Former Cure Drummer Lol Tolhurst on Memory, Music, and the Abyss

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Lol Tolhurst founded iconic punk band The Cure with lead vocalist Robert Smith in Crawley, UK in 1976. After performing as the band’s drummer and keyboardist for over a decade, his alcoholism caused him to leave the band. After a quarter of a century of legal battles, divorce, and pain, Tolhurst and his lifelong friends in The Cure made amends and played a series of reunion shows at the Sydney Opera House in 2011.

Chronicling his journey to international stardom, down to the darkest depths of addiction and isolation, and back to inner peace and creative fulfillment, Tolhurst has penned a memoir of his time with Smith in The Cure and on his own, aptly titled Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys, out tomorrow. We chatted with the artist about what it was like reliving such wild, sometimes painful memories, and what it means to be a true artist.

The book feels like a celebration of the band, and then an admission of guilt, an apology, and an atonement. What prompted the book? Was it part of your healing process? Did you feel like you owed fans the whole story? 

That’s an interesting question – I wanted to explain my life to myself. I got to a point where I was wondering, “What has gone on?” And I had an epiphany in 2013. I was in Hawaii, on vacation, and I went to see Robert, because The Cure were playing for the first time in Honolulu. I went to see them play, and we were sitting on the beach at 4 o’clock in the morning, chatting away, and I woke up the next day and thought, “I have to write this down. I have to record this, because otherwise I’m not going to understand the story.”
But also, as I went along in it, I realized, “Ok, there’s a bunch of people out there who I haven’t seen in years, who would like to know as well.” I wanted to set things right. I don’t want to leave all of that crap for other people to deal with. I want to be rid of it, because I want to go out just the way I came in.

In the process of writing the book, and talking to all these people you wanted to give the story to, did you find there to be a lot of difficult conversations you had to have in your research? Or was it mostly positive reunions?

Mostly positive – I didn’t really call people up and go, “Do you remember what happened?” Because I didn’t want it to be somebody else’s view of what happened. You’re bound to incorporate that into your thought process. So I thought, “I’m just going to mine my memories and find out what I want to write from them.” But what I did do, is if I hadn’t seen these people, I’d talk to them and say, “Ok, get out all your old albums.” And that’s what they’d do. And I went to London last year, because I live in California, and I visited people I hadn’t seen in 25-30 years, and I said, “Show me your photo albums. With me in it.” And that way we’d start a conversation.

Have Robert, or Porl, or Simon (other Cure members) been able to read the manuscript? Have they had any reactions?

Definitely Porl has, because he designed the cover. He lives in California now. I gave the manuscript to Robert in probably April or May – this year’s very busy for The Cure, and the thing about it is, I know that with Robert, if I don’t hear anything from him, that’s fine. Because if he doesn’t like something, he’ll call me up straight away and be very direct with me. We’ve known each other for a million years. I did hear from Simon – he told me he thinks it’s a great idea I’m writing a book. I think overall it’s all positive. A lot of memoirs tend to be score-settling exercises, and I really didn’t want to do that – the book was a vehicle for something a bit different for me. I didn’t want to be “Behind The Music Part 1000.” I wanted something that would evolve. That would be the framework, but it wasn’t going to be the story. I really loved Patti Smith’s book about her and Robert Mapplethorpe. That’s a beautiful story about two people finding themselves in a very different world. So that’s how I felt I could write about me and Robert, and then out of that comes the healing. 

You get super personal in the book. You talk about your mom passing. And that’s what you’re saying – it’s not just a “Behind the Music” story, but an emotional chronicle of feelings and experiences. So I wonder how this compared to writing a song. Did you find it to be more emotional?

If you look at the whole catalogue of The Cure’s material, that’s the area we go into anyway. It’s always very connected with emotions, and that outsider stance. So for me, writing the book, to connect to my emotions, it seemed very natural. But unlike a song, it’s a much longer process. It was a year of being in that space, every day. That’s what I did. I thought, “If I sit at home and try and write it, it won’t happen.” I rented myself a little office about a mile from where I live. It was a co-working space. I went in there every day 5 days a week, and tried to bash out as many words as I could. Sometimes I’d be sitting there, and one of them would go, “Are you OK?” There’d be a tear that had come up, because when you write something like that, that’s close to the emotional side, it’s like reliving it. Writing about my mother was very painful. I wanted the book to have weight and depth. Before I wrote it I read a bunch of memoirs – the ones that struck me the best were always the ones that were honest and open about their emotions. Not just a commercial for somebody’s life. 

