Michael McKeegan and Neil Cooper from the band Therapy? Interviewed at Hard Rock Hell (3/12/11)

This is Lee Walker from www.PlanetMosh.com conducting an interview with Michael McKeegan and Neil Cooper from the band Therapy?

LW – For those people out there who are just discovering Therapy? as a result of this festival appearance, could you explain the bands musical style to us?

Michael – Well we’ve been around for 21 years and stuff so we’ll always make a joke of like an alien came down to die at a therapy concert like the show we played last night they’d hear a bit of everything, from our first independent album right up to Crooked Timber and a couple of new songs. I think we’re kind of a noisy, rock n roll, groovy punk metal beast. I think maybe we’ve got a lot of elements, but we’ve a very distinct sound

Lee – How did the band start off?

Michael – It was originally Andy and our first drummer Fyfe, they got together to do the first demo, and I was in school with Fyfe and he knew I was in a band and I played bass player, I heard their demo and it was amazing I was really knocked out, so I kinda went for rehearsal and it all worked out and we got on really well musically and personally. It all came together really good.

Lee – What bands/artists have been your main influences when you first started ?

Michael – Bands like Killing Joke, Ministry, Metallica, Slayer, yeah around that time Killing Joke was a big influence, Joy Division, a lot of the more obscure punk bands, you know bands like Crass and Discharge just for the fire and the energy. The song writing of a lot of bands, you know great melodies a little bit noisy, Leatherface for example that was a big influence.

Lee – Throughout the years you have played at countless gigs, festivals etc. Which has been your favourite to date?

Neil – I always think it’s a tough one, we get asked that a lot and we do so many shows during the year and go to some amazing places, like this year we went out to Moscow, you go to these great places and often we play with brilliant bands, like we’ve played on the bill with the big four so its really, really difficult to pick one gig or one place that was the best. I know that sounds like a bit of a cop out.

Michael – Yeah I know, you can have a crap gig or you can have a great gig anywhere, it just depends on the night with the vibe form the people. I think we’re one those bands, we’re not dyed to the wool that we play this song or that song in this order with those lights or I stand in this spot, we always change things around and that’s what makes it exciting. Sometimes it goes over really well and others it comes over a bit differently. As Neil said the crowds are normally great.

Neil – I mean the show last night, we’ve never been to Hard Rock Hell before as punters or playing, and we didn’t really know what to expect and that’s brilliant coz often its those shows that often stick in your mind, the ones when you’re a little bit like, your staying in the chalets it was just a bit unusual for us so they are the ones that stick in your mind.

Lee – In terms of the bands playing Hard Rock Hell this weekend what ones have you or will you be watching?

Michael – Wolfsbane

Neil – Yeah Wolfsbane were great, Ginger Wildheart was good as well. They were the only two I saw but Wolfsbane were great, I haven’t seen them in 20, no it might be 25 years actually (Michael laughs) so that was great. SO we had a few beers with them last night so it was good.

Michael – Well it’s a great line up and part of me wishes I wasn’t flying home tonight. Maybe check out Pat McManus.

Lee – You have a new studio album out next year (“A Brief Crack Of Light”). Can you tell us anything about it?

Neil – Yeah, we started recording it last December sort of on and off, we did a first sort of session into the new year, into 2011, got 11 or 12 songs together and then went and did some more recording and kinda chipped away at it for a year. It’s the first album we’ve produced with the 3 of us and we had the final say on everything and it sounds fucking mega, we’re so happy with it. Songs sonically, its exactly where the 3 of us are at, its really, really come together well and we just can’t wait for people to hear it. We did two new songs off it last night. So we’ve got a single “Living in the Shadow of a Terrible Thing” coming out in January so we did the video for that earlier this week and then we’ve got the album coming out in February. We’re just itching for it to get out there, coz I mean we’re so happy with it.

Lee – Do you have any favourite tracks from it?

Michael – I like “Plague Bell”

Neil – That’s your favourite? (laughs)

Michael – In my bedroom when I’m playing in front of the mirror (Neil bursts into laughter,) that’s the one I’ve got all the best moves for!

Neil – It is a tough one coz you get so close to be able to pick just one, I like the whole record. One thing I learnt when I first joined the band, playing beside these guys is brilliant coz when we record records its not until your looking back on it, you start to realise oh right that was obviously going on in our heads at that time, and I listen to Never Apologies now its kinda like fucking hell its such a harsh record, but at the time the 3 of us were so into it, and I think that’s a real honesty that comes through with recording with these guys, I love that. So with this personally I’m too close to it to kinda go yeah, and you go theres the 10 songs or the 11 songs or however many you’ve got on the album, give it to the record company and say right you pick a single.

Michael – Yeah coz we don’t write 3 great songs and 10 or 7 shit ones, we make every song as good as it can be and develop It to a stage when we’re happy with it, so album wise we’ve put a lot of time and effort into it. Its not like we’ve got one song that we think this would be a good single, lets focus all our time and effort into that. I suppose it’s like every song has had the proper due care and attention that it needs to make it as good as it can be.

Neil – It’s a bit old school, we’ve recorded it as an album, as a package, its kinda a whole thing and that’s the way to go into it, rather than this songs great the rest we’ll just

Michael – Plan the rest around it. Marlow!

Neil – Yeah yeah we’ve got another instrumental on it, with Crooked Timber we had Magic Mountain, with this one we’ve got Marlow, its not continued from it or anything. Everyone I’ve played the album to was like “what the fuck is this all about?” in a good way, in a good way, but I love that, but my friends are like “what the fuck” its great (laughs)

Lee – How do you think it compares with your earlier releases such as Nurse, Troublegum, Infernal Love, etc?

Michael – Obviously the band has got classic elements, in the early days we were probably a bit more tied by our influences thus you could tell what was our Joy Division one, but I think know we’ve kinda assimilated them especially with Neil playing drums. We’ll listen to a song like an electronic artist or a rock band and there’s an element that we like, not musically like a vibe even like a black metal record vibe or a certain twist on it and we can kinda translate that between the three of us.

Lee – Next year you are performing at the Jagermeister Tour with Skindred. How did this pairing come about?

Neil – Well we did a show about a month ago in Birmingham with them, and they’re a great band, we get on well with them and I think it kinda came together in one of those things where management implied that would be a great bill and we’re very happy to be part of that package where its like, it’s a great kinda British Package. You get the American bands coming over all the time and its like you know what, we’ve got some fucking great rock music in this country, you know, home grown lets have a bit of a party and kinda celebrate that and we’re very happy to be part of that and Skindred, Black Spiders. And what we’re really happy with as well is the fact that they’ve managed to keep the ticket price down which is fucking great, obviously with all the shit that’s going on its great to get people out and have a good night out.

Michael – Definitely. I think if you look at the bill Skindred and Therapy? I’m certainly not comparing the two of us, but you wouldn’t get a band like us or Skindred apart from in the UK, its such a weird mix of styles and influences but its all tied together really well. Its not just one thing, musically theres a lot going on with us and a lot going on with Skindred. Its exciting to be part of a tour like that. And obviously we know Benji from his Dub War days.

Lee – Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to your fans ?

Michael – We’ll hopefully see you in 2012, we’re alive and kicking

Neil – Buy the album! (both laugh) Please buy the album, and if you don’t buy it listen to it if you download it illegally …

Michael – …We’ll fuck you up …

Neil – …just listen to it (both laugh)

Follow Therapy? at http://www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk/

About lee

Freelance Journalist/Photographer. Covers Liverpool/North West of England.