Helping the Inflicted Since 1990
Hard to believe that Therapy? is heading into their fourth decade as a band and I have been a fan for over 30 years.
The band dropped their 16th album today. Yes, 16 albums. That is an amazing feat for any band over the years that has survived all the fads that have passed, and they are still standing, feeling fresh and feeling that they still have something to say for their audience today.
Hard Cold Fire, was released today, and I had a chance to listen to it via the band’s listening party on YouTube earlier this morning while I await the LP/CD coming through the post box. Looks like I am not getting it until next week, but I can wait!
My journey with Therapy? began way back in 1992. The band had been around since 1989 and even though they were locals I wasn’t very clued up on the local scene. Sometimes taking the attitude that local bands were rubbish and not worth listening to.
How wrong was I. Think I first heard Teethgrinder as a single in the autumn of 1992. It was like nothing that I have ever heard before. Nurse got released in November of that year and I immediately bought it. There was no other Irish band sounding like them and they quickly became favourites.
I have seen the band 22 times. The first time at the Ulster Hall where they headlined on 21 December 1992 starting the Christmas tradition gig. The place was rammed and with support from Silverfish and InDust it made a very loud evening of entertainment.
After that, I remained a fan of the band ever since. The highlight for me being 1994’s Troublegum which many see as their breakthrough album. They were just in the right place at the right time with grunge and alternative rock making breakthroughs into the mainstream.
The album had five bangers that were released as singles – Screamager, Turn, Nowhere, Trigger Inside and Die Laughing, all hitting the top spots in the UK and Ireland singles charts.
1995’s follow-up Infernal Love saw a different direction for the band. It was no Troublegum mark 2 but it is still a good album.
They could easily have stuck to the same formulae for the success of Troublegum but when you look at what they released before – Pleasure Death, Babyteeth and Nurse all sound different which is a good thing. You don’t want to keep doing the same stuff repeatedly.
Infernal Love had strings, cellos, and stuff that you wouldn’t have thought they would do but it was different, and it showed a different variety from the band.
They probably lost a lot of followers due to that and with Britpop in its heyday, it kind of felt that Therapy? didn’t fit in that mould.
That didn’t really bother me. I was still happy to buy the singles and albums that followed. Never once felt I was going to cut loose (pardon the pun!) here and stop listening to them. The band alone are probably responsible for getting me into other bands that they have supported or even supported themselves.
Therapy? also championed local bands and on the third time they headlined at the Ulster Hall, support came from Ash (Downpatrick) and Joyrider (Portadown) who were just coming through. Ash became another band to love, and I would say that both Therapy? and Ash kind of sum up my love for music from Northern Ireland during the 1990s that remains with me today.
I probably would never have heard of Helmet until I heard Troublegum and around that time I got listening to Helmet’s Betty and Meantime which are two other favourite albums from the 1990s. I met Page Hamilton from Helmet at a Dublin gig a few years ago and he spoke fondly of his brothers from Therapy? Helmet and Therapy? would be my bucket-list dream gig.
Another American band that they got me into was Clutch. They supported them in Belfast once and were fantastic.
What I love about Therapy? is that each album they release is a snapshot in time of where exactly you are in your life. No two albums are ever the same and each album resonates in a different way to you.
For example, the 2020 Greatest Hits album which came out at the height of the Covid pandemic sums up where I was at that time. Looking forward to celebrating their 30th year, getting tickets for the gigs, seeing everything cancelled and going into lockdown. It was very apt that their version of Joy Division’s Isolation brought it home.
We finally got to see the band for the 30th anniversary shows two years later to a sold-out crowd at Belfast’s Limelight.
It was during the set that Andy mentioned working on the new album and that night we got a preview of Joy which would become the first single to come from the new album, Hard Cold Fire to whet our appetite.
I am looking forward to getting my physical copies of the album next week (I’m patient!) and looking forward to seeing the guys on the road again this year, hopefully with some Irish shows penned in.
Hard Cold Fire is released on May 5 via Marshall Records. You can order online via therapyquestionmark.co.uk