Andy Cairns

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Andy Cairns
Andy Cairns onstage with Therapy? at Rock For People Festival, Czech Republic on 5 July 2009
Courtesy: Kati Haapala
Background information
Birth name Andrew James Cairns
Born (1965-09-22) 22 September 1965 (age 53)
Ballyclare, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Genres Alternative metal
Alternative rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, Musician
Instruments Vocals, Guitar
Years active 1989–present
Labels Demolition Records
Associated acts Therapy?
Notable instruments
Gibson SG

Andrew James Cairns (born 22 September 1965, in Ballyclare, Northern Ireland), is a founding member, singer, guitarist, and songwriter for Therapy?, a punk rock/alternative metal band from Northern Ireland.


After attending Ballyclare High School in the town, Andy then began working as a quality control inspector in a Michelin tyre factory. After playing in local heavy metal and punk rock bands, Cairns started the band Therapy? in 1989 with drummer Fyfe Ewing whom he met at a local charity gig. Cairns quit his job and became a professional musician when Therapy? signed to London based independent label Wiiija. The band, completed by bassist Michael McKeegan, went on to widespread success, perhaps in particular with the much-lauded Troublegum album on A&M Records in 1994, which has sold over one million copies. To date, he has recorded ten full-length albums, two mini-albums, two compilation albums and numerous EP's with the million selling outfit. Along with McKeegan, Cairns is the only original member still with the band.[1]

Cairns' earliest work with Therapy? was characterised by an interest in psychiatry, psychosis and human isolation. Later Therapy? albums saw his lyrics become concerned with recurring themes such as doomed romance, loneliness and loss.[2] He has a reputation amongst music fans for being a pleasant natured and approachable artist, happy to sign autographs or converse with fans. This "easy going" persona has marked him out as being quite different from fellow rock musicians, and has bolstered his enduring relationship with the music press.

Side Projects / Solo

Prior to Therapy?, Cairns was a member of Likwidatorz (school punk band), Crash Into June and Falling Eiffels. He has also played with roadie/radio presenter Diamond Dave Thompson in a band called The Buzzwreckers.

In 1990, while still unsure of Therapy?'s potential, Cairns formed another group called Catweazle. The trio, completed with Michael McKeegan's brother Charlie on drums and a bassist known only as Chappie, played live around Belfast and recorded a seven track rehearsal tape which has been circulated in trading circles. One of the tracks recorded, "This Isn't (Where It's At)", later re-appeared with different lyrics as "Jude The Obscene" from Therapy?'s 1995 album Infernal Love.

In 1993, Cairns co-founded Dublin based record label Blunt Records with Dan Oggly of Friction PR. The label produced and released work for alternative Irish bands such as Mexican Pets and Pet Lamb. The label ceased operating in the late 90's.

In 1995, Cairns (tremolo guitar and vocals) alongside Therapy? cellist/guitarist Martin McCarrick (cello, organ and vocals), formed a short-lived and highly experimental combo called Casey Jones Reaction. The duo demo'd a few tracks but nothing concrete arose from the sessions and nothing was officially released. However, in 2008 Andy posted several of the tracks on Therapy?'s official website. Two of the tracks, "Serge" and "Apple" featured Michael McKeegan on bass and were recorded in a studio. The remaining nine tracks were recorded on Martin's four-track.

In May 2013, Cairns embarked on his first ever solo acoustic tour of the UK, as well as some dates in Europe. To especially mark the tour, he released a CD of acoustic material for sale exclusively at the shows, titled 53 Minutes Under Byker, consisting of 12 Therapy? songs, 6 original tracks freshly written for the tour and a cover version, all recorded on 24 April 2013 in Newcastle's Blast Studios.[3]

On 18 August 2014, Cairns recorded his second acoustic album, titled Fuck You Johnny Camo, which will be sold on his UK tour in September 2014.[4]

In November 2014, Cairns and McKeegan recorded a side project in Belfast's Start Studio with fellow Northern Irish musicians.

In August 2015, Cairns contributed guitar to recordings of an original song "Purveyor of Quackery" and a cover of "Another Girl Another Planet" by The Only Ones. The group, consisting of fellow Therapy? members Michael McKeegan and Neil Cooper, alongside 'Diamond' Dave Thompson on vocals and Rich Jones on lead guitar, was known as The Gemils. Backing vocals were contributed by Ricky Warwick, Tim Wheeler, Robyn G Shiels, Tom Dalgety and Stevie Firth. A 7" was produced and presented to Andy Cairns as a 50th birthday gift. Just 10 copies were pressed and the single will not be made public.


In the March 1998 issue of "Guitar Magazine", Andy had the following to say:

My amps were just Marshall JMP100s. Pedals-wise, I've always used Boss - I bought them all when I was 17 and they're still going, so I can't really fault them - and we added the Coloursound pedals for a bit more bite. The thing about the Coloursounds is they're basic. On the beginning of Tightrope Walker I started playing the riff and picked up this American radio station through the pedal. Left it on, though. They're great; they only make one sound - kkkkkkhhhhh! - but it's a great kkkkkkhhhhh!.