Whose memoirs did you like best?

A couple I found really good. One was surprising, but not really since I’ve talked to him. It was Duff McKagan’s, from Guns N’ Roses. And I also liked Steve Martin’s, Born Standing Up. It’s the ones where people reveal themselves. It’s much more human.

There’s a passage in the book where you talk about the process of songwriting that you and Robert experienced, where you go into “the abyss.” And you and Robert were able to go into the abyss and come out unscathed. I’m wondering if you can say any more about that, because it’s so fascinating.

My basic premise there is what unites most artists of any fashion is that they are willing to look at things that most of the time the rest of society tells us we have to keep hidden. And that’s the abyss. I know that for us, our most intense moments as musicians were going a little further and looking at this stuff, and writing about it, or reliving it. Sometimes, though, you can fall over into the abyss. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened to me for a couple years. And I’m just glad I came out the other side, and didn’t fall into this club – most people in bands die at about 27, if they’re going to die from misadventure, it’s about then. Luckily, I’m about twice that.

You talked about going to these dark times with alcoholism. And you mention a few different low points in the book, with the divorce, and the court drama. What would you imagine is your lowest low and highest high, if you can pick.

My lowest low in lots of ways is that point, and I can see it in my mind as I’m talking to you about it, where I got the letter (asking Tolhurst to leave the band) from Robert after Disintegration, and I went for a walk with my dog and I’m sitting up in the Moors, which is a very lonely, wild place – there’s nobody there, and there’s stormy skies, it’s very evocative. And I lay on a rock, and I started crying. And I couldn’t feel anything. That was about my lowest point. I had the emotional response, but I felt dead. Highs – it might sound cliche, but having this book done and finished is pretty much a high for me. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and it’s surreal at the moment because I’m going through a whirlwind of press. But that’s what I’d call a high-class problem. 

When did you first have the idea to do this book?

Twenty years ago, I got a tattoo on my arm that’s two feathers my son found, crossed like writing quills. So somewhere in there, twenty years ago, I wanted to write this. I’ve talked to my book agent, who said “I have clients in their thirties who are writing books about their lives, and they have no perspective. Things that happened in their twenties are really close, so they can’t see what the true meaning of those events were. You’re at the perfect time to do it, because you’re not so old you can’t remember, but you also have a little space between the events.” I’ve always thought about our music – people will say “some of it’s depressing.” It’s not depressing, it’s a willingness to feel how you feel. It’s not always pretty.

Musically, do you have a proudest contribution or moment? A song, a moment onstage that’s your proudest moment in the band?

I think it was really awesome, in 1985 we played a festival in Athens. One of the other bands that was playing was Culture Club, and Boy George had a terrible time, because he had to stand behind a screen, because people in the audience were throwing rocks at him. And about a week ago George and I did the same TV show in England. And I was talking to him, we’ve known each other from back in the club days, and I said “Do you remember that? Remember the festival?” And he was laughing, but he said, basically, “I’m still here.” That’s one of my best memories. It’s awesome to walk onstage to a hundred thousand people, but it’s also awesome to remember, “I’m still here. I’m still doing stuff.” When you think about memories, you bring them from the past into the present.

Do you have a favorite gig?

I liked in 2011 when I met up with everybody again and we went down to Australia and played at the Opera House. In the space of about a few minutes onstage I was transported back to being a teenager, instantly. We were doing the same thing again that we used to do. It felt great. It was a high point.

Are there any musicians of the moment now who you like, and listen to?

It’s funny, because a lot of people my age will say “There’s no good bands anymore.” And I’ll tell them, “That’s not true!” What’s true is you don’t know where to look anymore, you’ve forgotten where to look for it.” My son is 24, he lives in San Francisco. So I go to him, and I say, “Show me what you’re listening to. Something you think I’d like.” And he showed me an electronic artist, Caribou, who I liked a lot. Things like that. I try to keep an open mind. Although I do know that as I get older, there’s not that much new. There’s variations on a theme from a while back, but there’s not much startlingly original. But there are good permutations. Meg Myers, I saw recently. I liked her. So I like different things. I like anything that’s honest.

Cured is available for pre-order now and in bookstores tomorrow.

Harry Styles Talks to Paul McCartney, Chelsea Handler for Cover of ‘Another Man’

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Photo by Willy Vanderperre, Courtesy of Another Man.

One Direction breakout solo star Harry Styles smirks from three different covers in the A/W 16 edition of Another Man mag, and inside its glossy pages he talks to three separate people: Paul McCartney, Chelsea Handler, and his sister, Gemma.

