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Artist Spotlight: The Answer

1 Mar, 2009 Musicians
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If your question is ‘who is the baddest, most kick ass, hard rockin band touring the world today,’ the answer is The Answer. Following the launch of their debut album Rise in 2006, they were quickly touted as the ‘best new UK band’ by Classic Rock magazine. The guys from Northern Ireland have already opened for legends such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Aerosmith. Today, you can find them on tour with AC/DC.

We caught up with The Answer in between their trip across Europe…

FROMAN: If you don’t mind us asking but what was the question that resulted in the
name The Answer?

THE ANSWER: One of the biggest debates the band has ever had was figuring out what to
call ourselves. When we first started playing around Belfast we were going under a
new name every week. When we started to realize the audience was filling up
with more than our brothers and cousins we thought “right we got to find a
name and keep it.” We were deep in the band name discussion when our drummer
James got fed up and said “alright what’s the answer, we gotta come up with
the answer.” Bingo!

In your opinion, what is the problem with the music industry today?

I think there are a lot of people out there who are hungry for bands that
are really sincere about the music they’re making. The audience is smart-
they know when the bands are chasing trends or singing music they don’t
believe in. I think that’s why we’ve been successful- all four of us
absolutely love the music were making.

What are your thoughts on bit torrents and file sharing?

What are bit torrents? Seriously we all listen to Vinyl and CD’s. We’re a bit out of date with that stuff. We obviously appreciate the value of the internet in terms of spreading the word and access to hearing new bands and all that. But Artists do need to be paid. Record companies are freaking out and blaming the internet instead of harnessing it, so it goes both ways. But ultimately the internet has allowed a lot of bands not on major labels, bands like us, to be discovered.

How did you guys hook up with acdc?

We share the same publisher- Alberts- so they’d been introduced to the band
a while back and apparently were fans of our first album Rise. So when it
came time to pick an opener- obviously they had a ton of choices but they
chose us. It was and is one of the greatest honors of our lives. AC/DC is
one of the best bands in history so to not just get to open for them but to
get to watch them every night on tour is incredible.

Any crazy backstage stories yet?

The AC/DC shows naturally attract all kinds of legendary musicians. We’ve
gotten to meet Alice Cooper, Slash, all sorts…which is pretty cool. One of the
strangest stops on tour though was in Fargo, ND. It was so cold, like negative 40
so they let our bus driver pull the tour bus right into the middle of the
arena. It was an overnight drive so when we woke up and stepped outside we
were in the middle of a giant concert dome. They told us not to leave since
it was so cold so we spent three days inside this mega-dome without ever
leaving to go outside. We played football to pass the time. It was
definitely strange.

Where is the major difference in playing shows in the UK compared to the
USA?

UK shows are definitely more rowdy. You’re likely to get beer thrown on you…
stage invasions are a given. In the US they’re more polite. But we’ve
absolutely enjoyed playing for America. Americans love rock and roll and
they’ve welcomed us with open arms. We had a lot of trepidation coming over
here…especially opening for AC/DC. We thought “shit are we gonna get
rotten tomatoes and beer bottles thrown at us?” But it ended up that they’ve
been giving us standing ovations! Their response far exceeded our
expectations. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous about the reaction
on that first night in Scranton.

Keep rocking guys. Thanks.
WHO:
Cormac Neeson - Vocals
Paul Mahon - Guitar
Michael Waters - Bass
James Heatley - Drums


WHERE:
Touring Europe. Check out their Myspace for full schedule.


WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE:


Never Too Late



Under the Sky

THE RUNDOWN:

There are moments in life when even the most hard-nosed music experts have to catch their breath with excitement. They have heard a lot, seen a lot - and probably forgotten most of it quickly. But somehow everything seems different about newcomer rock act, The Answer, from Northern Ireland: although you clearly feel their influences (mainly legends such as Free, Led Zeppelin, Black Crowes and Cream), you immediately sense this ambitioned band’s great independence and unconditional topicality. Nothing sounds stale or cribbed; which is a feat in itself, because the foundation of their compositions unmistakably lies in traditional hard rock, which has delighted the masses again and again over the years.

The Answer’s songs sound so timeless and fresh that you could assume there’s some kind of secret recipe or hidden trick behind them. Yet the band’s recipe for success appears to be amazingly simple: “Everything we do is basically thoroughly honest,” guitarist Paul Mahon describes the band’s philosophy. “We’re a real team and draw our power from an indestructible inner strength. We jam together at the rehearsal room, combine the ideas of all band members, and the four of us stick together like glue.”

The Answer’s conquest of North America, which began at SXSW in early 2008 and roared through year’s end when they embarked on their first-ever tour of the continent as the opening act for AC/DC’s Black Ice juggernaut. They placed a track on Guitar Hero: World Tour and released their debut U.S. title, the EP/DVD Never Too Late. Topping it all off, the band’s first North American full-length album, Everyday Demons arrives in March 31st. A real red-letter day for all rock music fans!

Announcing The Answer’s Black Ice tour spot in Fall ’08, Rolling Stone wrote in a weekly “Hot List,” “No effing wonder AC/DC tapped these U.K. long-hairs to open…the singer howls like Paul Rodgers, the guitarist shreds like Jimmy Page and the lyrics are as awesomely stupid as ballin’ without a rubber.” Just two months later, in 2008’s annual late December “Hot Issue,” the publication hailed the band as “ Rock Gods In Training.” They wrote, “Lead singer Cormac Neeson has long, golden locks that make him look like a young Robert Plant. Guitarist Paul Mahon could have appeared on a vintage Creem cover.” Also in December, after their network television debut on The Late Show, David Letterman proclaimed, “The Answer, single handedly keeping rock and roll alive.”

But what exactly is it that makes this band’s sound? First of all, there’s vocalist Cormac Neeson. An exceptional talent with a smoky, expressive voice and sensational live performance. Once Neeson gets going, the term ‘vitality’ takes on a whole new meaning. This man has everything that makes a real rock shouter of the type the international music scene comes up with perhaps once or twice in a decade. Paul Mahon plays an impressive guitar, clearly inspired by blues and rhythm’n’blues. His slide solos are among the hottest since Paul Kossoff, his licks and hooks ooze pure energy. Bassist Micky Waters and drummer James Heatley support Cormac Neeson and Paul Mahon as an excellent rhythm group who give structure to The Answer’s material with their driving grooves. Impossible not to move every muscle when these four Irishmen start to rock.

Everyday Demons is The Answer’s second LP but the first to be released in the US, a masterpiece full of empathy and classic references. While the band is used to comparisons to rock icons such as Led Zeppelin, Free and Thin Lizzy, they’re looking to Everyday Demons to bring their own signature sound to the fore—a sound whose 21st century kick is as potent as its formidable 20th century influences. Neeson said “We’ve been stepping it up a gear in every area, and made an album that sounds distinctly like The Answer, rather than the bands we’re compared to. We particularly concentrated on the elements that make us unique, including lyrical content and how we write our songs. We’re looking forward to bringing that to America.” No matter how hard or dense the tracks, Neeson’s commanding vocals are clear and razor sharp, and the sense of immediacy captured during recording is palpable. Mahon is right on the mark when he says, “It sounds like the four of us playing live in a room and has a flair that only an Irish band could produce.”


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