THE CULT guitarist Billy Duffy was recently interviewed by Pittsburgh Music Magazine. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On the group’s summer tour with BUSH and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS:
Billy: “Generally, they try and pair bands together, and initially, I believe it was THE CULT and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS. I think the initial concept, somebody at [tour promoter] Live Nation really liked that idea, and then they were like, ‘How can we make this work?’ BUSH sort of came in quite late to the picture as an idea of making it a three-band thing. Initially, I believe it was going to be THE CULT, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS and kind of a younger band, and then an opening band. As there is, there’s an opening band on the tour as well who will go on before us all — a couple of young, cool, up-and-coming bands — but I think that’s how it came about. It’s amazing when you think about it, all the managers, agents involved in getting three bands to agree to rotate their headline spot. We’re all headlining, but it’s a package. I think it’s probably going to be a few minutes shorter than if you’d see us in a theater or something, just to fit each band in, but I don’t think that will be too terrible.”
On whether he enjoys playing festivals:
Billy: “Yeah, I enjoy it. Once as a band you’re tight and you’ve got your kind of band unity and that tightness together, I think it’s great [that] you can just be parachuted into virtually any situation, as long as you have a really good road crew. Obviously, nobody’s flying out with amplifiers and cabinets from America to Spain these days unless you’re on a major world tour, so you’re using rented equipment. It’s a whole thing these days — what we call fly dates. If you’ve got a really good crew and the band are tight — we’ve been touring for the last couple of years on ‘Hidden City’ — then it’s great. When it’s not great is if a little you’re unsure as a band and you’re perhaps not as rehearsed as you need to be, or you haven’t done enough gigs. Festivals can be really challenging because there’s so much distraction and stuff going on, and so many things you can’t control. It’s a bit like you roll the dice. I’ve seen it be horrible for some bands. THE CULT, we’re all organic, meaning there’s nothing on tape, there’s nothing on an iPad being played in the background. What you see is what you get — five guys, that’s the noise. Other bands rely on other stuff to make their music sound good, and if that goes awry, then it can be a real mess.”
On the state of the modern music industry:
Billy: “I’m not deeply philosophical about it. I just think that times change, and there’s always going to be enough young people, if they’ve got something to say, they’re going to find a way to say it. I don’t always subscribe to the ‘it was better in our day’ thing. I just made sure I had as much fun and had as good a time as I could when I had my kind of window of youth and opportunity. I just think young people will do the same. They’ll find their own route. Nobody wants to listen to some old geezer — ‘Well, it was way better in my day.’ You just become your parents, and nobody wants to listen to that.”
On the importance of delivering consistently high-quality live performances:
Billy: “It’s a struggle, and the best bands manage to make a wet Tuesday night in somewhere unglamorous feel like it’s playing Rock In Rio. That’s why I admire the best artists — they make everybody feel that the concert they’re going to is special, because it is. I just try to remind myself of that. That might be my fifth concert in a row, and I might be a bit short on sleep and the food might suck, but for the people who are showing up, it’s an event for them. You just have to try to keep that in mind. The only thing I’d say between 1984 and now is when I do the shows now, I get a lot more joy out of seeing people really enjoying the music, and seeing them light up. I like to think THE CULT‘s nostalgia with a lowercase ‘n’ — it’s not all about the past; we make current music; the last album was as well-received critically as any record we’ve ever made — so for us, it doesn’t matter so much [that] we live in a different age. But it’s good to challenge yourself and also see the fans respond to the new music as well as the classics.”
On whether the band is planning to record a new album:
Billy: “We haven’t got much further than the discussion stage. We know we can do it. It’s more just a question of getting the vibe right. It’s that intangible [feeling] when it just feels right to do it. We’ve talked about it. Sometimes you look at a blank sheet of paper and you think, ‘Are we ever going to be able to come up with something?’ It’s been talked about, but there’s nothing concrete at the moment. Ian‘s [Astbury, vocals] looking at a producer and trying to find somebody who can help us get to where we need to be. Both me and Ian write the music together, so we require a strong producer to help us. Sometimes you need somebody outside of the band who you both trust to give you some direction. Every orchestra needs a conductor, and for us, usually a strong, opinionated person is better. We respond better to that than kind of a wishy-washy approach.”
On the jump the band made with “Electric”:
Billy: “The first version, while it had some charm, I think our career would have been very different had we not redone it with [producer] Rick Rubin in the way that we did. I think we might not be having this conversation now. It changed a lot of things. Rock was making a comeback, like straight-ahead, honest, clean, unadulterated rock, and that’s the kind of album that we made. I think the ‘Love’ album had been a great album for what it was — it’s actually still my particular favorite — but I think that logically, we tried to go and apply the same techniques for ‘Electric’, and it just didn’t work. The songs we were writing had changed; the band had toured a lot; the music was getting heavier; and the same production approach wasn’t working. It took something radical like us recording and mixing the whole album and then [trashing] it and for Rick Rubin to come in with his kind of — I think I described him as the Pol Pot of music production. Rick‘s done that with great success over the last 30 years. He makes the same record, pretty much. These are the rules of rock, and they never change. The pillars of rock music. We couldn’t have done that — I could not have got that simplicity in the music, because I don’t hear music like that when I write it. I hear it more layered — not complicated, just more textural, more melodically complex. Rick was at the other end of the spectrum. He knew we had good songs; he just thought there was too much going on. The famous quote — ‘I didn’t produce THE CULT as much as I reduced THE CULT.’ The noise that was going on, the extra bits. That was important for us at that moment.”
THE CULT, BUSH and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS will join forces this summer for the “tri-headlining” “Revolution 3 Tour”.
The six-week North American trek will kick off on July 18 in Nashville and conclude on September 22 in Phoenix, Arizona. Each group will perform a full set in a different order each night.