Cult frontman Ian Astbury interview, man.
“I don’t like nostalgia,” states Ian Astbury, lead singer of seminal rock band The Cult. It’s a somewhat paradoxical position to hold, when we’re on the phone to talk about The Cult’s impending Australian tour in which they will play 1987’s Electric album in its entirety. Electric is famous not only for the singles Love Removal Machine and Wildflower, but also for being the album which, under the wing of visionary producer Rick Rubin, transformed The Cult from pasty British, pirate-shirted goth types to internationally loved, hard rock hot property.
Astbury sounds animated as he recalls those early years. “It was 1985, at a nightclub in Toronto, when I first heard the Beastie Boys song Cookie Puss and I had to find out who produced it! I loved the stripped-back sound of it and I realised that was the way The Cult should be produced. We were 24 years old at the time, out on the road and playing rock’n’roll, we wanted something to capture that feeling in the studio.”
Astbury’s Torontonian epiphany took The Cult to the chaotic freak scene that was Manhattan in the mid-‘80s, to meet Rubin, who as a first priority sat the band down for a serious session of listening to a ‘60s psych rock/proto metal band.
“We sat down with Rick in a New York dorm room and he played us a Blue Cheer video, then asked, ‘This is how I can see you guys sounding, more stripped back and direct.. Do you want to do this?’ Billy [Duffy, guitarist] and I looked at each other and said, ‘Hell, yes! Definitely’.”