To mark their 20th Anniversary, the release of their first ever live album, "We're Here Till The End," featuring 36 tracks recorded at London's Monto Water Rats Theatre, and an international Troublegum Tour which saw the band's biggest record hit the live stage in it's entirety, R13 catches up with co-founding member and Therapy? bassist Michael McKeegan (M?) for a jolly good chat. McKeegan, in his strangely relaxing Northen Irish lilt, chats about the troubles with recording live gigs, what it's like to be a Kerrang cover star, being less rock n roll than you'd think, and some interesting revelations with about a brand new upcoming release...

R13: Hey Michael! Thanks for taking the time to chat to us! What are you up to right now?
M?: We just finished our tour there Friday past, and we've been home a few days. This Friday we start rehearsing again and finish off writing some of our new songs. It's nice to be home for a few days!

R13: How did the HMV Forum show go?
M?: It was the biggest London show we've done in a while so it was brilliant: really great atmosphere, everyone played well. We had a few friends down, some of the old road crew, label people and some of our old producers. It was nice to catch up and see some faces we hadn't seen in a few years!

R13: You're well known for your extensive touring. How do you find the stamina?
M?: We don't do massive chunks like we used do we like to do maximum four weeks and then come home and regroup. Otherwise I think it becomes a blur and you go on autopilot, so it's good to take a break - and as a consequence I think the shows are a lot better.
Another thing is, you'll do a show and there may not be many people there - in my opinion, anyone in the audience has bought a ticket, so technically they're our friend! They're always going to get the full show whether there are a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand there. That would be our ethos towards touring.

R13: So you enjoy the whole live scene?
M?: Very much so. I don't think we'd do it as much if we didn't. I know a lot of bands who hate it, you can tell you meet bands at festivals who are ticking off the days until they can go home.
It's what you make it. We've always enjoyed touring but we've learnt there are certain things you can do to make it as positive as you can.

R13: Tell us about your 20th Anniversary release!
M?: We just released a double live album there a little while ago. If you want to buy one Therapy? album I'd say buy that one, as it's an overview of all twelve albums to date. And it's live: certain (songs) sound better than the originals because of the way the band plays now the line up's a lot stronger.
Our benchmark are those classic live albums like 'Live and Dangerous' by Thin Lizzie, 'It's Alive' by the Ramones, 'If You Want Blood You Got It' by AC/DC there's an incredible energy to them that's the approach we took. We didn't re-record it all in the studio like most records these days, there's a minimal amount of digital trickery there.

R13: Live album exciting. Why did we have to wait so long?!
M?: Loads of people said right from day one "oh you guys are really good live you should do a live recording", but we never had the right selection of songs, the right line up, or the right how can I put it the right vibe. If someone says "we're recording tonight's gig", the band instantly becomes nervous and plays a bit stiffer. Or you could play a blinder and the audience are digging it but they're not as crazy as you want them to be. It's a challenge.

R13: So tell us about the making of...
M?: We did three gigs all at the same place, and the hardest thing was making the tracks flow. It was challenging but the audience really made the recording they were all singing along. Though the other tricky thing was people shouting random things, so logistically it was tricky but I'm glad we did it because we did it right. It's a strong statement of what we feel a live album should be.

R13: Then you did the Troublegum tour! How was that?
M?: Troublegum was probably the album where the vast majority of our fans first heard about Therapy? so it was fun to go back and revisit all the old tracks. We never played all the album live even around the time it was released so it was an interesting experiment we'd never done anything like that!

R13: It was back in 1994 when you really hit the commercial big time with records like Troublegum. The media went crazy and you were all over Kerrang! How was it to ride that wave?
M?: I can look back now and see it more clearly because at the time we were so busy. We're not the sort of band that sits down and says wow we were on the front page of Kerrang - let's go drink champagne and talk about it! We were literally 'Right we're on the cover that's cool next gig, next project' - there was always a forward motion.
When we started, it wasn't about being on front covers. That wasn't why we wrote songs. Of course we were really appreciative of the attention but we'd already done three records at that stage so we were pretty into what we were doing. We knew there was an existence beforehand, and when the attention moved on we knew there was more to it. We were really lucky in that respect - bands don't get those opportunities anymore.
If from the first record we'd been cover stars all round the place and two records later no one was interested - I think mentally that's very damaging for any kind of musician. We were really lucky to see that side where you're at the MTV awards, and Prince will be over there and the guys from Aerosmith will be talking to you it's quite surreal! I loved it. It's a fascinating world to observe, but I wouldn't want to spend the next fifteen years in it!

