was the year 1994 and music was already totally sad. Metal,
mostly shitty glam metal, had thrived for over a decade and was
now suffering a slow agonizing death. A few mopping boys from
Seattle had taken over the airwaves and with it, a whole new
generation of record shoppers had turned inwards, dressed down
and recoiled in disgust with everything that was joyful, fun,
gay and stupid. It was a lame, lame time by all accounts.
Extreme music was growing slowly and surely, but it was too
underground to make a difference in the overground. Out of the
blue, all of a sudden, like a miracle no one had asked for,
appeared Troublegum, the second full-length of a little known
Irish band called Therapy? Yes, in 1994, Therapy? were a breath
of fresh air, a full glass of cold water in the middle of the
desert, a fat ass greasy burger to the children of Africa.
formed in 1989 by guitarist vocalist Andy Cairns and drummer
Fyfe Ewing. In the summer of 1989 the two recorded a four-track
demo tape titled Thirty Seconds of Silence. Due to the lack of a
bass player Cairns assumed that role during the recording.
Ewing’s friend Michael McKeegan would join the ranks on time
for the recording of their second demo Meat Abstract. The sound
of the band was jagged, angular and noisy. Their music was odd,
it was one where the instruments seemed to be constantly
clashing. Therapy? were a hybrid of left of center influences
such as the Jesus Lizard and other obscure European bands. At
the time, there was no commercial potential in sight.
bring Babyteeth, the band’s first mini album released by Wiiija
Records. One year later, Pleasure Death would be released by the
same label. Both of these releases were underground successes
that would earn the band a record deal with major label A&M. Therapy’s
first full-length Nurse was released in 1992. The single
”Teethgrinder” did Ok on the radio, and as bizarre as it seems
now, apparently the grunge wave helped the band secured gigs
with higher profiled bands like Hole.
By all accounts
Troublegum, is THE Therapy? record. It was recorded in 1993 in
three studios in England. Production duties fell on Chris
Sheldon who has done work with a wide variety of artists from
the Pixies, to the Foo Fighters and Anthrax. Troublegum was released
on February 7, 1994.
The sound of
the band is different from that of previous records. “Knives”,
the opening song, initially doesn’t come off like much of a
departure from their typical fractured songs. But it takes
second song and single “Screamager” close to a second to shake
off all preconceptions about the Therapy? sound. A polished
metal sound rules; flashy and wailing melodic guitars, upbeat
and frenetic drumming give way to a rock and roll pattern and
memorable lyrics that go, ‘with a face like this I won’t break
any hearts, and thinking like that I won’t make any friends’.
This is perhaps the best song Therapy? ever wrote. Its
immediacy and stickiness makes you think that this is a band
that has shed its skin. The song reached number 4 in the Irish
charts and number 9 in the English charts.
continues strong. “Hellbelly” is unforgettable with its shouted
chorus of ‘Jesus without the suffering’ being engrained into
your memory by sheer repetition and the equally memorable “Stop
It, You’re Killing Me” leading the metallic charge next. The
opening line of the latter reads, ‘the world is fucked, and so
am I’. If that doesn’t hook anyone, I don’t know what would. By
this point it is evident that Cairns is not only a man with a
talent to hook you with vitriolic lyrical jabs, but his guitar playing is
equally addictive. There isn’t much in the way of guitar solos,
but his furious melodic riffs owe a big debt to pop rock. “Nowhere” was also
released as a single. This is a straight forward as Therapy? can
ever be. The verse, chorus, verse formula is in all its glory
is a catchy mid tempo with a quirky section in the middle, while
“Unbeliever” seems to take a turn to a dark corner, thus far
unexplored in this recording. It’s a tale of alienation where
Cairns without making a big change in range sounds serious. We
are way past the middle of the record, but the energy level
seems at an all time high with “Trigger Inside”. The troubled
man lyrics remain. “Lunacy Booth” isn’t a great track, but it
proves that at its worst, the Therapy? of 1994 were way better
than most. “Isolation” is an almost unrecognizable Joy Division
cover. The fuel gauge is marking low and “Turn” doesn’t have
the drive of the first half. “Femtex” sounds almost like
something that could have belonged in Nurse. “Unrequited” is
also quirky with Cairns screaming his lyrics. The Jesus Lizard
they were not.
with the band playing a verse of “You Are My Sunshine”. In
the American edition the
line is repeated, for about twenty minutes, as if it was a
In the end,
Therapy?’s pop inclinations had their rewards. Troublegum
was nominated for a Mercury Prize, got a few Top 40 singles and
made a few end of year polls. More recently, Kerrang magazine
rated Troublegum the Top album of 1994 and gave it it number 31 in
their 100 Best British Rock Albums ever.
was released in 1995. Not only was the production a little odd
with a very compressed sound, but single “Diane” was a Husker Du
cover; a ballad with nothing of the Therapy? sound that had
grabbed a few. One year later, drummer Fyfe Ewing left the band. He was
replaced and Semi-Detached was released in 1998. Poor
promotion did not help maintain the already waning momentum. In
2001, out of their deal with A&M Therapy? released a return to
their weird roots with Suicide Pact – You First.
Therapy? has continued recording and touring. There have been
more line up changes in the drummer seat and in the US the band
hasn’t been well represented through a solid relationship with
record labels. They have released six albums in this decade
alone and even though their quality varies, the band soldiers on
with admirable determination.
Troublegum can be purchased from Half.com starting at less
than a buck.