Saturday, December 20, 2008
From The Streets Of Downpatrick To Madison Square Garden : A Candid Conversation With Vocalist Cormac Neeson Of The Answer
One of the most exciting new acts to come along this decade, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland hard rockers The Answer caught the attention of the classic rock scene in a big way with the release of their debut EP via Albert Productions, 'Keep Believin' in 2005. Formed in 2000, the quartet, consisting of vocalist Cormac Neeson, guitarist Paul Mahon, bassist Micky Waters and drummer James Heatley came together with disparate influences, as is the case with many bands, but their common ground was down and dirty, balls to the wall 70's inspired, blues based hard rock.
Plying a style recalling 70's heavy rock titans such as Led Zeppelin, Free and Humble Pie, they soon began receiving high praise in first the English press, then worldwide as the band was the recipient of Classic Rock Magazine's 'Best New Band 2005' Award. At the star studded inaugural awards ceremony that year, none other than Jimmy Page himself raved about the band, subsequently turning up at several of their gigs in London to watch the lads from the side of the stage. June 2006 saw the release of the critically acclaimed debut album 'Rise' which had Classic Rock Magazine proclaiming it,"The best British rock debut of the decade." with similar sentiments being bestowed by both rock scribes and fans world wide. So far the album has sold over 100,000 copies globally, with many more sure to be purchased after seeing their incendiary live performances.
Further legendary endorsements followed, such as Free/Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers joining the band onstage at the Planet Rock Radio Christmas Party in December 2007, the lads having previously opened for the legendary vocalist during his appearance at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall in October 2006. Def Leppard's Joe Elliott is a huge fan, even going as far in an interview with AOL Music to state that the band's hard hitting approach will be possibly influencing their music on the next studio offering by the Sheffield rockers. Also in 2007, the band had the fantastic opportunity to open two huge open- air shows in front of 80,000 each for The Rolling Stones, first in Belgrade, Serbia, and later on in Dusseldorf, Germany, both of which would be the pinnacle for any band, but these boys weren't finished yet by any means.
The year 2008 has been yet another year dreams are made of for the band. Appearing during the summer at the Isle Of Wight Festival, later on in the year they were scheduled to begin a co- headlining tour with fellow rising stars Black Stone Cherry when word came that they had been tabbed for the highly coveted support slot on AC/DC's massive 'Black Ice' tour of North America. A spot which has seen them receive standing ovations following their all too brief 30 minute set - a feat almost unheard of for a headliner these days, let alone a relatively unknown on their first tour of the United States. Add in having a song from their latest 'Never Too Late' EP featured on the immensely popular video game 'Guitar Hero World Tour', a mid - tour November showcase on CBS TV's 'Late Night With David Letterman,' which saw the band being exposed to millions of viewers in the U.S. and being featured in Rolling Stone Magazine's "Hot" issue, it's been one heady year. With the upcoming 2009 release of the band's sophomore studio album 'Everday Demons' slated to drop in March, it appears the sky is indeed the limit, and before it's over these boys may need a parachute to come back down to earth.
Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with vocalist Cormac Neeson before the band was due to take the stage at a sold out show at US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. During this exclusive conversation, the topics discussed ranged from the reception they have received from the crowds in America during the AC/DC tour, playing with The Rolling Stones, the band's influences, details on their upcoming album 'Everyday Demons' and much, much more. Join us as we get to know one of the hottest and finest of the new bloods of the classic rock scene, The Answer...
Special thanks go to Erin Podbereski at Jensen Communications for coordinating, and a BIG thanks to Cormac Neeson for doing this interview for Nightwatcher's House Of Rock!
Interview and text by Nightwatcher for Nightwatcher's House Of Rock
December 20, 2008
Nightwatcher's House Of Rock : First off, as many will already know, you're opening all the shows for the North American AC/DC 'Black Ice' Tour. How's the tour been going for the band?
Cormac Neeson : It's going great. Honestly, it's far surpassed how we might have hoped it would turn out for us. We're getting really great turn outs for being a supporting act. Very often with a supporting act when you arrive in the arena there will just be 40, 50% filled. But in our case, it's been nearly 80 to 90% filled. I don't know whether it's to do with the cold weather up north, or whether people are actually getting into The Answer, but either way they're coming in and enjoying themselves. It's a great opportunity to play in front of between 15,000 to 20,000 people every night, and the response has been amazing for us.
NHOR : You've actually been getting standing ovations, which is amazing for an opening act...
