"We wanted 'Shameless' to be Therapy's version of a punk rock 'n' roll record," says Andy Cairns from his London home, talking about the band's raucous new album. "We'd written the songs and were thinking about producers and all the records we'd been listening to recently. There was the Zen Guerrilla album, The Murder City Devils album, The Black Halos album and old Supersuckers records. And the name that kept cropping up on all of them was Jack Endino."
If Endino doesn't ring a bell straight away then chances are that you have his name on at least one album in your collection. He's the Seattle-based legend who has worked with an army of bands (150 and counting) from Washington state and beyond - everyone from Mudhoney to Soundgarden to Hole and a certain three-piece called Nirvana. He produced their classic debut 'Bleach' for $600 and helped reel in a generation with the gravel harmonies and low end groove - among them a young Cairns who bought 'Bleach' on mail order just as Therapy? were starting out. Now eleven years later and with Endino at the helm, his band have made one of the best albums of their career.
"It's an oldschool record and a complete reaction against all the nu metal stuff that's going on at the minute," he says. "Therapy? Have always been a very modest band but we helped start that whole thing in 1992! Us, Faith No More and a load of other bands. We've done the dance rock crossover, we've done the short haired guys playing metal, we've done the DJ links between tracks, we've done the messed up vocals and downtuned guitars. We did it all years ago - and all we got was a slagging from the metal heads!"
If the same narrow minds dare to take a listen to 'Shameless' they'll find that today's suitably hirsute Cairns churns out some monstrous riffs and tales of aggro and cheap brew as the quartet move from Iggy Pop to glam to AC/DC. Endino's gutsy production gets the best out of the back to basics songs and showcases an outfit who have outlived most of their peers.
"We always take responsibility for the records and come in under budget," he explains. "A lot of bands they surrender themselves to producers. They maybe have a couple of half ideas, they're not really tight as a band and will take on some big expensive Yank producer, go into the studio and say: 'make us sound great.' And what will happen is the producer will take the moolah but at the end of the day he doesn't care if he has his $250,000 in the bank."
Endino however, has always existed apart from name producers. Following his work on 'Bleach' and the subsequent grunge explosion, he was offered as Cairns put it "stupid amounts of money" to record bands. He turned them down, preferring to work with groups he genuinely liked. He was familiar with Therapy?'s work through the good words of US bands they'd toured with over the years and shortly after Cairns' initial phone call the band decamped to Seattle to record - with a caveat from the American ringing in their ears.
"We have a bit of a reputation for liking a drink and that doesn't really stop in the studio either," laughs Cairns. "We were talking to him on the phone and he said: 'I must warn you, I don't drink.' "So we got over there and had a house and a jeep for two months and we'd go into the studio at 12, stop for lunch, stop for tea and finish at 2 in the morning and then drive back. We let ourselves have six days off in the two months we were there. It was all done totally sober, no drink in the studio. Jack had heard our reputation and horror stories and when we were three quarters' way through he actually said that at times he thought it could end up being a nightmare. But we were so into what we were doing and he's really easy to work with..."
Listening to Cairns talk about the Endino it's clear that the relationship went beyond that of clients and producer, with the band even managing to broach the one subject Endino tries to avoid. "The only thing he doesn't really like talking about is Nirvana because everyone asks him about that! He has a note on his website which says 'do not ask me about Nirvana!' so none of us had brought it up. But we were doing a track on the album called 'Stalk and Slash' and my favourite Nirvana record is 'Bleach', so I said to him: 'Jack we'd really kind of like that guitar sound on 'Bleach'.' "So he set up an effects pedal through an amp through a speaker and I played the riff. We did the track and I said that it sounded pretty near to 'Bleach' and he goes: 'it should do, it's the same amp and pedal that was used on the album!'"
With Cairns justifiably proud of the results and Therapy? picking up airplay in the US (despite the fact they haven't toured there properly in six years) he's now looking forward to roadtesting 'Shameless'. "We're going to have a really good nine months with this record," he enthuses. "We're going to tour it all around the world and there's going to be hot rock action every night. Full on, unashamed, hot rock action. Guitar solos, fists in the air, stagediving - the whole lot."
The metal heads would be proud.
Therapy? play the Ambassador Dublin on Saturday December 8 2001.'Shameless' is out now on Ark 21 records.