Sacred News Bites

A great interview by a CFFC brother!

Our brother Andy Hollis interviewed Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy, James Stewart and Steve Brown on the inside story of "Electric" and part one and two are available here:

The interview is also going to be run as an extended article in the October edition of Vive Le Rock magazine (out on October 17th)... SIX WHOLE PAGES of Cult goodness with some exclusive photos!!!




The Cult Electric

Having broken into the UK’s national consciousness with their swirling, goth-rock masterpiece Love, critics and fans across the world were anticipating ‘more of the same’ in 1987 when the band came back to record their follow-up album. What transpired shocked and surprised many, whilst launching The Cult up into the pantheon of the heavy rocking, heavy haired artists that, elbows-out, were snarling their way through the American charts.

However the true course of Love, to Electric, didn’t quite run smooth.  Prior to Rick Rubin’s stripped-down behemoth coming to light, the band had recorded the album with Love producer, Steve Brown. Entitled Peace, and with many more nods to the more textured sounds of it’s predecessor, the album has finally seen the light of day as a special edition re-release alongside big brother, Electric. As the band begin their tour of Electric, Andy Hollis spoke to some of the main protagonists to find out how they went from Love to Love Removal Machine.


AH – So after a pretty intense world tour of Love, obviously you wanted to capitalize on your success and went straight back to the studio with Steve Brown. Was the idea “let’s do this again”….?

Jamie Stewart (bass) – Pretty much, yes. The combination with Steve had worked really well and we’d had a great experience with him making the album Love.

Billy Duffy (guitar)We’d had a hit record with Steve and so wanted to go back and use him again. It seemed the natural thing to do, but we wanted to develop the sound. Strangely enough, it was the first time we’d really had to consider our moves – we’d always previously just followed our gut instincts, but with Love having been a success, we started having to think ‘okay, where do we go now….how do we follow that?

Ian Astbury (vocals) – I wasn’t into it as an individual really. Already, about half way through the Love tour I was visualizing something very different. I’d heard ‘Cooky Puss’ by the Beastie Boys at a club in Toronto and said to the DJ “what IS that!” I realized at that point that was how we should be recording. It just sounded so much better – it was raw. Even when we were playing the Love album live, we weren’t trying to emulate the record, we had that side of us coming out. As soon as I’d heard Rick’s production with the Beastie Boys, I had an agenda to get him on board somehow.

Steve Brown: “when you’re burning £1,200 a day it’s like flying into a storm – do I keep going or do I turn round? It makes the record company nervous, and those were the conditions in which we were recording.”

AH – What kind of music had you been listening to on the tour prior to going back in to the studio? Was it influencing you?

BD – We were exposed to more of the same stuff as always really, the pre-punk styles. My roots have always been in blues based rock – Ziggy Stardust, Free, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin. What was new to us in a sense was going out to the US and being allowed to listen to that kind of music, whilst also being allowed to like the Sex Pistols. The culture wasn’t defined by what they hate – there was none of the ‘never trust a hippy’ vibe that we had in the UK. You liked what you liked, and that was okay.

IA – I’d had my formative years growing up in North America so music was always very available – I remember seeing the New York Dolls on terrestrial television over there in 1974, so all those types of bands were really ingrained. I was still listening to Led Zeppelin and The Doors. Joy Division have always been a huge influence as well, along with the Birthday Party. At that point though I started really discovering the Blues, via Hendrix and MC5, that kind of stuff. Bowie of course has always been inspiring to me.

Steve Brown (producer, Love/Peace)Billy I think just fell in love with America. It’s a massive rock market, and he wanted to go and join that market.


AH – How developed were the songs when you got back into the studio?

JS – We’d done a bunch of rehearsals, so they were pretty well defined. We went in initially to do some tweaking with Steve on the demos.

SB – We didn’t get a particularly significant pre-production period, which is where you come back into the fold. Pre-production is a much more relaxed atmosphere where you’re mulling over ideas – it’s so important because it’s at that point you can say to Ian or Billy, “I think we can do a bit better than that”. But when you’re burning £1,200 a day it’s like flying into a storm – do I keep going or do I turn round? It makes the record company nervous, and those were the conditions in which we were recording.

