This afternoon, Rocks Off talked to The Cult's Ian Astbury as his band readies to go on tour with Against Me! and the Icarus Line at the end of the month. The monthlong summer jaunt that stops at House of Blues June 19 was seen as a masterful juxtaposition of disparate-sounding groups. Rocks Off thinks the lineup on this tour is great, but even we had to read it twice.
Normally bands like the titanic Cult go out with the fire-breathing likes of Against Me!, so this was a standard rock tour until this week. Then the announcement in the current issue of Rolling Stone that Tom Gabel, lead singer of Against Me!, was coming out as transgendered brought new attention to the upcoming dates.
The singer and guitarist is currently taking hormones in order to make the transition into a woman. Gabel will become Laura Jane Grace, and remain married to her wife, with whom she has a child. The news sent shock waves around the music world as people came to understand her situation. Overall there has been lots of support and pride in her openness from fans and colleagues alike.
For some reason, amongst all the press The Cult has been doing lately, no one had asked Astbury about Grace's news until Rocks off breached the issue on Thursday.
"I think it's fine, it's his life, and I support whatever he wants to do. He seems like a very beautiful person," Astbury says. "This is very courageous."
"I would like to think the culture is opening up enough now, with Obama's recent words, too. Aren't we beginning to see now in culture that the patriarchal machine has driven us into a ditch this millennium?"
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama went on record stating that he believes gay couples should have the right to get married.
Astbury welcomes and champions the recent drive in strong female roles in pop culture in movies and music, iconic and heroic characters who are women.
"You don't see these wars being created by women. It's all led by men," he adds. He points to friends like Genesis P-Orridge, who has been ahead of the curve now for years in terms of challenging gender roles. Astbury thinks aloud that this may all be a part of something bigger.
"Maybe we are all evolving into one sex, and one gender. It's possible, isn't it?" he says.
Astbury is no stranger to people judging him by his looks either. His flowing black hair and Gothic-shaman clothing weren't always welcome.
"I was definitely at the end of other peoples' boots and fists because of the way I looked," he says. "But I can be quite tasty in a fight. I had to learn that."
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Astbury reminds Rocks Off that the Cult had toured with a transgendered performer, too, with Canadian rock band the Cliks opening for his band on a past tour.
Lead singer Lucas Silveira and his band made music history as one of the first bands with an openly transgendered front man to be signed to a major label.