radio or MuchMusic, (our MTV). We were casualties of end-of-the-century religious upbringing, first-children–Dr. Spock- experimental kids, or midlife and publicly obvious “accidents” of illogical middle-class unions. We were all a sausage roll away from English or Irish (or both) roots. Yet, we were disconnected and felt rootless. We never visited those places. Our elders did not look back. But something called to us. Something not touristic. We were, like our first role models at home and school, quietly sad, innately raging, and good actors. The Cure, and DISINTEGRATION found us at the exact moment we needed them, articulating something wordlessly brewing in us, and the world, shaking something loose.

Still from the best South Park episode ever: Mecha Streisand.

Ever since the South Park kids shouted to the planet that “DISINTEGRATION IS THE BEST ALBUM EVER”, capping a first-season episode (1998) which featured a very game Robert Smith himself going with the flow, it seems easy to imagine that this assertion has always been a globalized, accepted truth. This is not so. What South Park did was remarkable. It took something that felt like a secret code of the underground and shouted it from prime-time television, signaling the first anniversary of sorts for this or any modern record, then a precocious nine years old. The Cure, always workhorses, found much outward success before and after DISINTEGRATION, a record which might have been intended as a sign-off but instead would engrave their legacy among fans, young bands, and artistic souls the world over, and thankfully not the mainstream. The Cure, and DISINTEGRATION, would yet remain stubbornly apart from the terrible machine of the industry and the desperation of the encroaching digital age. They were still too weird for the boring and the mass market, and up to then, most of their music had suited only “College” radio in North America. They were, then, always cool and never overplayed. “Friday I’m In Love” broke that format forever, signaling to us fans that they could, if they wanted, write a hit justlikethat, too. The Cure would never don wacky costumes at the behest of some slimy advertiser, let their most profound song sell soda or luxury cars, appear as a school dance band on a teen drama to embarrass us all, or otherwise get cozy with the unbeautiful, crummy world of marketing. They undoubtedly turned down legions of offers that would have compromised their time and ethics. And ours. Instead, the music of DISINTEGRATION turned up very occasionally and somehow perfectly. For no reason at all, Adam Horovitz’s character in cult classic Lost Angels (1989) careens down a road in the Hollywood Hills, taking his mother’s car and sealing his fate to be committed to a mental facility, to a sliver of “Fascination Street”. That song and its appearance in film is curious as an American-only single that was a big hit on Alternative radio across North America. It’s a great song, a ramble, one that let the wider world know this was a band of skilled musicians that could do mysterious things with guitars.

It happened just like other people’s Beatlemania, only without the mania. Our manias were the underground kind, the buried under-pillow, repressed, dark sort. It’s only with the benefit of hindsight that one can see the painful teenage crises that were innocently dark, like the depths of DISINTEGRATION’s journey. That the kids we were, were not alright, at all, but treading water, who dodged curses and serial killers and cars with indifferent, alcoholic shrugs. Liquid courage. Drunk words, sober thoughts. We never fought but we slammed, we threatened, we railed. We scribbled. We prayed, still. Most of us made it out.

In between albums, The Cure went to their private lives (I presumed, in “The French Countryside“, for some reason) and we went on with our own micro dramas. Having spent our youth immersed in The Cure, DISINTEGRATION, while immense and addictive, was just the latest bounty in a solid run of our life’s soundtrack. We loved KISS ME, KISS ME, KISS ME just as much. The TOP, too. The dark early trilogy we fell into after HEAD ON THE DOOR, my group of friends’ entry point. STANDING ON A BEACH kids. After DISINTEGRATION, WISH (a treasure) would feel like a natural progression. DISINTEGRATION’s legacy that has vaulted it past most of the entire era’s offerings as well as other Cure records in the public imagination happened just as organically as the fact that we’ve all grown up together, still here, still listening, still connecting. It helped that they were never playing against anyone but themselves and their demons.

Simon Gallup at Bestival, Toronto

DISINTEGRATION, like classic literature, is a record that you can pick up all these years later and find that it crackles with the same electricity as ever (if not more). We change, it waits. It’s for all who recognize that records over 45 minutes long have at least twice as much pressure to be great, that they  are risking the wrath of all critics, but pay long odds. For we are not frustrated children anymore, enjoying a healthy outlet for our anger and pain, navigating hormonal waters and Romeo and Juliet recreations (only with anemic endings). We are tired now. We’ve seen all sides of love, that thing you can never bypass if you are human. We’ve been hurt in ways that may leave permanent scars, that can’t be junked like an old yearbook. We’ve made vows that we’ve intended to keep, Lovesongs, gone all in. We’ve known the spider-nightmares with no adult to shake us safe from, because we are supposed to be the adult, now. We’ve grappled with homesickness, prayed for rain, swam in the sea, and maybe know too much about how to drown. We’ve lost people who didn’t beat back the monsters under the bed, outside us, within, that can come to threaten any one of our tender brains. And too many of us have lost the irreplaceable: mother. The dog. Or the one person who always saw you as the child full of promise you were supposed to be. The losses are unfixable. We can only go on.

