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The Cult rides again: Billy Duffy talks the band’s recent music, an Electric Factory memory, Morrissey’s pre-Smiths days

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STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

The Cult have released plenty of new music since their signature albums “Love,” “Electric” and “Sonic Temple.”
However, it’s sometimes an uphill battle convincing casual fans that The Cult has no desire to become a nostalgia act. Guitarist Billy Duffy said that he and singer Ian Astbury are still committed to writing “songs in the decade we’re living in.”
“It’s a little ancient-history,” he said of playing 30-year-old, gothic-tinged songs like “She Sells Sanctuary.” That standout song refuses to die thanks to a pop culture trail that includes appearing in video games, such as Gran Turismo, and being mashed up with rapper Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” in a Super Bowl commercial.

:Ian Astbury (left) and Billy Duffy of The Cult. Submitted photo

:Ian Astbury (left) and Billy Duffy of The Cult.
Submitted photo

On the other hand, when he and Astbury started writing together in 1983, the goal, he said, was “to do something that would last.” Last year, fellow Brits The Darkness consciously borrowed the big, sweeping ‘80s sound from “Love” on their single “Open Fire.”
“I take that as a compliment,” Duffy said, adding that he likes The Darkness and sounded pleased that “we carved out our own little niche … whenever anyone says ‘that sounds like The Cult’.”
“Hidden City” — The Cult’s 10th and newest album, which came out in February — reunited the rockers with producer Bob Rock, whom Duffy said rescued their 2012 album, “Choice of Weapon.”
“We ran out with time and money doing it. Some of it was a bit compromised and bit rushed,” he said of the state of “Choice of Weapon” before Rock’s arrival.

IF YOU GO
What: The Cult with opener Holy White Hounds.
When: 8:30 p.m. April 8.
Where: The Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh St., Philadelphia.
Tickets: $35.
Info.: Call (215) 627-1332 or visit www.electricfactory.info.

He described “Hidden City” as a continuation of the artistic success of “Choice of Weapon,” but downplayed statements that it’s supposedly the third part of an album trilogy dating back to 2007.
When asked if the group has a history with The Electric Factory, where they are set to perform April 8, Duffy said: “That has become our go-to in Philadelphia. The audience seems to like going there. It’s nothing-fancy, just like us. I remember getting a telegram that ‘Sonic Temple’ had gone platinum in Philadelphia. That tells you how long ago it was — a telegram.”
Prior to The Cult, Duffy, who hails from Manchester, was briefly in a band with the singer/lyricist Morrissey. “Steven, as he was known back then, was clearly talented and eccentric and brilliant and unusual, and all the things he became,” he said.
Fans of The Smiths have Duffy to thank for introducing Morrissey to guitarist Johnny Marr.
Eccentric and unusual in his own right is Astbury, who for a time sang in a 21st century, re-booted version of The Doors with Robby Krieger and the late Ray Manzarek during one of The Cult’s periods of hiatus. “We both understand our values. We’ve never argued over finances and we’ve never argued over women — which is unheard of in rock ‘n’ roll,” Duffy said.

Among Duffy’s favorite places in the world to play are Australia (he’s not sure why), and South America, “because it’s so crazy there.” He said Russia is among the never-toured countries he’d like to take the band.

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