The Cult in hip-hop project plan
The Cult frontman Ian Astbury tried not to cave into pressure from bandmates, advisers and businessmen when they pressured him to go back to making albums.
He was determined to find a new way to release music after the negative experience of 2007 record Born Into This, and he was happy with the “capsule” concept he invented.
But he’s glad he finally gave into demands to record full-length release Choice of Weapon – and he says the follow-up will be a “big shock” if the band can turn their plan into reality.
In a wide-ranging interview Astbury tells ExploreMusic: “We made Born Into This in 15 days. The songs weren’t fully realised; we had a bad marriage with the label; it was a tough, really challenging time.”
He cites other factors – “devaluation of music, cannibalisation of albums, people’s attention times are shorter” – which led to his decision that “the format belonged in the late 20th century. The idea was to create a format that belonged in the 21st century.
“I came up with the idea of a capsule, releasing new music every three months: two new songs. A subscription service, commission from the audience – getting away from the constriction of an album.”
The Cult got as far as making and releasing two capsules before cries went up for an old-fashioned album. “I was saying ‘no,’” Astbury recalls. “The audience were saying, ‘We want more.’ The manager was saying, ‘We’re getting a lot of heat for an album.’ Labels were banging on the door: ‘We think there’s an album here.’
“I’m going, ‘What about the capsules?’ They’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s great, but we want to make an album.’ Everyone was looking at me. I was the hold-out and I held out to the very, very end. And I just capitulated.”
But Astbury feels good about Choice of Weapon, saying: “This record had more continuity, connectedness, that Born Into This, which was fragmented in many ways.”
And he feels the new record showcases the band as they are at the moment. “Some artists try to keep a veneer of youth,” he reflects. “You’re flawless as a performer, your clothes are perfect, your songs are pristine.
“That’s not the animal the Cult is. I’m not that kind of guy – I don’t colour my hair. I’ve got some grey in there, I’ve got some scars, I’ve got a few knocks. That’s reflected in the music.”
The singer doesn’t plan to sit still for long, and says he’s working towards a surprising collaboration. “Let’s say he’s a real illuminati of the hip-hop community. If we pull this off it’ll be a big shock.”
He says he can’t confirm who the artist in question might be, but asked if it’s Grammy-winning Wu Tang Clan member RZA, Astbury replies: “Warm.”