Whilst at Download we were lucky enough to get cultural with all the members of legendary Northern Ireland-based alternative rock band Therapy? before their massive set kicked off at Download 2009. We spoke with the group about the festival season, their inspirations and about plans for the future.
“Camping with Bill Hicks would mean a three-day bender”
S] You are veterans of Download but how is the atmosphere different and the way you approach it each year to every other gig?
Andy] This is now festival season, it all starts today and this is our first one. For our set we are going to play five tunes off of the new album alongside five or six old songs but we are just really excited you know? It’s always good fun coming to Donnington. It’s all about the atmosphere on the day. We are just one of the many, many great acts on the bill, so for us it’s all about having a good time. We are just so excited about getting on stage.
S] Do each of you have a festival tradition – whether it be on stage or personally?
Neil] Like Andy just said, it’s a massive gathering at Download each year and it’s also really one big party. We have to just go with the flow. I think you can’t come along to something like this expecting certain things to be in certain places and things to happen at certain times, it never going to work out as planned. I mean of course we have our set-list planned but hopefully after we have done everything else we will be checking out a few bands and soaking up some of the atmosphere.
S] If you guys could each share a tent with one person dead or alive who would it be and why?
Andy] I would camp with the comedian Bill Hicks because I think that I’d would get a good insight into his life. I mean, you could certainly have a great laugh with him camping and, if it was before he quit the booze you would be able to have fun and go on a real three-day bender.
Neil] I think I will continue with the comedian theme and pick Richard Pryor. I would sit there for the duration of the festival saying, ‘Entertain me Richard, entertain me…’
Michael] Maybe someone like Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy, that would get messy but I think that with Bill Hicks our tent that could be party central. (all laugh)
S] What are your biggest plans for the rest of this year, following your run of Euro dates?
Andy] We won’t be taking a break, we will finish our festival run and then go straight into a ten week tour of the album which will take us right up till Christmas. We’ll be doing weeks in the UK with maybe a couple of shows in Nottingham and two shows in Glasgow. We are also going to be covering Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Bristol so pretty much everywhere in the UK and then we will be heading over to Italy, Bosnia and then Scandinavia all before the year ends. So, it’s going to be very hard work but really good fun.
S] You guys went a different and more experimental route for ‘Crooked Timber’ and there’s even some electronic elements in there – will the way you recorded this album influence your next record?
Andy] Yeah absolutely, I mean a lot of the electronic elements are actually effects pedals on the guitar. There are points on the album where it sounds like we have used a keyboard but it’s actually real guitar effects. When I think about this direction, it’s because we are getting older. I mean we still love all of the music we have done in the past but, the ‘Troublegum’ stuff was in the 90s and we’re really proud of that but there’s so many bands doing that melodic-punky-metal thing now. There’s no point in having a bunch of guys in their 30s trying to compete with these kids you know? We are going deeper and darker with our sound and it’s really going to develop more. We’re really into atmospherics now, the tunes will still be there and there’s always going to be choruses but I think we are going to make everything a little bit left of centre. We are really comfortable playing this kind of stuff and our fanbase seems to like it too.
S] You guys are very keen to keep your ears to the ground with new music, so what are you listening to at the moment and checking out today?
Andy] I think we are looking forward to Clutch. I mean we have known those guys for a long time and we toured with them in the 90s, so I always look forward to seeing them. In terms of what I am listening to at the minute though, I like a lot of really dark dubstep like Kode9, Burial and people like that but I also really like Die Chihuahua Die and some of those really drone-type bands. Though, a band I am really interested in at the moment and that I would like to hear more of are a group called Pocahaunted and they’re another great drone-rock act.
Neil] Well, I run my own label but there are some bands I am really impressed with at the minute including a group called Die Chihuahua Die who are like this Bronx-ish full-on type band.
Michael] I am really into the new Manic Street Preachers album actually. I think there’s a lot of good music out there right now be it electronic or rock based.
S] We know a lot of your material is inspired by literature, so what are you reading right now and have you begun any reading to inspire ideas for the future?
Andy] I am still really immersed in the Theatre Of The Absurd and stuff like Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco at the moment. I have read somebody recently called Donald Pollock who is fantastic. There’s also this guy called John Murphy from Ireland who writes Gothic material that’s really fresh and original.
Neil] I’ve been going through a Stalin phase recently, (laughs) things like ’The Court Of The Red Tsar’ which is relatively dark and also ‘Young Stalin’.
Michael] My wife’s into a writer called Mo Hayder and her work is very psychological and crime orientated stuff. It’s not really a genre I would normally dip into but the imagery is brilliant and it’s not to wordy, it has all this forensic type stuff in it though so it’s really good.
S] If you could ask anyone at Download Festival this year a question, what would it be and why?
Andy] I would ask Def Leppard, ‘Are you going to play photograph later on?’
Michael] I would ask Mike Patton (vocals, Faith No More), ‘Where’s my T-shirt?’
Neil] I would ask Mike Bordin (drums, Faith No More), ‘Where are my underpants?’
For more information visit the band’s Myspace and website.
Check out our review of ‘Crooked Timber’ here.
Watch the video for ‘Rock You Monkeys’ below:
*Thanks to Jen and Richard for setting this up.