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Chris Wyse is a juggler of sorts. He plays bass for The Cult and also fronts Owl, a heavy alternative trio he formed with two friends from high school.

“It definitely is something I have to get focused on each gig, and I give myself the time to do so,” he said by phone while heading to Anaheim, Calif., with The Cult. “When I jump in with The Cult, it’s all The Cult, and when I go with Owl, it’s full-on Owl. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t really want to take a vacation too long. I like working on my craft.”

Wyse has been with The Cult, a band that has 30 years of material in its catalog, since 2006. But it was his unique style on the bass — both electric upright bass and bass guitar — that first got him noticed.

After moving to California as a young musician, he toured with Lusk, then recorded with producer Bob Rock of Metallica, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue.

“I came in and did ‘Beyond Good and Evil,’ which was the comeback record” for The Cult in 2001, he said. His success on that release led to recording “Visions of Paradise” with Mick Jagger, an appearance in Metallica’s documentary “Some Kind of Monster” and collaborations on Ozzy Osbourne’s “Under Cover” and “Prince of Darkness.”

In 2006, The Cult invited him to be a full-time band member, and Wyse has performed on the group’s last three albums.

“I guess I’m the modern chapter bassist,” Wyse said.

The Cult’s current tour began July 25 and takes the band to Sturgis on Saturday, Aug. 3, where it will perform at the Buffalo Chip Campground. For the first time, the band will play its Rick Rubin-produced 1987 album “Electric” — featuring the songs “Love Removal Machine” and “Wild Flower” — in its entirety. The album brought a hard rock sound to the post-punk band that first began in Britain in the early 1980s.

“That music still feels very raw, which was how Rubin did it,” Wyse said. “We’re very excited to do the record from top to bottom. It’s a very different kind of experience. It’s gone over really well. And it’s what people would want to hear.”

The second set will feature selections from 30 years of The Cult’s music, including the band’s 2012’s “Weapon of Choice.”

“We captured something special on that record,” he said, including some unusual effects with Wyse’s bowed bass. “It’s a synthy, keyboard thing. It’s an orchestrated effect; that’s kind of exciting.”

Wyse describes The Cult’s music as edgy, but also very familiar.

“I’m really into the way the record came out. I think the chemistry playing together for so many years; you can’t really describe it with words, but there’s an organic realness to it. It has a very raw live feel.”

The Cult is working on a new album that will be released in 2014. A special vinyl release called “Electric Peace” came out July 30.

Forming Owl, which released its second album, “The Right Thing,” in April, allows Wyse to showcase his vocals and to explore his passion for the upright string bass.

“Playing the upright bass as a young kid just starting out, it’s expensive to maintain,” said Wyse, who grew up in Queens, N.Y. “And then I got into amplifying it.”

He soon discovered Kiss, The Doors and Led Zeppelin.

“There a bass line in ‘100,000 Years.’ If you underestimate Gene Simmons, you might be a little surprised,” he said.

After being inspired by Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, he began fashioning his own style and was profiled at age 17 in Guitar Player Magazine for his unique approach to the bass.

“Their bassist in Iron Maiden was undeniably a big deal and he changed my life and made me go, ‘Ooo, that’s what I want to do,” he said.

These days, he takes inspiration from Vivaldi’s “The Four Season,” Elvis, Sinatra and a “high-energy, R&B” group called Vintage Trouble. But he also is inspired by the endless possibilities in the upright bass.

“It’s really cool to take it to the future,” he said. “I just look at it as an amazing-sounding instrument and I can push the envelope and make it sound like any instrument. And then I get to write songs with it. It’s kind of a blessing in a way, to be able to bring something to the forefront.”

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Contact Deanna Darr at 394-8416 or deanna.darr@rapidcityjournal.com

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