On the eve of the Jagermeister tour with Skindred and the Black Spiders, CackBlabbath caught up with bassist Michael McKeegan to find out how the tour came together and get the latest from the Therapy? camp.
CB : So, Therapy? It’s not quite a comeback because you’ve never gone away, but recently things must really be taking off for you guys, there’s been some big gigs and some big announcements ?
MM : Yeah, I think we kind of got things back on track musically and professionally, so it’s been quite interesting the past few years. As you know Rock’n'Roll goes up and down and up and down and a band like us, we’ve been around 21 years now so you will go up and down with the trends and the phases but yeah, it’s been really good.
CB : Over the years I’ve seen you guys countless times and your show, sometimes it’s a more rock show and sometimes it’s a more metal show but now you’ve got the balance right and everybody seems to love it. There seems to be a buzz about Therapy? that’s not been there for quite a while outside the fan circle ?
MM : We’re quite old school in thet respect, we write our setlist on the night. We’re not one of those bands who go “we’ve got 17 shows in Geramny, we’re going to start with this song, end with that song, run through it”. Literally an hour and a half before the gig we write the setlist and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you’ll play a weird B-side 4 songs in and you can see the audience go “Riiight.. OK”.
MM : Thank You, No, we’re very lucky in that respect and I do enjoy it because it’s a challenge. I don’t want to be in one of those bands third sone in I stand there, then I move there, put the guitar here, you know, it becomes a wee bit of pantomime. A lot of bands really thrive on that and it works well for them but where we come from, where our background is, the more punk rock, jamming vibe. We’ve got a good musical chemistry and we kind of work around that. It’s good, It’s kind of crass I know. Probably if we were more mercenary about it we should just come and play the greatest hits set every night
CB : But that would get dull, you can only see so many greatest hits sets, although there are songs you have to put in every set ?
MM : Well, we’ll obviously play Screamager, Nowhere and a lot of the Troublegum songs and it was good, we kind of got that out of our system last year when we did the Troublegum tour for the 20th anniversary. That is nice to do, just play it right through.
CB : That was some night.
MM : Yeah, it was good fun, but you know, we’re kind of enthused. Even last night we played two new songs from the new album. A lot of bands don’t play new songs until the album is out because it’s going to be on youTube and blah blah blah. We’re old school, we like to play music, we like to play new things, that’s what excites us.
CB : It’s good to hear the new stuff standing up so well with the old stuff. With you guys you can’t really say “well that’s from the 80s, and that’s from the 90s”, it all fits together.
MM : I suppose the three of us have individually quite a distinctive sound and that gells together. With the new songs I don’t want us to be one of those retro acts, and I do love it when I see bands from my youth that I’m really into I love it but I do like to see a band trying a bit and doing new records. It’s easy to get back together and do the whole “we’re playing this album, we’re living the 80s dream”
MM : Yeah, it’s not for me. I wouldn’t say it’s bad or good, It’s just personally not for me or Andy or Neil.
CB : The next big thing, something that can only be good for any band’s profile is that you’re going out on the road with Skindred ?
MM : Yes, that’s going to be great.
CB : How did that come about, you’re not the most obvious of tour companions ?
MM : I know, well me and Andy know Benji from the Dub War days, they played with us a few times. We were always big fans of Dub War and I think that in the UK there’s not… I always think a band like Therapy? wouldn’t exist anywhere else apart from the UK, and Dub War and now Skindred wouldn’t exist. So many interesting wee elements going on, a positive band, good energy and they are lovely people, so it’s kind of, you know, that classic “the satellites are out in space and sometimes they lock in together”. It’s been really cool for us.
CB : I saw the Birmingham Ice Cold gig. That was mental, the place was rammed. Good to be back up there again and not playing smaller clubs and smaller stages ?
MM : Surely, it was good, sometimes you just need, we call it the tap on the shoulder, someone just taps you on the shoilder and reminds you. We’ve sold millions of records we’ve done a lot of stuff over the years. I’m not going to be one of those guys who goes out there and says “do you remember me from 1994?” That’s kind of bullshit, to me it’s very lame and counterproductive. It’s kind of so retro. I’m not into that.
CB : I was looking through the list of bands playing here, and back in the day there was a little club in Edinburgh where you used to play.
Edinburgh Venue, sure
CB : Dogs D’Amour, Quireboys, Wildhearts, Pallas. All these bands are still going, you guys hava all had such longevity, why us that ? Just never give up ?
MM : Do you know what it is, we like music. we like it. We’re not in a band to become a film star or to sleep with a supermodel or buy a sports car. I’m obviously not speaking for those other bands but I get the feeling that if you’re into it, you’re into it. We’re kind of, the cliche is we’re lifers. When I get home I listen to music, new music. I play my guitar every day, I play my bass. I’m excited when I go to gigs. I don’t go home and suddenly look at all my platinum disks listening to Therapy? on repeat and go “this is brilliant, I’m living in the 90s”.
I think if you’re an artist of any king, visual or anything like that, go with your heart because it’s your name on the record, you’re the guy on stage and if you’re into it people appreciate that if you have that passion for it people will totally vibe off it.
MM : It’s weird. A lot of people ask about this, the music business changing, is Illegal downloading and all that. I always think a band with a good tune will go a long way regardless of the format or the way it’s presented. Northern Ireland is on a wee bit of a renaissance at the minute you know, it’s good, there’s loads of bands and even underneath the cusp of all the bigger bands.
CB : I was speaking to Million Dollar Reload recently, and there’s Trucker Diablo so Northern Ireland is just amazing at the moment.
MM : It’s mad. Everyone is in a band and they sound good. What I like about it is there’s a wee bit of solidarity. People do a gig together where you’ll have a rock band, a weird indie band and something a bit more off kilter, but they’re all there, and they’re friends and they’re bigging each other up and I really am vibing off that ‘cos it hasn’t been like that in Northern Ireland for a long time.
CB : It seems that every good new band you see just now is from Northern Ireland, a big scene for a small place ?
MM : Well everyone is using the same amp “We’re doing a gig, can we borrow that? Brilliant”. I really like that. I suppose I’m really on the periphery of it all. I’m not a scenester, I’m not there going “You’re great, you’re great”. I’m not THAT involved but I’m right in there with hearing the stuff. There’s a band called Dutch Schultz, their album is fuckin’ brilliant, and there’s a good friend of mine Robyn G. Shiels, he’s kind of a singer songwriter. It’s very varied, everyone’s got that kind of respect for each other and i like that. It’s good, there’s a lot of elements there but it’s not just one generic scene, which I really appreciate.