30 Oct 2016

Ian Astbury - The Cult

From Sunday Morning, 11:07 am on 30 October 2016

Wallace Chapman talks to Ian Astbury, the frontman of post-punk/metal/goth-rock band The Cult about their success and the inspiration behind their new album.

Ian Astbury

Ian Astbury Photo: Supplied

The Cult have been releasing albums intermittently for the last 33 years, and 30 members have been through the ranks. Astbury says that The Cult is essentially a collaboration between guitarist Billy Duffy and himself. "we go in with shared vision, and it's not always easy. [Producer] Bob Rock has been great at refereeing."

They've recently released their 10th studio album, Hidden City, which critics have hailed as one of their best. It's the last in a trilogy of albums which began with the reunion of the band in 2005.

Astbury describes the turn of this century as being a tumultuous time for The Cult, with the old record industry model falling apart, and 9/11 causing disruption to their touring.

"The band pretty much took a hiatus. I went off with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors of the 21st Century, travelled the world with those guys and did 150 shows. Then I regrouped with Billy [Duffy, guitarist for The Cult] and we decided to start from scratch."

"We made a record that was done very intuitively. Born Into This was done very much the way we originally made records when we first got together. We wrote and demoed 18 songs in 21 days."

The second record Choice of Weapon came out five years later, in 2012, and Ian describes it as 'more insightful.'

"Having travelled through India, Nepal region, spending a lot of time in meditation retreats and ashrams - that definitely had an effect on the record. Obama had just come into power, and we're living in the U.S. so it all felt a bit dystopian." 

"Hidden City is more of a catharsis, realising that through all of this the real way forward was through intuition and 'path of the heart'. We'd really relied on an industry and that constant external validation was an important part of being in a band. But with the advance of technology, and rise of independants, we do so much more outside of the structure. That was really empowering. Hidden City refers to a spiritual path." 

The Cult play Dunedin on November 19th, and Auckland on November 21st.