Interview The Answer

Artiest: The Answer

Geïnterviewde: Cormac Neeson (zanger)

Interview afgenomen op: Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival

Label: Napalm Records

De Ierse bluesrock band The Answer was een van de aanwezige bands op Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival. De heren stonden ons te woord al om half 11 ’s morgens, een paar uur voor hun optreden. Later op de dag zouden ze nog naar Nederland gaan om op Huntenpop te spelen, een drukke dag voor de boeg!

How are you doing, did you have a nice trip?

Yeah, we played Cologne last night and we drove from there to here at 5 in the morning. I didn’t have much sleep.

Did you know Alcatraz already from before?

Yeah, I had heard of it. Driving into this place kind of reminded me as a cross between Hellfest and Download Festival back in the UK. It’s one of these festivals where a lot of people are volunteers from the look of it, that’s always saying something good. It’s a good line-up this year and it’s good to be part of it.

How do you experience touring? Is it easy or sometimes hard?

Sometimes it’s tiring, like today, I only had a couple of hours of sleep and we’re playing two festivals today. I imagine that when we are going home tomorrow for a few days, when I’m back in Belfast I’m just going to fall down in a heap someplace, but you know, for the most part it’s what we do and we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t enjoy it.

Has it become easier to tour in these years in comparison to  back in the days?

Sometimes I guess. Back in the days we began in our own little transit van who struggled to get up a steeple and these days for the most part we’re on this nice tour bus, that makes a difference.

I bet you remember touring with AC/DC a few years ago, did it give you guys a big promotional boost?

Yeah of course. It was a long tour, it lasted for a year and a half. It was in front of a lot of people in massive venues. It definitely helped the name of the band at places that haven’t heard of us before. But that was four or five years ago as well, it’s in the past and we’ve been working hard the last years doing a lot of our own headline shows, establishing just our own band and brand I suppose. The support gigs are nice but I much more prefer playing 90 minutes in front of our own crowd, you know.

Soon you will release a new album called ‘Solas’. Is it already fully finished?

Actually yeah, like right down to the artwork, it’s all ready to go. It should be around the 20th of October or the last week of October. I’m more excited about this record than I have ever been for many years I think, just because it feels like it has really come together like we’ve hoped. We wanted to make a record that was a little bit different, a little bit kind of dipped in our Celtic roots. But not just that, we’re kind of tapping into little pools of influences that we haven’t tapped into before. It has all come together, making it a very different sounding record. So I’m excited and nervous as to how our fans will take it, but I’m quite confident that they are going to enjoy it.

I couldn’t find much information about it yet, can you for example tell us how many songs are on it?

There are 11 tracks on the record that is called ‘Solas’, which is the Irish word for light. It’s kind of a journey through the years. On one of the songs we’ve done, we’ve collaborated with Neil Davidge, who was a composer for the band Massive Attack. Obviously that doesn’t sound like a natural fit, but where we are at right now, we’re trying to make an album that’s fresh and original. When somebody suggested to work with Neil Davidge, we jumped on it. It’s a special record, it means a lot to me. I hope our fans can get into it.

Will we here any new stuff today already?

Yeah, I think we’re playing two brand new songs. This summer tour has been kind of for the anniversary edition of ’Rise’, celebrating a repackage version of our first record from ten years ago. That’s been great, it’s been really nice to go back there and play a lot of songs that we haven’t played in a while. It’s been very important that we have new songs to play at the end of every set. It’s not that we are just stuck in the past, that’s the last place where you want to be with a band. So we’ve been ending every night or every festival with two brand new songs. You’ll hear that they are kinda different from the rest and they’ve been going well.

When you guys write music, does everybody bring in something?

Yeah very much so. Everyone brings demos in and then we go through each other’s songs until we get the right songs that we are happy with. Sometimes that takes a day, sometimes it takes a year. Everybody contributes and can have its say on the record, it’s part of what makes us who we are. All of our members have equal ownership of the music. I don’t mean that in a statistical way, I mean that in an emotional way. I think you see that whenever we hit the stage, play our songs, everybody giving it everything he got because that’s our identity.

What are the plans then next year? Are you going to do a headline tour through Europe for the new record?

Yeha, we’ve got a pretty huge tour planned. It’s starting November 12th until December 21th, starts in the UK as a co-headline tour with The Dead Daisies. There’s a lot of talented musicians in that band so that’s going to be a fun tour. Apart from that, we’re touring in 2017 as well. We’re going to America to do a Monsters of Rock cruise which is going to be good fun and some shows over there. We’re really looking forward to this album and the whole campaign. It’ll give everybody the opportunity to come and check us out.

Are you guys big in America?

Some places where we are doing quite well like Chicago and New York, Westcoast places. It’s such a big place, hard to cover everything. We’ve put years of our life journeying there and it’s hard but we love it. You really get a lot of love from American audiences on Facebook and Twitter and places you go to. If we don’t play there for a year, there are people who give us a hard time to go touring there again and that’s good to know.

About the name, where does it actually come from?

Well, it was generally a very last minute thing. Our drummer James took care of the bookings and all that before the record labels. We had to put a phone number on the demos and such. We’ve been called Redhouse before that and James was like that’s a bit too obvious and bluesy. We were just discussing names at the time and James got a phone call from a promoter in Belfast and he said, what’s the answer on this, I need an answer to this in order to put it in the Belfast telegraph. Ah, The Answer! It kind of stuck, you know.