INTERVIEW: Therapy? | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Following the announcement of the release of their fourteenth studio album, Disquiet, and a subsequent promotional tour, Irish alt. metallers Therapy? are returning to the kind of form that saw them make waves in the early nineties, following an altogether more experimental few years of making music. The new record is billed as a sequel to their 1994 album Troublegum and bassist Michael McKeegan happily explained the origin of this concept and what it meant for the band to undertake such a project. “It’s slightly tongue-in-cheek, the concept of the sequel that comes out over twenty years after the original. The last two studio albums were a bit of a departure from what we normally do and were named after quotes from dead philosophers. We wanted to revisit the main protagonist from Troublegum and see what he was up to twenty years on. We also wanted to create the parallel of what we as musicians were up to twenty years later, using all that we’d learnt as a band since 1994 and seeing how differently we would do things now. We were looking to create something a bit more stripped down and a lot more direct than the last two records and it was kind of refreshing for us to do that again, so we used that concept as a starting point and it really worked well for us I think.”

Reflecting deeper upon the sequel concept following the completion of the record, McKeegan divulged his opinion on how the protagonist from 1994 has changed over the years. “I don’t think the protagonist has changed that much. Personally I feel that with age my coping mechanisms are a bit more in tune and I’ve learnt to cope with things a bit better and I suppose he’s much the same. We have all learnt a lot over the past two decades, which is reflected in the first track on the album, Still Hurts. Musically, in 1994, we couldn’t have put that together. It’s more complicated than anything we were writing at the time, but we have learnt to be more patient and to work together better and I think there’s more understanding there now.”

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“We have all learnt a lot over the past two decades”

Disquiet was produced by Newcastle-based producer Tom Dalgety and it was a collaboration that McKeegan suggests had been a long time coming and something that both parties were keen to work on. “We were impressed with his broad range of experience. He’s worked with so many different artists like Killing Joke, Siouxie Sioux and Peter Gabriel, who he actually played live with. We’ve known him for many years now and he’d just finished doing some of the Royal Blood singles. It just worked out for us perfectly, we both had the time in our schedules and we both wanted to work together. It seemed like the right thing to do because with this record we wanted a producer to come in and kick our arses a bit to make sure every aspect was done as it should be. But what was really great about working with Tom was the fact that he had a keen understanding of the importance of the initial ideas. Producers have a tendency to make you change things too much, but Tom knew when to respect the initial idea and we really appreciated that.”

With an extensive tour on the horizon to promote the new record, rocking up to Newcastle’s O2 Academy on Friday 24th April, McKeegan looked back on some of the more bizarre and, in some cases, terrifying shows they’ve played in the past in preparation for what may come on the road this time.

“Probably the most extreme example was when we were in Santiago and we had in the region of 10,000 people in the audience, all of whom were spitting at us. Apparently that’s what people over there did at that time to show appreciation. The spitting was just one element, though, the show itself was absolute carnage and it felt like there was an element of complete and utter danger throughout. On before us were a band called Clawfinger, whose bass player jumped in the audience and emerged with half his hair missing. Faith No More headlined that night and I think someone was killed jumping from a balcony. The whole scenario was insane. Occasionally you get people throwing bottles and things, but the show in Santiago is certainly the one that stays strongest in the memory.”

Therapy? play Newcastle’s O2 Academy on Friday 24th of April. Disquiet is available now.

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As a fellow bass player, McKeegan and I had a bit of mutual ground and rounded off our chat by discussing the negative stigma bass players sometimes receive, through the medium of the ‘bassist joke’. I told him the set-ups to some of my favourites and invited him to guess the punchlines…

R: What’s the difference between a bass and an onion?
M: I imagine it’s something to do with making peoples’ eyes water? Not heard this one before…
R: You’re close, it’s actually ‘no one cries when someone chops up a bass’.
M: Haha, yeah, that’s a good one. I’m keeping that one for myself.

R: How many pop bass players does it take to change a lightbulb?
M: Again, one I’m yet to come across! I’ve no idea, go on…
R: None, the keyboard player does it with his left hand.
M: (Laughing) Yeah, that’s great. A lot of truth in that one, too.

R: What do you call a beautiful woman on a bassist’s arm?
M: I think I know this one. The singer’s girlfriend, right?
R: The answer I have is ‘tattoo’ but I feel yours works too.
M: Definitely, I’m happy with both.

R: What does a bass player use as a contraceptive?
M: I think I’ve heard this one too. His bass solos, perhaps?
R: The answer I have is ‘his personality’, but bass solos are equally as off-putting, I’d suggest.
M: Haha! Yeah, again, both answers work.

“They were great. I’ve heard plenty of drummer jokes, but those worked just as well. I feel bassists are thought of as boring and maybe the ones between the fire and ice of the singer and the guitarist. It’s probably quite true, too. We have to know what everyone else in the band is doing. I know lots of singers and guitarists who wouldn’t haven’t a clue what their drummers were doing, so I feel we have to play that role between everyone else. Thanks for those, I’ll be keeping them!”

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