For live work and the bulk of studio work I use my Gibson SG, just straight off the factory line. It's very power chord-y - good for stuff like Screamager, Nowhere - but I've also got this cherry '63 SG which I bought in America. That's got a lot more bite, it cuts through more. And Chris Sheldon also lent me this beautiful early-70's Fender Tele Deluxe - so solid, not that thin, almost transistor-y sound I find you get from a lot of Teles. There's also a Jaguar on a few tracks.

What I really want though, is a good Les Paul. In my head, when I hear a Les Paul I hear Appetite For Destruction, Generation Terrorists or Never Mind The Bollocks, but whenever I play them they sound like Soup Dragons b-sides, this tinny, non-descript indie fizz. I'm one of these people who's probably played every type of Les Paul ever made and they all sound shite. And James from the Manics, who's a mate of mine, is one of these lucky bastards; he told me "I just walked into the shop and there it was!" I was, like, "no you didn't, you spent hours in shops searching for that, you specky little twerp!" I've had no luck with them, and I don't know why!

Andy has since switched to using Framus Guitars.


Andy lives in Cambridge with his wife and child. He married English born Kristina in May 1997. Their son, Jonah Cairns, was born in October 1999. Since 1994, Cairns has been a season ticket holder at Chelsea Football Club.[5][6]




  • "Meat Abstract" (1990)
  • "Teethgrinder" (1992)
  • "Shortsharpshock" (E.P.) (1993)
  • "Face the Strange" (E.P.) (1993)
  • "Opal Mantra" (1993)
  • "Nowhere" (1994)
  • "Trigger Inside" (1994)
  • "Die Laughing" (1994)
  • "Isolation" (1994)
  • "Femtex" (1994)
  • "Stories" (1995)
  • "Loose" (1995)
  • "Diane" (1995)
  • "Stories" (re-release) (1996)
  • "Bad Mother" (1996)
  • "Church Of Noise" (1998)
  • "Lonely, Cryin', Only" (1998)
  • "Hate Kill Destroy" (2000)
  • "Bad Karma Follows You Around" (2000)
  • "Gimme Back My Brain" (2001)
  • "I Am The Money" (2001)
  • "If It Kills Me/Rust" (2003)
  • "My Voodoo Doll" (2003)
  • "Polar Bear/Rock You Monkeys" (2005)
  • "Rain Hits Concrete" (E.P.) (2006)
  • "Crooked Timber" (2009)
  • "Exiles" (2010)
  • "Living in the Shadow of the Terrible Thing" (2012)
  • "Still Hurts" (2015)
  • "Deathstimate" (2015)
  • "Tides/Insecurity" (2016)

Other Releases

  • Thirty Seconds Of Silence (1989) - Demo tape
  • Meat Abstract (1989) - Demo tape
  • Caucasian Psychosis (1992) - a US compilation of the first two mini-albums
  • Have a Merry Fucking Christmas (1992) - a 7" given away at Dublin and Belfast gigs
  • Born In A Crash (1993) - a European only mini-album
  • Hats Off to the Insane (1993) - a US and Japan only mini-album
  • Live In Japan (Fan Club Edition) (1994) - a fan-club only cassette recorded live in Tokyo in October 1993
  • Official Fan Club (1996) - a fan-club only CD recorded live in Arnhem in July 1995
  • Scopophobia (2003) - a DVD release recorded live in Belfast's Mandela Hall in June 2003, plus promo video clips and extras
  • Gold (2007) - a DVD release featuring promo video clips
  • Webgig (2007) - a live studio video/audio download from the official website, recorded in September 2006
  • 53 Minutes Under Byker (2013) - an acoustic solo CD sold exclusively at gigs, studio recorded in April 2013
  • The Gemil Box (2013) - career spanning box set recorded between 1989-2011
  • Stories: The Singles Collection (2014) - compilation released by Universal Music
  • Fuck You Johnny Camo (2014) - second acoustic solo CD sold exclusively at gigs, studio recorded in August 2014
  • Purveyor of Quackery (2015) - 7" limited to 10 copies (with The Gemils)

Guest Appearances

  • The Almighty - Crank (1994) song: Jonestown Mind (backing vocals)
  • Manchild - Untied States (2000) song: Rehab (vocals & guitar)
  • The Almighty - Psycho-Narco (2001) song: Waiting For Earthquakes (backing vocals)
  • Throat - Knievel Is Evil (2002) song: Gleason (guitar)
  • The Wildhearts - The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed (2003) song: Get Your Groove On (vocals)
  • This Is Menace - No End In Sight (2005) song: F8 (vocals)
  • This Is Menace - Emotion Sickness (2007) song: F8 (live) (vocals)
  • Inferno - Pompa Magna (2009) song: The Second Triumvirate of Lavonia (vocals)
  • Thirty Six Strategies - Strategy Two (2014) song: Crisis? What Crisis? (backing vocals)
  • Thirty Six Strategies - Strategy Two (2014) song: Ignite (guitar)
  • Ricky Warwick - When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (2015) song: Celebrating Sinking (backing vocals & co-writer)


  1. "Therapy? History by Andy Cairns".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Critical Junctions Troublegum review".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Andy Cairns Solo Tour Exclusive CD".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Andy Cairns Solo Tour Exclusive CD".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "GetReadyToRock interview with Andy Cairns".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Andy Cairns Biography".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links