DISINTEGRATION is a record for happiness, too. It’s the rarest of records. For those past the turmoil of their youthful ways, their wrongheaded ideas of home life, who’ve found some peace, there are few pleasures greater than listening to “The Same Deep Water as You” hand in hand with your long-time love while it storms outside. There comes a point in life, a well earned, battle-scarred day, when you might breathe a sigh that you no longer miss the kiss of treachery, and can simply marvel at the bareness of all this feeling spun into wax so many years ago that will outlive you all, and that you know will be timeless. That maybe the best band of your time is only now being fully understood, written about more deeply, with perspective, at last, its inimitable music styles at least tentatively attempted by the new new wave of young bands who know that nothing will ever replace the guitar or the drum. That the only lasting, worthy voice must be singular and not one remade by A.I.

DISINTEGRATION held teenagers and adults aloft and made us feel better. It was healthy. It was lengthy. It was just right. It has a rhythm that is one perfected by The Cure alone, one that drives writers to try to translate this gift into their prose and always will. It’s the sea itself. It’s a great wave. It rolls in. It creeps out. It sweeps, and it rocks. There is happiness, and there is despair. Back and forth. Refreshingly, startlingly honest. There’s the unspoken: but then he speaks it, he murmurs it, he screams it, he shakes it in the light and transforms it into something tolerable. Then shimmery. Then pretty. Then no longer afraid. Suddenly, even anthemic. It’s still magic. Not cynical sleight-of-hand. Not cheap, threadbare, charlatan trickery, but real magic. Alchemy. Sorcery. Witchcraft. The dark contrasts cleanly with the light, in perfect balance, and there is nothing more beautiful.

The Cure are playing select festivals this summer and a new album is in the works. 

20 DISARMing Questions for Ammo Bankoff of Brass Box

Los Angeles’ Brass Box “allures listeners into a velvet sea of atmospheric waves” and “invite their audience onto the spectral shores of a dream”.

Brass Box first caught our attention on the New Music Radar with their infectious song “Tragedy”.

With their debut album The Cathedral now available from Dune Altar, we caught up with singer and bass player, Ammo Bankoff, to ask her about music, art, travel, and life in general.

This is what she shared with us.

What artists are you listening to right now?

Dead Can Dance, Rowland S Howard, The Damned, The Soft Moon, Jozef Van Wissem, Boris, Anna Von Hausswolff, Vas, Zanias, INXS, Bryan Ferry…

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

My first tape was Gloria Estefan and that was fabulous as a 7 year old, but the first tape I willingly got my hands on was a mix tape with Dead Kennedys Frankenchrist on one side and Subhumans EP/LP on the other.

Do you prefer Vinyl, CD, Cassettes, or streaming?

It depends on the experience. I prefer vinyl if I really love the album and want a real listening experience. Vinyl is interactive and forces you to pay attention. Streaming is portable and lovely when you want to check out new music.

What are your favourite bands?

We can’t play favourites here. Too many variables and moods that can determine those choices on an hourly basis. Although moody, heavy, dreamy, pretty are typical requisites.

Why do you live where you do?

I got sucked into a vortex.

What is your favourite journey?

One that never ends. It’s always about the journey.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Perfection does not exist.

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

Rose water, sunnies, hooded coat and a camera.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

Blood Falls

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Walk endlessly.

What inspired you to take up music?

I’d always been a fan of music, but I never thought of pursuing it. I didn’t think becoming a musician was something I was “allowed” to do as a career so it was never something I was consciously trying for.

I found my dad’s electric guitar in my youngest years and played around with that for a while even though we didn’t have an amp. In high school I stole a friend’s guitar and tinkered with that for a while. I still write most of music with that guitar. But really their wasn’t one moment where I planned to do anything with music. One thing after another kept happening and it was fun and challenging so I kept going.

What was your most memorable day job?

None of them!

