Sonic Temple

Ian Astbury – Spirit/Light/Speed Article

Stay on the Path!
“In 1989 I spent some time with this Native American kid in Rapid City, South Dakota. he told me he was going to college because he wanted to get educated and trained so he could purify his tribe’s water supply.Then he asked me what I was doing for MY community. I could only answer ‘Fuck all’ and that cane as a bad shock to ne becuase I suddenly realized that I’d left it all behind. My roots were in Punk, in Crass, we bagan as Positive Punk band and, with all lthe pressure to be commercial we’d becme disconnected. we were lost. Immediatlely, I began to plan the Gathering Of The Tribes which was defintely the inspiration for Lollapalooza. Thatr was good, but we stayed lost and eventually I cracked, walked away.”

The New Music
“I’ve always tried to stay on top of ne music. That was the reason we got Rick Rubin in to produce Electric. I’d heard the Beastie Boys’ Cookie Puss, with its When the Levee Breaks ,loops, Zep-style music and on top of it all, rapping. and I thought ‘That’s it, there’s no turning back. Music will never be the same.”

The Cult Split
“It ended in ’95 under duress, and we never talked about it. I just left, walked out during a tour of South America. I’d had enough of rock, I was fed up with rock music, I thought it was dead, and I hated the travelling. I felt we were creatively compromised too. There was a lot of pressure to succeed commercially after Sonic Temple.”

The Cult Reborn

“We got back together in March ’99, I guess because it felt like unfinished business. It’s incredible. we haven’t written together for six years and I’ve found that I really missed that. I missed the chemistry, and I found I missed rock music too. Actually, we hadn’t really written together for a long, long time. Ceremony was more of Billy’s vision and The Cult album was more of mine. This led me to recording Spirit\Light\Speed. “It’s great to have it back because, to me, The Cult were the best they ever were in the last five months before the split. I didn’t care any longer about being accepted by the media, about being an important artist. I was only interested i nthe audience reaction, and the ritual of talking to the kids after every show. The adulation freaked me out a bit but I really felt like we rediscovered the reality that was always so important to us.”

Freedom For Tibet

“When we reformed, I really thought we ought to play the Freedom for Tibet concert, but we felt the organizers didn’t want us, I told them they’d widen the audience if we played, but it didn’t seem to matter to them. My reasons for playing the concert were due to to a longstanding interest in Tibetan nomads and Tibetan Buddhism, which led me to travel to the country in 1998 – a dangerous and exciting journey. After much deliberation we were invited to perform at the show in 1999. Vindicated!

Spirit Light Speed

“I’m obsessed with the movement of culture, the X factor that pushes it forward. Seeing it, being there, being a part of that vitality and trying to define the time you’re in, that’s what it’s all about to me. And that’s what I tried to do with the solo album, though it’s two years old now. The studio held onto it for awhile, demanding more money. Then the Cult reformed, then ewe had to fill a licensee, and then Beggars decided to put it out themselves – it all took time. Maybe now’s the best time for it though, becuase there’s a lot of heat around The Cult at the moment.

I found it very liberating. I got to sing – no one sings anymore so, by default, I’m one of the last singers on the planet – but O also got involved in the music. With The Cult I brought songs to the band, but Billy always wanted to add his own personality and he was mostly in charge of it musically. Besides, my ability to play and arrange was quite poor. My role was more to do with aesthetics. I’d bring things to the band that I thought might be appropriate. I’d change my wardrobe overnight and drag them along with me. I did it for Love, Electric, Sonic Temple, and the short hair for the last LP.
“Around the time we split, I did truly believe rock was finished, and electronica sustained me through that. I remember seeing Witchman with The Orb at Brixton Academy and being really blown away. So my idea was to mix electronica with rock. I discussed it with Gary from Future Sound Of London back in ’95, when I did a track with them that sadly never came out. I said the song music come first, but he disagreed – he said the loop otr the drum pattern must come first. Eventually I discovered that we were both right and both wrong, it could be either. In fact anything could come first.”