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Ian Astbury press photo, October 2010, by Delissa Santos
|Birth name||Ian Robert Astbury|
14 May 1962 |
Heswall, Cheshire, England
|Genres||Post-punk, gothic rock, hard rock, heavy metal|
|Instruments||Vocals, percussion, harmonica, guitar|
|Associated acts||The Cult
Southern Death Cult
The Doors of the 21st Century
Circus of Power
In 1979, while living in Glasgow, he was deeply struck by The Doors' song "The End", which he heard while watching the movie Apocalypse Now, later describing this as "a religious experience". In 1980 he was in Liverpool, where he was active on the punk scene based around Eric's Club. After he was made homeless due to a dispute with a landlord over a party at his bedsit apartment, he ended up following Anarchist Punk band Crass. After a period of living in squats and sleeping rough, he moved to Bradford in late 1980. Here he was a founding member of the positive punk band Southern Death Cult in 1981. Southern Death Cult lasted until March 1983, when it was dissolved. Along with guitarist Billy Duffy, bassist Jamie Stewart and drummer Raymond Taylor Smith, Astbury formed a new band, Death Cult, released The Death Cult EP and later dropped Death from the name to become The Cult.
Southern Death Cult referred to a Meso-American Mound Building Culture that pervaded some parts of Northern America, but this was not a commercially viable band name. The Cult are a Post Modern Rock band active since 1983. Their first album, Dreamtime was released in 1984, and followed by Love in 1985. Love featured the single "She Sells Sanctuary", which introduced the band to an international audience. Many songs of these early albums focus on Native American themes, a pre-occupation of Astbury. Their image at the time was of Gothic/Alt Rock/Western/Indie. This image helped them stand apart from other acts of that era, such as AC/DC, The Damned, the Cure, and Echo & the Bunnymen. On their third album, Electric, The Cult made a transformation to hard rock sound with the help of Rick Rubin.
The dent in their reputation was amplified by the loss of many Sonic Temple fans, when their next album, Ceremony, released in 1991, delivered disappointingly in the wake of an oncoming grunge movement.
In 1994, The Cult returned with an untitled album and a change of musical pace. Their hard rock sound was gone, replaced instead by Astbury's growing interest in alternative music, fashion and introspective lyrics. The self-titled album was not a commercial success, due mostly to the lack of radio support for the album's two singles ("Coming Down" and "Star"). To support the album they set out on a tour; in Brazil, however, Astbury's creative differences with guitarist Duffy reached their peak, and the former walked out on The Cult.
Inspired by his sudden change in direction, Astbury soon after assembled another group of musicians and began writing new songs. He called the group The Holy Barbarians, and in 1996 the band released the album Cream. Although they were not a commercial success, the Barbarians were well received by many who had regained respect for Astbury as an artist. One notable appearance by the band was at the small Tunbridge Wells Forum which saw them being joined onstage by Vic Reeves for a rendition of The Cult's classic "Wildflower".
Personal difficulties and a drive for further introspection drove Astbury away from his new group, as he began working on a solo album (eventually released as Spirit\Light\Speed).
In 1999, Astbury and Duffy reformed The Cult to head one of the most financially successful tours that year. A new contract with Atlantic Records was inked, and in 2001 came the release of Beyond Good and Evil. Early radio success was being had by the single "Rise", until the band had a falling out with Atlantic and they ended all commercial promotions and radio play for the album. Astbury described the fight with the record label as "soul destroying"; disillusioned, he brought The Cult to another hiatus in 2002.
2000s and beyond
Astbury became lead singer of The Doors of the 21st Century in 2002. The group featured original Doors members Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek. In 2003, Astbury also performed with surviving members of MC5 at the 100 Club in London, before finally reforming The Cult with Duffy again in 2006, for a series of live dates and rumours of reissues and another greatest hits compilation in the works.
During early 2007, The Cult entered the studio to begin production on Born into This, the group's first album in six years. Also planned for release was a DVD of the band's 13 November. 2006 concert at Irving Plaza in New York City.
The Cult's current lineup consists of Astbury and Duffy, alongside bassist Chris Wyse, drummer John Tempesta and touring rhythm guitarist Mike Dimkitch. In October 2007, The Cult finally released Born into This. The first single was "Dirty Little Rockstar," which enjoyed strong radio airplay.
In 2009, The Cult announced a series of shows across the US, Canada, and Europe billed as "'Love' Live", where the band performed its classic album, "Love," in its entirety.
On 29 May 2010 Boris performed "The End" with Ian Astbury at Vivid Festival on Sydney. Boris and Astbury released a four-song EP in September 2010 on Southern Lord and Daymare Records, containing four tracks entitled Teeth and Claws, We are Witches, Rain (The Cult cover), Magickal Child.
He lives in Los Angeles and plays on the soccer team Hollywood United with Billy Duffy and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols and is a supporter of English Premier League club Everton FC.
Other musical ventures
Astbury is featured on the UNKLE tracks "Burn My Shadow", "When Things Explode" and "Forever." He also sings "Flame On" on Tony Iommi's (Black Sabbath lead guitarist) solo album Iommi, as well as duets with Deborah Harry on her 1989 album Def, Dumb and Blonde's song "Lovelight". In 2010, he provided the vocals for the song "Ghost" on guitarist Slash's self-titled solo album. The track also featured former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin on rhythm guitar. Astbury is also credited for playing the drums on a track called "Gasp" by "Japanese Cartoon."
- Boris – BXI.
- Unkle – War Stories on "Burn My Shadow".
- Unkle – War Stories on "When Things Explode".
- Unkle – Forever.
- Tony Iommi – Iommi on "Flame On".
- Deborah Harry – Def Dumb & Blonde on "Lovelight".
- Slash – Slash on "Ghost".
- Circus of Power – Magic and Madness on "Shine".
- Olson, Steve. "Ian Astbury / The Cult". Juice (63). Retrieved 29 May 2011.
- Cult Biography, Camelot Music 1988
- "The Cult | View the Music Artists Biography Online | VH1.com". Retrieved 3 April 2010.
- C.B.Liddell (9 May 2010). "Y'know – interviews with the famous: Ian Astbury, musician". Yknow-interviews.blogspot.com. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- Ross, Mike (24 July 2005). "Long live the Lizard King". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
- Zahlaway, Jon (31 May 2005). "The Doors of the 21st Century head up 'Strange Days' fest". LiveDaily. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
- "Ian Astbury and Boris The End @ Sydney Opera House 2010". YouTube. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- Dombal, Ryan (2 June 2010). "Boris Team With the Cult's Ian Astbury". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
- "商品詳細". Diwproducts.com. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- "Southern Lord Records " BXI= Boris Collaboration With Ian Astbury!". Blog.southernlord.com. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- Laudadio, Marisa; Dodd, Johnny (29 May 2012). "The Cult's Ian Astbury Weds in Las Vegas". People. Retrieved 3 June 2012.