With keen pop sensibilities, a skewed sense of humour and a willingness to draw inspiration from diverse sources (notably punk rock), Therapy? came to attention in the early 1990s rise of alternative rock, but have endured for two decades since; Critic Johnny Loftus writes:
“after a ten-plus year career that has seen them outlast competitors and outwit industry attempts at categorization… Therapy? are still headbangers with their thinking caps screwed on tight.”
Although now vanished from the charts and wide media attention, Therapy? continue to release material, gaining enough attention to enable them to tour and entertain a small loyal following. Following the addition of Neil Cooper on drums, the band has enjoyed a stable line-up since 2004. Therapy? are currently signed to Demolition Records, with worldwide distribution via Global Music.
The early years (1989-1992)
While attending a charity gig at the Jordanstown Polytechnic in early 1989, Andy Cairns noticed Fyfe Ewing playing drums in a punk covers band. The two spoke afterwards and agreed to meet for rehearsal in Fyfe’s house in Larne with Andy playing a small practice amp and Fyfe playing his kit with brushes. In the summer they recorded a four track demo tape (Thirty Seconds of Silence) with Andy playing a bass guitar borrowed from Fyfe’s classmate Michael McKeegan. Deciding to play live, they recruited McKeegan and played their debut gig at the Belfast Art College. They followed this up with another four track demo tape (Meat Abstract). Their sound was becoming highly influenced by artists of the indie rock movement such as The Jesus Lizard and Big Black, as well as new beat disco acts such as Belgian outfit Errotic Dissidents.
Therapy? released its first single, called Meat Abstract in July 1990. The single was limited to 1000 copies, and released on the bands’ own Multifuckingnational Records. During the summer of that year, the band made its first tour through the United Kingdom with The Beyond, catching the attention of influential DJ John Peel along the way. The band’s early years followed the familiar pattern of hard graft on the local alternative music scene, with Cairns often putting in a full day at the Michelin tyre factory (where he worked as a quality controller), then speeding across Northern Ireland in order to make it to gigs. Therapy? quickly came to the attention of local music fans with their distinctively uncompromising style. Their use of guitar feedback as a “fourth instrument” and unconventional song structures, combined with a darkly original approach to lyrics and imaginative use of samples pulled from cult movies and obscure documentaries, led them to being spotted in 1990 by the hip London-based independent label Wiiija Records. The move was helped by Lesley Rankine of Silverfish, who passed the band’s first single on to Gary Walker of Wiiija.
The band’s first album, 1991’s Babyteeth, and its January 1992 follow up, Pleasure Death, were successful enough to earn the band a major label deal with A&M Records. The two albums, although poorly engineered in places, brimmed with originality and potential. Both albums were an underground success, hitting number 1 in the UK Indie Charts. A compilation of the two albums entitled Caucasian Psychosis was prepared for the American market.
Their debut A&M record, Nurse, made its way in to UK’s Top 40 Album Chart in November 1992, while lead single Teethgrinder became the bands first Top 40 single in both the UK and Ireland. The grunge revolution was in full swing, with US outfit Nirvana leading the way. Predictably, the media began to draw comparisons with the two bands. The heavy guitars and inventive drumming that was swiftly becoming Therapy?’s trademark led them more towards the grunge camp than away from it.
The success (1993-1995)
If there was one true “breakthrough” year in the band’s history, it would almost certainly be 1993. The release of the Shortsharpshock EP catapulted Therapy? into the Top 40, peaking at nine, featuring the lead track Screamager. The single led to the first of several appearances on the venerable UK music show Top Of The Pops. Two more Top 40 EP’s Face The Strange and Opal Mantra followed, as the band toured heavily on the European festival circuit, made two separate jaunts to the US and played their debut shows in Japan.
1994 saw the release of the commercially successful Troublegum album in February, which earned the band appearances at a string of rock and indie festivals over the next couple of years, as well as a clutch of Top 40 singles. It achieved a string of nominations in end-of-year polls, including a Mercury Music Prize nomination, and success at the Kerrang! Awards.
