"Illuminated" from the album Born Into This
Veteran British rock band The Cult are back in fine form with a solid new lineup and a fresh set of tunes. They headline this year's Jägermeister Music Tour (produced by Live Nation) and make a stop in Charleston at the Plex on Sat. Nov. 3 with support from The Showdown and Action Action.
The band is touring in support of a brand-new album titled Born Into This (issued last month by Roadrunner Records). Produced by Martin "Youth" Glover (of Killing Joke), it's the band's first new studio album since 2001.
Founding members Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy are joined by drummer John Tempesta (of Testament and White Zombie), guitarist Mike Dimkitch, and bassist Chris Wyse. City Paper spoke with Duffy last week during the first week of the Jägermeister Music Tour:
CITY PAPER: Thanks for speaking with us from the road. How are things sounding on stage during the first leg?
BILLY DUFFY: It's a 36-show tour and we've just done five. It usually takes us about four or five shows to click and that's where we are now. From here on in, it's all mostly just fun.
CITY PAPER: Tell us a bit about the live sound and on-stage chemistry of this new lineup.
BILLY DUFFY: Well, Chris played bass on the last studio album. The rhythm guitarist, Mike, has been with the band on and off since, like, '93. He's a live player and hasn't been on any of the records. Tempesta is, I suppose, the newest guy. We've been with this lineup for a year and a half now, or more. We're playing the songs pretty good. We're playing, like, a lot of older stuff and a lot of the really newer stuff. We touch on the mid period, but we play the old stuff with respect and vigor, you know?
CITY PAPER: Would you say there's a mix of vintage Cult style and some newer sounds on the new album, Born Into This?
BILLY DUFFY: It kind of covers a bit of both. There's only so much you can do live. Live is live, you know? We like to keep it mean and lean. The live gigs are about energy and vibe. We're not a pop act and we're not about retreading records. I think you sometimes do stuff in the form of an album to compensate for the right energy. But live, I think you try to hit all the major keynote points, that's the key. All the great bands do that. And we don't slavishly recreate our albums, or else there'd be like seven guys on stage.
CITY PAPER: It must have been cool having Youth produce the album. Did you work together musically before?
BILLY DUFFY: Well, he mixed and remixed some stuff in the early '90s. We've worked with Butch Vig, Steve Albini, and others. Youth is very diverse. He's a proper musician and DJ and very hard to pigeonhole. He has a similar background as me — a fan of punk rock who formed his own band and tried to make a sound that's influenced by punk, but goes somewhere else. Killing Joke are precursors of a lot of heavier stuff — you can trace the lineage, which is cool.
CITY PAPER: Would you agree that the heavy sound of The Cult traces back to the early '80s and further into the rock of the '70s?
BILLY DUFFY: At the bottom of it, all it's rock and punk rock. And that's kind of where The Cult are at. When it all boils down, we're fans of the Stooges, and the Sex Pistols, and also Free and Zeppelin ... rock and punk rock. That's the roots, man.