Phil Thornalley Recalls How Robert Smith Made The Cure’s ‘The Lovecats’ Possible

Phil Thornalley recently gave an interview to Bass Player in which he talked about the creation of the bass parts in the Cure’s ‘The Lovecats.’ The musician revealed how Robert Smith taught him to play the bass while they were on a tour which eventually led to the song’s recording.

When the Cure was working on their fourth album ‘Pornography,’ Phil Thornalley joined them as their producer. In 1982, he also became the band’s bassist following Simon Gallup’s departure. Thornalley’s tenure in the Cure lasted eighteen months, during which he produced their 1983 single ‘The Lovecats’ and first live album entitled ‘Concert.’

Apart from producing ‘The Lovecats,’ Thornalley also played the distinctive double bass line on the single. The song was the band’s first top ten hit in the United Kingdom, peaking at seven. It also reached number six on the Australian chart in early 1984. Regardless of the song’s success, Thornalley decided to leave the Cure in 1984 due to the stress of touring and his desire to continue his career as a songwriter and producer.

In a recent interview, Phil Thornalley spoke about his unique bass line in ‘The Lovecats’ and revealed something interesting to Bass Player. He stated that Robert Smith showed him the principal bassline while on tour, and he learned it on electric bass. However, Thornalley saw a double bass when they entered the studio, and Smith insisted on playing it anyway.

According to Thornalley, he got a tuner and put marks on the bass neck as he didn’t know where the notes were at that time. He then said he began with the basic bassline and moved the line around for the chords later. Thornalley then added that he played each part over two tracks due to his limitations on double bass but luckily created the famous song.

In the interview with Bass Player, Phil Thornalley recalled about ‘The Lovecats’ the following:

“Robert Smith, the Cure’s singer, had shown me the principal bassline when we were on tour, and I’d learned it on electric bass. When we got to the studio to record it, I saw this double bass, and Robert said to me, ‘You’ve gotta play that!’ I had to get a tuner out and put some marks on the bass neck because I had no idea where the notes were.

When we started recording, I took the basic bassline and, as the song progressed, I moved the line around for the chords. I also did a faux walking bassline at one point. Because of my limitations on double bass, I couldn’t play the whole part in one take, so I played each part over two tracks. I’m doing half of the line on one track and the other half on the other.”

You can listen to the Cure’s ‘The Lovecats’ below.