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

I always ask for advice and never take it.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu

Luis Buñel. Roasted Sheep.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

A toss up between Korben Dallas and Candide.

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

Coachella where my bandmate and myself went to a strip club and casino to gamble instead of going to the festival.

Editors:  Love this!

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

I’m a book and film person.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

The Bible and a hit of LSD.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

Not close enough and not far enough away for any thoughts.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

I have ‘accidentally’ met some of my hero’s and find that it depends on the person. People are just people meaning some are assholes and some are lesser assholes.

Thanks Ammo!

Now go get The Cathedral on Dune Altar HERE.

20 DISARMing Questions for Aaron Mills of Burning House

Hailing from Southampton, Burning House is comprised of front man and guitarist Aaron Mills, drummer Dominic Taylor and bassist Patrick White. Mills, the band’s sole songwriter has refined the art of recording music over the past decade, in parallel with his technical skill as a guitar player. Their music rides the soft/loud dynamic well, producing music ranging from beautiful melancholy to loud feedback-driven post rock.

We asked Aaron Mills twenty questions about music, art, life, and travel, and he provided us with these very well thought out responses.

What are you listening to right now?

At the moment I type this, Oneohtrix Point Never – “Nobody Here”. A seemingly endless loop of Chris De Burgh singing “There’s nobody here”. It’s incredibly calming and zen. This brings to mind the Baudrillard quote: “There is nothing more mysterious than a TV set left on in an empty room. It is even stranger than a man talking to himself or a woman standing dreaming at her stove. It is as if another planet is communicating with you.” One can imagine this music used for quelling anxiety.

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

The first utterable one I can think of is Bros – When Will I Be Famous though that may have been the machinations of my mother who, incidentally, also named me after Elvis. The first with my own money might be Blur’s Parklife. Damon Albarn was a brilliant songwriter. No question.

What are your favourite bands?

Undoubtedly My Bloody Valentine’s heavenly malevolence impacted me significantly. I am endlessly fascinated by synesthetic guitar textures in no small part thanks to Kevin Shields. The other worldliness of Billy Corgan’s fuzz-arsenal on Siamese Dream blew me away, and I’ve been collecting pedals ever since. Sonically, Glenn Branca is up there too. My favourite songwriters include: Elliott Smith, Mark Kozelek & Robert Pollard. The cinematic experience of latter-day Swans has definitely informed the idea of ‘live performance’ to me, that is, theatre at a knife’s edge. The Necks are also an incredible live prospect I would urge anyone to see. I love improvisational music in general and I believe it integral in creating broad, far-reaching compositions. On heavy rotation always is the sublime musique concrete/ Neo-nostalgia of bands like Broadcast and Stereolab. I also really enjoy Deerhunter and the majestic voice and guitar of Robbie Basho.

Why do you live where you do?

Convenience, also I’ve made friends here that I would miss terribly if we were sundered.

What is your favourite journey?

The journey of the mind, or “soul” that resolves some entrenched confusion.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Watching milquetoasts on Sunday’s brunch while eating toast.

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

Gravol and a gavel.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

Space. But watching Kubrick’s 2001 recently, I could just as well conclude I’m more interested in human imagination in relation to the unknown – what we project out and upon the void.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Imbibe the culture and attempt to fraternize with its citizens.

What inspired you to take up music?

Music is transcendent. It exists beyond the measure of what we understand. It can hypnotize, move us to tears, fill in the blanks where words and actions fail. There is nothing like it. For example, cinema is transformed by the music that accompanies it. A nondescript moment can take on meaning that reaches within us and draws something to the surface with the introduction of music of unquantifiable vibrations.

Burning House. Photo by George Evans

What was your most memorable day job?

Designing armatures for Salvador Allende.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Well I think that “advice” alone is not enough. You have to burrow beneath, almost to a substrate level, to engender change. If you go to the gym, you might be initially buoyed by something that inspires you to go, but to continue with it you have to go deeper. The body is just one part of the puzzle. But in making this journey you will realize just how strange your consciousness is, and how unknowable you ultimately are.

What should everyone shut up about?

Trump. I absolutely detest the guy but I also think that he’s emblematic of the mass confusion of late-stage capitalism. The system is disintegrating around us and we’re just concentrating on this ego maniacal buffoon. It’s like going to a sporting event, baseball or whatever, and focusing all your attention on the mascot – he of course revels in this.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

The painter Francis Bacon. I would probably misconstrue the affair and make something unnecessarily elaborate when he’d only really care about the wine on offer. I think he liked bacon sandwiches and eggs anyway.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?


