THE CULT Frontman: We Made This Album For Ourselves

The web site of the German branch of Roadrunner Records has been updated with the following interview with THE CULT frontman Ian Astbury:

Q: When you wrote this album, was there a spark?

Ian: THE CULT has been on ice so there was no point going through the motions of touring and recording if there was nothing to say, and I really felt we had nothing to say for quite a while. We went away, shut the doors, and started writing with Trent Reznor, trying different areas of writing. Some songs came from our hiatus of 3 years. Different songs came at different times, we wrote while we travelled, so some songs were written in Paris, Tokyo and India.

Q: During THE CULT being on ice, did you have in the back of your mind you would return to it and therefore would write specifically for it?

Ian: THE CULT is THE CULT because of Duffy and Astbury, we have such great chemistry, I'll create a song but Billy brings such great melodies which is great as a song to work with.

Q: You and Billy live in the US, but most songs on the album were recorded in the UK, which is something you haven't done for a while. Was it important for you to come here and work with Youth as a producer?

Ian: The whole intent of this record was to do something intuitive and just go with instinct and not just have some long drawn out process. We wanted to capture the energy. Billy and I both wrote a lot of songs, so after a sorting session we had 18 songs left, and it was time to hit the studio. Youth was high on our list of producers we wanted to work with and he was excited so this felt right. He was closer in age and experiences more on our level and he was fresh. We wanted to make a more artistic, driven record. We recorded the album in only 15 days. THE CULT works best when being instinctive.

Q: This album was made without a record label and therefore no outside interference. Is that one of the reasons for its strengths?

Ian: Once you start to second-guess yourself you get further from what it is: the heart. We nailed it with Youth. Several recording companies were courting us at the time, but we kept focus on the recording process, we weren't trying to make this for anyone, we made it for ourselves, the old cliché.

Q: The working relationship between you and Billy has gone through various stages of good and bad over the years. Do you have become more understanding towards each other?

Ian: I think you have to realise your strengths and weaknesses, the strengths and weaknesses of the person you're working/writing with. Once there is mutual respect and awareness it's special and unique.

Q: The sound of THE CULT has evolved. Is that because of little projects and new experiences and seeking new music?

Ian: It started with clothes when we were young, you project yourself into that character you create, then as you grow you seek further experiences further a field, your aware of other things, other influences.

Q: Album has new experiences but whilst old keeps riffs, embrace more modern influences, the title track, maybe more groove; is that the influence of UNKLE and that side of the dance genre?

Ian: We are individual guys, we have new experiences and we've grown. That's what life's about, learning and growing. All various influences, drum beats in common with '80s stuff, disco beats from the '70s, contemporary beats, stolen back from dance music but we steal from each other. Influence each other. Amazing records being made. Very few bands that have a legacy of being alt rock, we've done it all been a part of all of it and we can pull from theses various resources. I've been around long enough to know what's contrived or what's sincere.

Q: Talking of things that are contrived, the single "Dirty Little Rock Star", is that an opinion or a state of the world address on certain rock stars specifically nowadays? Or is that just something you've observed over time, or is it more prominent in 2007?
Ian: In America you can't get away from things like Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan, when did it start happening that we start focusing on them? Sad obsessions we have with celebrity venire. How we're all, well the media is pursuing the perfect body, the world, the real world is a bit of a state. I have two sons, why don't we put the focus on something else, thanks to Bono etcetera, for bringing issues and using their fame to help support, but I like to see it in the hands of the common man. Back to the people, let us take control. Greenpeace, CND, where did they go? Taken out of the public eye.

Q: I remember talking to you around the time of "Beyond Good and Evil", and you said there were issues around then that inspired you the to make that album, is that a factor in your time of when THE CULT return, when did you make albums when you feel inspired by the things we were discussing?

Ian: THE CULT has always been considered more of a performance-based band but there's always been a social political awareness. Were all affected by the bigger picture. Materialism. Not all social awareness stuff, there's personal stuff, been through a lot, spending a lot of time with THE DOORS I entered a different psychic space.

Q: Being 6 years between THE CULT albums, if you'd made it two years after the previous one would it have been as good as the album that you've made now had you not had THE DOORS experience and working with UNKLE and Trent Reznor?

Ian: I'd have to say "no" because I can't imagine making an album 2 years ago. We made the right record at the right time. Songwriting was something you just did but I think over the years song writing has become more important than the performance.

Q: So do you think your performance in THE CULT is better and stronger now as a result of being the front man of THE DOORS for that period of time?

Ian: Absolutely. I learnt a lot. Ray and Robbie taught me so much, they gently guided me. Confidence.

Q: Does it feel good to be back looking after your own legacy?

Ian: I'm in love with what we've just done, I think by anyone's standards it's a good record, I don't like to stand in the past. No point trying to recreate something, being present now is what it's all about, especially when you're being creative. There is more relevance in what's going on with the band now.

Q: THE CULT being back now with a new album, new US tour, coming here to start of next year, how far do you look ahead, do you see yourself sustaining THE CULT continuously beyond the cycle of this album or don't you think that far ahead?

Ian: Don't think about it, we work with what's in hand, coming home is key and is important to us. We started in Brixton, it's important to us, I'd like to come back to London, do smaller dates. Trying to find where our little space is. We want to know where our fans want us to play, get on the website and tell us.


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