The Cult's Ian Astbury: "Too Many People Approach The Doors Like It Was Classic Rock. That Is An Awful Term."
Ian Astbury, leader of The Cult, is quite the Renaissance man. Besides fronting the band, Astbury plays soccer competitively, watches hockey compulsively and is well-versed on just about any topic thrown at him.
Speaking from Los Angeles in anticipation of tonight's show at House of Blues, Astbury talked about The Cult's terrific new album, Choice of Weapon, and how his 50th birthday and first marriage aren't going to settle him down.
The reviews for the new album, Choice of Weapon, have been consistently positive. One reviewer wrote that The Cult were once again "militant, urgent and pissed off." Who wrote that?
I saw it on Allmusic.com. Well, anyone could have written that. Allmusic.com is just a collection of individuals. You could have any person write that, but I do believe the album is militant. We had to be when we recorded it. We had a purpose.
The cover art for the album has a Native American influence. That's a theme that seems to be consistent throughout the band's career. You have to look at the picture. There is obviously a very strong Native American influence, but there are other things going on as well. The jacket I am wearing is an homage to punk rock. The shirt is from the film The Gangs of New York. There are a lot of different elements going on. Of course, I've always been interested in Native American culture. [It] offers incredible insight into the human experience.
You recently turned 50 and got married. Does that mean you are settling down? I don't know what settling down means. I was born in England, lived in Canada, but consider New York to be my hometown. I don't remember turning 50. I just drove right past it. I didn't even acknowledge my birthday. I was working all day. And the wedding was also low-key. We got married in Las Vegas. The pastor was from a non-denominational church. It wasn't a religious ceremony; it was supposed to be just us and a few friends, but somebody leaked it to the media, to some local gossip columnist.
I know you are a big hockey fan. Seeing that you have lived in New York and L.A., were you routing for the [New Jersey] Devils or the [Los Angeles] Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals? When I grew up, I was a big fan of the Chicago Blackhawks. But I also loved the teams from Canada and my heart kind of goes to those teams. But the run that the Kings made, it was incredible. The Kings showed such dedication.
You are known as a good soccer player. Don't you play with Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols? I've played with many players. I play on a team in Los Angeles. I am actually the oldest player on the first team. Steve is a great player. We are in a real serious league. It's not just a bunch of celebrities running around.
Was it difficult when you sang with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger in the Doors of the 21st Century? Are Morrison's shoes just too big to fill? I actually played more shows with those guys than Morrison did. It wasn't a short stint. I did over 150 shows. But there's not a single living person who could fill Morrison's shoes. No one is going to channel him. Too many people approach The Doors like it was classic rock. That is an awful term. The nuance and subtext of the music of The Doors is very important. I was very proud to be able to perform Morrison's songs, but people forget that it was Robby Krieger who wrote "Light My Fire" and "Touch Me." Those are classic songs. It's incredible to think about all of the bands that have been influenced by The Doors. Doing those songs is like getting an education at Harvard.
Is it true you had a religious experience listening to "The End"? I think anyone who has listened to that song has had a religious experience. I am very careful with my choice of words. To me, religion is kind of a doctrine with guidelines. I don't think that applies to how about I felt about that piece of music. It had a profound effect on me. I can't really explain the feeling. It was a feeling of wild animals. You know the poet Robert Bly? He wrote about man losing touch with humanity when he lost touch with the wild animals.
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