We were lucky enough to catch up Therapy? who are currently busy in the studio putting the finishing touches to their new album, here is what Michael McKeegan had to say….
So many bands have come, gone, got back together, gone again since you first came to prominence in the early 90’s. What’s been the secret that’s helped Therapy? stick around?
Michael McKeegan(MM): I think we always liked what we were doing and the main focus of the band was to play music as opposed to some kind’ve ‘get famous quick’ routine and I think that has stood us in good stead. Bands and musicians can get disillusioned for many different reasons but I think by taking a few chances musically we never got stuck in a particular ‘scene’ and always carved our own path.
You released ‘So Much For the Ten Year Plan’ in 2000. Was there ever a plan, and is there one for the next ten years?
MM: Obviously there are vague plans with regard to what the band does next etc but we’ve never had a ten, twenty or thirty year plan. When we started the band we aspired to having our own 7 inch single racked along with the ‘proper’ releases in our local indie record shop and it all followed on quite naturally from there.
You recently played the entire ‘Troublegum’ album at Sonisphere and in London. Is there any other albums you would want to do this with? Similarly, ever thought of doing a fortnight of gigs, playing a different whole album each night?
MM: The “Troublegum” shows were a great way to celebrate our 20th anniversary and we know a lot of people are very fond of that record so it was a fun tour. Other albums I personally would like to do might be “Infernal Love” and “Suicide Pact…You First”…we actually played all of “Babyteeth” as an encore in Belfast quite a few years back(albeit in a slightly different order) and not one person seemed to notice! I suppose you have to bill these things so people know what they are getting.
What bands / albums would you like to see performed this way?
MM: Now that’s tempting…I know Helmet are doing “Meantime” on a tour soon so that’d be cool. Maybe Bad Brains doing “I Against I” or DJ Shadow “Endtroducing”…also perhaps early 70’s Sabbath doing the “Paranoid” album if I’d a time machine.
Your big break in the early 90’s came at a good time for British rock getting airtime, with regular appearances on TOTP along with Wildhearts and Terrorvision. What is your view on the current British scene?
MM: I think there are really great bands all over the country…big and small. At one end you’ve the likes of Biffy Clyro, Muse and then there are literally hundreds of killer ‘small’ bands everywhere…go to a local gig, you will be surprised!
When will see you out on the road again?
MM: Once we finish up the new record we’ll look at release dates and then there will be shows around then. If the album isn’t out before the summer we’ll probably do a few festivals and then concentrate on a larger tour later in the year. Certainly nothing is definite yet!
What do the different members of the band bring ideas-wise when it is time to write and record a new album?
MM: It depends on the album to be honest. Normally we have a load of ideas and then we jam around and stuff gets ‘therapised’…usually things can change quite a bit from the original idea. That for me is one of the most exciting parts of being in the band…a song or idea can go literally thousands of different ways, there’s certainly no set ‘formula’.
Is there still much influence from former members when you write?
MM: Absolutely none at all… 😉 I think the 3 of us have pretty distinctive playing styles both individually and collectively so we’re not really trying to copy anyone, ex-member or otherwise.
Therapy? were always a band I admired for their way of releasing EP’s with the single and all new material as b sides, rather than 5 different versions of the same song. How much has the change from buying physical copies to downloading affected the way you release your music?
MM: I think the days of bands spending years in the studio and putting out long expansive albums are slowly going. With the immediacy of everything online and the way people are consuming music (and film and art to a lesser degree) I think there’s a much shorter attention span and hence the amount of people prepared to sit through a 2-cd concept album is dwindling. I think we’ve always put the focus on making every song on an album great as opposed to trying to write just a couple of ‘hits’ and hoping people won’t notice the rest of the album is lacking. In that respect people nowadays just download the ‘hits’ and don’t bother with the album. I think we might look at doing some more ‘exclusive’ online releases…we did a webgig as an experiment a few years ago and people really seemed to like it. I think artists have to think of ways to make the official act of owning a release special and unique. Anyway’s it’s a huge sprawling subject with loads of valid viewpoints so I could yak on all day about it….
You played with a lot of amazing bands, especially earlier on in your career (Helmet & The Jesus Lizard spring to mind). Which tour was the biggest buzz for you?
MM: That tour you mentioned was definitely one of the best…both those bands were on fire at the time and we learned so much from both of them. All very cool players and people. The Rollins tour was a lot of fun and the Monsters Of Rock tour in South America was mental…we have a lot of stories about that one…
You have played your fair share of festivals, is there one you have yet to play and would love to be asked to perform at?
MM: Not really, we’ve pretty much done all the European ones and some in Australia, South America etc…perhaps some North American ones would be a nice change.
Was it a conscious decision to omit songs from Shameless (2001) on the live recording? Are the songs not musically where the band is now or just not right played as a 3 piece?
MM: We’ve played a few of the Shameless songs over the years and actually recorded “I Am The Money “ for the live album but it was one of the songs that didn’t make the final cut. I think with the amount of albums we have there are certain phases we go through with regard to playing old stuff. Maybe the Shameless tunes will feature more in future setlists.
Will the band ever become a 4 piece again?
MM: Highly unlikely…the vibe with the three of us is very good musically and personally at the minute.
Where is the band’s sound heading from here? We heard influences of dub in the last album, will this be furthered?
MM: There are a few sonic surprises on the new tunes. We’ve always used music outside the conventional rock sphere to keep things fresh be it a vibe, a beat or a production tweak.
What will 2011 bring for Therapy?
MM: Killer new album and lots of shows hopefully. Fingers crossed we get out to a few different countries we’ve not been to for a few years.
Last album you bought?
James Blake – James Blake (not really got stuck into it yet buts sounds interesting on initial spins)
Top/Worst film of 2010?
Black Swan best…I can’t actually think of the worst.
Last gig you attended as a fan?
Thin Lizzy…Belfast Waterfront…excellent show!