R13: So what was the founding ethos of the Therapy??
M?: We started a band because we liked music. It was all about the next song, now let's make a better song, let's make a record, let's make a better record, let's do a gig, let's do a better gig.
We've got a very big loyal fanbase now so we're not just going to bash out any old rubbish. We will do it right. The fact is we like music if we're not playing it we're listening to it. I think some bands don't even listen to music anymore or they only listen up to a certain point which usually coincides with their heyday which I think is really lame! I mean we're not going to dismiss all music recorded after 1994!

R13: What's your fan base like?
M?: I don't think there's a typical Therapy? fan. There's a really wide mix. I think that's one of the reasons we're still going twenty years later. Once you fall out of favour with quote unquote The Metal Scene, and all your fans are metal fans, you're going to find it tough. But we have fans who like pop, electro, dance I'm really pleased.
A number one band saw someone in the audience who he said looked 'too uncool' to be at their gig, and I just thought you're the biggest bunch of c*nts! When we started this band we weren't particularly cool. I don't think I'm cool. I just like doing what we do. To limit yourself to only people that are cool or beautiful is really elitist, it's outrageous. So Therapy? has a great mix of people and we love that, and that diversity is reflected in our approach to doing things musically.

R13: How do you do things musically? You've got some dark humour in your lyrics.
M?: Andy writes all the lyrics so he'd be the one to talk to. But from what I see it's sticking twists on observations, universal feelings. They're clever because they work on different levels you can take them at face value or if you read between the lines you can dig deeper. And I always found interesting references and wordplay.
There is a black humour to a lot of the stuff but I think if you deal with the unpleasant or the off the wall in a completely serious way it gets a bit cartoonish. A lot of bands do that cartoon doom, gloom and depression. One of the things humans have is this mechanism of dealing with things - one of the big ones is humour. It's important.

R13: What's been a really exciting time for you in Therapy??
M?: The Crooked Timber tour the one before last. The way we wrote and recorded those songs they're a real pleasure to play live, for a three piece. It was a similar challenge to the Troublegum tour we fitted the whole album into the main set.

R13: Do you have any favourite tracks?
M?: There are some new songs we've been writing. We played one at Cork a month or so ago and it sounded really great it had a good feel. The new stuff, for most musicians, is what you're most excited about.

R13: Does this mean a new record? When's it out?
M?: We haven't recorded it yet! We're going to have most of it done before Christmas and finished off in January so hopefully next April we'll see. If we're trying to do things justice, you never really know!

R13: How do tracks usually come together?
M?: It depends. These days we jam and come up with things. It can come from anywhere. That creative process is another exciting thing because it can go so many ways right up to the last mix. From a stupid little riff idea you have in your head when you're walking to the park one day, it can develop through so many permutations and a year later it's on a record its like: wow!!
There are so many (tracks) we could spend the next four years recording them but you have to be brutal. We've got quite good at self editing, but there are always a few wee wild cards the runt of the litter sometimes becomes this majestic raging rock monster out of nowhere!
The way the line ups working right now we've got a lot of ideas. It wasn't always like this, maybe ten, fifteen years ago. There was more talking than playing and that used to wind me up.
Really you need to just run with an idea, and unlearn overanalysing what you're doing, because then you become self conscious. You need to switch a part of your brain off and do or play what you feel, then later go back and analyse it.

R13: Is there an idea or a concept behind the new release?
M?: There's no defined concept behind it at the minute, but lot of overall concepts only come together once you've finished a record and realise there's a thread that runs through it subconsciously.
If we sat and said - we're going to make an album about...I don't know the history of chairs in the 20th century to force yourself to do that, it's a bit fake. But if by chance we wrote 5 or 6 songs about chairs and their place in history in the 20th century that would be cool!

R13: Come on spill - what's the new album called?
M?: We've only got a working title. It's pretty good. But I'm not going to tell you!

R13: Oh all right then. Anything else you'd like to tell Room Thirteen readers?
M?: The live albums out now. New album next year. Check us out on our website and on Facebook!

So you heard the man, check out http://www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk/ and go find them on Facebook! And for those who can't wait for the new album, get your healthy dose of Therapy? with 2-CD live album "We're Here Til The End" out now!