Therapy? were formed in the late 80's around Larne, a small town outside Belfast. Having signed to the London-based independent Wiiija Records - after the label's founder Gary Walker turned up on Andy Cairns' doorstep, raving about their demo. They released the formative "Babyteeth" in 1991 and followed in at the beginning of '92 with the unholy racket that was "Pleasure Death" (featuring the now seminal "Potato Junkie"). From here their infamy really began to spread, backed by some of the loudest and most nail-biting gigs of that year.
Part forced by financial constraints, they moved to A & M Records. the move spawned their first hit "Teethgrinder" taken from "Nurse" their debut album - realeased in the Autumnof '92. - which honed their brooding sound into a more eerie, yet still brutal presence.
The development thought didn't stop there. Swerving again they moved into '93 on the back of their "Shortsharpshock" E.P. (featuring lead track "Screamager"). Recorded in three days, it signalled a fuller, broader guitar effect, Cairns taking the echoes of his punk background and reworking them from a contemporary perspective. "Face The Strange" and "Opal Mantra" followedas they spent much of the year touring - both hereand in America - in celebration, we're told, of the Chinese Year of the Goatee (Surely some mistake? - Ed).
And that brings us to '94, "Nowhere" in the Top 20, somewhere on tour and the best album yet "Troublegum". Everything you ever wanted from a Therapy? album, but were afraid to ask for. Enough said, really. It is a genuine landmark of a record.
Talking of which... as the 70's ended, Joy Division - the forerunners of today's New Order and the first truly haunted-by-circumstance punk band - were described by one music paper as "a manic romance". The Mancunians, led by Ian Curtis who commited suicide in May 1980, had by then become a gauge by which all dark, agitated lyricism had come to be judged. The fact that Therapy? have covered JD's "Isolation" on the new album is no suprise.
Not that Andy Cairns has become a new withdrawn and ultimately doomed Curtis-style figure - he hasn't - but because, latterly, Therapy? are the only band to have successfully taken a hint of Joy Division's troubled vision and used it as the final jagged edge in the alreasy disparate range of influences.
If Joy Division's music was "another world of symbols, coincidences and hellish fear" (sound familiar?) then Therapy? have become a mix of noise, insecurities and scorched black humour. Cairns has turned inwards for lyrical inspiration, while the music has grown outwards and upwards (taking on rock/punk/metal) and the remaining threads of the industrial/hip-hop influences heard on "Nurse"
All three members of Therapy? have a certain mystery about them. You still feel there's a lotgoing on in their heads that hasn't come out in interviews yet - and possibly never will, but that's probably one of the reasons we like them. Cairns for instance, presuming he doesn't lunge at this paragraph with a scalpel, appears to be a contracting mix of self-preservation and self- destruction. Fyfe always strikes me that he's spending at least two hours a day looking through Mickey Rouke's eyes in Angelheart and Michael, to overcome his semi-deserved reputation as Therapy?'s "sensible one" hides much of astutecharacter analysis behind a shield of jokes and embarrassd silences.
Sometimes, as has been said before, it's impossible to tie up their ferocious on-stage personans with their real off-stage personalitities (a disturbing, occasionally unnerving mix of humour, crap punk stories, politics and films). They have that great self-moking charm of three blokes who happened to make it in rock music and still the whole thing's quite daft. Hurrah!
What else can you say? This is the band whose recent T-shirts sported the slogan 'Pogo on a Nazi' (in reverence to the punk Rock Against Racism Ideology). There is also the "Does Andy Cairns own any clothes that aren't black?" debate.
Have a good gig.