— Interview in English, intro in Dutch —
De Noord-Ierse band Therapy? verraste onlangs met de opvallend harde single Wreck It Like Beckett, waarin ze naast de Ierse schrijver/dichter Samuel Beckett ook liefde betuigen aan Helmet en Public Enemy. Sinds vorige week ligt er ook een pittig nieuw album: CLEAVE, de vijftiende langspeler in bijna dertig jaar. Zoals je van Therapy? ondertussen wel verwacht gaan ze weer uitgebreid op tour door Europa en slaan ze de lage landen zeker niet over. Het trio is headliner op Beerland (14 oktober) in Metropool, Hengelo en speelt ook in Alkmaar, Kortrijk, Luik en Utrecht. Alle reden dus voor een interview, wat we voor het gemak niet naar het Nederlands vertaald hebben, want harde of slappe Brexit; het Engels blijft een rijke taal. Michael McKeegan, sinds 1989 bassist in de groep, ging gretig aan de slag met de vragen van NMTH:
Interview in het Engels – Googletranslate je NL-versie.
Door Ingmar Griffioen
– So you recorded a 15th studio album, that is some achievement. Does it still feel like that for the band?
“Michael McKeegan (bass guitar): Absolutely! Every album has a lot of effort put into it and its a very rewarding feeling when it’s finally done and released. Always interesting to see the feedback from the fans and critics as well!”
– Is there some routine involved in the recording process?
MM: “Not really, I think different routines suit different bands and projects. For CLEAVE we found doing a lot of writing and rehearsal in advance was the best way to make sure we could capture the energy and confidence of the band in the studio.”
– 29 years running and still hungry as wolves, how do you do it? Is there some secret to that, do you do certain stuff to keep the fire burning?
MM: “No secret, we genuinely love music and love what we do. Despite many industry ups and downs that’s never left us and is why we continue to explore the creative side of Therapy? Plus we have very open-minded, loyal fans which always helps!”
– The furious breaks, and the switch to spoken lyrics, in single and album opener Wreck It Like Beckett, reminded me of Helmet. Nothing wrong with that of course and you cite the band as an influence. And I read that you’ve put some Public Enemy in there for starters?
MM: “Of course Helmet were a huge influence and I think they gave ‘heavy’ music a different way of being ‘heavy’ (if that makes sense). A stripped down and primal approach which we like. Also they had short hair which (believe it or not) was kind of a big statement in the late 80’s! Actually the riff from Wreck It which i wrote has a bit of a Slayer vibe I think and of course Public Enemy sampled a Slayer riff on “She Watch Channel Zero” so it’s a nice nod to two of our favourite bands.”
– Kakistocracy (what is that?) adds a layer of RATM fury, while comforting me ‘That it’s ok to be ok’. Do you have the feeling that people don’t realise that it is ok to just be themselves and be satisfied with what life is offering them? Please explain.
MM: “Basically it means a government run by corrupt or incapable people, I think we have quite a few of those around now. Yeah, I know how hard it can be to feel like an ‘outsider’, we’re from Northern Ireland which has a very outsider mentality… neither British nor Irish, we exist (I think) in our own little cultural world. I think people are a bit happier to be different and to try and avoid the herd mentality these days thankfully.”
– Albumtitle CLEAVE is somewhat intriguing. The press release gives two explanations: ‘i. To prise apart ii. To bring together’. This could be a Brexit reference, in two ways: i. Bring both Irelands back together. ii. Bring the UK and Europe…
MM: “It’s probably more a personal comment on division and why in 2018 people seem to think its a good idea to try and keep people apart. Of course on the upside I see a lot of good people who are banding together to try and fight for their freedom and rights.”
– There is a new label, Marshall Records. Why the change from Amazing Record Co?
MM: “Amazing Records were very good to us but the owner sadly passed away and the label no longer exists. We financed CLEAVE ourselves with an idea to keep our vision the way we wanted it and later we found some new allies in Marshall Records and so far it’s been great.”
– On the production side you’ve trusted your babies to a familiar professional: Chris Sheldon. On the other hand: his last Therapy? piece of work dates back to 2003: High Anxiety.
MM: “From what I understand Chris had ‘retired’ from production work and was concentrating on the mixing side of things. We had a discussion with him about mixing CLEAVE and that led to a very natural kind of “Well, why don’t I just produce it as well” happening. An incredibly talented guy and on a personal level, a complete sweetheart… It was a joy and honour to be back working with him again.”
– Andy states about the new album: “It’s kinda like Nurse and Pleasure Death-era meets Troublegum, but with a totally modern 21st century production.” That reads like a shift back to a more metal/punk approach. A concise decision or how did that come about?
MM: “As with most Therapy? albums we start with a vague idea or concept then see where it takes us, same with CLEAVE. I think after Disquiet we wanted to have songs that had hooky riffs, beats and vocals with a very high level of energy and thats what came out.”
– I hear a band that is still very hungry. Also lyrically, when I hear Andy sing ‘Success Is Survival’ (‘we are expected to excess, you can dream all you want but you never get success’) I suppose he is addressing the modern day society that is driven by…?
MM: “It can be a very capitalistic world we live in and I know it’s hard not to get swept up in wanting more or different things to what life gives you. I’ve personally tried just to enjoy the simpler things these days… a good cup of coffee, a cool movie, a walk in the park or writing a good riff!”
– What are you really looking forward to, personally, and as a band?
MM: “Personally touring this album and hopefully entertaining lots of people and with the band I’m looking forward to celebrating our 30 anniversary… No plans yet but it would be rude not to have some sort of party or special event.”
Agreed! Let’s start with going to see Therapy? perform at one of these gigs:
– 10 okt – Reflektor, Luik
– 11 okt – De Kreun, Kortrijk (UITV.)
– 12 okt – Podium Victorie, Alkmaar
– 13 okt – Beerland in Metropool Hengelo + oa Death Alley, Ondt Blod, The Vintage Caravan, The Sore Losers
– 14 okt – TivoliVredenburg Pandora, Utrecht