With impatience mounting for a new album, Infernal Love was released in June 1995. This time, the press reaction was lukewarm. The band had attempted to create a “cinematic” record with Belfast DJ David Holmes employed to link each tracks with “insanity”, but in the eyes of many, had produced a disjointed piece over-subscribed with ballads. Despite singles Stories and Loose charting in the UK earlier in the year, it was clear that Therapy? had changed direction. Although the string laden single Diane was a Top 10 hit in 15 European countries later in the year, much of the early momentum had gone.
Ewing quits / four piece (1996-1998)
Fyfe Ewing left the band in January 1996, citing the pressures of a constant touring schedule. It was widely assumed that with such a key component now missing, Therapy? would inevitably break up. The band quickly recruited Graham Hopkins to replace Ewing as well as the permanent addition of guest cellist Martin McCarrick, and steadily toured throughout the US and Canada in 1996.
Therapy? spent most of 1997 writing, rehearsing and recording the follow-up to Infernal Love.
While the Church Of Noise single in March 1998 failed to succeed commercially, it marked the return of the band following three years out of the spotlight. The Semi-Detached album transcended the trajectory of Troublegum and Infernal Love with their dark, broody atmosphere. However, promotion for the album was scant at best, due to problems at the A&M label, which culminated in the loss of their record deal with the company. Without label support, Cairns and McKeegan needed to finance the bands European tour in late 1998 themselves.
The turn of the millennium (1999-2003)
The Semi-Detached album is in retrospect the band at its most radio-friendly, but despite this the band’s commercial success has waned considerably. The bands’ sentiment towards newer alternative metal bands was expressed in the song Ten Year Plan from the band’s uncompromising 1999 album Suicide Pact - You First, which was packed full of vitriol, discontent and barely-repressed musical aggression. This album revealed a fuller-sound, yet was noticeably lacking in songs suitable of mainstream-radio airplay.
The following year saw the release of the So Much For The Ten Year Plan-A Retrospective 1990-2000 album which (in title at least) was a self-deprecating poke at the bands’ difficulties with corporate rock in recent years. It also allowed the band to fulfill some outstanding obligations to Universal Records.
Therapy? recorded follow-up record Shameless in early 2001 in Seattle. The album, produced by the legendary Jack Endino, was delayed release by record company Ark21 until September. Graham Hopkins, who was unhappy with his musical limitation within the band, quit in December 2001. Following Hopkins’ departure, the band yet again found themselves without a drummer and a record deal.
The band toured Europe in 2002 with ex-3 Colours Red drummer Keith Baxter. Hopkins was permanently replaced in Therapy? by ex-The Beyond/Cable/Gorilla drummer Neil Cooper, while the band signed a new record deal with Spitfire Records.
This line-up lasted one album, the commercially inclined High Anxiety. The bands’ first home video release, a DVD entitled Scopophobia was released shortly afterwards, consisting of a full concert recorded live at Belfast’s Mandella Hall in June 2003, promo videos and other extras. The band completed a UK tour at the end of 2003 as a three piece, due to McCarrick leaving the tour midway through owing to a perforated eardrum.
Back to a three piece (2004-Current)
McCarrick left the band permanently in March 2004, and the band were now slimmed down to a permanent three piece again for the first time since 1995. Never Apologise Never Explain was released in September 2004 to an audience re-acquainted with the three-piece Therapy? and was reminiscent of the claustrophobic sound of their earlier material.
The following album One Cure Fits All was released in April 2006. The album, produced by Pedro Ferreira, was a return to the melodic tendencies of High Anxiety and again divided opinion among the band’s fans.
