"We were selling a ton of records," Astbury says, "and Mr. Man came along and said 'D'you want to continue the myth? Because here are the compromises you will have to make.' And I was just like 'Nah, I can't do that.' " After a few years of soul-searching, Astbury and Duffy reconvened as a different band: wiser, older, and less reckless. The Cult from the mid-'90s on became, in a sense, more of an actual cult, focusing more on their music and less on the wolfchild myth-making that marked their early days. "I think it's possible to retain your integrity and have great success, in commercial terms," says Astbury. "In the early days, it was more of a feral thing. When I went onstage, the music had to be loud, I had to be intoxicated, and it was about performance-as-ritual. It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I thought, 'This is a craft and discipline that I want to perfect.' "
>> Q&A: Expanded conversations with the Cult: Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury <<
This month's new long-player, Choice of Weapon (Cooking Vinyl), is, then, not so much a return to form as a typically strong result of said attention to craft, whether in the power of album opener "Honey from a Knife" or the screaming intensity of "The Wolf." "We've used the Cult to experiment, as journeymen," explains Duffy, "and in that sense what we're doing now is no different than what we did in the '80s." Hear, hear: may these particular feral deities continue to find a way to howl eternally, as the wolfchild slowly and inevitably shakes its way to becoming a rug on rock's rec room floor.
THE CULT + AGAINST ME! + THE ICARUS LINE | House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston | June 5 @ 7 pm | All Ages | $27 to $40 | 888.693.2583 or hob.com/boston
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