What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

I really enjoy the OFF festival in Poland. They’ve done it very well. I hope we can play it some day!

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

Primal Music Blog/ Drowned in Sound/ Atwood Magazine/ Big Takeover

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

I loved the film ‘Under The Skin absolutely incredible. I think the greatest art in many ways is that which doesn’t easily “volunteer” its meaning. The uncanny writ-large.

(Editor: We love it too!)

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

The band! I’m extremely ambitious with this project and intend to make it the central focus of my life. Rome is indeed burning, but to invoke Werner Herzog, we must make images or we go extinct – and I believe that to be the case, spiritually as well as literally.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

The latter seems more accurate. As anyone who had the privilege or misfortune of meeting Mark E Smith can attest!

Thanks Aaron!

Check out Burning House on their Bandcamp page HERE.

15 DISARMing Questions for Crooked Ghost

We recently featured “Sleepwalker”, the dreamy Post-punk music by Crooked Ghost, on our New Music Radar, and now, front-man Ray Clark has been kind enough to indulge us with answers to some of our DISARMing questions.

What are you listening to right now?

The sound of my cat purring.

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

The Best Of Blondie on cassette. I wore it out!

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

There’s something magical and nostalgic about vinyl, though I do like the accessibility of digital formats. We release our albums on all of those formats.

What are your favorite bands?

My top 3 would be The Cure, Siouxsie And The Banshees, and Cocteau Twins.

(Disarm – NICE!)

Why do you live where you do?

Asheville is very kind to artists and musicians. The mountains here are beautiful, you can see the stars, and there are a lot of wickedly talented people here. 

What is your favorite journey? 

Touring with my friends in Crooked Ghost. We look forward to touring our new album Skeleton House in the Spring!

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?

A day spent with my loved ones filled with music, great food, and nature.

Crooked Ghost – photo by Rome Widenhouse

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

Good books, things to draw/write on, lots of music, trail mix. A nice pillow is a must.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

To sail around the world playing music.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Go to ALL the record stores, thrift stores and antique stores in the vicinity.

What inspired you to take up music?

Music has always been a big part of my life from a young age. Starting on piano, violin, then later guitar and singing. Mostly all self-taught, I was a bit too rebellious for violin lessons. Music was the ultimate escape for a reclusive person like myself.

What was your most memorable day job?

Working at a bar was pretty wild.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

I try not to think about that! I live in the “now.”

What should everyone shut up about?

I think everyone should be vocal about the things they believe in. Never shut up.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

Frida Kahlo. We’d dine lavishly on fruits in a beautiful garden with lots of wine.

With thanks to Ray and Crooked Ghost!

Check out more from Crooked Ghost and buy their newest album, Skeleton House, from their Bandcamp page HERE.

20 DISARMing Questions for Fenne Kuppens of Whispering Sons

Back in September, we featured “Waste” by Whispering Sons, a Belgian Post-Punk band formed in 2013, on our New Music Radar.

Vocalist Fenne Kuppens was kind enough to indulge us with answers to a few of our favourite questions.

What are you listening to right now?

The new record by Daughters (You Won’t Get What You Want). Pretty intense stuff.

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, on CD.

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

Digital to discover music and vinyl to keep it.

What are your favourite bands?

That changes all the time. One of my all-time favourites is Felt. Or Xiu Xiu, who are releasing a new record next year; really looking forward to that!

Whispering Sons – photo by Francis Vanhee

Why do you live where you do?

Because I would be bored stiff if I lived in a small town. I love the dynamic of the city; it has become a necessity.

What is your favourite journey?

Sitting in the tour van, reading a book, going someplace you’ve never been before and being able to play music there.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Sleeping in, a nice breakfast, some music, a book, and nothing to worry or think about. Never happens though.

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

Books and headphones.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

Japan is highest on my list at the moment.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Probably find the nearest record shop or bookstore and go digging. And after that, walk around some more, go get some coffee and observe the passersby.

What inspired you to take up music?

I’ve seen shows that really made me feel alive. And that’s something I also wanted to be able to do.

Whispering Sons – photo by Tim Theo Deceuninck

What was your most memorable day job?

I once had to take little pots of salsa sauce out of one box and put them in another. Very life-changing.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

“Take some rest”, every day for the last 3 years.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

I feel very uncomfortable eating with people I don’t know, so my ideal dinner guests are my friends and we’d probably make pizzas.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Special Agent Dale Cooper 😉

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

Difficult question. I’ve seen Slowdive twice, both times it was magical. Otherwise I love a good Savages gig once in a while, because that energy is addictive.