CN : We are. It's quite a tricky thing to get an audience warmed up when it's an all seated gig, ya know? I find it much easier to motivate an audience when they're already standing, or already kind of grooving with the music. But in many instances people stand up as soon as we come walking on the stage. (Laughs) Which is great, because it makes my job a lot easier.
NHOR : As support act on this tour, you're playing 30 to 40 minutes, right?
CN : We're playing 30 minutes every night. It's like a 6 song set. Which is enough, but obviously we'd like to have a bit more time up there. But you've kind of got to make the most of what you've got.
NHOR : What have you seen as being as the biggest difference playing in front of American audiences as opposed to those in Europe?
CN : It's quite hard to compare because obviously this is our first American tour, so our only experience is now with the AC/DC tour, and a few gigs in Austin, Texas and a few in L.A. Wheras we've played... you name a club, bar, or venue in Europe and we've probably played it. But I think in terms of American audiences, and I don't know if it's a marked difference, but they're definitely very willing to give us a chance. From a support act's point of view they're really willing to embrace the band. They don't automatically dismiss us as a band that they've never heard before. They'll listen to the first couple of songs, and if they're into it they'll let you know that they're into it. Wheras maybe you have to fight a little harder with some of the European audiences.
NHOR : What are the biggest challenges for you being an opening act vs being a headlining band on your own?
CN : Well, the length of the set is an obvious one. We normally like to get up and play for an hour and a half, an hour and forty minutes when we're doing our own headlining show. So compare that to 30 minutes, and you have to condense what the band's about into a very short intense space of time. Wheras if you've got a couple hours to work with you can balance the set a lot more. We can throw in a couple of slower, bluesy numbers and get the crowd involved. I like to jump down into the crowd whenever we're doing our own headlining shows and get them worked up like that. But the crowd's a bit too far away on this tour. (Laughs) So I don't really have that tool at my disposal. It's a complete different experience, but it's all about making the most of what time you're given wherever you are in the world. It's very important to us that we get up and put on a great live show for anybody that bothers to come down and see us.
NHOR : Your vocal style has drawn comparison to rock legends such as Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, Humble Pie's Steve Marriott and Free/Bad Company's Paul Rodgers. Do you feel that there's validity to those comparisons? How do you feel about being compared to those three?
CN : Definitely those are three singers that I grew up listening to. Paul Rodgers would be my favorite singer of all time. It's pretty common knowledge that Free would probably be my favorite band of all time. So to be compared to singers like that, I take as an absolute compliment. But also, whether you're a guitar player, a singer, a drummer or a bass player, it doesn't matter what you do you kind of have to put your own individual stamp on what you're doing. It's important that you're not just imitating your influences. You have to take them onboard and make it your own thing.
NHOR : What is it about Paul's vocal style that's made such an impression on you?
CN : It's hard to pin down, but whenever he sings, whether it's slow or fast, whether it's with Free, Bad Company, Queen...whatever, there's just an inherent soul and emotion that cuts through in his voice and it sounds so effortless. It just feels like it comes from somewhere deep inside of the man, ya know? It just strikes you that it's something that he has no control over, it was just something that he was blessed with. It's hard to explain, but it just cuts through to me that this guy means what he's singing.
NHOR : What drew you to traditional hard rock? You grew up during a time when alternative and grunge music such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains were the big thing. It would be a much easier road one might think to be trendy or to be like Coldplay...I mean, let's face it Cormac, with a very few rare exceptions like AC/DC, blues based rock isn't actually tearing up the charts these days....
CN : Oh absolutely. Maybe that's because there's not enough really good blues based rock bands. I think that's one of the main factors right there. Like you said, I grew up listening to bands like Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against The Machine, all that kind of stuff. But whenever I get into a music I want to get completely into it. I like to trace it back. I'm like, "Where do these guys come from? Where did the grunge scene emerge from?" Inevitably once you trace it back you end up with bands like Led Zeppelin and Free. Then going further back than that you'll get blues artists like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters.
I kind of try to keep an open mind when it comes to music. That automatically leaves my musical tastes open to discovering bands like the ones we were talking about. The fact that we play the whole blues rock thing is pretty much where the 4 of us meet in the middle regarding musical influences. We all have our separate favorite influences. James is a big Helmet and Tool fan. He just loves drummers who kick the shit out of the drums.(Laughs) Paul, obviously being a guitar player loves Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, stuff like that. The music that you hear us play is kind of a midway point where we can all agree, and all get up there and play music that we're passionate about.
