Cult takes on spirituality in ‘Hidden City’

The Cult -- with Ian Astbury, left, and Billy Duffy -- plays the Warfield. (Courtesy Tim Cadiente)

It’s been three decades since British outfit The Cult released its landmark Goth-chiming “Love.” But the band isn’t living in the past. Its upcoming “Hidden City” is one of its strongest albums, with guitarist Billy Duffy firing on all AC/DC six, and vocalist-lyricist Ian Astbury asking existential questions about mankind’s past, present and sketchy future, in anthems like “Heathens,” “In Blood,” “Birds of Paradise” and the “Love”-reminiscent “Dance the Night.” Where does the frontman acquire his wisdom? “I pray at the altar of Netflix!” he says, laughing: “No, just kidding — I’ve picked up stuff from every philosophical and religious denomination.”

What is the “Hidden City”?

For me, it started with a famous soccer player called Carlos Tevez, who’s played for some of the big clubs in Europe. And when he scored goals, he used to throw his shirt up, and under his shirt it said “Ciudad Oculta,” which is Spanish for Hidden City. And I became really intrigued by that. There was something really cool about him representing the neighborhood that he came from. He was showing his people, “Look where I am! And look where I came from!”

But it became a bigger metaphor?
We live in a world where people so desperately want to be seen, and they want that external validation. But this man was revealing his heart. And who is showing their heart on their sleeve these days? Who is earnest, or passionate? We are in a spiritual crisis, there’s no doubt. So the hidden city is within, it’s our spiritual life that has a huge hole, and we’re trying to fill it with whatever – gadgets, episodic television, celebrity culture, psychotropic drugs.

And you also got married two years ago, to Aimee Nash from The Black Ryder?

Ultimately, we’ve been together for nearly six years. And it’s profound, when you commit yourself to someone in a relationship. Again, it’s another grounding principle. You can learn a lot from a lengthy relationship, right?

I’ve learned not to leave the missus alone in Target with the shopping cart. Because you will never find her again.
Ah, yes! The Target cart! But it’s been like that for millennia. The women developed the language system, because they were the ones who had to identify the shrubs, the berries, the flora and fauna. The men would go off on their hunting trips, but the women were more organized. And the divine feminine principle has been neglected in nature for a long time, but nature always finds a way. Nature is rebalancing now.

You sound like “Jurassic Park.”

No. “Jurassic Park” is a film. I’m a person, and I speak through experience, not through fictional fantasy!

The Cult, with Primal Scream

Where: Warfield, 982 Market St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 17
Tickets: $47.50 to $60
Contact: (415) 345-0900,

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