Happy People Have No Stories

20 10 2010

This morning I got a promo of the new Therapy? live album (‘We’re Here To The End’) in the post and it reminded me that I didn’t post up the tribute piece I wrote on the band for the Belfast Telegraph, so here it is in all its glory.

 I’m sure I’ll be reviewing the record somewhere, so will also put that up here too (as well as the live review from their beyond awesome Belfast gig last week) and here’s a cheeky look at the back cover for anyone who can’t wait until Nov 8 when it’s officially released.

Anyway, here’s the piece from the paper.

Happy People Have No Stories

I first fell for Therapy? at the tender age of 13. In many ways it was a long-distance love affair for me. While the Larne/Ballyclare-born three-piece were touring the world and preparing to unleash their seminal second album ‘Troublegum,’ I was residing at home in Newry, dutifully keeping an eye out for their appearances on TV and trying my damnedest to play along to their song ‘Innocent X’ on the battered old bass guitar I bought in a pawn shop in the ever so glamorous Dundalk. Still, the fact that I was too young at the time to see them up close and personal in the Ulster Hall mattered as much as intelligent conversation in the Big Brother House. As long as I had my copy of their debut album ‘Nurse’ and the ‘Shortsharpshock’ EP I was that rarest of things-a happy and contented teenager.

The year was 1993 and it was an odd era for music and youth culture in general (both in Northern Ireland and beyond). The big-haired so-called cock rock scene seemed to be rapidly wilting as the weeks and months sped by and to quote one old dinosaur-the times they were a-changing. Fed up with watching their peers prance and preen during their never-ending guitar solos, Therapy? opted to provide us with three minute slices of lunacy served up with a side order of perverted punk rock bravado instead and the moment they released the ‘Shortsharpshock’ EP out into the wild on March 8 ’93 is, for this writer, one of the most important cultural events in our country’s history.

Reaching number nine in the UK singles charts and number two in the Irish equivalent, the four track opus featured lead single ‘Screamager’ and saw Mssrs Andy Cairns, Michael McKeegan and Fyfe Ewing grace Top of the Pops, the Word and many other mainstream TV shows, becoming the first band from these shores in nearly two decades to make the rest of the world sit up and notice. Not only were those raucous (and sometimes ramshackle) first performances an utter revelation for  millions of outsiders, but you can literally pin-point the exact moment on that first TOTP appearance where a generation thought to themselves-“Hold on, this being in a band lark looks fun. I want to do that too.” How do I know this? Well, because I was one of those people. In those days there were dozens of garage bands all over the UK and Ireland playing dodgy versions of Therapy? songs and by the time they released their breakthrough album ‘Troublegum’ a year later, they had quite rightly became hard rock royalty and metamorphosed into a bona fide phenomenon.

Without sounding too cheesy about it, the trio also gave hope to generations of people from Northern Ireland too. They proved that you don’t have to change your sound or style in order to do what you want and you can succeed on your own terms. They shone a spotlight on our country for the first time since the 70s too and deliberately went out of their way to help the likes of Ash, Joyrider, Throat, Snow Patrol and many others cut their teeth and ultimately kick-started a resurgence in local music that has carried on to this very day.

This year sees Therapy? celebrating their 20th birthday. It’s an achievement which many (including members of the band themselves) thought would never happen, but this writer is proud to see them still making amazing albums, still touring the world and affectionately acting as the Godfathers of the NI music scene. The odd band member may have came and went since those early gigs in the Art College, but with the addition of drummer Neil Cooper in 2002, Andy and Michael have never sounded stronger than they do today and with albums as good as 2009’s ‘Crooked Timber’ they’ve ensured that kids will continue to carve their crude-looking Gemil mascot into school desks and lockers for a long time to come.

Perhaps the only downside to the Therapy? tale is the fact that they never seem to get the recognition they deserve on home turf. From a fan’s perspective, it can get quite galling seeing the same old faces receive accolades year in and year out for “services to NI music,” but you also get the impression that the hugely humble and down to earth trio would feel a bit bashful if they did get a gong or two. Still, that doesn’t mean we should all forget about the impact the band have made over the last two decades and this disciple of their Church of Noise salutes them. So much for the 20 year plan, eh lads?

To pre-order the new Therapy? live album ‘We’re Here To The End’ click on this link http://www.globalmusic-shop.com/shop/catalog/details?shop_param=aid%3DBLAST+001%26