Screen For Me: Therapy?

Therapy? are currently rampaging their way around the UK celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic 'Troublegum' album, which received a deluxe reissue on 31 March. We invited frontman Andy Cairns to take another stroll down memory lane by revisiting ten definitive moments from his band's career on YouTube...

Teethgrinder: Therapy?’s first promo video, and first UK Top 40 single, taken from 1992’s Nurse album

“We made our own homemade video for our very first single Meat Abstract, but this was our first ‘proper’ video. It was directed by a guy called Jon Klein, a lovely American guy who we later discovered was Winona Ryder’s cousin and (LSD guru) Timothy Leary’s godson. We shot it in a warehouse near Camden in North London. My abiding memory of the day is that at the shoot Jon suggested I wear something plain with long sleeves and a round neck so I ended up borrowing a black jumper from one of the make up girls. Unfortunately the cuff of the right sleeve kept catching on my guitar toggle switches, and the jumper got completely ruined. The girl was furious. Our manager had to give her money to buy a new one, but even then she was still mad. A good start then…”

The band’s first Top Of The Pops appearance, performing their Top 10 hit Screamager

“The Clash never played Top Of The Pops and if you were brought up on alternative music or punk there was a school of thought that said Top Of The Pops was the enemy. But I’d seen the Buzzcocks and The Skids and SLF and the Undertones and Nirvana on there, and I’d watched it since I was about seven years old - it’s where I first saw David Bowie and T Rex - so I said yes to doing it in the blink of an eye. I think Mariah Carey and the Sisters of Mercy were on the same show. TOTP had bussed in a load of teenage girls for the audience and as we took our places onstage they were looking at us like ‘What is this? Who let that cleaner onstage?’ Their faces throughout the performance display utter disbelief that we were pop stars.”

Performing Next To You by The Police with Sting on French TV, October 1994

“We were on the same record label as Sting, A&M, and we happened to be booked onto the same TV show. The girl from A&M had read that we were fans of early Police material, so she asked if we’d be up for doing something different. I went into Sting’s dressing room beforehand and we both had acoustic guitars, and he was like ‘Can you remember the chords?’ The whole time I was sitting there, I was thinking ‘I’m from Ballyclare, what am I doing in a room with Sting?’ I remember at the end of the night I asked what he was doing next and he said ‘I’ve a charity thing with Elton and Eric’ and I realised he was talking about Elton John and Eric Clapton. It seemed so surreal.”

Performing an acoustic version of Die Laughing at the 1994 Mercury Music Prize Awards

“This was our first real taste of the red carpet, tabloid side of the music industry. The Mercury Prize wasn’t quite as mainstream as they are now, it seemed like an alternative to stuff like the Brit Awards, so we were a bit surprised how corporate it was. Everyone thought Blur were going to win, with Parklife, so there was an audible gasp of shock when M People were announced as the winners. We didn’t really care, I remember M People being very sweet and really nice people when we met them backstage. I also remember my dad called me the next morning because one of the tabloids had reported that I’d come back from an American tour with a tattoo on my arse, when in fact it was on my arm.”

Rocking the Monsters Of Rock festival in August 1995, opening up with Joy Division cover Isolation

“We’d played Donington in 1994 and it was brilliant: we were totally gobsmacked by the reaction we got. So to play second on the bill to Metallica in 1995 was a great honour, as we were all Metallica fans. I remember certain American bands, such as Slayer, griping about our position on the bill, and their moaning was getting back to us in our dressing room. We were going to open with Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back In Town, but Metallica’s tour manager said we couldn’t, as that was going to be their intro music. And then we were told not to use James Hetfield’s ego ramps at the front of the stage, so of course the first thing Michael and I did was to walk straight down there: it wasn’t out of disrespect to Metallica, that was just our belligerent nature. It was a fun day, bit more stressful than the year before, particularly because of the bitchiness of the other bands. We played a show in Dublin a few years ago with Slayer above us and Michael (McKeegan) was talking to Kerry King, and Kerry King said ‘Yeah, someone got the bill right today.’ Not bitter…”

Promo video for Diane, the band’s Husker Du cover from 1995’s Infernal Love

“This video was absolute lunacy. We did it with a director called Wiz, who was very serious and very arty, and this was a huge production: I distinctly remember that it cost the price of a house to make, the most money we’d ever spent on a video. It took two days, and there seemed be about 50 people involved in the production, each more self-important than the next. At one point I had to lie naked under a shower of ice cold water while a model stroked my hair, which just made me wonder what the Hell I was doing there.”

Lonely, Crying, Only promo video, directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition, Lawless, The Road), from 1998’s Semi Detached album

“John Hillcoat is an absolute legend. He had directed one of our favourite movies of all time, Ghosts Of The Civil Dead, an Australian prison movie, and we’d actually sampled a quote from it, with Nick Cave screaming ‘Here I am motherfucker!’ at the start of a track called Nausea on our Nurse album. I think Nick Cave charged us $800 for that. When we met John to talk about making this video Martin McCarrick (former Therapy? guitarist) and I had breakfast with him in a cafe in Kings Cross and we chatted about movies for two hours before we’d even mentioned the video. To this day this was the most fun I’ve ever had on a video shoot. Hillcoat is an absolute genius, as he’s proved with his movies since.”

Performing Deep Purple’s Black Night with Bruce Dickinson in Belfast, May 2004

“I’d met Bruce before, he interviewed me at Donington in 1994, and we’d talked about the Marquis de Sade and I thought he was really cool. Maiden didn’t mean a huge amount to me growing up, but Michael and Neil (Cooper, Therapy? drummer) were absolute Maiden nuts, so they were just so excited about this. He turned up at sound check and nailed it like an absolute pro. The punters at the Mandela Hall in Belfast weren’t expecting this, so a lot of jaws hit the floor when Bruce walked on.”

Covering Alternative Ulster, with The Answer, in Belfast, November 2011

“We know The Answer very well, they’re good mates of ours, and this was a special co-headline show to mark the reopening of the Ulster Hall in Belfast, which is one of my favourite venues. At the soundcheck The Answer boys said ‘Do you fancy doing_ Alternative Ulster_?’ just for a bit of fun, and we thought it’d be quite cool for the crowd to do it as a one-off. I was just hoping that Paul (McMahon, The Answer’s guitarist) wouldn’t try to engage me in some bluesy guitar licks during the solo, because I’d have just fallen on my arse!”

Rocking the Camden Barfly, for the Camden Rocks Festival, June 2013, opening up with Innocent X from 1991 debut EP,_ Babyteeth_

“It’s fun to play tiny gigs like this sometimes. The gig was rammed, and I remember it took us about 25 minutes to get onto the stage, and I was completely soaking with sweat before I’d even played a note, so I knew it was going to be one of those nights. The lairy atmosphere just reminded us of when we first toured Babyteeth, so we decided to open up with an early song, and the place went totally nuts when we played it. That was a great night.”

The deluxe editions of Troublegum and Infernal Love are out now on Universal records. Therapy? play London Scala tonight (April 9) and Southampton The Mo’ Club (April 11).

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.