BD – I agree with Steve on that, 100%. The beginning of that record was mis-managed, and we should have been allowed to go in to pre-production. The songs were coming together on tour – we actually flew Steve in to Canada whilst we were on the road to record Electric Ocean. We had three days off, he’d just come back to the UK from working in Australia. It was pretty extravagant but shows how we were very keen to use Steve again.

SB – The only thing we’d got when we went into the studio was Electric Ocean, which we’d snapped up in a studio just outside Montreal, but that was about it really. What you’ve got to understand about ‘second-album syndrome’ is while the band are out there initially playing toilets, in Soundcheck they have years to write and work on songs. Billy will play a riff, Ian will yodel something over the top – “did you get that? Yeah” – and they’ll have cassettes building up with all of this for years. Second album, you’re famous, at Soundcheck you might be supporting and you’re on and off. It’s just not the same, so that material doesn’t build up at all. Therefore when you come to record, you don’t quite have that bag of sweeties you had for the first album.

 Billy Duffy: “My roots have always been in blues based rock – Ziggy Stardust, Free, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin”

AH – You went into lockdown at Richard Branson’s Manor studios in Oxfordshire – what’s it like being residential somewhere like that? Is it marmite and cold beans from a tin, or slightly more luxurious?

IA – Well we went residential to record Love and it seemed to work. This was a bunch of 23/24 year olds in a beautiful country house with a fully stocked  wine cellar. There was a lock on the cellar when we arrived….but that didn’t last long.

BD – It was amazing. We even had our own chef – as much food as you could eat! Let me go back! It sucks now in comparison!

JS – Well we were there for 3 months in total. It’s an odd bubble of self-examination really. You become quiet introverted, not really interacting with the wider world.

SB – It was wonderfully luxurious surroundings, good food, all the trimmings.


AH – A lot of fun though?

BD – We had some bad, bad fun at The Manor. Zodiac Mindwarp and The Mission used to come and hang out. Zodiac and Ian actually had a jam after a 10 hour drinking session which sounds like…well it sounds like a song that’s been recorded after a million units of alcohol! There was way too much partying!

SB – Ian had an obsession at the time with World War II artifacts and history. Unbeknown to me he’d found an army surplus store in Oxford – so I’m sitting there overlooking the lawn with the trout pond and the swans. Through the hedge at the bottom of the lawn comes this guy, marching towards me in full Stormtrooper uniform, goggles, the lot. I froze because I just didn’t know what to think. He got closer and closer and I kind of recognized Ian’s walk and I went, “Ian?” and this big grin came out, it was hilarious. He loved dressing up Ian. He loved it. Good times.

IA – Wine, mushrooms and the Oxfordshire countryside. We were basically just getting hammered and hanging out. I remember we found these VHS players, which were a pretty new phenomenon at the time and we discovered they had a microphone input. Some smart-arse decided it would be fun to do his own vocal track to a Doors documentary! We overdubbed a lot of documentaries if I remember right!

AH – A very different vibe and the beginning of a different style to the recording of Love though?

BD – Yeah, I think the change in the band began, with what ultimately became Electric, at the end of the recording of Love. I was jamming some riffs with Mark Brzezicki and he started playing some amazing beats. Ian freaked when he heard them and wrote some lyrics in a few hours for them and bingo, two of the darker songs from the album, Love and The Phoenix, were born. The Phoenix in particular became a hugely influential song for the later grunge movement, but even at that point we’d started becoming a heavier band. We’d shed the shackles of the post punk negativity whilst we were on tour – I was working with one of the most amazing rock singers ever so we were really looking to move on.

SB – It was very difficult to try and set up the same experience because the band were in a different place. You really needed Ian’s input – once you put Ian on a course he’s fantastic, and really runs with it. I just felt he wasn’t running at all, he was ambling, maybe a bit unsure. There just wasn’t the same magic as Love.

JS – Ian and Steve had an odd pattern in working at that point, there was a lot of booze about and it became quite difficult.

