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Cult Frontman Ian Astbury Recently More Impressed With Theater Than Bands

The Cult frontman Ian Astbury woke up one day and decided he was going to do everything he had always wanted to accomplish.

“Of course, there’s always critics (who say), ‘You can’t do this.’ ‘You can’t do that,’” Astbury said during an interview with Noisecreep. “Why not? Why not? Who’s gonna stop me? I’m going to do it anyway, whether you want me to do it or not. It’s not for commercial profit or gain.”

Among his many projects: Producing John Patrick Shanley’s play “Savage in Limbo” at the Manhattan nightclub The Bowery Electric June 12 through June 28. Shanley is best known for his work “Doubt,” which was made into an Oscar-nominated film last year starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

“I have so many more interests outside of performing music,” Astbury said. “I have had an interest in theater and film for so many years. A group of friends asked me to help them produce a play and I thought it was really intriguing. Not everybody has thousands of dollars at their disposable to pour into a production, whether it’s making a record or a film in a theater or whatever. It’s a community of artists that come together to focus on particular material and pretty much around one woman, Apolla (Echino), who is a very close friend of mine.”

Echino’s acting teacher is Larry Moss, who also works with Leonardo DiCaprio, according to Astbury. “Savage in Limbo” was created after Moss suggested Echino and other students turn their short scenes into a play.

“I have an incredible appreciation for anybody who’s doing that kind of work in the world,” Astbury said about theater. “It’s amazing. As an audience member, you just walk into a show and see it, and go, ‘Wow. That was an amazing piece of theater’ or ‘an amazing piece of performance.’ But you don’t really take into consideration the amount of work that goes into it. It’s an incredible amount of work. But it’s incredibly gratifying because it’s like a nonprofit venture and it’s done out of total passion for the material, total passion for the actor, and total passion for the craft of acting.

“The space we’re doing it in is The Bowery Electric, which is an amazing space in the Bowery, a block away from the old CBGB’s. I’ve been coming to New York since 84, so I’m kind of a displaced nomad. One of the things I love the most about New York is the live theater. It’s like nowhere else in the world, apart from maybe the West End in London. But New York has such a rich tradition in theater and some of the most exciting performances in theatrical performances. In fact if I was to put it up against music, I’d say I’ve seen better plays than I’ve seen actual performances by bands over the past year. Absolutely.”

On opening night, Friday, June 12, Astbury will hit the stage with his new acoustic project The Soft Revolt, who also performed at the benefit party on April 9 at The Bowery Electric to raise money to support the production.

“The Soft Revolt is kind of a storefront for me,” Astbury said. “It’s basically a tag for me for getting up and doing guerilla acoustic sets. Anybody who’s around that wants to be a part of it. The Soft Revolt is kind of like an open door. The last time I played with members of Hard Drugs, which is a Vancouver-based band. We did a set, more of an electric set, for the benefit, the original benefit we did for the play about a month ago.

“This is actually going to be like an opening night short set, half-hour, 40-minute set. I’ll be playing all different kinds of material, stuff that I really love. I sort of make the set up a couple days before we go in with just whatever comes up: Maybe a couple Cult songs, possibly a Doors song, maybe a Led Zeppelin song, maybe a Patti Smith song, maybe a David Bowie song, maybe a Blonde Redhead song. Things I’m really into. I even tried out some new material last time I played I went into a new song I’d been writing. It’s very gratifying.”

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