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Northern Ireland trio Therapy ? have just released their thirteenth album, 'Crooked Timber'. Aaron Brown speaks to bassist Michael McKeegan about it and why his band remain impossible to label
Northern Ireland's Therapy ? have always been a hard band to place on the music map. Sure, you can say they are a rock band. But, unlike many of their contemporaries from the early grunge 1990s, Therapy ? didn’t have a label to go by. They weren’t from Seattle so they weren’t grunge, weren’t from LA so they were not metal. They were something no one could pin point. Therapy ?, unlike many of they contemporaries from their day, have not gone down the road of artistic difference, nervous exhaustion and case of death by shotgun and have stayed for the long haul.
Never to disappoint, the lads are back with an excellent new offering 'Crooked Timber'. I speak to ever present bassist Michael McKeegan.
PB : So album number 12 now.
MM : It’s actually 13 I think. When we started I never thought we would be doing the same thing 20 years down the line.
PB : I think throughout the years the music press has found it hard to label you guys with a particular style.
MM : Yeah, I don’t think we ever stuck to any style and it’s hard for ourselves to pin down.
PB : Like Helmet ?
MM : I mean especially at the start didn’t people didn’t quite get us. We never dressed like rockers, or had the long hair or leather jackets. Helmet, yes, were pretty similar. They played heavy rock, yet dressed like college kids and got a lot of abuse because they like us didn’t look the part.
PB : I think the phrase was "college boy faggots." So where did the title 'Crooked Timber' come from ?
MM : It comes back to Andy (Cairns-guitar, vocals). It comes from a quote by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in which he said “From the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” Andy reads a lot. I think most of our songs titles just come from literature we have read.
PB : It’s a bit highbrow but it’s also the name of a political blog. You guys have such a dark sense of humour, especially in your writing. I mean titles like 'Suicide Pact- You First' and 'Died Laughing' to name but two. Where does this come from ?
MM : I think it just comes from the absurdness of life. Everything is such a joke sometimes.
PB : I love that Spike Milligan epitaph quote "I told you I was ill."
MM : He had such a dark sense of humour like ourselves
PB : 'Clowns Galore'. From hearing that song it sounds like a critique.
MM : Again it’s from a poem.
PB : I suppose it’s a question that you especially been asked throughout your career but I hear a lot of Big Black on your bass sound.
MM : Oh definitely. We’ve always had a running joke with this one. Steve Albini idolized Andy Gill….
PB : Of Gang of Four fame?
MM : Of Gang of Four fame, that’s right. Steve was obsessed with Andy’s bass sound so the Big Black sound came from that. So basically when we did 'Crooked Timber' with Andy Gill, who produced this album, it was kind of funny to make an album with the guy who inspired the guy who inspired me.
PB : The circle is complete. He was responsible for the Red Hot Chili Peppers bass sound too! What’s your view on the current crop of reunion tours ?
MM : I don’t think I would ever, if we broke up try and get the band back together. Although it will be great seeing bands like Faith No More again. I always feel something is lost and when a band does this it’s solely just about the money.
PB : Thank you for your time,
'Crooked Timber' is out on DR2 Records now.