NHOR : It certainly shows, that passion. There are many bands who try and play the style of music that you do, but they don't have the feel. You can tell that they're not really into it. But yours is a band which you can tell that you do feel it, you're not faking it and it comes through in the music...
CN : It's important to us that what we do, we do it well, and we do it with passion and emotion. Also we try to give it relevance to the here and now, as opposed to...like what I was saying about singing style as opposed to just imitation. The bands who have influenced us, we want to bring it forward as well.
NHOR : Where do you feel that a band such as The Answer, who are very much a traditional band in the 70's style, fits into the music scene of today?
CN : I think the very fact that we're doing it gives it a relevance to today, ya know? It's never been our thing to purposely go out there and live up to the trends that the radio stations and the magazines are trying to set. We've always made it a point of writing and playing music that we enjoy and not for any reason other than that. When you hear our new album for instance, what we've done is taken all that positive blues rock that got us started as a band and we've tried to very much hone in to what makes the band The Answer. In terms of capturing the live performance, and in the lyrical content, writing about stuff that's relevant to us as 4 guys coming out of Northern Ireland, trying to make it in the crazy world of the music industry that it is. I think also the guys have developed their own individual playing styles which definitely set them apart from any potential retro labels that the band might get along the way. I think that more than any other instance the second album will cement that.
NHOR : The band was formed in 2000, but obviously all of you had been in bands prior to that. What is it about the combination of the 4 of you which has clicked this time around, versus any other bands you'd been in earlier?
CN : You're right, we were all in numerous bands before we formed The Answer. But I think when the 4 of us got together, from the offset we realized there was a chemistry there that didn't exist in all the bands before that point. We started writing songs very early on after we got the band together, and as the songs were developing we were going out of the practice room going, "You know, we've got something really special going on here." We knew from an early stage that's what we wanted to do. It didn't take us long before we were "Let's just quit our jobs here and see if we can do it." That just polarized us to try and make this thing work.
NHOR : You're part of a long lineage of Irish rockers which have included Van Morrison and Them, Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore, Bernie Torme and U2. What is it about coming from Ireland that contributes to a more rough and tumble, balls to the wall musical approach to rock n roll?
CN : I think it's just the way the Irish are. I think we're generally pretty well grounded people. We don't like too many frills around the edges. Like everything else in life we treat music for what it is. It's something we should throw ourselves into with minimum bullshit. No messing around, just get out there, do it, enjoy it and present it for what it is. I think that definitely comes across when you listen to the early Van Morrison stuff. Rory Gallagher... Jesus, that's just a man who's in love with his guitar, getting up and playing for the sheer ecstasy of it, which is something that we as a band really tune into and take inspiration from. Thin Lizzy's the same way. Those guys just did it because they loved it. Thin Lizzy is what rock & roll's all about, just presenting it as a very real music of the people.
NHOR : Do you ever feel any sort of pressure to uphold that tradition?
CN : It's not so much pressure. I think there's enough pressures in our lives at the moment to worry about. (Laughs) Standing up against what's gone before us, we definitely use those bands as inspiration and to bring us further down the road. We're all big fans of Rory Gallagher and the early Van Morrison stuff. We enjoy being listed in that bracket of a continuing Irish rock tradition.
NHOR : What was the defining moment when you knew you wanted to become a musician?
CN : It was definitely one of those early days in the practice room with The Answer. All of us have been playing music our whole lives. I'm sure, if anyone had said along the way, "You know what...would you like to spend the rest of life making music and making a living off the band?" I would've hung up my boots and gone with any suggestion anybody had presented me with. But the reality of it was that it wasn't until we got together and started writing good songs that we realized that we had a real shot at it all, ya know?
NHOR : Are you from a musically inclined family?
CN : Yeah, I've got three younger brothers who all are very talented Irish traditional musicians actually. Which is something that I have an appreciation for, but never was quite as accomplished as my younger brothers. I always kind of stuck to rock & roll. But there's definitely music in the blood.
NHOR : What was the first record you ever bought?
CN : The first record I ever bought...was probably 'Slippery When Wet' by Bon Jovi. I'm almost ashamed to say it. (Laughs) I was young and easily influenced, ya know? The first record that I really got my teeth into and was passionate about though was probably The Smashing Pumpkins' 'Siamese Dream'. That, and Rage Against The Machine, their first one. Those are the two albums that I would always cite as my earliest influences as an adolescent and a teenager.
NHOR : You opened for the Rolling Stones in front of 80,000 people in Belgrade, Serbia in 2007, and later on the same year in Dusseldorf, Germany... what was that experience like for you?
