ndy Cairns and Fyfe Ewing met at a gig of local bands, a common taste in music and attitude got them the idea to start Therapy? in the summer of 1989 with influences ranging from Big Black, Sonic Youth, Rapeman, Hüsker Dü, Butthole Surfers, The Undertones, That Petrol Emotion, Captain Beefheart, Motörhead, Mudhoney, early Metallica, Fugazi, The Stooges, Loop, Funkadelic, Can, Belgian New Beat, Trance, Techno, Hip Hop (Public Enemy) and Jazz (John Zorn).
Rehearsing in Fyfe's bedroom after school and when Cairns had time off from the factory, they put together their early material with Fyfe (drums/vocals) and Cairns (guitar/vocals). That Easter they went to a small studio on Belfast's Lisburn Road and put down their first demo including the tracks: Bloody Blue, Skyward, Body O.D. and Beefheart/Albini, with Cairns filling in on bass duties. Needing a full-time bass player to complete the line up, they recruited Fyfe's school buddy Michael McKeegan. McKeegan was an energetic Metal fan that added in influences like Voivod, Carcass, Napalm Death, Black Sabbath and various Grindcore, Black, Speed and Doom Metal acts.
They played their first gig that summer at Belfast Art College organized by Giro's gig collective, supporting Decadence Within. Later that year they recorded their second demo in a studio in Lurgan. The tracks are Multifuck, Here Is, S.W.T. and Punishment Kiss. They then played more gigs round Northern Ireland but failed to gain label attention. Taking a determined stand they adopted a DIY attitude and recorded their own double A side single, Meat Extract/Punishment Kiss, early the next year under the label title of 'Multifuckingnational'. 1000 copies were made. At a Revolting Cocks / Silverfish gig shortly later in Edinburgh that year they gave a copy of their single to Leslie Rankine from Silverfish, who passed it on to record company boss Gary Walker of London based indie 'Wiiija Records'; it lead to a real record contract shortly later. Their first album, Babyteeth (1991) soon followed, with their second, Pleasure Death (1992), managing to top the indie charts, even making it into the top 50 national listings.
In 1992 'A&M' came calling offering a big contract but before it was signed Caucasian Psychosis, a compilation of both the Babyteeth and Pleasure Death albums, is released in America that was followed up with mass touring with the band making their first forays into mainland Europe, doing well in Germany and France before returning to do their first major festivals at Reading and Finsbury Park in the U.K.; they were also seen at the Feile in Southern Ireland.
October 1992 saw the release of their first major league effort Nurse, an album that makes 38 on the U.K. charts. Teethgrinder, the album's single, makes 30 in the singles chart. The band's first trip to the U.S.A. follows where they do their own small headline tour and open up for The Screaming Trees in New York. They end the year in Britain and Ireland.
Shortsharpshock EP (1993) followed with producer Chris Sheldon. Released early that year, the lead track Screamager goes top 10 in the U.K. The band then got a shot on English music charts show Top Of The Pops, and the following tour sold out. Born In A Crash would be the big album release of 1993.
Kerrang! Magazine then gave them a cover shot that preceded another mainland Europe tour. During the year, the band released further singles Opal Mantra and Face The Strange EP (featuring lead track Turn; 1993). Both these made the U.K. top 20 and saw the band appearing on TV and radio shows and on the covers of various magazines. They would close 1993 with the release of Hats Off To The Insane (1993).
1994 opens with the top 5 U.K. charting Troublegum album as a commercial success, a success that followed close on the heels of their Nowhere single, an adrenaline filled release that sailed to the top of the singles chart topping out at top 20. For it's part, the album not only contained Screamager, Turn and Nowhere but also the singles of Die Laughing, Trigger Inside, as well as the Joy Division cover version of Isolation. The album proved to be a critical and commercial success and gave the band a chance to play more gigs around the world; one such gig in Japan saw the release of their Live In Japan (1994).
They then started work on their new album, also present at the sessions was cellist/guitarist Martin McCarrick, who had previously been with Siouxsie And The Banshees and had added the strings to Troublegum's track Unrequited. The overall dark tones of the album were enhanced by Martins' string arrangements on tracks such as Bad Mother, Stories and most effectively on the bands cover version of the Hüsker Dü classic Diane. Infernal Love (1995), the next album, ultimately climbed to 9 in the U.K. with tracks Stories, Loose and Diane spun off as singles in the U.K., all making top 40. Diane, however went farther on mainland Europe, achieving top 10 in many countries.
The following year Fyfe Ewing leaves, with Graham Hopkins joining. At the same time Cairns and McKeegan ask Martin McCarrick to join the band full time, he accepts. To complete the promotion for the latest album, they depart for U.S. and Canadian tours before returning back to the U.S. to open for Ozzy Osbourne. They then returned to Ireland where they recorded two covers by The Misfits and The Smiths for various tribute albums. To fill the gap for their fans, the tour was archived and released as Official Fan Club (1996).
In 1998 Semi-Detached arrived, the album receiving little interest from critics but managing a 21 U.K. spot. Critics blasted it for being below par, but the Church Of Noise track managed to hold it's own making top 30. It would be their last for a major label, for 'A&M' was going under. Promotion was scarce and although 'Universal' had initially accepted the 'A&M' roster by buying out the company and its assets, Therapy? would produce only a single video with the label before the company decided to drop the act all together; the album only getting release in the U.K. and Europe but skipped in America, and a tour still needing to be completed which the band ultimately paid for themselves.
1999 got off to a bad start when drummer Graham Hopkins broke his arm after a bad fall. With no label, no drummer and a crappy drum machine, Cairns, McKeegan and McCarrick holed themselves up for weeks and started writing songs for their seventh album. Hopkins was back in form in March and by October they saw the release of Suicide Pact-You First. With no single, the album managed to chart at 61 in the U.K. The next year saw the release of the So Much For The Ten Year Plan "best of" album on indie 'Ark 21 Records' as an effort to pay off what they apparently owed 'Mercury' for the last release.
Shameless (2001), with Jack Endino replacing Graham, would arrive but late due to record company hassles. They also recorded a cover of Turbonegro's Denim Demon for the Alpha Motherfuckers album on 'Bitzcore Records' and several other tracks, including covers of the Black Halos' Blood Sucking Freaks, Irish punk band Rudi's Big Time, and an original piece called Valentines Day 2001. Several tours followed. High Anxiety (2003) would follow with the band now under the membership of Neil Cooper (drums), Michael McKeegan (bass), Andy Cairns (vocals/guitar) and Martin McCarrick (cello/ guitar).
McCarrick left in March 2004, and the band were now slimmed down to a permanent three piece again. Never Apologise Never Explain was released in September 2004. The following album, One Cure Fits All was released in April 2006. The album was a return to the melodic tendencies of High Anxiety.
To mark the 20th anniversary of their debut commercial recording release, Therapy? performed for three consecutive nights at London's Monto Water Rats in March which were recorded for their first live album, We're Here To The End, released that November. A deluxe gold edition of 2009's Crooked Timber album arrived on 19 July.
The Gemil Box was released on 18 November 2013; a career-spanning box set of rare and unreleased material. A Brief Crack of Light (2012) and Disquiet (2015) would follow.
Footnote: The question mark suffix to the band's name. In a 1992 interview guitarist Andy Cairns stated that it was a chance design when he was working on band's first record sleeve. Working with Letraset transfers, Cairns misaligned the band's name, and used the "?" icon to fill the space to the right. "And then we thought, well maybe we can bluff our way through when people start reading into it.