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Photo by Alasdair McLellan, Courtesy of Another Man.

Speaking to McCartney about navigating international uber-fame, Styles said:

“If you can step outside of the craziness and appreciate it for the fact that it’s extraordinary,
see it as this amazing thing, for a second, it’s alright.”
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Photo by Ryan McGinley, Courtesy of Another Man.

To Handler, Styles reflected on his love life and how he spends his free time.

“I just like hanging out quietly with friends and family,” he said. “I don’t think i’m weird about it, I just like having time with friends, That’s what’s normal to me.”

Another Man is one of the leading men’s fashion magazines in the world. The A/W 16 issue is out now – check out Styles’ entire interviews here.

Watch the Trailer for KStew’s Creepy Fashion Thriller, ‘Personal Shopper’

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The new trailer for Kristen Stewart’s latest film, Personal Shopper, has arrived, ghosts and all.

Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, the movie was a contender for the Palme d’Or award at Cannes, where critics gave the film mixed reviews – some booed, and others called it “Stewart at her very best.”

Personal Shopper follows Maureen, an American working in Paris as the personal shopped for an eccentric French actress. Oh, and she lives in the home where her twin brother passed away so she can remain in contact with his spirit.

The psychological thriller comes to theaters in March. Not exactly Twilight, but thanks to the ghosts in this film Stewart continues her trend of Halloween-friendly flicks.

Take a look at the clip below.

Mariah Carey Records Duet For This Week’s ‘Empire’

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

At long last, it appears Mariah Carey is finally coming to “Empire.” The show has teased her potential guest spot seemingly since its inception, but now, at last, it appears the R&B legend is finally coming to the silver screen.

Carey will take on the role of Kitty, an expert musician enlisted to help Jamal, played by the incomparable Jussie Smollett, regain his mojo as a singer. Smollett told Entertainment Weekly that “[Working with Mariah] was great. She’s a sweetheart. She’s a professional and, you know, this is a long time coming.”

Listen to Smollett and Carey’s duet, “Infamous,” recorded for next week’s episode, below.

Carey’s new E! show, “Mariah’s World,” debuts December 4 at 9 PM EST.

“Empire” airs Wednesdays at 9 PM on Fox.

Amy Schumer Accepts Woman of the Year: “Thank You For Calling Me A Woman”

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Amy Schumer was named Woman of the Year at last night’s Men of the Year Awards, hosted by British GQ. In her acceptance speech, Schumer began by thanking the magazine for “calling me a woman,” and emphasized how important it was that “finally we are celebrating men!”

The recently published author, whose collected memoirs, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, have already become a #1 New York Times bestseller, was quite candid in the rest of her acceptance speech. “Next year, it’s not going to go as well for me, and I won’t be at places like this, and I’ll feel forgotten,” she said.”

She remained enterprising as always, continuing: “I hope you guys will go to my website and look at my merchandise. I have t-shirts, and a sweatshirt – but the zipper breaks.”

Schumer wrapped up the speech by sharing some of her fondest memories of her trip to the UK. “Patrick Stewart has come all over my tits. More times than even he remembers,” she said. “Michael Caine, don’t look away. Look at me, sir.”

Elaborating on the experience, she explained: “You have to make a shelf so [the semen] doesn’t fall. It’s the saddest shelf in the world. I just went to the Anne Frank house, and I can still say it’s the saddest shelf in the world.”

Watch the full speech below.

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo is now available on Amazon.

The Best Posts from Beyoncé’s Birthday Party in NYC

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@Beyonce on Instagram

Beyoncé turned 35 this weekend, and celebrated with the party of the year at the NoMad Hotel in New York. The guest list for the “Soul Train”-themed soiree included everyone from Chance the Rapper, to Alicia Keys, to Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, to Diddy, and Usher, and so on. Check out our favorite moments from the bash below:

Chance the Rapper giving his hero some love:

Bey & her nephew Chance ️ #Beyonce

A photo posted by Sha. (@yoncesince81) on

Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats turning up in supreme style:

Diddy chilling in the kitchen:

Janelle Monae assuming control of the dancefloor:


Blue Ivy delivering her mom a layered birthday cake:

 

And, finally, Bey and Jay dancing the night away:

They must’ve put Blue to bed ?? Jay could not keep up lol #beyonce

A video posted by Sha. (@yoncesince81) on

Amy Schumer Discusses Metzger Controversy With Lena Dunham

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In today’s Lenny Letter interview, Lena Dunham puts on her journalism hat and interviews newly-bestselling author Amy Schumer. The two discussed her fresh-off-the-presses memoir, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, as well as the recent controversy surrounding Schumer, in which a (now former) writer from her show, Kurt Metzger, made less-than-supportive comments about rape allegations in the comedy community.