Editors note: We agree about the magic of Slowdive!

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

I don’t really read any magazines; just trying to keep up with the local news. The rest are fragmented stories on Facebook and Instagram. I do read my horoscope daily though.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

Just Kids by Patti Smith gave me a boost of motivation and inspiration. Same for the exhibition of Anton Corbijn I saw a while ago. I started taking black and white photos with my phone after that, but I guess I lack some photographic talent. Blue by Joni Mitchell also did something with me which I can’t explain.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

Playing a lot of shows.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Never meet your heroes. There’s obviously so many things I want to ask them, but I wouldn’t like to spoil the ideal image I have of them.

Thank you Fenne! Check out Whispering Sons on their SoundCloud page HERE.

18 DISARMing Questions for HOLYGRAM

HOLYGRAM describes their music as a blending of Post-Punk and New Wave with Krautrock and Shoegaze elements into a headstrong, multi-layered and thoroughly contemporary homage to the sound of the 1980s, including a resolute look to the future: driving, dark and full of catchy moments. The wide range of influences of the five band members, who got together in Cologne’s vibrating musical landscape in 2015, are unmistakable: New Order meets NEU!. Their unpretentious approach to their own icons proves that references to the past must always be future-oriented, too. Previously impossible-to-combine elements come together cleverly to become the soundtrack of a city that appears threatening in the twilight.

The band is currently touring North America and took some time in between gigs to answer some questions for us.

What are you listening to right now?

All in the tour bus: Rendez Vous – Superior State

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

Patrick: Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
Pilo: New Order – Blue Monday
Marius: Trio – Trio
Bennett: Queen – Night At the Opera

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

Patrick: Vinyl
Pilo: Vinyl
Marius: Vinyl
Bennett: Vinyl

What are your favourite bands?

Patrick: The Cure
Pilo: There’s too many to mention

Why do you live where you do?

Patrick: I moved to Cologne for work but now there is so many things that keep me there
Marius: My sister lives there
Bennett: I was born there and I like it

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Patrick: Hanging out in a café with a warm coffee and a piece of cake
Marius: Good food, good series or movies, and a bed
Bennett: Pizza, videogames, and music

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

Patrick: Travel sickness tablets
Bennett: Nintendo DS – mind-altering
Pilo: We don’t have a tour bus
Marius: A blanket

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

Patrick: The moon
Bennett: Pluto
Pilo: Staying at home
Marius: Also anything in space

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Patrick: I get lost in the noise
Bennett: It depends on the city…getting food?
Pilo: Use Tinder
Marius: I really don’t know, anything could happen

What inspired you to take up music

Patrick: A sound, a thought, a good movie
Bennett: A mood which drives me to do it like Patrick said – a sound, a painting, etc.
Pilo: My nails

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Patrick: Learn an instrument
Bennett: Patrick can play an instrument other than his voice. He can play Bass Keys and Guitar
Marius: Learn all kinds of gymnastic skills

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what the menu be?

Patrick: Vincent Price, anything…
Bennett: Frank Zappa
Marius: Michael Jackson

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Patrick: Batman
Bennett: Solid Snake
Marius: Sephiroth

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

Patrick: The Cure (any gig I saw)
Bennett: Sting
Pilo: Deichkind

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?


Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

Patrick: Surrealism in general and Max Ernst in particular
Bennett: Alien, Blade Runner

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

Patrick: First I need to wrap my head around the last few weeks of touring…

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Patrick: I would like to meet some of them and some should probably stay a mystery

Thanks guys!

You can pick up their excellent album, Modern Cults, by visiting one of the links below, or catch them while you can during their North American tour.

CD order
Vinyl order

The Cure’s 40th Anniversary Show at Hyde Park: A Night Like This

By Jacqueline Howell

The Cure’s 40th Anniversary show in Hyde Park was full of twists befitting the most original of bands. July 7th, will become extra-historic in a way no one could have predicted years ago; when Robert Smith routinely set targets to break up the band that never happened; in the new age of the band that has finally let itself cheer for itself in all its formations and eras, with room to grow with new members; or even when the Hyde Park show was announced at the end of 2017. No one who is here will ever forget the month-long heatwave in the U.K. leading up to the World Cup, or that on this, the same day of the Cure’s 40th Anniversary show, England reached the world cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990.