On September 19, 2006, Therapy? performed an exclusive studio show of songs chosen by fans, who had voted for their three favourite tracks from a lengthy list on the band’s website. These votes were counted and the twelve tracks with the most votes were then performed and recorded (both as audio and video). In early 2007, these tracks became available to buy from the band’s official website. The Webgig is no longer available to purchase. Add to this release, the band received some attention from their old record company Universal Records (who own the rights to the bands material recorded on A&M Records), who released both a DVD of old promo clips (Gold) and a double CD compilation of BBC sessions (Music Through A Cheap Transistor) in 2007. On the touring front, Therapy? focused on markets they don’t usually play, involving a slot at the NXNE festival in Canada, festival dates in Europe (one of which was as a late replacement for Helmet at the Nova Rock Festival) and a tour through countries such as Romania, Croatia and Serbia, even playing two gigs on Reunion Island, off the East African coast. The band ended 2007 by supporting New Model Army at their Christmas gig in Paris.
Therapy? were a last minute replacement for Biffy Clyro on the Jägermeister Rock Liga tour of Germany which lasted six dates in February. These dates were the only gigs played in 2008 as the band focused their energies exclusively on recording the new record. In what turned out to be an April Fools Joke, the band posted a news item on April 1, 2008, that they would self-produce the album and it was nearing completion at that time. In reality, Therapy? only began recording the new album in late July at Blast Studios in Newcastle, and finished recording by late August. It was actually produced by Andy Gill, not by the band themselves. Video of rehearsals surfaced on Therapy?’s website offering previews of the new work, showcasing a more rythmetic jazz-influenced direction (Rehearsal), alongside a rough track typical of newer Therapy? output (Clowns Galore). The album, entitled Crooked Timber was released on March 23, 2009, via Demolition Records/Global Music.
Question mark suffix
Much has been made over the years of the unusual question mark suffix to the band’s name. Various theories had been ventured by the band, many of them bizarre. The truth is somewhat mundane; when designing the band’s first home produced demo cassette, Andy Cairns misaligned the Letraset adhesive label on the spine of the cassette sleeve, and used the “?” icon to fill the space to make it look more professional.
Collaborations and other appearances
Therapy? collaborated with rapper Fatal on the track “Come and Die” from the soundtrack to the 1993 film Judgment Night.
Therapy? also recorded a cover of “Iron Man” (by Black Sabbath) with Ozzy Osbourne (albeit in different studios) for the 1994 album Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath.
Therapy? covered The Police song, “Invisible Sun”, for the 1993 charity album “Peace Together”.
Therapy? covered The Misfits song, “Where Eagles Dare,” for the 1997 Misfits tribute album, “Violent World.”
Therapy? covered The Smiths song, “Vicar in a Tutu,” for the 1997 Smiths tribute album, “The Smiths Is Dead.”
Therapy? covered the Turbonegro song, “Denim Demon,” for the 2001 Turbonegro tribute album, Alpha Motherfuckers.
Andy Cairns has contributed vocals to various recordings with different bands throughout the years - “Jonestown Mind” (1994) by The Almighty, “Rehab” (2000) by UK band Manchild, “Gleason” (2002) by Northern Irish band Throat, “Radio” (2002) by UK band Dog Toffee (although this version remains unreleased), “Get Your Groove On” (2003) by The Wildhearts, “F8” (2005) by This Is Menace, “The Second Triumvirate of Lavonia” (2009) by Italian band Inferno.
Therapy?’s song “Auto Surgery” is featured on Electronic Arts’ video game Road Rash for the 3DO, Saturn, and Playstation consoles.
Therapy?’s song “Accelerator” appears in Dominic Sena’s 1993 movie Kalifornia, starring Brad Pitt.
“Screamager” and “Nowhere” are heard on the first series of the BBC sitcom Game On.
