10 Bands That Would Make Great Cults

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The new Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros record, entitled simply Here, came out last week. We’ve never been massive fans of the band, in all honesty — their touchy-feely but weirdly blank music, and Alex Ebert’s messianic “Edward Sharpe” personality, have always given us the creeps a little bit. There’s something almost… cultish about it. Although, if nothing else, this realization got us thinking about other bands that could well be cults, and/or musicians who’d do a fine job as cult leaders. Are there any musical cults you’d be up for joining? (No, Cults don’t count.)

Andrew WK

The combination of Andrew WK’s mysterious past, his relentless positivity, his idiosyncratic philosophy, and his knack for public speaking makes him surely the contemporary musician best equipped for cult leadership. If we start to see blissfully happy hard-partying long-haired New Age types in white jeans beginning to appear more and more often around the city, we won’t be at all surprised.

Broken Social Scene

One day, a courageous outsider will infiltrate the mysterious world of Canadian indie rock. Until then, its secrets will remain forever closed to people who aren’t in three or more bands, at least one of which involves Brendan Canning.

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

Quit apart from the psychedelic weirdness of the music, there was the fact that the Magic Band was basically run like a cult, with Captain Beefheart as its unquestioned, dictatorial leader. During the recording of Trout Mask Replica, the band apparently lived together in a house with blacked-out windows — one visitor described it as “positively Manson-esque” — and the Captain’s habit of constantly belittling and physically assaulting his bandmates was traumatic enough for guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo to collapse vomiting on his lawn decades later while reliving the memories for his autobiography. Knowing all this makes it even more difficult to listen to the record, which isn’t exactly easy listening to begin with.

Sunn 0)))

Admittedly, Sunn 0))) is currently a cult of, um, two people, but we like to imagine Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson holding secret rituals whereby they construct a sacred stack of amplifiers, turn everything up to 11, hit an E chord and then spend the next hour holding hands in complete darkness, listening to the resultant earth-shaking noise.

The Cult

Duh.

Led Zeppelin

As far as we’re concerned, the whole Satanist angle has been wildly overplayed in discussing Led Zeppelin over the years. Having said that, Jimmy Page’s fondness for Aleister Crowley was definitely a real thing, and it’s not hard to imagine it progressing from embracing weird symbols through buying Crowley’s former home (which Page really did) to perhaps starting a little Thelemite venture of his own. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” and all that.

Insane Clown Posse

There’s an argument to be made that Juggalos are a cult of sorts, bless them. Still, Faygo and silly song lyrics are a lot less harmful than walled compounds and “special” Kool-Aid, so we’re all for Juggalo-ism by comparison.

Parliament

For some reason, there are plenty of cults based around the idea of UFOs visiting Earth, and Parliament created an entire mythology along similar lines. Actually, of all the musical cults we could possibly join, it’d probably be this one — if cult membership means wearing amazing clothes, hocking lots of premium LSD, and awaiting the arrival of Starchild… well, where do we sign up?

Mayhem

The idea of joining a Mayhem-centric cult is substantially less appealing, unless worshiping Satan, burning churches and espousing far-right politics sounds like your idea of a good time… in which case, we’re not entirely sure why you’re reading this.

The Polyphonic Spree

What? They are a cult? Oh.