The Cult Will Not Be Hitting The Road With Led Zeppelin


April 3, 2008

Turns out the rumour mill got it wrong.

Despite reports, there’s no way rock icons The Cult will be hitting the road with monster rockers Led Zeppelin, if and when the legendary band should decide to spin a full-blown tour out of its recent one-off reunion show.

In fact, Cult frontman Ian Astbury — who supposedly dropped some not-so-subtle hints to that effect late last year — says the whole scenario is just another case of the press making a big deal out of nothing.

“That really goes to show you how naive people are, and how these things can get blown out of proportion,” says Astbury, somewhat testily, from a hotel room in Vancouver. “It’s been embellished by journalists … I haven’t even spoken to anyone from Led Zeppelin’s camp.”

Following a Cult gig in Cincinnati last November, Astbury was quoted by Billboard magazine as having promised he’d return to the city in 2008, claiming, “We’re opening for a band you may have heard of — the name starts with an ‘L’ and has a ‘Z’ in it.”

Not surprisingly, a flurry of speculation about a Led Zep reunion jaunt followed, with most outlets citing Astbury’s comments as proof that a tour was in the offing. But when pressed for clarification on the matter, Astbury says he was simply asking the crowd what they’d think of his band one day performing with the legends. He insists he wasn’t trying to spill the beans about The Cult’s involvement in any reunion, since he has no idea whether Led Zeppelin even plans to tour at all.

“The only reason I said it is because I’d read about them playing at the (reunion) concert,” Astbury says. “I didn’t think anything of it beyond that.”

Hmm. We’re not so sure the blame for that one lies squarely with the media, even if it’s true they misinterpreted whatever Astbury said at the show. And you can’t fault fans for getting their hopes up, either, since a double-header featuring Led Zep and The Cult would have been a dream come true for classic rock lovers everywhere.

But Astbury — a regular presence on rock radio since the early ’80s, when the band formed in England — isn’t looking to wax nostalgic just yet, even if it’s true a good portion of the crowd at the band’s pending Concert Hall gig in Winnipeg will no doubt be there to relive their glory days.

Instead, Astbury remains fiercely committed to living purely in the moment, noting people shouldn’t define themselves by a period of their life that’s already passed them by.

“Who defines what’s a glory day?” says Astbury. “My glory days are right now … It’s always in the moment you’re in now, that all possibility exists. Sure, there are some limitations of the body as it ages, but with modern science, who knows what’s going to be possible?”

Judging from The Cult’s last local appearance (at MTS Centre in 2006), Astbury doesn’t need to start worrying about the ravages of time just yet. That show — part of the Return to Wild tour that reunited the band for the first time in several years — found Astbury in fine form, whirling and twirling around the stage with the manic energy of a man half his age.

“It’s really a process of attraction,” says Astbury, who spent time living in Canada as a kid. “A good artist is one who’s aware of their current environment, and able to reflect that. You capture people’s attention by being current. The Dalai Lama is 70 years old, and is one of the most useful, fresh, alert figures in the world.”

Astbury was also in Winnipeg in 2005, as part of a tour with two ex-members of The Doors (then known as The Doors of the 21st Century, and later Riders on the Storm) that saw him taking the place of long-departed frontman Jim Morrison.

Despite the nostalgia-laden trappings of that engagement (our words, not his) Astbury says the experience informed much of his subsequent work with The Cult. After finishing up the Doors tour, Astbury reconvened with Cult guitarist Billy Duffy in 2005 (the two share a rocky history, but Astbury says they “certainly have respect for each other”) and set to work on what would become the band’s eighth studio album, Born Into This.

“It consolidated a lot of things for me,” says the voice behind Love Removal Machine, Fire Woman and She Sells Sanctuary. “I saw their discipline and their commitment to their art, and I realized we weren’t as committed as we should be.”

Courtesy of