The phone is ringing and I’m very nervous for my first phone interview, even more so with Andy Cairns of Therapy?. It’s the eve of them hitting the stage at the inaugural Stone Free Festival in London. A high pitched female voice picks up to my surprise, and she proceeds to fetch Andy. After exchanging pleasantries we jump straight into the questions…
So I was rather taken by the album cover, is there any particular story behind that?
Well the cover’s done by a well known artist in Ireland called Nigel Rolfe. He’s been a friend of the band for a long time and when we did this album we met him in Dublin and he said he’d like to do another album with us because he’s done a few before and what he’s always done for us, the four record sleeves that Nigel’s done he just says “Give me a memory stick with the music on and I’ll come up with something”. So Disquiet was finished but we didn’t have a sleeve, we gave him a copy of the tracks and about a week later he sent us all three photographs online and he said “What do you think of these?” and that’s what he came up with. So we don’t really know what it means. It’s quite sinister, it’s very bold.
An embodiment of the music?
(Chuckles) Yeah, that’s Nigel’s interpretation of the music.
Were there any new or specific influences on any of the new songs?
Well it goes track by track, I think a lot of the stuff like “You’re Still Hurt” and things like that are classic Therapy? which is a sort of mixture between Depeche Mode and early Metallica with a little bit of 80’s noise, Big Black and Black Flag thrown in, but there’s also stuff in there like Vulgar Display Of Powder (laughs after some talk of the title). The usual suspects are in there this time around, really we wanted a rock record, our last two records were rock but they were experimental so there’s bits of Dub and Electronic in there. This time around we went straight for the guitars, bass and drums.
Are there any favourite pieces from this album?
My favourite two tracks are “Deathstimate” and “Tides” because (“Tides”) has got a really beautiful melody and it reminds me of a time in my life when I lived in Dublin and “Deathstimate” I think has got quite an unusual riff and it’s very atmospheric. It’s almost like Joy Division meets Black Sabbath.
How do you think it sits with your other pieces of work?
I think there seems to be two types of Therapy? albums over the fourteen we’ve made. A lot of our hardcore fans will tell you that there’s the one’s that are very melodical and for want of a better word, Alternative Rock, so you’ve got the likes of Troublegum, you’ve got High Anxiety, One Cure Fits All and people think it fits into the that as it’s got big riffs and really propulsive drums and very memorable lyrics and melodies. Then you’ve got the other ones which are like Babyteeth, Suicide Pact, You First, Never Explain, Never Apologise and Crooked Timber. They’re more experimental. This one fits into the former camp, the more melodic rock record.
You’ve been given a lot of labels over the years, like alternative metal, crossover thrash, industrial metal and noise rock to name a few, what would you label yourself if at all?
We always just say that we’re a rock band because a rock band tends to mean guitars, bass, drums and vocals and that’s what we have.
Kinda Motorhead style then?
Yeah, that’s it. They’re more rock’n’roll, we just say we’re a rock band. If you mention hard rock, people think of Aerosmith and Joe Bonamassa, if you mention heavy metal people think you’re Judas Priest. We’re just a rock band with all types of influences you know. It keeps it pretty simple (laughs).
You’ve been around with this band for almost 25 years now. What would you say are the best lessons to learn in a band?
Communication with your bandmates. That’s what we’ve learnt. The lineup we started with was from 1989 to 1996 and then we had another lineup from 1996 to 2001 but the lineup we have at the minute has been stable since 2002 and that’s because we communicate. We learnt the hard way through two previous lineups you know. If you’re going to be creative with other people and you’re gonna be sharing your ideas with other people and you’re going to spend a lot of time with those people you gotta make sure you’re getting on (chuckles). Unfortunately in the earlier days communication channels don’t always work when you’re on tour and your’e cramped into a van or whenever someone’s had too much to drink. That’s the biggest lesson, just be honest with each other and keep the communication channels open.
Some good advice there. You’ve done the 20th anniversary tour with Troublegum. Are there any other pieces of work that you’d particularly like to tour with?
There’s two I’d like to do. One of them is Babyteeth the very first album. I suppose Babyteeth is sort of like the first family pet you know. It’s the first album we did, the arrangements are weird, the sound quality on there is not that great in places but it’s the first record that we actually committed to at the time to put to tape and it was put out on a label and was given a release and it was always be very special, plus the songs on that I still love, they’re very exciting and we were very naive when we wrote them but it still sound really exciting. The other one we did was an album we did in 1999 called Suicide Pact, You First which is very very experimental but it was really cathartic to make the record because we’d been through so many label changes. Those tracks were quite challenging so to do it was amazing, we’d have to scale down the sides of the venue we’re playing (talking whilst laughing) because they’re more of a cult concern with a bit of our fanbase but they’re the two that I’d really like to tour.
My final question is what are your feelings on the Stone Free Festival you’re playing tomorrow? Are you pleased to be headlining the second stage?
Yeah. We’re looking forward to it, I mean we’ve never done the Indigo at the O2 before, it’s one of the few concert halls in London that we haven’t played (laughs) we’ve played everywhere else I think so I think we’re really looking forward to see what that’s like. Also it’s a novelty because we’ll be on at quarter past 4 which means we actually get a chance to catch a bit of the festival. We’re in the middle of festival season, normally we’re on at 7, 8 or 9 o’ clock and by the time we’ve finished and had something to eat we’ve missed quite a lot of the bands so it’s gonna be really good to actually get to hang about and I think there’s a few other bits at this festival too, there’s a record fair there, there’s stalls and things. It’s something a bit different than a regular festival and I get a chance to see Michael Monroe as well because one of our friends plays guitar for Michael Monroe, a guy called Chris Jones, so we’re really excited about that, it should be good fun.
And you could say you’ve played the O2.
Yeah that’s another one off the list (laughs)
Other than Michael Monroe are there any other bands you’d like to see?
Yeah well back in the 90s we did a Southern American tour with Alice Cooper and Megadeth, Paradise Lost and Faith No More on the bill. An Alice Cooper show is incredible and the songs, they’re just pop songs really if you take away the guitar solos they’re fantastically intelligent pop songs and I’m really really looking forward to seeing that and The Darkness. We’ve played actually with those guys before in Finland and they’re a really good band, really sweet so you know it’s gonna be quite a good day we’re really looking forward to it.
Yeah it’s gonna be good, I’m looking forward to it!
Ah good man (laughs)
Header image by PG Brunelli