New Cult Album 'Light In Spirit,' Frontman Says

Singer Ian Astbury says reunited rockers' first disc in nearly six years will reflect peace within band.

LOS ANGELES — The Cult may be writing a lot of heavy rock riffage for their first album in nearly six years, but the LP will be "light in spirit," vocalist Ian Astbury said on Sunday.

"There's a lot of graciousness and humility in the band now," Astbury said, adding that the new songs for the as-yet-untitled album recall the mood of the Cult's 1985 disc, Love.

Astbury and original Cult guitarist Billy Duffy re-formed their hard-rock group last summer with longtime Cult drummer Matt Sorum — who also has played in Guns N' Roses — and ex–Porno for Pyros bassist Martyn LeNoble.

The four, who are still writing material for the LP, plan to begin recording with producer Michael Beinhorn (Hole, Marilyn Manson) sometime in late March. New songs include "Shelter" and "Libertine," the latter of which the Cult debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last month in Park City, Utah.

Astbury has given another tune the working title "Bring Me the Head of Dave Grohl," in response to negative comments about the Cult recently attributed to the Foo Fighters singer/guitarist. But the name won't stick, Astbury said. "For me, it's such a petty area," he said. "I have no animosity toward him whatsoever."

Astbury said the album will be on store shelves by September. But the public may get its first glimmer from the 21st-century version of the Cult earlier than that, because the band is looking into placing a new song on a summer movie soundtrack.

Executives assembling the soundtrack to the film "Mission Impossible II" have approached the Cult about contributing a new track, but the group has not committed to the project, Astbury said.

"This incarnation [of the Cult] is so thick spiritually," Astbury said, "that I think we can go into any environment."

"We're in a time where commerce and art and integrity are all in the same arena," he said. "It's all about songs, really. Punk rock taught us that there's no point in being a martyr; I think that's where [late Nirvana leader] Kurt Cobain went wrong."

Astbury discussed the band's new album Sunday while attending a benefit for former MC5 manager John Sinclair, whose New Orleans home was severely damaged in a fire last month. Duffy also attended the show, which culminated with ex-MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer performing a full set of songs by his storied proto-punk band.

"I get out to see Wayne play as much as possible," said Astbury, who met MC5 vocalist Rob Tyner in the mid-'80s. The Cult played a benefit for Tyner's family when the singer died of a heart attack in 1991.

The Cult — who combined heavy-metal, goth rock and post-punk with lyrics resonating mysticism and social and political ideologies — first made a dent in the rock scene with their second album, 1985's Love, featuring "She Sells Sanctuary" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Revolution." But their breakthrough came with the Rick Rubin–produced Electric (1987), fueled by the singles "Wildflower" and "Love Removal Machine" (RealAudio excerpt).

The group disbanded after a show in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in March 1994. Astbury went on to play in the bar band the Holy Barbarians and record a solo album, while Duffy spent his time away from the Cult playing in Miles Hunt's Vent 414 and working on a solo project.

The Cult resurfaced for a U.S. tour last summer and have since played a handful of shows, including a private party at the Viper Room on Saturday. They're scheduled to play three shows in South Africa on March 17, 19 and 21 and plan to embark on a world tour following the new album's release.