Cult’s back From left, Billy Duffy, Chris Wyse, Ian Astbury and John Tempesta of The Cult appear at the Fillmore on Sunday.
When Ian Astbury was conceiving “Choice of Weapon” — the first album in five years from his Goth-metal outfit The Cult — he hadn’t intended on suffering for his craft.
But fate had other plans. He first noticed the pain during a soccer game with his guitarist Billy Duffy on their all-star Hollywood United team. “After playing for seven minutes, I really felt it,” he says. “So I just walked off the field and that was it — I never walked back on again.”
The situation was dire. After a lifetime of stage diving and motorcycle crashes, doctors informed him, he finally had destroyed his hip. An immediate operation was required.
Yet a perfectly ambulatory Astbury, 50, will bring his rejuvenated Cult to The City on Sunday. “I had hip surgery, and now I have a pound and a half of titanium in there,” he says, glad he survived the depression that consumed him, post-diagnosis.
“I went down, hard — I was just physically worn, spiritually worn, done, finished, as in ‘I want out of this,’” he says. “My body was saying stop, stop, and when that happens you can either go into neurosis or go inward — travel inwards and see what comes up.”
That’s how the Brit — who temporarily relocated to New York — arrived at reflective “Choice” rockers such as “Elemental Light,” “Wilderness Now” and “Life > Death.” “I went through almost a monastic period, where I really wasn’t around anybody else,” he says. “I was forced onto a bed, onto a couch, totally sedentary, and then I’d walk the streets at night and sit in the Shambhala Center on the West Side and meditate, and listen to their teachers talking about transcendence. Then I started to document it.”
Astbury has long been metaphysical. The Native American mythology he devoured as an Ontario teenager colored early Cult classics such as 1984’s “Dreamtime” and 1985’s definitive “Love” (whose “She Sells Sanctuary” single still tolls timelessly in a new Budweiser Super Bowl ad).
He admires philosophers such as Joseph Campbell, Terence McKenna, and Robert Thurman. His peaceful weapons of choice? Buddhism’s Dharma concept and Four Noble Truths.
Thus, everything Astbury is wearing in his “Choice” cover shot is significant: A buffalo-horned medicine bonnet for indigenous cultures, a Dead Rabbits shirt from Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” for the Occupy movement and a bandanna in solidarity with anonymous Arab Spring freedom fighters.
Astbury also believes in a meditative solution for nonstop news and social-networking chatter. “Everyone just shut up for a second — stop talking and start feeling,” he says. “When I’ve gotten back to that kind of conscious living? Then things like this record are possible.”
IF YOU GO
Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Sunday Tickets: $59.50
Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com