“I was semi-detached from the world, but not from myself,” says Ian Astbury. The Cult lyricist and singer is on the phone from Los Angeles. He explains where his head was at during the writing of Choice of Weapon, their ninth studio release. Astbury lived for three years in New York in a sort of self-imposed lockdown. “I spent a lot of time isolated, almost monastic. I spent days not talking or interacting with people...I love the energy, the architecture of the city, especially at night. It becomes like a forest. But New York can be abrasive. During the day, the traffic can drive you inward,” which is the mental space in which he spent much time. “I think people found it difficult to be around me. I was on a different path. The Buddhist text was helpful.”
This is fairly enlightened stuff from a singer who once fronted a pre-Cult post-punk gothic rock band in 1981 called Death Cult and who is responsible for such grit as, “Snake skin heal and a cold black coal man/ Shootin’ sapphires up a dead man’s arm/ Hyena lurk outside your door.”
From post-punk beginnings, the Cult proper started in England in 1983 as Southern Death Cult. In time they dropped the lingering gothic remnants and solidified around the hard-rock sound they brought to America in the mid ’80s. They split in 1995. “There’s a point where I had to surrender to the wear and tear on the physicality of my body.” The Cult regrouped in 1999. Astbury’s Jim Morrison–looks and an abiding sense of the mystical served him well when he fronted the Doors of the 21st Century with two original Doors members in 2002. Today, Astbury seems pensive and calm. Call it a Buddhist thing: “The whole purpose of meditation is to ground yourself.”
Against Me! and Icarus also perform.
THE CULT: Humphrey’s by the Bay, Friday, May 25, 6:30 p.m. 619-224-3577. $49.