BD – There was a bit of a disconnect between Ian and the rest of the band at that stage. We were working all day but Ian would surface at night. He had a new girlfriend and wasn’t really singing. I don’t think he really liked the sound to be honest.

IA – Billy would record in the daytime and then I’d turn up in the evening after a few cocktails, ready to go, and try and undo all the work Billy had done! I was like “okay, forget that, let’s strip this all down and get raw and visceral”.

SB – It’s a long day recording with The Cult for a producer, but that was really for both albums. Billy is very much 9-5, get the job done, whereas Ian likes the atmosphere of night-time, turning the lights down, lighting candles. That kind of thing. Many a time I ended up sleeping in the control room!


AH – The general consensus seems to be that the band were unhappy with the sound and were basically in a different place, hence the decision to look at other options? 

IA  - The songs were getting lost and overblown, and we just kept adding more and more.

JS – I don’t really remember how it happened, but we finished the mix at the Manor and chewed on it. It just sounded quite cluttered and between Ian and Billy the decision was made to change… something. We had all moved on from Love, both musically and personally, and the feeling with Peace was that it had just got overblown. There was too much going on and by the end it just sounded unsatisfactory.

SB – Definitely. As I say, we hadn’t had the airlock of coming together beforehand and discussing stuff. There was just this pressure to get it done. Don’t get me wrong, people do work like this, but I don’t.

BD – The songs were too long and just felt bloated and self-indulgent. We’d gone back into the studio too soon as the label just wanted us to keep laying golden eggs. In reality we should have kept rehearsing and gone through a pre-production process. We knew something was not right, but didn’t quite know what it was. I remember listening to a replay of the album at the Townhouse studios and thinking, “We’re doomed!”

JS – It’s probably why the Peace album was disappointing in the end. It was a bigger version of where we used to be as opposed to where we were at the time. We needed to get more raw.

BD – We all knew that Love Removal Machine would be the first single, but we also knew it wasn’t right. We actually went into the studio with Bill Price and remixed a version which pre-dated what we did with Rick. We just wanted it to tighten up.

 Ian Astbury: “It was pretty radical, a rock band going to a hip-hop producer to record at Electric Ladyland.”

AH – How did the meeting with Rick Rubin come about?

JS – What we ended up with wasn’t really what we wanted when we went in. We knew we needed to strip it down somehow, to use what we had and thin it all out, hence we spoke to Rick to get his view.

IA – I actually spoke to Rick recently and we were breaking it down and trying to put together how it all came about. I actually met Rick prior to going back in the studio with Steve in ’86. We were over in New York doing a photo shoot for Rolling Stone and we met up with Rick who was still living in his New York University dorm room! It wasn’t the Rick of today!

BD – We were all aware from our time in the US of the work Rick had done with the Beastie Boys and with the Def Jam label, and Ian in particular was really taken by that, so we went to him with the idea of mixing the first single, Love Removal Machine.

IA – We were young and the hormones were raging, and this kind of music just really spoke to me. People were kind of embarrassed by the rawness of rock at the time, but for me it just fitted. People were musically introspective and all very Oscar Wilde at the time, reading Shelley in their bedrooms by candlelight, that kind of thing. Whereas I was listening to early Zeppelin and the Doors and thinking “where is this stuff right now?”


AH – What was Rick’s initial reaction?

IA – He was like, “Do you guys want to make some music that goes straight to your throat?”

BD – Well he agreed to remix the whole album if we recorded Love Removal Machine with him from the ground up. He asked me, “which song do you hate the most” which for me was the track Peace Dog. He said, “okay let’s start with that”, so we recorded it with him and he did such a great job – there’s this Joan Jett style riff going on and we all just went “Wow”. He got where we were straight away and we just thought ‘okay, let’s do the whole album’. That decision was made so quickly. We’d just come over to talk about a remix, and ended up recording an album. I didn’t even have any of my guitars there – I wasn’t going to lug this huge Gretsch across for a meeting, but we ended up staying. Every note of that album is recorded on rented equipment!

IA – Rick had never made a record with a band in a studio before. The stuff he’d got down with the Beastie Boys was all cut up and from loops. We actually went to him because of the work he was doing in hip-hop, nothing to do with rock. It was pretty radical, a rock band going to a hip-hop producer to record at Electric Ladyland.


