THE CULT - Choice Of Weapon: Hard Rock With An Underpinning Of Joy Division Page 4
by Martin Popoff
Choice Of Weapon is a pretty hard rockin' record though, and a lot of that comes down to Billy Duffy, the riff-master of the band. Hard guy to get your head 'round in terms of a style. Duffy has many styles, moods, shades, and he certainly doesn't stand out as much as guys like Brian May, Eddie, Yngwie, Robert Fripp, Steve Howe, Andy Summers... guys WAY recognizable. In fact, the only guy I could see fashioning stuff like Billy and playing it with the panache of Billy is Slash.
"I think when Billy plays the guitar, you know it's Billy," defends Ian. "You know, I certainly can pick him out. I think he's got a very distinct sound. You know, one of his things was, he was working with JC-120s, you know, older amps, Marshalls and whatnot. There's something about that - that's the postmodern mixed with the traditional. And then bringing modern effects, pedals, and that kind of diversified his sound. He's got a slightly... you know, you go to the Gretsch White Falcon, which is a huge thing for him. And that's part of his sound. So he's definitely explored... he's really taken his time to craft his sound, no doubt. And that's what's great about working with someone like Chris Goss or Bob Rock, because they're guitar players."
When The Cult went shockingly Electric in 1987, Ian says they could have easily gone even more "post-punk" than Love or the earlier raw and tribal material. That's where being saved by rock came in, most fervently, Zeppelin and The Doors.
"Billy plays riffs, but I mean, if you listen to our records, you'll see that there is a rhythmic underpinning that bands like REM and The Smiths never had," explains Astbury. "Our rhythm end moves, and that's me. I pushed the rhythm end. It's gotta swing, it's gotta have that, and maybe that's something we do have in common with Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones and all those bands. Because it's gotta move from the waist down. The Smiths and REM, with all due respect, doesn't move from the waist down. It moves from the neck up. And it doesn't really hit that chakra (laughs), you know. It doesn't really hit the reproductive organs the way that great music should. And you know, in terms of hard rock, yeah, plenty of riffs, but you listen to the textural elements in our records. Even this album has a lot of stuff that... 'Life > Death' is a chord-driven piece; it's a singer-songwriter piece. So there's different disciplines. 'Elemental Light' isn't really riffy. I mean, 'Honey From A Knife' is. 'The Wolf' is riff central. But 'The Wolf' is like a car crash between the Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath. I mean, those are the elements. 'The Wolf' is really like an homage to Sabbath, in some ways. There's... You can hear the influences. I mean, there are some direct influences, sitting there, and you go, what should it be like? And you go directly to the archetype (laughs). 'It's gotta sound like this.' Of course it never will, because it's going to go through your filter. We reach for that stuff because we know it's not going to sound identikit - there's no way you can make a pastiche of that."