"We Don’t Want To Be A Heritage Act That Hangs On The Good Old Days" - An Interview With Therapy?
Now into their fourth decade together as a band, today Northern Irish rockers Therapy? drop their sixteenth long-player Hard Cold Fire. We caught up with singer Andy Cairns to answer some questions about their abrasive new album and how, over three decades, musical, cultural and social landscapes have shifted around them.
Written and pre-produced during an unprecedented time for music, Therapy?'s new album Hard Cold Fire is hefty, compact, and accessible. A distillation of everything that has made them what they are - hewn from County Antrim basalt, still possessed of their stoicism, but casting a renewed focus on catharsis and healing.
Classic Rock Magazine delivered a ★★★★ review of the album, declaring: "You’ve gotta hand it to Therapy?. They are consistent in their work. Sixteen albums in and the Northern Irish rockers are still capable of producing bulldozing, bone-crunching anthems".
"It’s so important that we keep up to date with how people listen to their music. We don’t want to be a heritage act that hangs on about the good old days" - Andy Cairns
Photo credit: Tom Hoad
TM: Hard Cold Fire drops today and is already receiving some of the best reviews of your career. Three decades on from debut full-length Nurse, to what do you attribute your continuing creativity and drive to deliver the goods?
AC: We are still very much in love with this unique thing that we’ve been fortunate to do for over three decades. Having an open mind to new music and getting excited about gigging is important. There are always new friends to make and new places to discover.
TM: Lead single ‘Poundland Of Hope And Glory’ has been making a huge noise on rock radio, with its sardonic look at the state of the nation. Can you give us some further insight about the themes of the track and do you hope that your music can be a conduit for positive change?
AC: Post-Brexit we’ve found ourselves in a very divided place. Growing up in the North of Ireland we have seen first hand what division can do. After Covid, we thought it might provide an impetus to mend and heal but unfortunately, it hasn’t and the government has only made it worse by neglecting sections of the community who are in dire need of help.
The song was inspired by chancing upon the song ‘Jerusalem’ based on the poem by William Blake being performed at The Proms. Where is this utopia that’s been mythologised?
As we get older in Therapy? certain concerns of ours call for less opaque imagery and more direct approaches. We observe and report how we see things. If anyone connects then that’s wonderful. If they only like the riffs and beats and want to get drunk and headbang, well, that’s wonderful too.
TM: With the jubilant racket of ‘Joy’ and the alt-punk of ‘Poundland’, Hard Cold Fire leans towards the band’s noisecore roots harder than ever. The same could be said for recent releases from bands like Feeder (Torpedo) and, indeed, Metallica (72 Season). What is it about these times that’s inspiring bands that found success with a more commercial iteration of their sound to gravitate back towards a more uncompromising and abrasive style?
AC: I think it’s only natural that musicians reverberate with the times around them. In a rock band it’s easier to express anger and frustration as the genre tends to use aggression and volume to get its point across. In a Band like Therapy? we have the perfect sonic platform for discontent.
TM: Chris Sheldon is back in the production chair for this record, a partnership that began with the Shortsharpshock EP back in 1993 and has continued with intermittent regularity to the present day. The question has to be asked: what keeps you coming back to Chris?
AC: Chris Sheldon gets us. Not only as musicians but as people. He knows he can be as objective as possible and we’ll trust his ideas. We’re not difficult prima donnas which probably helps him to get a good vibe in the recording session. He’s a sensationally talented producer with an amazing ear and knack for helping us realise what we set out to achieve.
TM: Hard Cold Fire is available on CD and a multitude of different colour vinyl editions on Marshall Records. In today’s streaming culture, does having your albums released on tangible formats remain important and how do you listen to music yourself in 2023?
AC: It’s so important that we keep up to date with how people listen to their music. We don’t want to be a heritage act that hangs on about the good old days. We listen to our fans. I remember back in 2003 being told that our album wasn’t coming out on vinyl or cassette as they were ‘dead formats’. How times have changed!
I’ve always love vinyl myself but if I’m unable to be at home I’m very happy streaming my latest purchases.
Hard Cold Fire is available now to order on Pink & Turquoise Vinyl, CD, Cassette & in various bundles.