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Touring between albums keeps the Cult's creative "muscles" toned
After more than 30 years and nine albums -- not to mention more than two dozen musicians who have logged time in the band -- the Cult no longer thinks of making music in traditional promotional cycles, according to frontman Ian Astbury.
"it's all a continuing process, a continuing life," the singer explains. "We want to do it as uninterrupted as possible."
To that end the group, founded as Death Cult by Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy during 1983 in England, has been keeping itself busy with a variety of projects and activities of late. In 2012 it released "Choice of Weapon," the band's first set of new material in five years. Last year the Cult was on the road playing its 1985 "Love" album in its entirety and also released an expanded edition of its 1987 album "Electric."
This year, meanwhile, the Cult is back on the road playing what Astbury calls a "traditional" show -- meaning no theme, just favorites from throughout the group's catalog.
"This is just to keep our musical muscles from atrophying," explains Astbury, 52. "We started out as a live band. That's what's in our DNA. So if we don't play, we're not using our muscle and we lose that muscle memory. We want to keep everything fluid and keep things moving.
"It always amazes me when I see the live rock 'n' roll bands that go away for three years and come back. I really think there's something you lose in not performing. It's different physically, mentally, spiritually -- that's a really important thing. So we don't want to stay on top of our game, as it were."
If it wished the Cult could hang this year's touring on another anniversary -- 25 years for its fourth album, "Sonic Temple." the 1989 set was the group's first collaboration with producer Bob Rock, who's helmed three more of its albums since, and was its highest charting album at No. 10 on the Billboard 200. "Sonic Temple" was certified platinum and launched the hits "Fire Woman" and "Edie (Ciao Baby)."
Astbury and Duffy aren't planning a party any time soon, though.
"If you look at the cult, we don't celebrate anniversaries," he notes. "If someone's celebrating a Cult anniversary, it's not us. I just think it's kind of cynical in the sense that once you start acknowledging how long you've been around, it's almost like you're doing it from the rearview mirror of reflection and nostalgia. It's a cynical marketing ploy."
"And those songs -- they fresh, still. They're rejuvenated every time we play it. There's a huge amount of people who want to see us perform songs from their favorite records, but we try to do it in a way that keeps them alive and vital, not retread."
The Cult plans to add to the catalog in the near future, too, according to Astbury. The group, he says, is "writing right now" and has "definitely got enough to go and do a conventional album." But it has no plans to rush things, either.
"It's about the quality of it. We're not at the stage where we're ready to commit to an actual studio date, which is good," says Astbury, who sang Jim Morrison's parts for the Doors of the 21st Century during the early 00s. "I want to take a bit more time on this record. The last time around there were time constraints, and we did everything...much faster than I would have liked. This time around we want to take a little more time and be as fresh as possible instead of being like cooks who cook something and leave it lying on the side so it goes kind of cold.
"The Cult, we kind of work in and outside of the so-called music industry, and we always have done. We've been around long enough to kind of claim our own space and work from there -- that's more important to us now than it ever was."
Thursday, Aug. 7. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $29.50 in advance, $35 day of show, $55 mezzanine
Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com
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