AH – That must have been pretty tough on Steve?

JS – Yes, it was a big blow and I feel sorry for him. He’d spent three months of his life trying to bring this album to its fruition.

IA - Steve Brown was a major part of the bands growth and a brilliant producer in his own right, but we were just coming from a different perspective at the time.

SB – Look, I’ve been in the music business since I was 17 and it’s a cutthroat business, so nothing really surprises you. When you’ve had a few beers after a session and the lead singer has his arm round you saying, “I’ll never, ever work with anybody else again” you accept that and think it’s beer talking. But when you’ve been in the business so long, no bad news is new news.

BD – I think Steve knew himself that it wasn’t right. The alchemy just wasn’t there this time.

SB – Could I have made the record that they ended up with, yes, of course. Would I have wanted to make that record though, well no, probably not. I’m proud of Peace as it sounds like Steve Brown and The Cult. Where would they have ended up if they’d stayed with me? Equally as successful I think, but a lot more British. Kind of like Morrissey or the Rolling Stones. Who’s to say they weren’t right though.

AH – It was quite the departure from the more textured sound of Love and Peace. How did you feel about Rick’s approach, and the new environment? 

IA – The environment was so full of energy. I’d be walking down the street, a Kerouac book in one pocket, a bottle of wine in the other, just immersed in where we were.

BD – Well when we got there we were all horrified that Rick didn’t drink, but he sat there and said “do you like early Aerosmith, Zeppelin, AC/DC?” and we were all like “YES!!” and he replied, “well let’s make a record then.”

JS – As Billy has said, it didn’t start off as a re-record, but really quickly became that. We were suddenly all in New York City, at Electric Ladyland studios. It was very different, as you’d imagine, to the Oxfordshire countryside. There was a different attitude, different personalities. Steve was great for Love, but Rick was just what we needed for Electric.

IA – With the Def Jam thing happening they were fascinated by us, and we were fascinated by them. It really was a family affair – the Beastie Boys were there the whole time, jamming on our gear. LL Cool J would come by and Rick was there in the studio 24/7. At feeding time the place was just rammed. We’d be recording up until 1 in the morning, then all go out together until 6 or 7, then just do it all again.

BD – New York was a dangerous place to be at the time. There were people getting mugged and beaten up, killed, all around you. It’s not like it is now. There was just this incredible, frightening, inspiring energy to the place. Alongside that though was this amazing nightlife – I remember going to see Afrika Bambaataa DJ-ing – there was 2,000 people there and was just this incredible melting pot of cultures. Then on the flipside we’d be meeting metal bands like Anthrax and Slayer and hanging out with them. John Tempesta, who drums with us now, was actually a drum tech for Anthrax at the time! Like I said before, unlike the UK you weren’t pigeon-holed for styles, you were ‘allowed’ to like Anthrax on one hand and then rap or punk on the other. It was just such a different mentality.

IA – I was in my element. We were in New York City – that was like my Mecca – a mythical place – it was all kicking off! Time Square was pretty derelict back then but there was this 24-hour diner there where you could just read, write and romanticize. You started to realise that you were living this. There was no need for stimulants in NYC at that time. The hotel was trash; bed bugs the lot. Hookers, drug dealers, our agent was killed outside the Limelight. At the time, this was our life, but looking back, it’s like “wow”…


AH – How did Rick’s style differ to Steve’s and what did that do for the band?

JS – We all had to reinvent ourselves really as musicians, it was all very much back to basics. Billy was stripped of his effects and Ian had to change his delivery to a more aggressive style. For me as well as a bassist, that was a real departure.

SB – Rick’s an incredibly powerful, influential producer and they would have had the whole American rock scene driven in to them day after day!

BD – Rick basically just said that this album is going to be done on the floor. No effects or any of that bullshit. He wanted honesty and authenticity. There was just a 24 track analogue desk, no extra machines. The whole thing was recorded and mixed in the same room – it’s almost like a live album. We were there 7 days a week, even on Christmas Day, and so was Rick back in those days. That was the time pressure – remember, we’d already recorded this album, and the label and management from a financial point of view were terrified at how much doing it all again would cost. Once they started hearing where we were though, they became very supportive.