What happened was this: the Upright Citizens Brigade theater banned from their shows a male comic accused of raping multiple female colleagues in a since-deleted Facebook post. The statement included the phrasing: “Multiple women came forward, and after investigation, [name redacted] was permanently banned from UCB this week for raping women in the comedy community over the years.”

Metzger, responding to the ban, in an also-since-deleted Facebook post (screenshot available at The Daily Dotsaid: “Guys I have just heard some disturbing news, this guy Jiff Dilfyberg is a rapist! I know because women said it and that’s all I need!” He continued in further posts to criticize rape survivors credibility: “If you are raped by Bill Cosby you and you didn’t go to the cops I get it. You were scared etc etc. I give you credit. If a fat improv open mic kid with a fucking jew fro did it you are full of shit.”

How does Schumer fit into all this? Critics have come at her for having such a hot-headed writer on her show, even though he’s since been removed from the staff. Earlier on in the saga, Schumer tweeted:

Now, in her Lenny Letter interview, Schumer wants the whole thing to be over. To Dunham, she said:

First I was like, fuck Kurt. It’s been years that he’s been doing this. He’s one of those guys, like a lot of the guys that I’m friends with, who are degenerates. Kurt was saying this awful stuff, and in previous years, I would be like, “You’ve got to shut up.” He’d be like, “All right.” Then it would kind of go away. This time, it was just so bad. But also, why are these women treating him like he raped someone? He’s not Bill Cosby; Kurt has never raped. What he was saying was horrific, and he was being a troll. He can be an Internet troll. The fact that I had to answer for it … I was like, “Ugh, why this week?” [Jokingly:] I was like, if there’s scandals, can’t they be about me?

Read the full interview here.

Order The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo here.

Five of Our Favorite Gene Wilder Quotes

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As Gene Wilder walks the silver stairway to heaven, let’s celebrate his amazing career with five of our favorite quotes from the entertainment legend:

From Willy Wonka:

“It’s all there, black and white, clear as crystal! You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!”

On his neuroses:

“So my idea of neurotic is spending too much time trying to correct a wrong. When I feel that I’m doing that, then I snap out of it.”

From The Producers:

“What did you expect? Welcome, Sonny? Make yourself at home? Marry my daughter? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons!”

On his late wife, Gilda Radner:

“I’m not so funny. Gilda [Gilda Radner] was funny. I’m funny on camera sometimes. In life, once in a while. Once in a while. But she was funny. She spent more time worrying about being liked than anything else.” 

In Young Frankenstein:

“Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven foot long, fifty four inch wide, gorilla? Is that what you’re telling me?!”

Wilder was known for his show stopping roles in films like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Producers. He received two Oscar nominations in his career, one for Producers and one for the screenplay he helped write for Young Frankenstein. He wrote, starred in, and directed a slew of other notable films, and picked up an Emmy for a guest appearance on Will and Grace. His artistic legacy will not be forgotten.

“It is almost unbearable for us to contemplate our life without him,” said his wife Karen Boyer and his nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, in a joint statement on Tuesday.

Meet the Mind (and Watercolors) Behind ‘Bojack Horseman’s’ Animal People

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Cover illustration by Lisa Hanawalt.

Lisa Hanawalt’s childhood doodles have morphed into one of the most popular, critically-acclaimed smash hits in Hollywood.

The comic artist, illustrator, and published author (most recently of the food-themed art book Hot Dog Taste Test) now serves as Production Designer for Netflix’s “Bojack Horseman.” But she never intended to get into the TV business at all.

The California native hunched over notebooks all through school, doodling animal-human hybrids in patterned sweaters for as long as she can remember, much to the chagrin of her teachers. It was through high school theater that she met Raphael Bob-Waksberg, who would go on to pitch, create, and executive producer the massively successful show about a horse-human who’s past his celebrity prime. Flipping through sketchbooks during downtime at rehearsal, Hanawalt and Bob-Waksberg invented stories for the characters living on each page.

“I found some of my old sketchbooks, and in them I’m basically drawing the same stuff I do today,” she explains, chortling at her own predictability. “There’s cat people, and horse people, and they’re having relationships. I was really into this one character I made up that’s a cat with a guitar, based on Weird Al Yankovic, because I thought he was the coolest person. I wanted to be him. But a cat.”

