Interview – Therapy?

Back in the late nineties I was a plucky young writer on my university paper, the lone voice of rock fandom on a staff full of Oasis fans, so when I was given the opportunity to interview one of my favourite bands, Brit-Rock legends Therapy? I jumped at the chance. This was my first big interview and was bound to set me on a career course that would see me eventual editor of Kerrang or Metal Hammer.

When I went backstage at Newcastle University to meet Andy Cairns, affable Therapy? frontman and bearded vocal wonder, he gave me Guinness and conducted the whole interview in his dressing gown and spoke at length and with knowledge about music, politics, fame and more. It was a great interview, up until I realised as I was rounding things up that I hadn’t hit record on my dictaphone.

Ashamed, I rounded off the interview as well as I could, then went to see the band play an excellent show. But I never printed my interview. I tried to write it up from half remembered snatches of memory through the Guinness fog I had conducted it in. But no joy.

So when I saw that Therapy? were releasing their 13th album, the belligerantly brilliant ‘A Brief Crack Of Light’ I thought it was time to put that particular demon to res, and so I stalked bassist Michael McKeegan online until he agreed to answer my questions in return for me leaving him alone and never telling that anecdote again.

Demon Pigeon: First things first. You were a part of the Judgement Night soundtrack, collaborating with Fatal, which was excellent. But then Nu Metal happened. Only a few years later we had Linkin Park. Do you feel that you owe us all an apology?

Michael McKeegan(bass guitar): So could it be possible that we’re responsible for all that? Actually that was all a cunning ploy on our behalf so nu metal would kick in to ‘save’ the UK from Brit-Pop and then once people had got used to hearing guitars again (albeit covered in rap vocals and faux-Dre beats) then true punk and heavy metal would rise from the ashes.

DP: Your new album is your thirteenth, and continues in the tradition of sounding instantly recognisable as yourselves and completely different to your previous albums. Is this something you consciously aim for?

MM: Not really though I suppose over the years our influences have maybe become less obvious and our own style more distinctive. With any new record it’s kind of unsaid that we’ll be tweaking and supercharging the ‘older’ sonic elements whilst still trying to incorporate new sounds and ideas. The easiest thing would be to just make a ‘stock’ Therapy? album though with the stylistic swerves over the years I’ve probably no idea what a ‘typical’ Therapy? song is. Sometimes there is a bit of chat about how an idea needs to go further for example or needs a different element to mix it up but for the whole we tend to go on gut reaction, just suss out whether an idea or a part works on instinct and leave the analysing alone.

DP: You and Andy have been together now for over twenty years, since you were still pretty much kids. How has the relationship changed? How close have you come to killing each other?

MM: We always got on really well from day one and I think any miscommunication in the past was normally due to ex-members stirring the pot and their inter-band ‘power plays’. Thankfully with Neil in the band it’s a very straightforward working relationship and the personal side of things is great as well. Most bands I meet are always bitching about each other so I count myself lucky Andy and I (and Neil) get on great, I really value the friendship.

DP: One of my favourite ever gig experiences was when you had to replace Korn at the last minute on the Ozzfest 98 bill, and you faced down a openly hostile crowd and managed to win them over, and Andy gave a speech about the Troubles that was the most eloquent assessment of a complex political situation I’ve ever seen delivered to a collection of spotty drunk men in black t-shirts. It stuck in the mind. What experiences stick out to you from your twenty odd year career?

MM: There have been many, many ‘pinch yourself’ moments over the years between meeting (and in some cases jamming with) musical heroes and all the travel and crazy crowds but one of the things that still amazes me is when I see people with Therapy? tattoos. I’m a big fan of many bands but I’ve never really seriously considered getting their name or logo tattooed on myself. That’s always a very wonderful, flattering and surreal experience.

DP: The new album is getting (well deserved) praise. It has a really jagged edge in places, and sounds remarkably fresh. Do you go into the studio these days with a particular plan in mind, or are you writing off the cuff and whatever happens happens?

