Ian Astbury Interview07/03/2012
Since meeting Ian Astbury a few years ago through a mutual friend, the late, great Shawn Mortensen, I have been able to cross paths with the artist in various parts of the world, each time as intriguing as the last. Often updating each other on various projects, when POST NEW launched and news of The Cult releasing a new album, what better time to interview the man about the latest project. In true philosophical and "nomadic" style that I have been able to embrace from Ian over the years, he answered my questions in true form.
James Oliver: Who were some of your early influencers?
Ian Astbury: David Bowie, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm Maclaren, Picasso.
JO: Can you please tell me a bit about how The Cult has evolved and grown over the years?
IA: We started as a post-punk band, really street kids and evolved through hard rock and back to post modern and beyond. We have always tried to reflect our feelings and reflections of the culture at the time of writing and recordings.
JO: It's been a while since you worked on an album together, why was now the time?
IA: We started working with Chris Goss on the capsule collections and realized we had enough songs for an album, it felt right, the right time, we have a lot to say right now.
JO: Can you tell us a bit about the concept of the 'Choice of Weapon' album?
IA: Choice of Weapon reflects someone who has made their mind up, has a strong resolve - it could be a knife or a camera or a dorje, depending on the situation, it's an autobiographical record, songs of redemption. Coming out of the wilderness.
JO: How can you explain the sound of the album?
IA: Cinematic, dilettante, authentic, driven primal.
JO: The cover for the album is quite unique, can you explain what it is and what it means to you?
IA: I wanted an image that reflected the sentiment of our times, the dark shaman appears from the wilderness to remind us of our connection to the great mystery and our dependance on the natural environment for our survival, it's a homage to indigenous cultures who still practice these principles and awareness. We have certainly moved into a dark time where the vulgar and the shallow are venerated.
JO: Can we look forward to The Cult touring around the world in the near future?
IA: We will be touring extensively throughout the world this year, dates are being booked and we start at SXSW in March.
JO: How does travel help inspire you?
IA: Travel with a band is different to travel on your own, we tend to conserve all our energy for our shows, when you find yourself in a major city like NYC, Tokyo, Paris, Milan, or Berlin then the gloves come off, plenty of walking the streets till dawn... I prefer having no agenda and wandering into new situations.
JO: Beyond music, you have a strong eye for street culture, can you explain your perception on culture and how it has changed in recent years.
IA: My love affair started with Levi's, Nike, Westwood + Maclaren, in the 70's when I was a kid. We seem to be moving into a darker phase, interesting to see young artists like A$AP ROCK name dropping and wearing Rick Owens. I used to hang out in the Rick Owens store and Supreme in the city, we can see the cultures merging, everyone is feeling the heat. So many designers are getting their act together , its cultural warfare. There is also a lot of meaningless activity which usually occurs before a break through. The best authority right now is yourself. Too many opinions. What ever your feeling from the gut is is the way to go. No rules.
JO: Personally, what have been some of the most significant movements during your generation?
IA: I don't really feel like I belong to any generation or period, I have always been nomadic, I'm still deeply passionate about culture... I'm grateful to have lived through some amazing periods in the late 20th century and early 21st century. The punk rock 70's, Basquiat's NYC and the Def Jam 80's, the rise of street culture in the 90's, the ability to create your own tribe and image in the 2000's... I could list hundreds of events. I'll leave that for the memoirs (not ready for that yet).
JO: Can you tell us some names that are impressing you of late? Anyone we should be looking out for?
IA: The usual suspects, Supreme, NBHD, WTAPS, Undercover, Visvim all own the street, Rick Owens always, really feeling Patagonia right now, especially their lightweight packable pieces, White Mountaineering destroys (just getting pieces that fit), military tech camo's LAMF will be making an appearance again this year. Wilderness outerwear, Pendleton Blankets, Danner Light Hiking Boots, Monk robes, Bone Mala's, Goro's... some outlaws out there killing it, Kostas Seremetis, Jason Dill, Erik Brunetti, Wes Lang, Kenneth Cappello and their crews.
JO: Finally, words to live by?
IA: Live and let live.