The Cult performs at Waterloo Records during the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, in March. (AP/ STATESMAN.COM)
♦6:30 p.m. June 1
♦ Congress Theatre, 2135 N. Milwaukee
♦ Tickets, $22
♦ Visit ticketlfy.com
The Cult has just released its first new full-length album in five years, “Choice of Weapon.” A long time has passed since the British hard-rock band ruled MTV with tunes like “She Sells Sanctuary” and “Wild Flower,” but on its ninth studio recording, produced by Chris Goss and longtime collaborator Bob Rock, the group still makes a wonderful racket. We checked in with singer Ian Astbury at his home in Los Angeles.
Question: You turned 50 last month. Does that number intimidate you?
Ian Astbury: It’s just a number. It’s weird because my mum passed on my birthday when I was 17, so I never really celebrate my birthday. I’ve gone through years without even thinking about it.
Q. Didn’t you ever worry about growing old?
IA: The first 12 years of being in a band was just a blur. We were in a hermetically sealed life. All the sudden you’re on the other side of it and you’re 33 years old. It’s been said by many scholars that musicians should hang it up at a certain age. Tell that to Lou Reed. Tell that to Bruce Springsteen. I’d like to think we get better with age.
Q. You still work the stage like a regular rock god.
IA: Standing still and looking at your pinky is in fashion with so many new bands. I think it’s the terror of doing anything wrong.
Q. Well, not everybody gets to tour with Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger of the Doors. What did you learn from inhabiting one of your idols’ leather pants?
IA: Being able to stand still with authority. You can’t pretend to stand still with authority. You have to know the material intimately. Learning the lyrics is one thing, but learning about the intention and subtext was really important. It’s all intuition, especially with their music.
Q. You recently did a tour where you played the Cult’s 1985 album, “Love.” Do you think it’s a good idea for bands to go back to their roots?
IA: Perhaps. I think there’s a freshness and earnestness to those songs. There were no rules. We just got on with it. Doing that definitely did re-inject some energy into the band.
Q. There was a time you and Billy Duffy would have thrown each other off the tour bus. How do you get on now?
IA: There’s a certain respect we have for those records we made, the music we made. We’re very different as people. But when we get the chemistry right, we do great work. We’ve known each other for 30 years, so we can say anything we want to each other. I certainly have opinions about every single note we play, but there are times I just leave it to Billy. It’s not about tolerance. It’s about respect.