MM: I think with ABCOL there was a bit of both…we had a few elements of Crooked Timber that we wanted to pursue a bit more and as much as you can rehearse and plot stuff, there are always spontaneous additions in the studio. I think you need to get a balance of being disciplined and tight with the structures and then have that ‘spark’ to come up with little nuances and more off the cuff things when you’re recording. Too much either way can either make the record too stiff and lifeless or can end up too sloppy and unfocused. The guy that produced it with us Adam Sinclair (he engineered and mixed Crooked Timber with Andy and mixed our live album) was an essential sounding board for those moments when we maybe might have been getting a bit carried away. Having said that there were moments where he suggested stuff go further so it was good working relationship.

DP: You recently did a ‘Troublegum’ tour, playing the album in full. Did you enjoy revisiting it, or are you more of a mind to keep looking forward?

MM: It was a brilliant tour and a lot of fun to play the shows. We’d just been doing tons of stuff with Crooked Timber so it didn’t seem in anyway like a ‘step back’…more a celebration, especially as we’ve never done the old ‘split up/reform/split up/reform’ routine. We’d seen a few shows where the artist focuses on a certain record so we had a good idea of the best way to do it…after the Troublegum set we did another hour or so from our first single right up to the latest Crooked Timber stuff so it was a really cool overview of 20 years of the band (2010 was our 20th anniversary). We even dug out some of the old guitars, old stage wear and old intros for the trainspotters in the crowd.

DP: A lot of the ‘Brit Rock’ bands that enjoyed success at the same time as you have fallen by the wayside. In some cases they’ve fallen, reformed and jacked it in all over again. You have managed to keep going regardless. To me this is because you never really chased the success, and never let it define what you were doing. What do you think has kept you going?

MM: Most definitely…the main concept behind the band when we started was to play the music we liked as none of the local bands then were doing anything particularly original…naively thought we could throw Dischord punk, noise rock, classic rock, thrash metal, noise pop, techno and jazz all together but bizarrely it worked and seemed to strike a chord with people. Any success we had was never planned, a lot of people perhaps perceive Troublegum as something we planned to be a hit, for us it was just the logical musical path after the mini lps and Nurse.

You have to remember the seeds of Troublegum were there on our first demos (SWT=Screamager, Body OD=Stop It You’re Killing Me etc.) and with tracks like Skyward. Also those early albums had steadily built up our profile and the relentless touring did help so when the media focus swung on a little thing called grunge which brought guitar rock more into favour again, we were right there with a good fan base and a heavy catchy album. Anyway, went a bit off track there but I think the main reason we are still around and making exciting records is that we like music, we like creating music and we like playing music…there’s no big subtext or plot in there.

DP: Rock seems to have fallen out of favour in recent years, certainly you’d be hard pressed to find any out and out rock bands troubling the top 40. Why do you think that is?

MM: I’m not sure though I personally think outside of ‘top 40’ scenes the rock, punk and metal stuff is flourishing. Obviously you get your Foo Fighters, Green Day, Chili Peppers on mainstream radio but I think people are prepared to dig a little deeper to find something good nowadays. In all honesty I don’t really hear any inspiring ‘new’ music on the main radio or tv in the UK, most of it is online, at gigs or recommendations from friends. I suppose the reception that the last Mastodon album got gives me a bit of hope for the mainstream media, it got a lot of attention outside of specialised metal/rock media and rightly so as it’s a brilliant album.

DP: Andy has spoken about his appreciation of Dubstep and has appeared on 6 music as an occasional pundit talking about all sorts of music. What sort of music do you as a band listen to these days? Do you all still influence each other’s tastes?

MM: There’s quite a wide range of music played on the bus and in the dressing room…depends on the mood really but normally lots of newer stuff be it electronic music or black metal, its quite an eclectic bunch of stuff. Yeah, I do pick up a lot of newer stuff from Andy and Neil, every time we get together there’s normally iPods full of new tunes to share…it’s a brilliant way to get into stuff…I don’t really have the time sometimes to sift through all the new stuff so the best normally gets filtered and I pick up on it from the other guys.

Recently I’ve really enjoyed the Symmentry album, lots of old thrash (Kreator, Whiplash, Razor, Voivod), some new thrash (Suicidal Angels, Nekromantheon), some older noisy stuff (Die Kreuzen, Bitch Magnet, The Gun Club), some newer noisy stuff (Hawk Eyes, Blacklisters) and a lot more of course I can’t remember.