The days leading up to the long-awaited BST day of music featuring The Twilight Sad, Ride, Slowdive, Editors, Interpol, Goldfrapp, Lisa Hannigan, This Will Destroy You, and more, have been fraught with World Cup tension and hyper-focus. To some, nothing else has seemed to matter anymore but cheering from home or in a pub, midday Saturday. The Cure’s show goes on, of course, the energies of the many fandoms somehow becoming harmonious amid England’s win, the football-style chants that no doubt would have always lent themselves to Cure lyrics becoming only louder and more practiced. Kids in glitter cross the city in celebration of Pride, and the convergence of all these celebratory groups make the stifling hot Tube an entertainment all its own. This buoyant mood crossed with oppressive heat makes shade-loving kittens of everyone, any lion posturing soon melted away, creating a type of throwback little-kid harmony, our pre-A/C toughness replacing the modern need for Wi-Fi, personal space, and mod cons. The air is hot, but electric.

In the still-beating sun at Hyde, more than ten minutes ahead of the 8:20 start time, the shimmering notes of “Plainsong” begin to ripple across the crowd of 65,000. Many, deep in chatter, fail to notice the subtle notes. A few astute ones who were there in the years that “Plainsong” started every show (perfectly) hear it and set their geeking-out Canadian companions shrieking in defiance of the dust of lush grass gone to burnt hay. Here it comes, like a wave of joy and transcendence (take that lazy writers of years past with your too-short dictionaries. There is no gloom here. There is no cave. There rarely was. This is the greatest band of so many colours, moods, shades, who can write your wedding song and, yes, dirges when called to do so, who observe the world wryly and always from a safe distance lest they be lumped in with the enemy (groupthink, a mob, the corrupt, the cruel) who work harder than anyone and, yes, that applies to every word, every idea, every note, and every chord, to this very day, when they have nothing to prove to anyone but were and are vital and will never be anything less than full on.)

One of Robert Smith’s guitars, all of them simple, elegant, black, with personal messages affixed to them, says a message we’ve seen before: Citizens Not Subjects. Back on the amp that always is draped with the Reading Club flag is another subtle call to action: England Awake. This is the way of The Cure. They never scream or shout their activism or get embarrassingly political, (just as they never will sell out) but rather, win the day in this way. We are within earshot and sight line of Buckingham palace, with the flag up. The resistance is here; it is glowing, it is extreme-weather resistant and it is full of English vigour.

There will be 29 songs played tonight. They will cross most of the albums of the band’s extensive catalog and selections have to solve a larger puzzle: how does a band who sets records for show length & variety worldwide possibly come in under two hours on a public city park’s firm curfew, all while pleasing the fans, fulfilling their own wish list of the day and offering something different than the recent Meltdown gig? There’s also the little details: their dazzling, beautiful light show that works best at dusk or later; their visuals, which become a concert film, (an artform they innovated early on with Tim Pope, who, we hear later, is in the control booth, working on the upcoming and much longed for Cure Anniversary documentary) and other fine points we fans never need to worry about that fall together seamlessly only after endless hours of toil. No one needs to think about all this to enjoy being among the crowd at Hyde. But some of us do enjoy imagining systems, unseen teams, projects; the well of creativity that hides the grit under the glitter of great artists. There lies inspiration we hope to borrow from.

With a little over two hours to play, The Cure streamlines things, and they do this with subtle brilliance. There is a minimum of chatter until later on. There’s not (and never will be) any of the pomp and distraction of today’s popstars, with circuses of distraction and set building that hide the very slim show that can fit inside a match’s first half, at twice the price of this full day on three stages. Cure songs tonight flow into each other, the pauses minimal for the smallest thirst-quench or guitar change, the minutes budgeted. The visionary hand is evident. The care and attention to detail and love, even, is clear. And so, it goes.

A few stray notes: Burn – Has any original song in recent memory ever become so iconically linked to a film’s theme (The Crow) and yet remained so reflective of the band who made it? Rarely played, this song has become the latter-day entry point for the casual, soundtrack buying young fan to find their way into the best music community on earth where we dream crow black dreams.

It is melting hot. These are men, who, with the exception of Simon in his signature singlet (he’s wireless today and makes the most of it) dress in long sleeves and pants, smart, English. Reeves Gabrels doubles down against the heat in Rock and Rollers are too cool to feel the heat black velvet, worn casually. He has some beautiful guitar moments in “Never Enough”, and, while no longer the new guy, plays music for likely his first time live that matches the heart rhythms of many: “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” and “Grinding Halt” are reportedly played for the fist time since 2011.

