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Baker's Dozen

Fertile Ground: Lol Tolhurst's Baker's Dozen
Julian Marszalek , October 18th, 2023 09:08

Following the publication of his goth chronicle and ahead of a new album with Budgie and Jacknife Lee, The Cure's founding drummer Lol Tolhurst takes Julian Marszalek through his favourite records, from Jimi Hendrix to Low via the wonders of Trout Mask Replica

Photo by Louis Rodiger

“I’m not being coy, but you’ll have to read the book,” chuckles Lol Tolhurst coyly down the Zoom line from his Californian home, where he’s been a resident for the last 30 years. He’s been a busy man of late and his schedule shows no signs of abating. Up first is said new book, Goth: A History, which was published on 21 September. Joining John Robb’s The Art Of Darkness: The History Of Goth and Cathi Unsworth’s Season Of The Witch: The Book Of Goth, Tolhurst’s examination of the genre is the first to be written by one of the movement’s unwitting creators. Given that so many of goth’s key figures have spent a lifetime repudiating the tag in a manner that puts Saint Peter’s denial of Christ in the shade, it now appears that Tolhurst – who shares responsibility with the rest of The Cure for goth urtexts Seventeen Seconds, Faith and the monumental Pornography – is sticking his head above the parapet. Why has it taken him so long for him to admit it?

“It really boils down to the fact that a lot of times when we started with The Cure, we didn't want to be anything,” says Tolhurst. “We’d get journalists asking, ‘So what kind of music do you play?’ And we go, ‘Well, it’s Cure music; that's what we play.’ We didn't want to put a label on it. And that's a good idea because when that particular label goes out of fashion, then you're out. So we never did that. And Robert Smith was very insistent on that.” He continues: “However, when I look at what we did, we were like the fertile ground that [the goths] all came out of. And I know it – I put all the connections together. And I show people, but there's a philosophical argument about it, but that’s all in the book.”

Lol Tolhurst is less coy about his new musical project, Lol Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee, which, as the name suggests, is a union between him, former Siouxsie & The Banshees drummer Budgie, ex-Compulsion guitarist turned super-producer Jacknife Lee and a revolving cast of singers and musicians including LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, Starcrawler singer Arrow De Wilde and U2 guitarist The Edge. But even without the guests, the prospect of two of post-punk’s leading drummers working together is a tantalising one. According to Tolhurst, both he and Budgie bounced off each other in much the same way that the best pairs of guitarists do when they get together – some pushing and pulling, giving each space while meshing and weaving into a whole new entity.

“I make him blush all the time when I say this, but for me, it's true. Budgie is not only a good friend that I've known for many years, but to me, he's the best drummer of our generation. I can just watch him play and I just get enjoyment out of that,” says Tolhurst. “Music’s a conversation; it has to be a discussion because if it's not then you're just going through the motions. We riff off of each other, but in ways that you wouldn't immediately think; there are some things he does that I’ve got no chance of doing.”

But it’s Lol Tolhurst’s favourite albums to which we turn our attention. What becomes evident throughout our conversation is how each of these albums have been a signpost from the Crawley of the 70s to his present day position.

Lol Tolhurst’s book Goth: A History is out now on Quercus Books. Lol Tolhurst X Budgie x Jacknife Lee’s debut album, Los Angeles, is released on 3 November via Play It Again Sam.

To begin reading Lol Tolhurst’s Baker’s Dozen, click the image of him below.