DP: The bass sound on Why Turbulence is fucking immense. Not a question, Just wanted to say.

MM: Many thanks…all those years listening to Unsane have finally paid off.

DP:Neil has been your drummer for a while now. Do you still think of him as ‘the new guy?’ What does he bring to the band?

MM: Haha…we were actually talking about this a while ago. Neil’s been in the band 10 years this year (his first gig with us was in 2002), that’s twice as long as Fyfe (original drummer) and Graham were behind the kit.

We’ve known Neil since 1990 as our first UK tour was supporting his band The Beyond (highly underrated and ahead of their time ‘thrash-techno-prog’…both albums are due a re-issue and critical re-assessment) and Fyfe was a big fan of his drumming so I suppose we’ve always had a lot in common musically. I can only really compare Neil to the previous guys and obviously the technical side of things is superb but he’s also very pro-active with the ideas and overall approach of the band. That’s very important in a 3-piece where everyone pulls their weight on and offstage.

DP: You’ve managed to maintain a career and a fan base long after the mainstream music press moved on to the next shiny thing that came along. When you look back on that time when you were all over MTV and the music press do you pine for it back, or are you happier to be where you are now?

MM: Being completely honest that whole period was so hectic (1990-1995…we did 5 albums and toured non-stop in that 5 year period) there weren’t many times where we sat down and reflected on what was going on so its hard to judge. Everything was quite frantic and we were constantly heading to the next gig, the next interview, the next studio session so it was all about forward motion. Don’t get me wrong, it was really lots of fun and very exciting back then and I’ve really enjoyed being in the band since Neil joined, it almost felt like a new band when he got involved and each year and album things have progressively got better and more inspiring.

Many thanks to Michael for taking the time to talk to us. A Brief Crack Of Light is out now, and it’s a fucking belting album, so you should totally go and buy it.

http://www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk/

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2 Comments

  1. To all leaders of our God & King the Lord Jesus Christ: Adam, Eve & the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Thou shalt not commit murder. #1. Warlords are to be placed in prison. #2. Every country is not to be at war with any country, nor a military in any country. #3. No nuclear arms program. #4. No military. #5. No guns. #6. No energy use. #7. No insurance companies. #8. No healthcare system. #9. No abortion. #10. No same sex marriages. #11. No reptile farms & no reptile sales #12. No pharmacy #13. No drugs

    For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but should have everlasting life. John 3:16 I believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.

    John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life:and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of Godabideth on him.

    Micah 2:1 Woe to you who lie awake at night, plotting wickedness; you rise at dawn to carry out your schemes: because you can, you do.
    Micah 5:7-15 Then the nation of Israel will refresh the world like a gentle dew or the welcome showers of rain, and Israel will be as strong as a lion. The nations will be like a helpless sheep before her! She will stand up to her foes; all her enemies will be wiped out. At that same time, says the Lord, I will destroy all the weapons you depend on, and tear down your walls and demolish the defenses of your cities. I will put an end to all witchcraft–there will be no more fortune-tellers to consult–and destroy all your idols. Never again will you worship what you have made, and I will abolish the heathen shrines from among you, and destroy the cities where your idol temples stand. And I will pour out my vengence upon the nations who refuse to obey me.(The Living Bible)

    Micah 6:10-15 For your sins are very great—–is there to be no end of getting rich by cheating? The homes of the wicked are full of ungodly treasures and lying scales. Shall I say “Good!” to all your merchants with their bags of false, deceitful weights? How could God be just while saying that? Your rich men are wealthy through extortion and violence; your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can’t tell the truth! Therefore I will wound you! I will make your hearts miserable for all your sins. You will eat but never have enough; hunger pangs and emptiness will still remain. And though you try and try to save your money, it will come to nothing at the end, and what little you succeed in storing up I’ll give to those who conquer you! You will plant crops but not harvest them; you will press out the oil from the olives, and not get enough to anoint yourself! You will trample the grapes, but get no juice to make your wine.(The Living Bible)

    ADAM, EVE & THE LORD JESUS CHRIST SAID, “NO NUCLEAR PROGRAM, NO ARMAMENTS & NO MISSILES. ALSO, I PRONOUNCED ALL PEOPLES MARRIED SINGULARLY TO THE OPPOSITE SEX HUSBANDS & WIVES OF THEIR YOUTH IN HADES, SHEOL, HELL, PARADISE, OLD HEAVEN, OLD EARTH, NEW HEAVENS & NEW EARTH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AMEN.

