Before I begin, I should explain that, for those who do not know, the question mark which appears at the end of Therapy?'s name is part of their logo. It is not a punctuation mistake on my part. With that being said, the question mark next to Therapy?'s name could well be justified. Personally, I like to think of them as Europe's Tragically Hip. Big in their own country (second biggest band in Ireland -- any guesses as to who is first?), and big in Europe, Therapy? are relatively unknown in North America. No one can understand why they haven't broken through here. Touring in support of their third full length CD, Infernal Love, Therapy? stopped in Vancouver to back up Girls Against Boys. I had the opportunity to speak with bass punisher Michael McKeegan, who managed to take some time out from his busy schedule.
Michael offered his explanation as to the puzzling question of why Therapy? has not been more successful in North America. "People in America have too much choice. In one given week you could go see bands which sound like Nirvana every night or Oasis or Depeche Mode depending on what you're into. Also, the last time we were here we were touring Troublegum [the predecessor to Infernal Love] and Troublegum had taken off in Europe massive. We were offered gigs over there that we just couldn't pass up. In one summer we played 35 festivals, averaging around 40-50 thousand people. We'd go on a tour right across Europe, come back home, go to Australia and Japan for a couple weeks, then come back and tour Europe again. It was something we had to do. We planned a tour with the Rollins Band and a few dates with them, but Europe kept calling." Michael adds with a laugh: "Now that Europe is sick of us, we're going to concentrate on touring here in North America. We're doing the tour with Girls Against Boys for a few weeks, then coming back in the summer hopefully with Prong."
In talking with Michael, I notice that he displays a sort of assurance of himself and the band that you would possibly mistake for a hint of arrogance if you didn't know him better. This band isn't questioning why they haven't broken into the market in North America, or in fact even questioning whether or not they will make it here. Instead, they feel it's simply just a matter of time before it happens and panic won't set in for a while yet, if at all, as Michael clarifies: "We pretty much established a following both here and in Europe through word of mouth about our live show. We can see it happening over here as well the more we play. It's just a matter of getting out there and playing, letting people know who you are and that you exist."
Therapy? have released three full length CDs, Nurse, Troublegum, and Infernal Love, as well as one EP, Hats off to the Insane. All are distinctively different from one another, yet all have a common thread linking them, being angst-ridden, angry-sounding, yet heartfelt and truthful discs. So, who or what is Therapy? "Well," Michael replies, "we're not a Britpop band, God forbid. We're not grunge and we're not part of this new punk thing. I would have to say that Troublegum was our most pop-oriented album at first. But listening to it now that's not the case. It's a pretty ferocious album. What we wanted to do with Infernal Love was make a more polished Troublegum."
The last time Therapy? were in Vancouver, they were still a trio with Fyfe Ewing doing the skin bashing. In the two years that have passed, Fyfe has left and two new members have joined the ranks. "Martin McCarrick played cello on some songs off Troublegum and became an integral part of the music, bringing an added dose of moodiness and obscurity as well as playing rhythm guitar. Graham Hopkins, he's only 20, but when he auditioned for us he blew us away. It's cool, too, because the drummer for the Fatima Mansions, who had just broken up, auditioned for us as well and he is a very sound drummer and we're big fans of theirs, but Graham was too good to pass up."
As mentioned earlier, Therapy? plan on spending a good amount of the year over here. Their style of travelling, however, is not what you'd expect from a rock and roll band; it's more like a family camping trip. Armed with a mini-van and a U-Haul trailer, Therapy? are determined to pay their dues: "It seems like a pretty unorthodox way of touring, doesn't it?" asks Michael with a laugh. "We could've done the rock star thing with the bus, but this gives us the opportunity to really see the country and the feeling of starting over in a way. Besides, we're savings tons of money."
Therapy?'s travels are being documented by a friend of theirs in a book entitled Roadkill? "Basically, it's giving people back home a chance to see how we are perceived in North America," states Michael. "This friend of ours comes over for a week with a microphone and tapes people's reactions to us and so forth. He's going to write the book with it and a CD with all these testimonials and live tracks from these clubs we're playing."
Yes, it seems that, indeed, Therapy's turn in the spotlight is just around the corner, and justifiably so. For a band as intense and exciting as is Therapy live, the opportunity to see them live should not be passed up, as your chance to see them in clubs will not be around much longer. Guaranteed.
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