Interview with Therapy?

Hi Michael! It’s such a pleasure to be in touch with you and find out how you’re doing! Your new album, A Brief Crack Of Light, was just released on February 6th. Was there any last-minute pre-release craziness going on and is all okay now?

I think we’re as prepared as you can be in this sort of situation.  There are always a lot of things that come in at the last minute, so we just sorted through as much of it as possible.  There were a lot of emails flying around before the album release!

A Brief Crack Of Light is your 13th (!) studio album. I became a fan of yours way back in 1992 after hearing Nurse. What is the secret to your longevity? How do you not burn out or fade way (thankfully!)?

I think our core motivation is that we like music and we like playing music.  Some musicians we’ve met seem to view a musical career as a stepping stone to something else, be it celebrity, fame, or having their eye on sports cars and supermodel girlfriends.  We’ve always been interested in playing and getting our music out there and progressing with that and trying new things.  I suppose the bottom line is that we enjoy being excited about music, be it our own or someone else’s.

Your first single off Crack Of Light is out now and titled “Living In The Shadow Of The Terrible Thing”, for which you have an accompanying video: Is this song point to the sonic direction of the whole album?

The first song/single from an album is always hard to choose.  We’re not the kind of band that has 9 other identikit versions of it on the record.  It has to act as an advert for the rest of the songs, so I think “Living…” has a lot of the elements that are explored to greater or lesser degrees on the album.  I think it’s just a taster, but so far everyone seems to be into it.    

 Throughout your illustrious career you’ve crafted songs that tread a fine line between melody and noise. When you create a song, do you concentrate on melody and song structure first, and then warp it with aggression, or do you work on getting the dynamic rhythms down first, and then shape it to be more catchy?

It really depends.  On this album we wrote songs from scratch in the rehearsal room mostly.  There were songs that came in pretty fully formed and there was also one song we constructed completely from scratch in the studio.  Also, we used different recording techniques throughout the album.  Some of the songs were done in the more traditional way of drums first, then bass, then guitars and vocals, but some tunes were actually done with guitar and vocals first, then the rhythm stuff was worked out and recorded afterwards.  It probably sounds like an odd approach, but I think it really works.  I doubt if anyone could guess which ones were done which way.

I noticed that you’ve recently uploaded a majority (or maybe all?) of your musical output on YouTube! What is the purpose behind this selfless deed? I seems like this would benefit music listeners, but not the band itself…

To be honest, there were so many bad sounding versions of the tracks up there anyway (normally with out of date images and plain wrong information), that we thought at least we should correct that.  It was a pain in the ass, time-wise, to do, but now there is pretty much a good audio/image/info version of the back catalogue up there.  In this day and age why pretend that people can’t download your whole discography in a couple of clicks.  At least if people want to check out a specific tune, then they should be able to find it on YouTube.

Speaking of listeners, you have a loyal and rabid (in a good way!) fanbase. Do you end up seeing some of the same people in the front row at your gigs? You’re also connected online via your website Message Board and Twitter. Do you ever get swamped by all this interaction with your fans?

Our fans are all pretty sound and on the whole cool people.  We’ve actually made some good friends over the years just from having people come to our shows regularly.  That’s one of the nice things about having toured so much.  We’re pretty small-time with regard to social media and the like.  I see a lot of other bands and they’re never off their phones and laptops.  I think most people know how to get in touch with the band, so unless there is something we feel the need to share, we prefer not to bombard folks with stuff.

Michael, as a founding member of Therapy?, you’ve been flying high and grinding it out for over two decades. So many changes have occurred to the record industry during this time, but you seem to have adapted to the changes. How challenging or adventurous has it been to be Therapy? for all this time from the standpoint of being in the music field?

I suppose the fact that there has been a big change in the industry means that it’s kept us on our toes!  It is good, though sometimes a bit exhausting, when you maybe have to think more about marketing and the angle than just simply playing your stuff.  Society as a whole seems to be consuming stuff faster and faster, and I see that in the music business now.  Bands have to sink or swim on normally a very brief first impression.  Thankfully, most of the people who know Therapy? are inclined to give our stuff more than one quick listen before passing judgment.  As with anything, lots of positives and negatives have arisen and we always try and focus on the positives and make the most of them.

On a lighter note, but maybe just as difficult to answer, your band has been stylistically labeled six ways to Sunday, from rock to metal to punk, and even grunge and industrial. Is there any sonic tag that you feel fits the band the most?

At the end of the day it’s rock music.  There are many, many different genres and influences going on in there as well, and I think a lot of people tag the band in different ways.  That can be a good and a bad thing.  It means we aren’t stuck in a particular genre ghetto, but nowadays if you fall between genres, then the media sometimes gets confused.  We’ve had the indie press claim we were too metal (as if such a thing is possible) to feature and the metal press claim we were too indie for them.  Funny how so-called alternative music can get very close-minded if things aren’t 100% clear-cut and obvious.

On your website you’ve posted some tour dates for March and April, but I don’t see SXSW mentioned. Will you be playing at SXSW this year? You’re listed as a Showcase Artist at SXSW’s site.

 Yeah, we should be there, but we’re holding off announcing until we have all the paperwork and the like 100% in place.  I would hate to have something fall through at the last minute, so until then we won’t be making a big deal of it.  If it does happen, beware, cos we are very excited about hitting the US again.

Speaking of playing live, I did a detailed and fun interview with you in 2007 for Tasty Fanzine online and at the time you had not released a live album yet. Then in 2010 you released the live double album We’re Here To The End, where you culled songs from three performances at Water Rats in London. Any chance of a DVD going along with the live album?

No, no DVD plans at the moment.  The Scopophobia one was pretty comprehensive, though I suppose it’s pretty old now.  I wouldn’t want to just do one for the sake of doing it.  With the live album, for example, we specially did those 3 gigs so it was more of an event and the atmosphere really translated onto the recording.

 Excluding your impending “delivery”, which “baby” of yours – okay, album of yours – is your favorite and why? As a fan I’m going to go with Nurse, but maybe that’s because it was my introduction to you and it holds a special place in my music-lovin’ heart. I’m just enthralled by the bare-bones aggression and atmospheric dissociation of that album…

I go through phases, but I suppose Babyteeth is always in the top 3 as it was the very first recording and without that, things could be very different for the band and myself.  I also am normally really into the latest stuff, as it’s the most fresh and obviously we get to play the new stuff live, which keep the focus on it.

I love your disturbingly bleak to acerbically (or gleefully) snarky lyrics and I was wondering if Andy writes all of the lyrics or if you’ve taken a stab at the song-writing process?

Andy does all the lyrics.  He does so in such a brilliant and natural way that there’s no point in me getting involved.

I just had to make this a 13-question-long interview in homage to your 13th release, so to end it all, what’s rockin’ your world on your iPod (or other audio device) at the moment? I’ve got three of your albums so far on an iPod (as opposed to on CD, of which I have more), as well as part of the soundtrack for Animal Kingdom (Australian, not Disney, film), some Prolapse albums, and Kate Bush’s latest.

Cool.  I will have to check out that Kate Bush album.  From what I’ve read, it sounds pretty interesting.  OK, last 3 things I listened to were:

Vovoid – To The Death 84 – a reissued CD version of a very early demo of theirs; it’s quite brilliant, visceral stuff.

Zomby – Dedication – brilliant post-dubstep album; loved the early stuff (cliché alert!), but this is a big step up production and melody-wise.

Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats – Blood Lust – the singer sounds like Noddy Holder on helium; highly recommended if you like dirty riffs, swinging beats, and Hammer Horror aesthetics.  Makes you want to drink beer and host a Black Mass.

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