For those who like to cluck like mothers over the boys we’ve watched all our lives, there’s a bit of a Robert and Simon cuddle around the halfway point of the show that warms our hearts. This is a special day, after all. We fans start to think it is ours and then we realize it goes back to the hearts of boys in a gritty city south of London, long ago.

There are those in the crowd who want “the hits” and service is paid not because of the whiners but because they are great songs. They are fun songs. They are the only party songs many have ever loved. The occasion and the location, and maybe the current weight of the world these days, lead the show away from some of the depths Cure fans so enjoy swimming in. Robert Smith is a master, on album track arrangements and with set lists, of taking the crowd through mood journeys as day goes to dusk and then night, and so, for tonight, the band stays on a trail that is clearly marked. It is marked by The Cure’s own history-making epic, one that defined us all, a generation.

Photo by Rome Petricca

DISINTEGRATION, back in 1989, almost instantly went through a looking glass of its own majesty and resonance with the world, transforming an artist’s bleakness & despair into one of survival, a soundtrack for that of others, creating music for sadness and people who find the world hard, offering a side-effect free kind of anthemic permanence in the community of music appreciation.

Through bare honesty, contradiction and fearlessness (expressed as fear but made into art, and so, made fearless) the music of Disintegration transformed itself and was transformed by all who received it into a battle cry. Because we were there. Because we are still here.

Writers watch, for cues, the few great artists who can turn pain into transcendence. It’s rare, and spectacular. It’s mystical, something that aligns with the universe, resisting all negative messages that would tell someone in pain not to share this, air it, and let the light at it, to see if it helps the creator, or anyone else, get out from under it (and even, turn it around). This review will stay on the clearly marked path, too, but it behooves us all to be mindful of the darkness we’ve all felt encroaching friends, peers and loved ones today, that music grapples with so well, that we wish could have saved everyone we now miss.

It is increasingly clear to me as a student of this band that what The Cure means to this aching world is the very opposite of what Robert Smith sings about through the darker records we love to pieces and all through Disintegration. (It’s similar to a phenomenon occurring over decades with Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.) The music that resonates with us deeply and widely transforms and is transformative, with no one immune to the unplanned effects. The title track is an exorcism of personal demons:

But I never said I would stay to the end
So I leave you with babies and hoping for frequency
Screaming like this in the hope of the secrecy
Screaming me over and over and over
I leave you with photographs, pictures of trickery
Stains on the carpet and stains on the scenery
Songs about happiness murmured in dreams
When we both of us knew how the ending would be (Disintegration: The Cure)

A man on the verge of a turning-30 crisis, a particular type of artist crisis, wrote those words around the time he up and married the girl he’d loved since the age of fifteen (they are a very private couple and life-long loves.) He was worried, not psychic. He was feeling so low in himself, as outer quick fixes and self-medications and coping strategies clashing with inner ones in turmoil that, yet, somehow led to success and great music (but had not changed the pain of being in this world) and so, this Disintegration is apocalyptic, it threatens to burn it all to the ground. Fans in 1989 loved this artist like a friend, like a brother; they worried for him, they worried for themselves, for the world, and for the future. The artist and the fans got through it and past it and over it, we believe. We who are still here. Disintegration ultimately tells us that if we write it, worry it out and bravely release it from our hearts, we can change the result of depression, angst, anger, betrayal, anxiety, crisis. For we can. In art, music, and sharing, the pain does not eat at us, so much, lessening the pressure valve. The interior battle is not the same as the one we share with another, even in a fight, if there is love. If there is love still there at the other end of the row, we have learned something, we are closer. Love grows through tears as well as laughter. And the difference of a sad diary and venting to a friend is the difference of night and day, up and down, even life and death.

Disintegration. Robert Smith. The Cure. Leaving and dashing it all, quitting before you can fail, a cathartic explosion but – no. This was not how the ending would be.

This record, this band’s legacy since 1989, when they created an album that changed the world like no other of its time, is the opposite of disintegration. Here are just a few stories I know first hand, that Cure music has had a role in creating. No doubt others out there can echo these stories or add to them greatly:

There are now beautiful children in the world named Elise and Kiera named for this band. (There are no doubt also “Wendys”, “Roberts” and “Charlottes”.)

Youtube commenters regularly share with strangers their deepest feelings such as: “The Cure is like a vital organ for me; like my heart or lungs. Their music helps me remain alive.”