After attending UCLA for visual art she began to do portraits of people’s pets for $20, or else just a case of beer. It was these portraits that Bob-Waksberg would later staple to his pitch for “Bojack,” eventually steering both his and Hanawalt’s lives in a completely new direction. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

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Selection from Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt.

Hanawalt soon found herself in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, working as an illustrator and cartoonist, writing and illustrating a food column for Lucky Peach magazine, getting her work into such niche publications as The New York Times, and having her first anthology, My Dirty Dumb Eyes, published through Drawn and Quarterly in 2013. She was also a member of an all-female comic’s studioPizza Island: “It was awesome. We didn’t collaborate on anything, but it’s kind of cool to be next to each other and complain about things. About dudes treating us badly. That solidarity.”

“The feeling of space in New York is very different, almost claustrophobic,” she explains. “Being down in the subways is very new to me. It’s very frightening and loud, and I felt a bit trapped. So I immediately made a lot of artwork about the subway, and how nightmarish it can be.”

She wouldn’t have to deal with the train for long thanks to her friend Raphael, who sold his show, and her drawings, to Netflix in 2013, and pleaded with her to come on as Production Designer, bringing her vision to an entire world of televised animal-people. With no animation background whatsoever, she nervously took the job.

“I had to figure out how to adjust my designs a little bit to work better for animation. It’s so different from what I do in my solo work, because every decision I make on this show is going to impact the lives of 40 different people, at least. Actually more like 100, because there’s animators in Korea, too, who work on the show. So if I make complicated patterns on the arms and legs, I’m going to hear it. People are going to be mad at me. Sometimes I do it anyway.”

Hanawalt’s sensibility quickly proved to be exactly what the show needed – every visual gag, every silly t-shirt, or background painting, or poster, or menu – it all comes from her and her team. The subtle wordplay and visual nods to the animal-human hybrid universe of the show are easily one of its best features, and a main talking point in glowing reviews from top publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. 

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Selection from Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt.

Some of Hanawalt’s favorite creations in the Bojack universe: “I really like the manatees. I like Sextina Aquafina. The whale strippers. I guess I like the aquatic ones best.” 

In episode 4 of the show’s latest season, a silent short film unfolds underwater, where we see an entirely different habitat for the stars and wannabes of Hollywoo (the show’s name for Hollywood).

“Oh god, that episode was so fun, and I kept trying to cram more stuff in there. I was like, ‘We need a jellyfish lady!’ We only see her briefly, but, man, she’s important.”

Since starting her own Hollywood career, the admittedly anxious artist has been forced again and again out of her comfort zone. In addition to working on the show, she directed, animated, and edited a stunning music video for Tegan and Sara and published Hot Dog Taste Test, a hysterical, absurd, gorgeous collection of some of her favorite pieces.

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Selection from Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt.

“The book’s hard to explain if you aren’t looking at it, which I think is true of a lot of my work. It’s like a one woman anthology. There’s a collection of food-related essays and comics, but then you also find comics about birds. And autobiographical work. I think it’s good if you are a funny, silly person who also has feelings.”

Taste Test flips from pages detailing chicken vaginas to raw, emotional confessions about deaths, fears, and embarrassments in Hanawalt’s real life. It’s this combination of goofiness and vulnerability that reminds me so much of Bojack.

Hanawalt gave a talk at the XOXO Festival in Portland in 2015. For someone who’s explained she feels weird talking about herself and her work, it’s perhaps the greatest test of her nerve thus far.

“I was really nervous about doing it, and I didn’t want to. But I’m glad I did because I think it resonated with a lot of people, and their own issues with anxiety and creativity. So I’m happy it helped some people, and made them feel less alone. That’s the problem with anxiety, is it’s very isolating and you feel like a fucking weirdo. But basically everyone I know has panic attacks, so it’s very cathartic to be able to talk about it openly.”

When I ask her about which character she identifies with most on Bojack, she muses, “Maybe a mix of Diane and Princess Carolyn? I am ambitious like them, but Diane can be a little up her own ass, in a way I’m hopefully not.”

Ambitious she certainly is. The artist hopes to direct more music videos, dabble in video game design, and even pen a graphic novel. But she doesn’t link career achievement to personal joy.

“I’m very happy with what I’ve done so far, and there’s other things I want to do, but they’re not things I have to do to be happy. I want to keep working, and I want to make work that people like, and that’s really all I care about. So I don’t care if what I do in the future is hugely popular, or just reaches a few people. I’m just going to keep at it.”

Hot Dog Taste Test is in bookstores now.