Interview: Andy Cairns, Therapy?

Andy Cairns faces up to the strange fact that he enjoys rockin' out with Stateside babes...

Ulster's Therapy? have come a long way in the short time since their inception. From beer-crate stages to a recent, successful, large-scale tour of North America. The LP Nurse, was largely responsible for their ascendancy, which I once desribed as "a thoroughly nasty little dose of psychotic techno punk."

Since Nurse they've also gone on to make 2 EPs, both of which charted in the UK. I got hold of Therapy? singer/guitarist Andy Cairns, a man spending a rare visit to his home near Belfast. So, how was America?

"The whole thing was incredible," he replies. "We got to see all the country, even Mexico and Canada. Every state is like a different country."

The best compliment your average American rock gig goer can give a touring band is that they "kick ass." Did Therapy? sneer at that attitude?

"Over there, most rock music isn't a dirty word," stresses Andy. "To certain degrees in Europe, and especially England, rock music is poo-pooed. Rock music is very laughable and you really have to be aesthetically aware of what you're doing. In America you can jump up and down and strangle your guitars and give 100%, and that's really it. Ironically enough, the same people that would, ahem...rock out to Therapy?, would also rock out to Kiss and Def Leppard. There's no differentiation there."

Therapy? aren't exactly yer archetypal 'rawk' band but that didn't discourage the Barbie doll brigade.

"We noticed at our gigs these sort of rock chicks turning up with candyfloss hair and the tans. We had a big tour bus and they would linger outside it. They used to come up and ask where we were from and then go on about our accent. I'm not into that sort of thing. I would never be rude as to treat them like shit 'cos they're people. They're fuckin' good fun a lot of 'em. But we never indulged in the rock n' roll lifestyle, unfortunately," he says wryly.

Oh yeah? Well, I'll take you on face value!

In fact, Andy accentuates the positive side of the States.

"In a way they're far more open-minded and honest. You go into a restaurant, or diner as they call it, and people are falling over themselves to help you. If you watch it through the media, it looks so crass...It's easy to parody. But when you come back to Belfast or England and some girl or bloke looks as if they wish you weren't there, and they give you a really hard time. I don't expect people to treat you as a prince. I just expect them to be a wee bit more civil. I think it's a real glum attitude."

America partly confounced Andy's expectations.

"I felt at ease in a lot of places. I was expecting it to be terror and horror incorporated, with all the cast of Deliverance (US psycho movie) waiting for me, y'know, serial killer on fuckin' crack."

He admits, however, that touring has fucked with his relationships, but there's no regrets.

"I resign myself to the fact that I want to live this life, and I really enjoy doing it."

Also, coming back to Belfast, with its no bullshit attitude, keeps his feet on the ground.

"Yeah, but I'm not a very social person in Belfast. I kind of keep to myself, just sit in my room and I write and maybe go to the cinema."

Switching the focus on to Nurse and the subsequent EPs; the latter seemed to be the sound of Therapy? getting back to basics after the subliminal experimentation and scatty variety of Nurse.

"That's what we wanted," he explains. "With the two EPs we wanted to get back to a raw rock sound and really bring out more of the songs. Nurse was more experimental. There was the whole grunge thing. It was rife and just about to explode. And we thought that if we made a very noisy rock record, it'd get swept in and list with all that." A pitfall they astutely avoided.

Nurse was more about trying to "recapture feelings," as Andy explains. "The songs are sort of sub-conscious emotions and thoughts. Deep Sleep was that sort of time where you just love sleep so much, days when you don't want to wake up...not that you want to die, but you're just so comfortable forgetting all about your stress."

Therapy?'s next album is already in the works. Andy reveals that the emphasis will be on punchy three-and-a-half minute songs.

"We've written and recorded six songs in America. What we intend to do is play maybe two new songs in the set at these Euro festivals over the Summer."

In spite of theor sometimes intense twistd music, Therapy? are regular Belfast boys who like a laugh as much as the next guy.

"Festivals are OK because we get drunk and so do the audience...It sounds a bit crass but the best way to do it is just have a party atmosphere."

Therapy? Party animals who do the business!

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
August 1993
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