The Cult hail from Bradford, Wet Yorkshire and consists of Ian Astbury - lead vocals, percussion (1983–1995, 1999–present), Billy Duffy – guitar (1983–1995, 1999–present), Chris Wyse - bass (2006–present) and John Tempesta - drums (2006–present). Several drummers and bassists have played for The Cult during the band’s career.
The roots of The Cult began with Ian Astbury who first formed the band Southern Death Cult which paid homage to the 14th century Native American religion. The band began to form a loyal following at a very early stage, recording with the legendary Radio One DJ John Peel in the 1980s, and selling compilations of the sessions which raised the band’s profile.
Although the band did not last long and ended quickly, Ian Astbury formed another band “Death Cult” immediately after Southern Death Cult, with ex-Nosebleeds guitarist Billy Duffy, which succeeded to be popular and the band changed name to The Cult to appeal to a wider audience.
The Cult’s debut album Dreamtime proved to be highly popular and contained the hit singles "Spiritwalker" (1984), which was released as single before the album came out and went straight to #1. This was followed up with "Go West (Crazy Spinning Circles)" and fuelled Cult fans to buy Dreamland which sold 100,000 copies, and led on to tour dates with Scottish rock band Big Country and Yorkshire rock band, The Mission.
“She Sells Sanctuary” became The Cult’s anthemic single of their career and reached #15 on the UK Singles Chart and remained in the charts for a staggering 23 weeks and cemented the band’s place in history as was of the leading emerging hard-rock bands at the time.
By the time the band’s second album Love (1985) came out, the Cult had diverted their attention to the swinging ‘60s. Influenced by psychedelia, the band changed their sound with great success and Love reached #4 on the UK Album Chart and has since sold millions worldwide.
Throughout the late ‘80s the band experienced several band member changes and fell out with their record label Beggers Banquet after new producer Rick Rubin gave them an ultimatum to work with him at the cost of re-recording their song "Love Removal Machine” which the band had spent a quarter of a million recording already. In the end he ended up remixing the whole album which proved to be a defining moment in the band’s history as the single outsold their previous successful “Love” single.
Further trouble occurred when The Cult band members caused a colossal amount of damage to their music equipment while touring Australia; and no company would work with them resulting in them being unable to tour Japan.
After reaching super star status in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, The Cult went on tour with American rock giants Aerosmith as well as metal giants Metallica. The band by this point were headlining major festivals and travelling to exotic locations such as Brazil and performing at major festivals like the 1990 Gathering of the Tribes which had the most fashionable artists of the time performing: Soundgarden, Ice-T, Indigo Girls, Queen Latifah, Iggy Pop, The Charlatans, The Cramps and Public Enemy.
More troubles ensued the band in the 1990s and further legal ramifications followed. Although The Cult were travelling all over the world and still high in demand, this did not stop the band having problems, and after irreversible differences, the band split up in 1995.
Four years later (with another band line-up), The Cult were back together and re-released a number of their previous singles and albums. Ill fate followed the band, and their supposed big comeback was merely whimper and did not escalate to the same dizzy heights as previous times. Their US tour was cancelled after the terrorist threats of 2001 and the band went on a hiatus for the second time.
In 2005, after a two year gap, The Cult returned for the second time and toured Europe, playing in Romania and Croatia for the first time in their career.
Further developments in the form of signing to major metal label Roadrunner Records in 2007 saw many of the ‘band’s best of’ hits collections sold. The Cult embarked on a Long Love Live Tour with further dates in the US, Canada, Australia and Japan extended due to popular demand. Further performances across the UK and US followed, with a sold out-show at the UK’s popular metal festival Sonisphere.
In 2011, The Cult announced they were recording a new album when they played at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo and released Choice of Weapon (in May 2012) and the album reached #1 on the UK Rock Chart.