    Since energy usage has become the equivalent of harlotry, murder& adultery, energy users are being threatened with the lake of fire by Adam, Eve & the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for reading.

    GOD IS NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH, BUT THAT ALL MIGHT BELIEVE ON HIS NAME-JESUS. Repent & be baptized! Jesus said, “I am God there is none besides me.” “I am the Way, the Truth & the Life. No man comes to the Father except by me.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “As many as received Him to them He gave the power to become the sons of God the Father even to those who believe on His name.” Jesus’ healing ministry began with adult baptism.

    A New Agenda: We the people need no gas & no electric to have a man child with the spouses of our youth around the world. We shall build homes without electric, without gas, without roofs that exceed 7 & 1/2 feet, & with incinerators to burn garbage, burn dung, burn urine, & burn blood rags so that the entire sisterhood has a man child with the husbands of their youth.

    TAKE MY CONFESSION WITH YOU. I have smoked cigars for 11 years & have no lungs, liver & kidneys at 45 years old. I continue to live through the Lord Jesus Christ as I received the Holy Spirit at 4 years old & was baptized as an adult in 1997. I continue to read my Bible& now use burned dung, urine, blood rags& tobacco butts to make meat offerings to eat. The Old Testament says that burned dung, urine, & blood rags were a part of the laws of Moses. Yes, it was in 2001 while I was driving to Florida that I was talking to the saints in heaven& Isaiah said, “You know that 70 years from now the sun will be dimmed in the sky” Oh, I said, “I don’t know.” I went back over the Old Testament& it said, “The sun shall be dimmed in the sky” & “I shall make them eat the grass of the field.” & “all these things shall come to pass” before theLord Jesus Christ returns.

    5 years ago I was stamping my feet at work over the excessive electric usage & complaining that I didn’t have a husband & children to God the Father. I prayed, kneeling at my bed as to adopting children. Then while I was at work I adopted over 500 children in Swahili (I was born with a spot-was a reject in Hebrew) to find out what day it was. I had been taught prophesy at Wheaton Evangelical Free Churchin 1979 & 1980. We went back & forth in time while Governor Blagovich was verifying. We came up with 17 years of darkened sun before July 29, 2081.

    July 29, 2081-the rapture of believers in Christ Jesus-all those who received the Holy Spirit-at the trumpet sound in heaven-1st the dead & then the living ascended to heaven in a twinkling of an eye

    July 29, 2081-2088-the Great Tribulation-God’s wrath is poured out on the earth, Judgment of the Believers in Christ Jesus & the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven

    2088-3057-the Reign of Christ Jesus-(the Bible stated “1000 years” & in actuality it was 969 years)

    3057-3059-the Devil is loosed out of the pit –(the Bible stated “a time & a half” & in actuality it was 1 & three fourths years)-the battle of Armageddon-the nations are drawn together for the last battle in the Valley of Megiddo-the Lord Jesus comes down of a white horse with the words, “King of Kings, Lord of Lords” written on His thigh & a sword comes out of His mouth to destroy all who are in the battle. The bible says that the blood runs a “horses’ bridle high” & birds feed on the bodies.

    3059-the old heavens& the old earth pass away & the new heavens & new earth are created by the Lord Jesus Christ-at this point in time the Lord Jesus says,“Depart from me I never knew you.” to all who died in the battle of Armageddon, to those who took the mark of the beast in their right hand or forehead during the tribulation, to all who died during our time without receiving the Holy Spirit, & to all those who died during the flood of Noah’s day in wickedness. Jesus says, “In this world you shall have trouble, but I have overcome the world.”

    Jesus says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful & just to forgive us our sins & to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Blessed are those whose sins are covered to whom the arm of the Lord has been revealed.

    Times posted are subject to change.

    Fear Him who can kill the soul.

    Sincerely through Lord Jesus Christ, Allison Grace Karalus

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