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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Cult’s Ian Astbury continues to grow as a recording artist

The Cult, who have been playing guitar-driven rock since the 1980s, will be at Northern Quest on Wednesday night.  (Tim Cadiente)
By Ed Condran The Spokesman-Review

Part of what has made the Cult remain consistent and resonant for four decades is Ian Astbury’s constant thirst for knowledge. The well-read Cult singer-songwriter has always been a huge fan of music.

Astbury, 61, is a sponge who understands that everyone is a student throughout life. An array of seminal bands influenced the visceral sound of the Cult. The British band, which formed in 1984, was impacted by Led Zeppelin, Bauhaus, Public Image Ltd., the Doors and the Rolling Stones.

“The Stones were and are erudite pirates and still are,” Astbury said while calling from his Los Angeles home. “Led Zeppelin can give the Stones a run for their money in that department.

“But Brian Jones was the erudite one who drove the Stones. Jones was the one at Monterey Pop exploring with Nico when everyone else in the band was hanging out in London.”

The shamanistic singer has a bit of Jones in him and that’s not just due to appropriation of the late Stones’ multi-instrumentist’s look. The charismatic singer with the identifiable baritone and his co-conspirator, Cult guitarist Billy Duffy, have pushed the envelope since the release of 1985’s “Love,” which includes the breakout hit “She Sells Sanctuary.”

“The only place in America that song hit the Top 40 was in Seattle,” Astbury said, “I remember when we played a show in Seattle then (in 1985) and (the late) Andrew Wood (of Mother Love Bone) told me that everyone who was anybody in the Seattle music scene was there. Andrew told us that our band made it safe to like Joy Division and Led Zeppelin.”

A few months prior to playing Seattle “She Sells Sanctuary” launched the Cult’s career in the United Kingdom. “I was backstage at (1985’s) Live Aid and I was surprised that Bono and Roger Daltrey came up to me and knew who I was,” Astbury said. “It was all because they heard ‘She Sells Sanctuary.’ All of a sudden I’m in a box overlooking the stadium seated between Bob Geldof and (actor) Billy Connelly.”

The Cult’s profile widened courtesy of such hard rock hits as “Fire Woman,” “Love Removal Machine” and “Edie (Ciao Baby).” The Cult, which will perform Wednesday at Northern Quest Resort & Casino, will play some of the hits and tracks from its latest album, “Under the Midnight Sun.”

The band’s first album in six years is a return to muscular, angst-ridden guitar-driven rock, partly due to producer Tom Dalgety (The Pixies, Killing Joke).

“We never lost that post punk ethos we had when we formed,” Astbury said. “I think you can still feel that with this album.”

Astbury has been devoted to the Cult, which also includes drummer John Tempesta, bassist Charlie Jones and keyboardist Mike Mangan, save a hiatus two decades ago when he fronted the Doors of the 21st Century. That version of the Doors featured two of the surviving members of the legendary Doors, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robbie Krieger.

“I learned so much being with them,” Astbury said. “They were my friends and mentors. We were talking about making a record together. We never did but it was an incredible experience playing 150 dates with them. I was on the inside. It was a very intimate space. I didn’t ask a lot of questions but when I did, I received answers. The education was profound.”

Astbury is a vibrant, engaging frontman, who is working on new material with Duffy, which might be released in 2024. “We’re still doing this and for that I’m grateful,” Astbury said.