Therapy?– Enjoy The Noise

Friday, 29th March 2013

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Having taken a few years off between releases Northern Ireland rockers Therapy? are back with their best album for a while, the fantastic Crooked Timber. Never ones to take the easy route, frontman/guitarist Andy Cairns answered the phone to talk us through the bizarre writing process the album took, relearning to pace themselves, why you won’t catch them penning another pop-punk song, unless Ben 10 calls and to recommend some new, obscure, non-Therapy? tunes. You’re back after a three year absence. There was a stage there when you were putting out albums and touring in quick succession. Why did you decide to ease off?

Andy Cairns: Yeah, we wanted to take a step back for a while. It felt as if were almost knocking things out on a production line nearly, which is what we did years ago and then we took a rest in ‘96, ‘97. We didn’t want to fall into the same trap again. Are you all excited now the album’s ready to go though?

Cairns: It’s only really hit in recently ‘cause I’ve been quite busy doing bits and pieces and press trips, so I haven’t really… it all went right up to the wire. Then it went straight from there to doing press trips in Europe and then I’d some stuff to do at home. So it’s only really been the last week when we’ve been getting a deluge of e-mails about press and we did a video and that. I’m pretty excited about it, because it’s been a while. We got together last week for a bit of a rehearsal, just to catch up the boys. How did that go?

Cairns: It was great, so I think we’re a lot more excited than we have been in the past because we’ve had a break and we’re all refreshed. You stepped away from the music, therefore making it fresh again?

Cairns: We never stopped listening to music or going to gigs or anything like that. To be honest, with Therapy?, we’ve been around for so long that people, I think kind of for a while were taking us for granted. I actually do. When you’ve been around for any length of time, if Therapy? comes to town if you’re a fan of our kind of music or you’re a fan of the band itself, and I’ve been guilty of this myself with other bands, you go “oh right, Therapy?’s playing in town next week, but they’ll probably be around next year ‘cause they’re around every year, so I’ll give them a skip this time.” We found ourselves falling into a bit of a rut. Also, you know, I think it’s kind of nice to let people hopefully want to see you. Build that anticipation again. Let them get that itch [laughs]. Personally I think Crooked Timber draws a lot of comparisons with Suicide Pact – You First.

Cairns: I think so, I think it’s more of an album for us. We sat back with this one and said we really didn’t to put ourselves under pressure to try and doing something that’s going to compete with anyone else. The band’s been around 19 years. We sell X amount of records worldwide every release and sometimes a couple of thousand more, sometimes a couple of thousand less, but it’s stayed on the same plane for the last few years. We just thought let’s make this record for us because there’s no point. The way we’ve to look at it is… everything on this record was done track by track and it was something we enjoyed doing so there’s no pressure to try and fucking jostle our way back into the fucking C or B division of Irish and British rock. Fuck that, we just thought we’ll plough our own furrow.

We decided this time around what we’d do, which is more or less what happened with Suicide Pact, to a lesser extent, was we went into the rehearsal room and said we’re not going to come in with any riffs or ideas, cause I’ve a tendency to sit at home and write a verse, chorus, verse on an acoustic and bring that in. So we said right we’ll go in with nothing and we’ll talk about what we want to do with the song. We’ll build it up from the drums to the bass to the guitar to the lyrics on last. We that with 13 or 14 songs, ten of which ended up on the album, but it was an amazing thing to do. Because something like “Bad Excuse For Daylight,” the last track on the album, we were listening to a lot of Benga the dubstep dude, and we had this big opening riff, which was like Black Sabbath meets dubstep and it needed to go somewhere. And we were reading this book The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross about modern avant-garde composing, mentions Stravinsky’s “Rite Of Spring.” So I got that Rite Of Spring record and we put in the section that caused the riot in Paris in the late 19th century, which is the kind of bit on our record that sounds like something off …And Justice For All that DEN! DEN! DEN! The lyrics came from reading a Gwendoline Riley Joshua Spassky. So kind of that’s what every track was like.

“Enjoy The Struggle” was done by listening to a lot of Charlie Mingus. We were talking a lot about Helmet, how Paige [Hamilton] used to get a lot of his inspiration for riffs, cause everyone thought his inspiration was Black Sabbath. But because Paige studied jazz a lot of his inspiration for the riffs came from jazz bass. That’s why they were so unusual sounding. We’re big fans of Charlie Minugs and we were listening to this one song, “Haitian Fight Song,” it’s lot a concoction of cod-Helmet riffs. So we started playing about with this thing. People have said it sounds like “Walk” by Pantera, “Fight Song” by Marilyn Manson, but the real inspiration came from Charlie Mingus. So every single track on the album we had this kind of idea so we were actually going in the morning and talking about Mingus and one of us would play this bass line, or Neil (Cooper) would play this swing on the drumbeat. We went and we’d come back, when we were having lunch we’d be starting to talk the lyrics on “Enjoy The Struggle.”

They’re from the myth of Sisyphus, that Albert Camus wrote an essay on. It’s a Greek mythology about a guy who’s condemned to roll a rock up a hill. So we were thinking the “deduhduh, deduhduh” it sounded like a ball rolling back on someone so we kind of thought this is what the tunes going to be about. So I scribbled down some of the lyrics and by the end of that evening we had the bare bones of the song. But because we’d put a lot of effort, care and thought into it, it meant a lot more to us in the end. It sounds like you had a really good time and a really organic way of writing.

Cairns: It was completely organic and it was very much… what we did was the very first attempt we had to get together, because we’d signed the new deal a couple of years ago and it was a worldwide thing. We were wracking out brains thinking what do want to write this time around. We’re lucky enough to get this chance to write a new record. The boys are up for it. We’ve got the producer we want, Andy Gill [formerly of Gang Of Four], he’d agreed to do it on hearing three or four songs. We were kind of thinking do we want to try and do anotherTroublegum now that we’d got this worldwide deal. And we thought this is the first time we’ve ever thought about this. Me and Michael [McKeegan, bass] said this is the first time we’ve ever mentioned this in rehearsal. Do we try and write 12 anthems and in an experiment, I had a couple of tunes at home. They were kind of very poppy and we played them and they were fucking bollocks. They sounded like AOR. At the end of the day Troublegum love it as much as people do, the melodies are quite simple they’re like nursery rhymes. It’s like an AOR record only played by this excitable Ulster punk band. It was of its time though. That was its thing.

Cairns: It was of its time, that was the 90’s when it was all Green Day, Offspring, that stuff was happening. McFly do that now, the Jonas Brothers do that. We would never ever do that in a million years. And a couple of times we’ve had discussions with people at the record company and I’ve had to say “McFly do pop punk. I have a nine-year old son, when I watch TV with him every single cartoon has got a pop punk soundtrack. If blokes in their 30’s and 40’s come on stage, lightly portly after a life of good riffin’ and start playing pop punk – we’re going to look like McFly’s granddad’s. It’s going to be an embarrassment. We’ve moved on. In ‘99 we were doing the whole Suicide Pactthing and we kind of experimented with new rock ‘n’ roll on Shameless. So this album, we did try these two tunes which were fucking God awful and we just thought we’ll go with this whole concept thing. We’ll bring in an idea everyday. We’ll turn up with nothing and we’ll build it up from scratch. Were you secretly bringing in ideas?

Cairns: No, honestly we weren’t because I think we were so wounded by the two AOR we tried, we thought any ideas we have this is totally shameful. It sounded like really bad fucking shimming monkey’s on speed.

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