Further information: Rare therapy? songs
* Babyteeth (1991)
* Pleasure Death (1992)
* Nurse (1992)
* Troublegum (1994)
* Infernal Love (1995)
* Semi-Detached (1998)
* Suicide Pact - You First (1999)
* So Much For the Ten Year Plan - A Retrospective 1990-2000 (2000)
* Shameless (2001)
* High Anxiety (2003)
* Never Apologise Never Explain (2004)
* One Cure Fits All (2006)
* Music Through A Cheap Transistor: The BBC Sessions (2007)
* Crooked Timber (2009)
* Meat Abstract (1990)
* Teethgrinder (1992)
* Shortsharpshock (E.P.) (1993)
* Face the Strange (E.P.) (1993)
* Opal Mantra (1993)
* Nowhere (1994)
* Trigger Inside (1994)
* Die Laughing (1994)
* Isolation (1994)
* Femtex (1994)
* Stories (1995)
* Loose (1995)
* Diane (1995)
* Stories (re-release) (1996)
* Bad Mother (1996)
* Church Of Noise (1998)
* Lonely, Cryin’, Only (1998)
* Hate Kill Destroy (2000)
* Bad Karma Follows You Around (2000)
* Gimme Back My Brain (2001)
* I Am The Money (2001)
* If It Kills Me/Rust (2003)
* My Voodoo Doll (2003)
* Polar Bear/Rock You Monkeys (2005)
* Rain Hits Concrete (E.P.) (2006)
* Crooked Timber (2009)
* Thirty Seconds Of Silence (1989) - Demo tape
* Meat Abstract (1989) - Demo tape
* Caucasian Psychosis (1992) - a US compilation of the first two mini-albums
* Have a Merry Fucking Christmas (1992) - a 7” given away at Dublin and Belfast gigs
* Born In A Crash (1993) - a European only mini-album
* Hats Off to the Insane (1993) - a US and Japan only mini-album
* Live In Japan (Fan Club Edition) (1994) - a fan-club only cassette recorded live in Tokyo in October 1993
* Official Fan Club (1996) - a fan-club only CD recorded live in Arnhem in July 1995
* Scopophobia (2003) - a DVD release recorded live in Belfast’s Mandela Hall in June 2003, plus promo video clips and extras
* Gold (2007) - a DVD release featuring promo video clips
* Webgig (2007) - a live studio video/audio download from the official website, recorded in September 2006
* Meat Abstract (1991) - Directed by Fyfe Ewing
* Innocent X (1991) - Directed by Fyfe Ewing
* Teethgrinder (1992) - Directed by Jon Klein
* Nausea (1992) - Directed by Jon Klein
* Screamager (1993) - Directed by Jon Klein
* Turn (1993) - Directed by Julie Hermelin
* Opal Mantra (1993) - Directed by Benjamin Stokes
* Nowhere (1993) - Directed by Nico Beyer
* Trigger Inside (1994) - Directed by ?
* Die Laughing (1994) - Directed by Matt Mahouran
* Isolation (1994) - Directed by Michelle Spillane (version 1)
* Isolation (1994) - Directed by ? (version 2)
* Stories (1995) - Directed by Peter Christopherson (version 1)
* Stories (1995) - Directed by Thomas Napper (version 2)
* Loose (1995) - Directed by W.I.Z.
* Loose (Photek Remix) (1995) - Directed by W.I.Z.
* Diane (1995) - Directed by W.I.Z.
* Church Of Noise (1998) - Directed by John Hillcoat
* Lonely, Cryin’, Only (1998) - Directed by John Hillcoat
* Little Tongues First (1999) - Directed by Nigel Rolfe
* Bad Karma Follows You Around (2000) - Directed by ?
* Gimme Back My Brain (2001) - Directed by ?
* If It Kills Me (2003) - Directed by ?
* Rise Up (Make Yourself Well) (2004) - Directed by ?
* Rock You Monkeys (2005) - Directed by Andre Thyret
* Crooked Timber (2009) - Directed by ‘Sitcom Soldiers’
Editado por Tobiasxxx em Jun 8 2009, 20h02
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