by Adam Gold
If you’re a musician living in Nashville (East Nashville especially), then you’ve probably encountered or even befriended former Tin Machine and David Bowie guitarist Reeves Gabrels, who moved to Music City in 2006.
Perhaps overshadowed by his 12-year Bowie tenure, many fans and friends often forget that, in the late ’90s, Gabrels had a brief musical tryst collaborating with The Cure. The guitarist appeared on the bouncy 1997 single “Wrong Number,” in addition to joining with Cure auteur Robert Smith and drummer Jason Cooper to form the short-lived side-project COGASM. The COGASM song “A Sign From God” appeared on the OST for Orgazmo — the 1997 Trey Parker flick about a Mormon missionary who breaks bad and leaves his magic underwear behind to appear as a superhero in stag films. (It has a sweet Depeche Mode reference.) Smith returned the favor when he appeared on Gabrel’s 1999 solo effort Ulysses (Della Notte).
Now, 15 years later, Robert Smith has once again drafted Gabrels into his curious fold. So says a post on the axeman’s “official ‘unofficial’” site. Gabrels is reportedly not a full-fledged member of the band.
The Cure is spending this summer trekking across Europe, playing the festival circuit. (The itinerary.) The 18-date festival run — which includes appearances at the Reading, Leeds, Werchter and Roskilde festivals — kicked off Saturday with a performance at The Netherlands’ Pinkpop Festival, which you can watch 50 minutes of up top.
Two years ago I interviewed the ever-so candid Gabrels for this story about sidemen behaving badly. Have fun revisiting the excerpt below, on how some nefarious antics that ensued during the “Wrong Number” sessions were unintentionally captured on a live webcast to Cure fans worldwide.
Budapest, 1997, 3 a.m.: At a wrap party for the European leg of Bowie's Earthling Tour, Gabrels gets a call from Cure auteur Robert Smith requesting his presence at a London recording studio. Gabrels warns Smith that he would inevitably be pretty bushed from the flight, but Smith coolly assures him that they'd "have stimulants to keep [him] awake." Soon after rendezvousing in the studio, the pair decide to, as Gabrels puts it, "consume the comestibles."
This being 1997, interactive web media were in their infancy. Unbeknownst to Gabrels, Smith and the other inebriates, they were indulging themselves in full view of a webcam streaming live on the band's official site. "I'm sure the fan base was watching, because it was the early days of that sorta thing," Gabrels says. When asked if there was any blowback from the viral indiscretion, the quick-witted guitarist responded: "Is that a pun?"