JS – Rick brought Ian back into the fold. He was bought in again and was getting his head down.

IA ­­- It was just thrilling to be in a room with an engineer (Andy Wallace) who really understood exactly what to do with microphone placement.

BD – I remember Rick saying to Ian, “you’re the singer, get out there on the floor and sing”. Ian then became totally engaged and really back as part of the band. In the room, all together.

 Billy Duffy: “New York was a dangerous place to be at the time. There were people getting mugged and beaten up, killed, all around you.”

AH – In terms of your playing, this must have been a bit of a short, sharp shock?

BD – It freaked me out to be honest. I was having to readapt all these riffs and songs pretty much on the fly. I felt embarrassed and out of my depth, but there was the proverbial gun to my head. You either crack under the pressure or come up with the goods.

IA – Welcome to my world!! I don’t have any effects! The life of a vocalist…..I might have a bit of reverb if I’ve had a night out or something, but that’s it.

JS – It was an odd experience for me. The earlier records like God’s Zoo or Resurrection Joe, well the bass is all over the shop and it didn’t leave much room for the guitars. Our style back then was very much a progression of the old Southern Death Cult tunes, which was a bass-driven band. It’s actually quite a struggle to play less! I remember, even during the recording of Peace, Billy said to me “it’s okay, but play it more basic!” That obviously became more and more important with Rick. It requires a lot of discipline. Just play D and don’t change! There’s a lot of four-note songs.

BD – It definitely improved me as a player – I was forced to go back to those pre-punk roots and listen and learn again from Angus Young, Paul Kossoff. I had to drop the comfort blanket of my effects!

IA – I was listening to a lot of singers that I loved at the time. I mean really listening. Roy Orbison, Robert Plant, Nina Simone. Listening to the delivery and cadence of Bowie and Scott Walker. I had a big poster of Janis Joplin up in the studio – I’d look in her eyes and try and connect with that rawness somehow.

JS – It was around then that some of the cracks began to show with Les Warner, our drummer. He was being asked to be very precise and accurate and he wasn’t really up to doing that. It frustrated Billy no end.

BD – There were a few Troggs-like moments – that kind of “why do you need 12 strings, you can’t even play 6” type arguments. That was more because we were really going for it though. Again, we didn’t have the time to sit around and do hundreds of takes whilst the drummer tried to remember what he was meant to be playing from one point to the next! But it made for some of the power behind the album.

JS – I did have one moment where I could be a little bit freer with my bass line, which sits underneath the solo for King Contrary Man. Billy didn’t notice that I’d done that until he came to try and lay down the rhythm guitar there, which for whatever reason didn’t really come together for him. So in the end, I played the rhythm guitar as well underneath that solo.


AH – A lot of the core fanbase love some of the tracks from Peace that didn’t make it on to Electric, tracks like Zap City. What made you decide to drop tracks like that, and include the cover of Born To Be Wild? 

BD – We’d been playing Born To Be Wild live in the tour because we were looking for songs to play that were a bit heavier. Where our heads were at that point, playing Revolution (from the Love album) just wasn’t doing it for us. We were touring more, drinking more, and that song was kind of expressing where we were at.

IA – Born To Be Wild was kind of thrust upon us by Rick. He still saw songs like Memphis Hip Shake and Aphrodisiac Jacket as kind of esoteric, so he wanted an American, iconic classic in there to give it a bit of context. I was opposed to it but I loved Rick and this was a team effort, so I just thought okay, we’ll give it a shot.

JS – There was no soft spot really for Zap City at the time. I think in retrospect everyone would rather the Born To Be Wild cover didn’t exist, but Zap City just didn’t make the transition.

BD – It was a shame Zap City didn’t make it, but it wasn’t a case of that or Born To Be Wild at all.  Rick actually said you either pick that one to re-record, or Outlaw, so it became a casualty of that decision. We might well play it live on this tour though. To be honest, I’m not especially proud of Born To Be Wild, but it was just a case of “fuck it, we’ll do it”.


