The new memoir by ex-Cure member Lol Tolhurst is a raucous tale of life in the rock and roll fast lane. It’s also a powerful account of his struggles with alcoholism.
Founding Cure member Lol Tolhurst is Ireland-bound for dates in support of his compelling memoir, Cured. While the book is a fascinating account of his time with the indie-goth legends, it’s primarily a compelling story of his struggles with the demon drink.
“Every single event I’ve done, I’ve had at least one or two people come up and tell me how much the book has helped,” Tolhurst says, speaking from his Los Angeles home. “I got a note from a guy in a rehab facility in Detroit who told me they’d put my book in Recommended Reading for their patients, which is really wonderful to me – that was part of my reason for doing the book.
“My main reason was to explain my life to myself, but halfway through it, it appeared to me that the thing that makes any memoir or autobiography worth reading is that you feel the person and you feel the honesty, right? So that’s what I wanted to convey. So far, the reaction’s been very good and I feel very blessed with that.”
Tolhurst chronicles his descent into powerlessness with a scathing honesty and wit. The yarns are heartbreaking but frequently hilarious, and he mocks his behaviour with good humour. From accidentally pissing on Billy Idol to returning to a club to resume drinking after being treated in a nearby hospital, the riot of emotions evoked make the content all the more potent. And not only for the reader.
“It was very cathartic because a lot of the time it was not just remembering things, I was re-living it,” he explains. “I set myself up in a little office which I shared with two guys. I’d go there four or five days a week for about five hours. Sometimes tears would just start streaming down my face and they’d come over and go, ‘Are you okay? Is everything alright?’ and I’d go, ‘Yeah, I’m fine!’”
Writing about his mother’s death was difficult for Lol, but he also highlights the moment of his reconciliation with Robert Smith as particularly emotional. Tolhurst was fired from the band because of his alcoholism and subsequently sued Smith.
“On writing about that moment, it became much more emotional, which was strange because it was fairly recent in my mind,” he says. “Recounting the time we did Reflections in Sydney (when Tolhurst joined The Cure on stage) was similarly so.”
In the book he paints a vivid picture of his and Robert’s childhood on the grim streets of Crawley and the days of the nascent Cure. They were catapulted to international fame with remarkable speed. And then the hard work really started.
“I know!” exclaims Lol “I’m going to see my son today who is 25 and when I think of all the things we’d done by that age, the mind boggles. I look at him and I think how would he cope with it! It’s amazing that we all survived. It was pretty intense. It’s not like we were down the coalmines – but for four years we never had a break.”
Tolhurst’s narrative fizzes with energy as he details his misadventures, intraband struggles and the birth of some of the most memorable songs of the era. He also identifies Pornography as a creative peak for the band. “We worked through the night on Pornography and I remember Kim Wilde was using the studio next door during the day,” he says. “She was very nice, but several times I sort of intercepted her in the door way when she was on her way in. I’d corner her and try to talk to her and, bless her soul, she never told me to get lost. I was probably a jibbering idiot!”
Around this time Robert Smith had a fortuitous meeting with video director Tim Pope, who would helm many of the band’s striking visual outings, which helped to copperfasten the band’s success.
“There are always milestones in a band’s career where you go, ‘Okay if they hadn’t met this person, things wouldn’t have turned out quite the same’ and that’s definitely the case with Tim,” maintains Lol. “He really got us, and luckily MTV had just arrived. We’d done videos before that just weren’t really us, like with Mike Mansfield who did Adam and the Ants. Did I tell you that one?”
“Yeah I was gonna be in Adam and the Ants at one point,” Lol explains. “I was in a club in south London and bumped into Adam. This was after the first band split up and he was getting two drummers. He said, ‘Oh you wanna come? I’m putting this band together!’ I was like, ‘Ah, ya know what, I don’t think so, we’re doing okay’. I could’ve ended up in pirate costumes!”
Throughout his memoir Lol is unrelentingly complimentary about his lead singer’s talent, referring to Robert as “of the world but not part of it.” Smith, he says, has an uncanny ability to “explore the darkest parts of the human psyche.”
Are they in regular contact?
“Yes, absolutely,” he says. “The people that I grew up with like Mike Dempsey, Robert, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, those are my teenage friends. I stay in touch with them all the time. In fact Porl lives out here now, he’s about half-an-hour’s drive from me.”
Is another collaboration possible?
“I should think so at some point,” he nods. “We only have about 20 or 30 years before we shuffle off this mortal coil and I don’t see why not! I think it’d be a great idea.”
Any other projects on the horizon?
“I’m going do more with Levinhurst (the band he formed with wife Cindy Levinson) this year,” he says. “The last two years the book has totally taken over my life. I haven’t been up to anything except that. Also, I’m thinking of doing my own radio show. If Steve Jones can do it so can I!” Lol also recently tweeted about another writing project, with the working title Cured Part 2.
“There will actually be two more books,” he smiles. “One is a sequel – I don’t want to give too much away. It’s a little different. The other one is a graphic novel that I’m going to do with Porl because he’s such a great artist. So there are two on the horizon but it won’t be for a while.”
Lol Tolhurst will visit the Roisin Dubh, Galway (July 16); Crane Lane, Cork (19); Dolan’s, Limerick (21); Boneyard Records, Omagh (22), Boyle Arts Festival (24) and Whelan’s, Dublin (25) as part of his Irish book tour.
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