Musicology – The Cure’s In Between Days

In Between Days single cover

Some things you hear about 80’s music is true.  Bands would go out of their way to create the biggest hair possible.  Reverb on drums was expected.  Quirky filmclips stood out.  Neon highlights or accessories were mandatory.

There were also some important moments in music during the 80’s that are still felt today.  Can you imagine a world without Madonna?  Where would filmclips be without Thriller?  Could we Rick-roll without the Rick?  Live Aid would not have happened.  Some amazing things happened, and some great music was made.  And some of that was made by my favourite band of all time, The Cure.

By 1985, The Cure had been recording and performing for eight years, and were just starting to find their groove.  They had swum into the deep waters of goth with the “Faith” and “Pornography” albums, and cleansed themselves with the silly pop fun of the “Japanese Whispers” release.  1984’s “The Top”  was, as I saw it, Robert Smith realising The Cure could go on to bigger and better things, so started to hone his songwriting craft.  The results showed on “Head On The Door”, and specifically its opening track, In Between Days.

Come Back To Me – The Song

Boris Williams – Drums

Boris Williams
Boris Williams

It opens with reverb drums, a rolling raucous drum intro that sets the tumbling tone for the song.  Boris Williams was recruited into the band after Andy Anderson was let go by the band just before their 1984 tour of the US – Boris learned the songs off records and met up with the band on the road.  Williams’ background includes stints playing for the Thompson Twins and Kim Wilde.  “Head On The Door” was the first Cure album for Williams, who would stay with the band for ten years.

Simon Gallup – Bass

By TomLovesHayley - Own work, CC0,
Simon Gallup in 2012

In what would become a bit of a signature move of Cure songs, the bass line drives the song.  Simon Gallup rejoined the band for “Head On The Door” after a three year hiatus.  Gallup left in 1982 after the Fourteen Explicit Moments tour in support of Pornography over an argument about a bar tab.  Smith asked Gallup to re-join the band in 1985, after a discussion with a friend pointed out to Smith that he and Gallup were best mates and the feud between them was silly.  Smith made the call, Gallup joined, and the two have worked together pretty much since.

Pearl Thompson – Guitar

By Sayhellotoc3po - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Pearl Thompson in 2015

Thompson was the lead guitarist for In Between Days, and was influential in the creation of the Cure’s deep atmospheric sound.  Known at the time as Porl, Thompson had always been around the band, including the original guitarist who left before the debut album Three Imaginary Boys.  Thompson had also done many of the album covers, under the name Parched Art with friend Andy Vella.  Thompson’s style was to make the perfect noise at the right time, not always adhering to traditional techniques, and it fit The Cure perfectly.

Lol Tolhurst – Keyboards

By W. bootz B. Photography -, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Lol Tolhurst in 2008

The original drummer for The Cure, Tolhurst moved to keyboards during the Japanese Whispers sessions through 1983.  The keyboard hook for In Between Days is, to me, the perfect pop keyboard line.  It would also set the tone for other keyboard hooks the Cure would use later, such as Just Like Heaven and Hot Hot Hot!!!  Simple, catchy keyboard lines that lift the song – that’s what the Cure do.

Robert Smith – Vocals and Guitar

Finally, Robert’s unique quasi-falsetto voice joins the song.  A distinct feature of Cure songs is Smith’s vocals, simultaneously whimsical and weighty.  Smith never thought of himself as a singer, but after early attempts to secure a singer failed, Smith assumed the role and worked away at it.  By 1985, Smith appeared comfortable with his songwriting and his vocal styling.

Go On – The Video

"<yoastmarkThe Cure has a reputation for creating unusual filmclips for their music, and that can be accredited to Tim Pope.  The Cure started working with Pope in 1983 with the Let’s Go To Bed filmclip, and the band continues to work with him.  If you take the time, you will notice filmclips before this time were awful, highlighted by the Charlotte Sometimes video.  Tolhurst’s take on this was that previous filmclips try to make the band members into actors, which they were clearly not!

The brief for the In Between Days filmclip was to try to capture the free-flowing, jovial spirit of the band which hadn’t been captured before.  To do this, Pope set up a camera on a swinging gantry, allowing the camera to swing towards the band.  It also allowed them to attach the camera to them while they moved around, keeping the camera in motion for the entire clip.

A story coming out from the filming mentions the practice runs with the camera set-up.  The system was tested and working fine, but someone took a piece off the camera, changing the weight.  So when they released it to swing towards Robert, it came at him with much more speed, forcing him to dive out of the way.

This filmclip has been frequently referenced as the band’s favourite video, as they feel it captured the essence of The Cure that hadn’t been seen before.  And to this day, no-one remembers the significance or importance of the fluorescent socks.

All images except for Williams and the group shot from Wikipedia, with accreditation in the descriptions.  If you know the source of the other two photos, please let me know.  Thanks!