The Cult’s master guitarist and long-time original serving member (with vocalist Ian Astbury), Billy Duffy is phoning in from Los Angeles, California sounding very stoked to say the least about the band’s latest release, Choice Of Weapon. Choice Of Weapon was written by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy, recorded in New York, Los Angeles, and the band’s Witch Mountain studio between July and December 2011. The new release from the iconic outfit also features drummer John Tempesta and bassist Chris Wyse.
WVOX.com: You and Ian and The Cult have a lot to be happy about these days. Choice Of Weapon has been finally unleashed. What are your thoughts on the album?
Billy Duffy: "We’re happy with it! It took a while. It’s been five years between albums. But I mean, we’ve toured pretty much every year. And we also released these capsule EP things that are going to be included in certain versions of Choice Of Weapon. Obviously The Cult is a collaborative process between me and Ian. They’re not Ian’s songs and Billy’s songs. They’re Ian and Billy’s songs and we write them together and so we’re kind of halves on everything and we have been since 1983. It’s a little different than some bands. It’s very collaborative with The Cult."
WVOX.com: I understand going into this album the band really had no agenda, there was no set destination, no place to be and no chart position to aim for. Meaning, you took your time – went in and stayed focused on keeping everything fresh and raw as possible.
Billy Duffy: "Absolutely, that’s very well put. We just wanted it to feel right. I think we got the balance right. I think it’s the Cult album a lot of our fans wanted us to make."
WVOX.com: You brought in Bob Rock to finish up the album. But you also used Chris Goss.
Billy Duffy: "Actually, half the album was done by Chris Goss who’s a son of upstate New York I believe. Chris produced a lot of it and did the capsules. But we kind of reached a point where we just kind of hit a wall and we couldn’t finish the album - it didn’t seem finished. We were spending more and more time and achieveing less and less. So me and Ian made the decision to bring in Bob Rock who kind of really brought in a fresh perspective and he has a lot of history working with us. He came in and kind of pushed us through the finish line of the record. But Chris Goss’ input should not be underestimated. So, it was a collaborative thing and we were blessed to work with two great producers. So, we got lucky in that respect."
WVOX.com: The new album seems to reflect the current discontent and destruction of our eco systems, the search for individual meaning against a tide of rampant materialism, narcissism and disconnected lives. Choice Of Weapon is your ninth studio album. What has kept the Cult marching forward always?
Billy Duffy: "Good question. I think, ultimately, me and Ian like writing music together even though that process can be a painful journey, sort of like going to the dentist at times. I think the challenge of that is good. And I think that’s what keeps drawing us back together. The same thing that drew us together in 1983 was the desire to write together and create this sound and try and do our own little unique take on rock and roll. These days, there aren’t really many bands around like The Cult doing what we do. I’m pushed to find any that are making new music of this nature. It’s a pretty short list. We also want to keep rocking out! And making sure we can still make valid, important, meaningful and exciting rock music when you get into your fifties. We’ve kind of also been a little bit of an outsider band. We’ve been very difficult to categorize. We’ve never really fit into any one box. We’ve always kind of moved around, explored and tried to really push the boundaries of what you can do with a essentially a guitar oriented rock band. There’s been several different musical movements and changes around us. And we keep going."
WVOX.com: The fact that The Cult has never been able to be put into any one category I think is the genius of this band. A great testimony to you and Ian.
Billy Duffy: "We just try to be ourselves. For better or worse. And I think ultimately we’ve always made our own decisions and we’ve got more of them right than wrong. Someone once said to me very, very early on when I first came to America with The Cult and we started getting a little bit of attention by the big mainstream music business, “Do you want to do this for your life? Are you here to make music for your life? Are you a lifer”? And we’re kind of lifers, we’re rock and roll lifers! This is all I ever wanted since I was a kid in high school. Have some fun. Make people happy, you know. I luckily found a partner in a lead singer who, you know, we have more things in common and more things that we share and agree on than we disagree on…and that’s why we are still around I suppose."
WVOX.com: The Cult is currently on tour supporting Choice Of Weapon. You’ve got such a rich and deep catalogue of music. How will you and the band comprise the set-list while on the road?
Billy Duffy: "It’s pretty high intensity rock and roll music. The general consensus of opinion is that we are going to play early stuff and the new stuff . We are going to try to play a song from the Electric album we’ve never played before. So we always like to dig up a little nugget for the fans. We do have a really good new album, and so far in the shows that we’ve played the audience response has been really good to the new songs."
WVOX.com: Ian Astbury has said: 'This is going to be a very intense, high-energy tour and the band is really looking forward to the time it spends on stage connected to our music and our audience. That’s our purpose'!
Billy Duffy: "Well said, indeed. The challenge is to keep the standards up. You just have to take a point of view with your set and what feels right to me and Ian. From The Cult’s point of view rock and roll is entertainment. I think people need to come out and have a few drinks and a great night out. That’s an important part of life – a celebration."