Lol Tolhurst’s Musical Inspirations: Exploring the Roots of a Goth Pioneer


In goth music, few names shine as brightly as Lol Tolhurst, the founding drummer of The Cure. With an illustrious career spanning several decades, he has recently published a book titled “Goth: A History” and is on the brink of releasing a new album alongside Siouxsie and the Banshees drummer Budgie and renowned music producer Jacknife Lee. To celebrate this exciting creative resurgence, Tolhurst recently shared some of his favourite records that have inspired him over the years. Here’s a glimpse into the musical world that shaped this legendary artist, accompanied by some fitting hashtags.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love

“It was the seed that started me on this path. Without hearing it, none of this would have happened. And that’s the thing that connected me to Robert Smith because he came up to me in the library one day, and he said, ‘Do you like Jimi Hendrix?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m a member of the UK fan club,’ and he said, ‘Me too!’ So he was the only other person I knew that liked Hendrix.”

Jimi Hendrix’s “Axis: Bold As Love” served as the spark that ignited Lol Tolhurst’s musical journey. Its mesmerizing guitar work and innovative approach to rock music left an indelible mark on him. Moreover, it’s fascinating to learn that this album played a crucial role in Tolhurst’s connection with The Cure’s iconic frontman, Robert Smith.

Can – Tago Mago

“With [Can drummer] Jaki Leibezeit, I always liked that he said that you have to learn how to play monotonously. What I always thought of with the drums was once the rhythm’s there, there’s this whole space inside of it that you can listen to and focus on with the push and pull. That’s what I was always trying for. And you only get that by being minimalist, but precise with your minimalism.”

“Tago Mago” by the German experimental rock band Can had a profound influence on Tolhurst’s drumming style. The idea of playing monotonously but with precision and minimalism fascinated him. It’s a testament to how powerful and entrancing a seemingly repetitive rhythm can be when executed with precision and intent.

Cluster & Eno – Cluster & Eno

“…What I really like about it is that it’s happy-sad. That’s what I love. Because it’s not just like, ‘Oh, let’s take this melody for a walk and we’ll come back 10 minutes later.’ They’ve thought about how this kosmische music works.”

“Cluster & Eno” by Cluster and Brian Eno is a delightful blend of happiness and sadness, a sonic tapestry that captured Tolhurst’s imagination. The album’s intricate approach to kosmische music showcases a deep level of thought and artistry that aligns with the complexities of the goth genre.

John Coltrane – A Love Supreme

“It took me a while to get into it, but the more I listen to A Love Supreme, I find there’s other layers there. It’s like Bowie’s Low – there are still things that I’m discovering. In the end, it’s like a book; there are some books I’ve read three or four times and I’ve learned something different every time. Because your mind changes and it gets different things in and can process it slightly differently every time… I often think to myself, that’s the mark of something worthwhile.”

John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” is a masterpiece that took Tolhurst some time to appreciate fully. However, its layers and depth eventually revealed themselves to him, much like revisiting a cherished book. The ongoing discovery of new nuances within the music reflects its enduring value and artistic significance.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica

“I had it for a long time, and I would approach it every so often. I would think, is my mind ready for this? Can I handle it? And then I’d go, ‘Well, next month. Maybe I’ll try next month.’ Eventually, I got it, I think when I started playing drums because I started seeing how, from what on the outside seems chaotic and insane, was very carefully crafted music which was very carefully connected. And, you know, once you can start to pick those things out in your mind, it becomes very beautiful.”

Captain Beefheart’s “Trout Mask Replica” posed a challenge to Tolhurst, requiring the right mindset to fully appreciate. The seemingly chaotic and insane exterior of the music, upon closer examination, revealed intricate craftsmanship and thoughtful connections, leading to a profound appreciation of its beauty.

In conclusion, Lol Tolhurst’s musical journey is a testament to the power of diverse and unconventional inspirations. These records have played a significant role in shaping his artistic sensibilities and contributed to the unique sound that defines goth music. With the anticipation of his new album, we can’t wait to see how these influences continue to evolve and inspire his work.

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