AH – What was the chemistry like with Rick, Andy Wallace and George Drakoulias? 

BD – You’d have to remortgage your house and give your children away to get that team these days!

JS – George was just a mate of Rick’s as far as we were concerned. He came along, ate burgers and made funny comments, but still had an extraordinary amount of influence. He would listen and then sing guitar parts and say “it should be like that”. Billy was very much open to the suggestions from George and Rick – it helped him a great deal.

IA – Yeah, George was just Rick’s friend who was hanging out there, but he could play. He was an accomplished guitarist so would say “I dunno, try this”. We were a gang of kids of all about the same age, then there was Andy Wallace who was very, very cool. He saw us reaching for something that he’d already experienced. He’s place the microphones and organize the working room and it was just inspiring – Billy would play something and sonically it was just ‘boom’! It was the conduit to writing, it made you want to get on the animal!

BD – Rick didn’t really know anything musically, he’d just say “play that weird pussy English chord”, but George would know what that was. He was a loose, funny guy who worked really well as a kind of double act with Rick. Andy Wallace on the other hand was very much a straight-laced gentleman, but one hell of a sonic engineer!

JS – Kid Chaos used to hang around during recordings too. He was buddies with Rick and George and used to be there just to be part of the vibe. He ended up going on tour with us as a result to play bass. Some of the rhythm guitar was trickier than that bass, so I picked that up for the tour. You just really needed a bassist who could play four notes, and he did a great job. Mind you, Ian and Kid Chaos ended up destroying something like £30k worth of equipment on the Australian leg. I had a prized 1969 Fender Jazz that I loaned to Kid Chaos. He just handed me the neck of the guitar after one of the gigs. It’s an odd and not especially pleasant experience watching your prized possession being destroyed in front of an audience!

Jamie Stewart: ”I think in retrospect everyone would rather the Born To Be Wild cover didn’t exist”

AH – Love is always looked upon with retrospect as a highly influential album, but you received some criticism at the time for how influenced by the past Electric sounded. Do you think that’s fair, or do you feel that Electric is equally influential?

IA ­– There were borderline pastiche moments on the album, for sure, and we were drawing from a lot of influences. But to make the garment fit, first you need to try it on!

JS – I think it was very influential. It allowed acts like Guns N’ Roses to come through off the back of the album. We of course took them on tour with us during Electric before anyone had really heard of them. A lot of the artists that were doing the big hair, big noise, big everything act over in the States and to a lesser extent in the UK, started then doing the stripped down thing after Electric did so well.

BD – Electric was certainly a more US-centric album for sure. There was certainly no conscious lifting of riffs or music from the past, but of course that was the kind of stuff we were listening to at the time and there was this massive time pressure.

IA – It was called Electric after Electric Ladyland. As I say, it was a young, British rock band hooking up with a hip-hop producer to record in Hendrix’s studio. That was a brave move and opened the door to a lot of other people. Around 85/86 there was a transition going on from post-Punk and people were looking for something new. We were trying to provide that.


AH – You got a hard time from some of the British press for that though. Why was there such a spiky relationship there? 

IA – People couldn’t really work us out. I just wasn’t what people thought I was – they used to say things like “he’s two teepees short of a reservation” or “his mum must have been sniffing glue when she had him”…

JS – It was a combination of everything really. People liked to poke fun at the band because they didn’t really understand it. I remember when we went on The Tube, Ian was in his full make-up and regalia, and we stood out like a sore thumb. We were an easy target. Ian in particular has always been out there on his own, he’s a unique artist, but has often been ahead of his time. I think that there’s respect from the press in retrospect for the band’s catalogue.

IA – I grew up all over the place, moving to North America when I was 11. My best friends were native Americans and Turkish immigrants. I was living in Ontario in the late 70s, collecting bottles with my brother outside a concert hall where Pink Floyd were playing Animals. That was my life and people just didn’t get that. I was stemming from the US rather than the UK.

BD – I don’t make records for reviews to be honest. We got battered after Love because we were the first band to put our head above the parapet and were saying “punk is dead. Move on.” People found that difficult to accept, and easy to have a pop at. I think we then got big enough that people started having to write good things about us as well. We were on the front cover of NME, we were suddenly relevant with Electric so it kind of forced their hand. Rock got massive in the 90’s and The Cult were very influential in opening the doors for the grunge movement.