Old friends grown distant have reconnected (over not their more-sad-than-happy memories of youth but) through the shorthand of the music and this band, which helped them through rough times and also meant the best soundtrack made their young lives less painful. Their reconnection has meant supporting each other through projects and daily life again. This is the power of music that goes river deep, defying stats or figures or the reporter’s limited eye.

Friends make plans to meet locally, or even in foreign countries, like attaches to a state called music, for this band. Hyde Park was the site of many such meetings including our own. Others failed to meet due to the obstacles of life & technology but still gush to each other in passing about this once-in-a-lifetime shared experience. They danced to Boys Don’t Cry at a pop-up club in celebration of a man’s recovery, just last month, seventeen again, always, in music.

Experienced fans who’ve been lucky enough to see this band live numerous times find new layers and things to love in new settings, forming the backbone of new adventures. Their self-designed tours are Cure-coloured, but only The Cure or other true fans would ever decode this. These are cool girls with double lives as professionals. 

Multi-generational fans at Hyde Park include grown kids accompanying their Cure-loving dads, who’ve happily reached retirement age (and may that era be long and happy.)

People who were lonely and depressed kids who made it out and through quite openly and honestly credit Cure music for having had a positive, lasting effect on their lives. We are many. We are here.

A woman in her 40s who lives in the UK, incredibly, seeing her favourite band for the first time at Hyde Park, speaks to a stranger, is not asked why this is so but instead is simply told “I’m so glad you’re here now, with us.” Her eyes saucer-wide, she grabs the stranger’s arms, saying “I’m fourteen again.” She is told: “We all are. So are they (the band).”

People who’ve always been at the same gigs in big cities lately have gone analog, making friends like we used to, through the currency we always trusted as kids pre-technology: music taste. T-Shirts. A nod in the pub when the right vinyl is spun. The vinyl is sometimes ours, and dates to the early 1980s and includes reissues of played-out copies that will never be thrown away.

A resistant friend comes back from vacation asking to borrow Disintegration having come around to it scoring his own lengthy trip through Thailand, his eyes wide and evangelical, as his friends nod sagely. He finally needed it, and it was there, and now we talk about it, it forms a shorthand.

When you are happy, celebrating your own milestones and anniversaries and out of the woods, you spin Disintegration joyously, like at the end of a scary movie in the cool dark. Your heart has only ever beat one way, in melancholia. And that’s OK, as long as you are supported and able to seek support to carry on. Disintegration will always be your jam. It comforts, it lifts, it lets you breathe, snarl and growl, safely.

This show is not only historic and perfect, buoyant well-paced fun, it is a party in the park in a heatwave off a historic football result, the masses swaying, strangers with all kinds of accents familial and kitten as cats.

Hyde Park’s concert closes with a true surprise. With fans not knowing when or how, exactly, things will end, The Cure reveals what they’ve been budgeting for: they whirl through a 10 song encore, including rapid fire quick early singles, a moment I can pretend is just for me, the girl who fell headlong into Standing on a Beach: The Singles, at 14: “Boys Don’t Cry”, “Jumping Someone Else’s Train”, “Grinding Halt” (nice pairing) and finally, where it all started, “Killing An Arab”. You can move to these songs, as illustrated by the never-still Simon Gallup and most of over 50 thousand bodies, and these songs are historic, which is why we’re here today, but these songs resonate more and more with time, making subtle but important arguments about life and culture, issues, preoccupations and concerns that affect all people. Boys do/must/should cry: let it out and let us hold you. Sing it out and pick up a guitar and write it to us. Avoid bandwagons, think for yourself, beware of trends and mobs, be you. And think philosophically about what you are told: politics, war, the other, presumed threats, enemies, remembering that we are all the same. People, the other, the stranger, too. You can dance to this. You can cry to it. You can heal to it. You can write a thesis on it. You can name your movie after it, or even, your child, the next generation, permanence, legacy, love itself, walking around out there, bending the world, no doubt. What The Cure is, is eternal, healing, recovery, integration, catharsis, and love.

Robert Smith closes the triumphant show with a few important words.

“It’s thanks to everyone around me that I’m still here.”


“This last bunch of songs is for everyone who’s still here and journeyed with us. I’m glad you could make it. So thank you very much.”

And this is the truth of The Cure:

And when I see you happy as a girl
That swims in a works of magic show
It makes me bite my fingers through
To think I could’ve let you go

And when I see you
Take the same sweet steps
You used to take
I say I’ll keep on holding you
My arms so tight
I’ll never let you slip away

(The Cure: High – Wish)

%d bloggers like this: