Therapy @ Pugwash magazine 1998
As a companion piece to the new Therapy? review below, it might be of some interest to see an article I wrote about them for the University of Portsmouth Student’s Union magazine, Pugwash, in March 1998.
“It’s not as if we’ve gone jazz or anything”…
It’s been two and a half years since Therapy? last had an album out. Previously they were keeping to an average of about one a year, but a change in line-up, Graham Hopkins replacing Fyfe Ewing on drums and cellist Martin McCarrick joining on a more permanent basis, has meant the new album has taken a little longer to produce.
So it’s 11 o’clock in the morning, Michael McKeegan (Therapy? bassist) has just called and the conversation has moved onto the Aphex Twin’s new video [Come To Daddy] and all things that are “a good fucked up twist”.
Certainly in the case of past albums, each record, certainly those recorded for A&M, has taken a radical departure from the last, Nurse, a kind of post-industrial grouping, Troublegum their ‘rock-monster’ opus, and 1995’s Infernal Love, a twisted hybrid of rockabilly atmospherics and Las Vegas crooning.
Their new album Semi-Detached is titled as such because it is similarly separated from the band’s previous work.
When I suggest the best material on Infernal Love wasn’t the singles, Michael says, emphatically, “we see all our singles as a piece of art, we’re constantly looking for the perfect pop single, we’re not up for putting out a seven-minute instrumental, the song is the most important thing. It’s the Buzzcocks/Undertones/Husker Du thing that we’ve taken on for ourselves.”
With tunes like Screamager, Nowhere, Stories and lead-single from the new album, Church Of Noise, their core spirit is never likely to change.
Nevertheless, you get the feeling that there must have been a certain amount of pressure on them to do something really special, considering the length of time they’ve been away but, according to Michael, “we know the album’s shit-hot so we don’t care. You hear a lot of bands moaning about pressure when their video’s not being played on MTV, or whatever, and we’re like, ‘go on tour, you dicks, there is more than one way of building an audience”.
Therapy? were first signed by Wiijja Records, when Michael was just 19, on which they released two mini-albums Babyteeth and Pleasure Death on the label. Combined, these two releases features such early classics as Meat Abstract, Innocent X and Potato Junkie. Their upcoming tour of low-capacity venues would seem to be a desire, on their part, to regress to those early days.
“We didn’t want to return and play half-full arenas, we want to remember what it was like to play the clubs., it’s all part of driving ourselves. We felt, after touring America for six months, that we were losing our spontaneity. We’ve taken so long over the new album as, initially, the grind of that lengthy tour did nothing to inspire us to write music. On top of that 50% of the band was new, and we had to get to know each other as people, and musicians. The tour will be like the debut of the ‘new Therapy?’”.
When I learn about Therapy?’s ever-expanding musical tastes, things like Aphex, Squarepusher, Foil (who will support on the club tour) and Mogwai, it makes one wonder what the new album will sound like. Apparently, though, “it’s the usual fear and loathing, black but humorous stuff, but if this album has a theme then it concerns finding your own path. You will always be what you are, however much plastic surgery you have, or however much you dye your hair. You can deviate, but you come back…”
Indeed they have, and without even a hint of free-form.