THE CULT Guitarist Talks ‘Choice Of Weapon’ Album, Performing Live

Leslie Michelle Derrough of recently conducted an interview with THE CULT guitarist Billy Duffy. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. What about playing the new songs live?

Billy: The big acid test of a band is you play the new music live. I know a lot of the audience hasn’t heard much of it because they can only have really heard “Lucifer”, which we kind of released as a teaser track on the Internet. You could listen to it for a limited period of time but nobody could download it. And then obviously “For The Animals” has been released as what people would call a single, whatever that means these days. [laughs] But now stuff is out and people are hearing it on the radio and on the Internet and obviously on YouTube. These days people can see us playing some of the new songs ’cause we did them at SXSW in March. And the songs went down great, so we’re very enthusiastic. You know, the last thing you want to do is play songs from the new album and people are like, “Oh dear, play a hit, this is killing me.” [laughs] But that happens. I’ve been in the crowd when bands do that. So we try and mix it up. We think the new songs are really strong and exciting and I think we’ve made the album that THE CULT fans wanted us to make and I think as a result it’s going to be good fun times playing the new songs. It invigorates the band. There are certain songs of THE CULT that I never mind playing, like “She Sells Sanctuary” or “Rain”. I could play those songs forever. But there are certain other songs from certain periods that while people might like them, I’m not personally as crazy about playing them. It just depends. So it’s great to have new music and have a tour and a new purpose to go out there. Obviously there will be some old hits thrown in and mixed up in the bag but it should be a fun night out. We’ve got two great opening acts so it’s a nice package. People get good value for money. We’ve got a lead singer who has changed gender in AGAINST ME, so that’s an exciting thing. Never could have a simple tour with THE CULT. [laughs] Do you have a favorite song on the new record that you’re looking forward to playing live?

Billy: I like playing “Honey From A Knife” ’cause it’s just like the kind of punk rock/rock and roll song. I like playing all of them, really. I mean, “Lucifer” is a bit of a workout for me. It’s very busy on the guitar, so I don’t get a lot of chance to kick back and relax. But we got to do that. I like playing a song called “Embers”, which is included on the album package, not on the plain album. But I enjoy playing that one ’cause it’s really quiet and I get to kind of play some introspective guitar. I really look forward to that every night, like, “Oh it’s coming up, I can take a breather,” [laughs], ’cause I like loud guitar music as much as the next fellow but for me it’s nice to be able to play that one and actually not be such a punch-in-the-face type of deal. So is touring what you have planned for the rest of the year?

Billy: Well, I think so. We’ve got a few months of it. We should be thankful that people really want to come see us, so hopefully we can keep it going for a while. I’d like to come up with a really exciting answer, like we’re all going to get on a capsule and orbit the Earth [laughs], but you make a record and then you go out and play it and you take it to Serbia, you take it to Romania, you know what I mean. And you have to connect with THE CULT fans and we’ll be in Portugal, we’ll be everywhere; Australia and New Zealand early next year probably. The usual. It’s what everybody does if you’re lucky enough to be able to go out and play and people want to see you. I like doing festivals, enjoy the juxtaposition. It’s inconvenient as a musician because you sometimes have to compromise how long you can play and what soundcheck, if any, you get. There are a lot of compromises at festivals, but I love playing with different musicians and playing to crowds that might not be CULT fans and seeing the reactions and mixing that up with regular CULT gigs, which is kind of playing the home game, you know. You pretty much know everybody through the door is going to like what you do unless you really suck and we don’t [laughs], so that is usually going to be good. Then it’s a question of how good can we make the night, how special can we make it, and that’s the challenge there. So I look forward to all that stuff. I could take or leave traveling. Flying sucks these days, it’s no fun. I mean, it’s the worst. It used to be fun and I used to look forward to great airports and planes — brilliant, we can have a laugh, it’ll be great [laughs] — and now it sucks.

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