AH – Love and Electric have certainly stood the test of time, and are widely regarded as classic albums now.

IA – Absolutely, they were real and they were us, whereas Sonic Temple was of a time. I had an intention for that album – I wanted it to be our Disraeli Gears, or Zeppelin I. In my head that was going to be a psychedelic kind of record of energy and sexuality, a follow up to Electric, but it wasn’t to become that record.

BD – They’re both really very honest and organic in their own way. It was just a genuine representation of where we were at the time, and the majority of any band’s best albums are when they’re being true to themselves.

SB – I’m incredibly proud of having been involved with the Love album. I really do love all the songs on that album, and looking back I’m really happy with the way Peace turned out too.

JS – I agree, and more so than the biggest seller, Sonic Temple (the follow up to Electric). They’re products of their time and people, rightly I think, still love them.

IA – The problem was we’d sold 2 or 3 million records at that point, so the shadows were appearing over our shoulders with an agenda. There was a lot on the table then and we had to compromise. In a way Sonic Temple put us on a platform that was beyond our pay grade. We were suddenly playing arenas and performing on the MTV awards in front of Madonna. It had gone too far. We should never have made the Ceremony record. There’s things I love on it, Wonderland is a great song. We looked good, but there was just no energy to fight any more. We were burnt out.


AH – Looking back at Electric, what are your favourite and least favourite tracks?

BD – Difficult to say really. We’ve played Wild Flower, L’il Devil and Love Removal Machine so many times live now that they have lost some of their charm. Right now I’m really enjoying Bad Fun. In terms of least favourite, that would have to be Born To Be Wild.

IA – They all do different things, but at the time probably Love Removal Machine, it had this fast, exciting aggressive ending.

JS – I don’t know what my favourite would be, but certainly I have the least affinity with Born To Be Wild.

IA – Now I’d have to say Memphis Hip Shake is something else. It’s a really cool song. I really love singing Aphrodisiac Jacket now as well. We play it like our ass is hanging out of our trousers, we’re not quite on top of it so it’s exciting. I’ll sing that line “Sitting on a mountain, Looking at the sun” and it feels prophetic because I traveled to Everest later on and did exactly that. Every time I sing that, I’m thinking of that moment now.

 Ian Astbury: “Of course, people who say they don’t regret anything, that’s bullshit.”

AH – Do you have any regrets from the time?

BD – Not really. Looking back I think I’d prefer to have a new house extension now than have spent that vast amount of money making the album! It was decadent, but it was rock and roll.  As an adult, it does seem a bit wasteful to spend all that money!

IA – Of course, people who say they don’t regret anything, that’s bullshit. Just not so much that you become crippled by regret. I’ve done some awful things that I feel embarrassed about.

SB – You never know how things might have worked our differently, but if I had my time again I’d never have allowed us to go in blind like that. It would have been, “no, we’re going into the rehearsal studio, we’re doing pre-production”. I’m still proud though, and would love to work with the guys again. It would be a lot of fun!

JS – I don’t think I do from that specific time, no. When I eventually left the band (in 1990) it was the right time to move on. I got married in 1989 and I wanted to move on and have a family. We’d spent that year touring with Aerosmith and they all had their kids with them on the tour bus – I just thought this is not the way kids should be brought up! I guess I got responsible, but I’ve never regretted that.

IA – My biggest regret musically is having compromised.

BD – I guess one thing is it would have been nice to have Zap City on the album. It was a transitional song though, it still had one foot in the Love album.

IA - We’re having incredible fun on this tour now though. Billy’s like a kid bouncing up and down. Do you know how hard it is to get someone from Manchester to smile naturally like that!


The album ‘Electric’ was to truly establish The Cult as an international act and became their first platinum album, selling over 3 million copies worldwide.

The double album Peace/Electric is released on Beggars Banquet on 31st July. The Cult’s tour of the album, entitled Electric ’13, comes to the UK on 18th October across a range of venues around the country.





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