Some people spend $100 an hour to sit on a plush couch and tell a stranger their problems in an effort to sort through life's various tragedies and traumas. Andy Cairns, singer-guitarist of Ireland's Therapy?, prefers standing in front of a microphone, guitar in hand, to exorcise personal demons, be they religion and complacency (1993's Troublegum), or love (1995's appropriately titled Infernal Love). Music is his catharsis.
He wants the audience to feel his pain as well--sometimes literally. Between songs during a show at Trees a few years ago, Cairns looked out at the crowd and screamed, "You're not crazy enough! I want to see some fucking blood!" The already furiously churning mosh pit raised its intensity to prison-break levels.
Cairns is as plain-spoken on record as he is on stage. The band pairs his honest lyrics ("I've got nothing to do/'cept hang around and get screwed up on you") with a musical attack that is constantly shifting but always hard-hitting and always ahead of trends. Therapy? has slipped in and out of genres including industrial hard rock and muscular pop punk without ever taking a backward step.
Infernal Love finds Therapy? going in a new musical direction again, this time including ballads and a string section. Cairns' lyrics aren't fueled solely by anger anymore, but also by feelings of longing and loss, and he is more emotionally honest than ever before. After all, there's nothing wrong with capitalizing on personal pain; ask anyone on a daytime talk show.
Therapy? plays August 8 at the Galaxy Club.