The Cult

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THE

CULT

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INTERVIEW WITH BILLY DUFFY

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“Bob Rock (producer) had to come in and finish the album off, and he’s very task orientated gentlemen; he basically just gets shit done.”

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“I think it’s important for us psychologically, especially for myself and Ian (Astbury, vocals) as songwriters to make new music and it’s a joy. It’s also refreshing to have a few new songs in the set for the fans to appreciate,” enthused guitar player for The Cult, Billy Duffy. “It’s great to not just play the old songs because it does become sad if you keep playing only your old stuff – you just become your own cover band then, you know what I mean?”

The Cult is best known for a string of hit singles early in their career, including Fire Woman, She Sells Sanctuary and Love Removal Machine, songs which have seen the band cast into the upper echelon of the rock world.

The downside to that is that many of their fans seem to live too much in the past when it comes to the band’s music, with Duffy admitting it can be frustrating and restrictive.

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“It’s not healthy,” he said of being stuck in a musical time warp. “I understand there are bands out there that don’t get along and don’t want to write songs together, so they embrace playing older material but with The Cult, and me and Ian especially, we are very passionate about making and playing new music and moving forward. It’s what keeps you engaged more so than the touring. Me, I’m more into playing live. I’ll make new records, but I’m not as thrilled about that side of it as Ian.”

With the band’s last album ‘Hidden City’ still garnishing positive reviews and generating favourable fan response, Duffy says the album as a whole, has thus far stood the test of time.

Having written music together for over 30 years, Duffy admits that while the chemistry between himself and Astbury is undeniably strong, there are times when coming up with fresh ideas can be difficult.

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“It gets more challenging to keep going to the well and coming up with something that’s interesting,” he conceded, “but it’s not impossible. If you take enough time between records and don’t rush it, it will come to you. I think any band would tell you it’s a challenge to keep coming up with stuff and that’s kind of why I’m so proud of ‘Hidden City’. It’s got an edginess to it and sounds like it was made this century. It’s an authentic rock album. We’ve not lost touch with our roots or what people like about The Cult, but I’d like to think we were ready for a few other elements. Sometimes we’re reaching back, but there’s a progression, and that’s continuing with this album. I just can’t imagine making the same album a couple of times. It would be so crazy, but bands do it. It’s a catch 22. I remember saying to Ian once about a riff ‘you don’t like it because it sounds a little like our biggest selling song ever, that’s bad right? (laughs). You have to reinvent yourself but also, it’s definitely a challenge.”

“We’ve managed to integrate three or four songs off the album that go down fantastically well live with the fans,” he continued. “We don’t overdo it, but it is important to keep the set fresh with new material. ‘Hidden City’ is still going strong and getting great reviews – not that we’ve made records for reviews ever – but it’s nice when you get them as a band.”

‘Hidden City’ saw The Cult move back into more guitar focused territory than its predecessor, with Duffy pleased that it is a notable return.

“There was a lot of time spent on the guitars on the album,” he said. “One of the discussions we had beforehand – it was a minor whinge I had – was when we did ‘Choice of Weapon’ it was a bit panicked towards the finish because we took too long in the writing stage and we were a bit meandering in the studio. Bob Rock (producer) had to come in and finish the album off, and he’s very task orientated gentlemen; he basically just gets shit done. We had been meandering a little, ran out of time and money when Bob came in and said ‘right guys, let’s finish this

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record’, and my only concern was I didn’t feel enough time was spent on the guitars and the actual enjoyment and the craft of the guitar playing. It was like ‘I need a solo here Billy, can you go and knock one out?’ or ‘Can you put more strings on that?’ I felt like I was on a conveyor belt, there was no time to savour it. I was forced to do fast food guitar playing because that was the situation with the album so this time when we got together there was two things we brought up. We wanted to spend more time writing the songs and have breaks in between so the songs could digest and not all sound the same and secondly I just wanted more time in the studio on the guitars.”

With a constant stream of new bands and material being unleashed on the music public, many bands shelf life is lucky to reach three albums in the modern climate.

When you consider the fact The Cult are still churning them out more than 30 years after their debut ‘Love’ in 1985, it puts things in perspective.

“You have to be able to take a punch to stick around,” he agreed. “You might not win every fight, but you can’t have a glass jaw to use a boxing analogy. You need to have a little bit of tenacity, and I believe new music helps to keep you in the scene. A lot of the great artists – and I certainly don’t compare us to any of these people – but people are always reaching for something fresh. Ian and I got together because we’d both been embarrassed before and we felt like we wanted to work together and have a long career. We wanted to be musicians for life. We were serious about having a long-term career but a long time in the music business might be ten years, and we’ve done 30 years plus! We got lucky but tenacity and being able to take a few blows and come back from them help. You have to keep a sort of child-like wonderment and not get too old or gnarly about the industry while keeping innocence and a certain naivety. I think that’s important when you are trying to create new stuff.”

Written by Kris Peters

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The Cult

Hidden City

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LISTEN TO “HIDDEN CITY

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