CN : The Stones gig in Belgrade probably still stands up as one of those memorable, almost life changing moments. It was in front of 80,000 people, supporting a band that all 4 of us absolutely love. It was a dream come true to start with, but I remember clearly the sheer number of people standing in front of us was really intimidating for me at the time. I was almost scared to look up during the 40 minutes we were up on stage. (Laughs) When it got to the last song that we played, which is very crowd oriented, it's an easy one to clap along to and get into, there's always a point where I put my arms in the air and try and get the audience involved. At this point, I gradually relaxed a bit, and started to enjoy it more and more. So I thought, "Alright, I'll give this a shot." I put my hands in the air and started clapping, and slowly but surely I looked up, and sure enough, in front of me were 80,000 sets of hands clapping in time to our song. I just remember I was blown away. I came off stage and I was on a high for a month afterwards. It gave us as a band real confidence that someday those 80,000 people could be coming out to see The Answer headlining a show in Belgrade. It was a real sense that yes, this is within our grasp here.
NHOR : You got to meet them as well. Were the Stones themselves aware of your music beforehand, and how did they treat you?
CN : We met them just after the show in Belgrade. As far as them being aware of our music, I'm not entirely sure to be honest. I know that they're definitely keeping track of us now. We're kind of on The Rolling Stones' radar at the moment, having played those gigs. Up to that point though, I'm not sure. I'd imagine at least one of the band members would've had to in order for us to get those support slots. I'd suppose you'd have to conclude on that basis that they'd heard the band. But when we met them it was unbelievable. It was a star struck moment. We've played with a lot of big artists, and generally my attitude is anybody's just another person, and should be treated as you would treat the average guy in the street, but The Rolling Stones were slightly different. (Laughs) It's like meeting royalty. But they came out and they were great. They were cracking jokes about us coming from Scotland as opposed to Ireland, and made sure every one of us met each member of the band. They were making eye contact, asking questions and seemed genuinely interested in where we were from and what we were doing. After that they went and immediately stepped on stage and played one of the best rock & roll shows I've ever seen. It was just a great night in Serbia.
NHOR : Did Mick or Keith impart any words of wisdom to you?
CN : No words of wisdom, it was a bit more relaxed than that. But I've definitely had some advice from various members of the rock royalty over the past few years. David Coverdale was very willing to talk about his early days as a singer, what to do, what not to do, things like that. Anytime any of these guys talk to you, you listen because they've been through it and they know how to get along in this world, and know how to hold an audience's attention for 2 and a half hours. An audience 20, 30 thousand strong at the very least, so you just have to listen, take it on board, and treat them with respect like you'd treat anybody else. I definitely appreciate the advice.
NHOR : Along those same lines, you've had the opportunity now to witness up close some very legendary vocalists as you've opened up for Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Paul Rodgers and now AC/DC. What is the biggest thing you've learned from vocalists such as David Coverdale, Ian Gillan, Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltrey, Paul Rodgers and now Brian Johnson?
CN : Out of all the guys you've just mentioned, I would find, from a performance aspect, Mick Jagger was the most inspiring. The man doesn't stop dancing around the stage for 2 and a half hours. He makes it look so natural, and just absolutely holds your attention from the start of the show to the end, and you're screaming for more by the time they walk off. I find that an inspiring thing to watch. From the fitness levels to how much he's enjoying doing what he's doing, at whatever ripe old age he's at, I thought it was just amazing, and that's proper love for the music right there. To watch Paul Rodgers sing... as he's singing, you just realize again that it's just something he's got no control over. It's just coming from his heart. It's a reminder that you always have to sing from the soul, rather than just doing it for the gig. You have to really mean what you're singing. I picked up those little bits from watching Paul sing live. Then, obviously to bring it up to the here and now, watching Brian every night for the last month and a half, the guy just loves what he's doing. He just has this control over the audience which is something that's a real joy to watch. I pick up little things along the way from all these different guys that we've played with. It's priceless education for a band like us.
NHOR : In terms of learning, you're certainly learning from the best...
CN : You have to keep learning man, you're never going to come to a point in your life where you say to yourself, "You know what? I know everything there is to know." You have to keep an open mind and keep learning.
NHOR : I'd like to talk a bit about the upcoming album, 'Everyday Demons' which is tentatively slated to come out in February. How would you describe the material that's going to be on there, and have there been any changes from the first album?
CN : First of all, I should probably tell ya that I think that the release date has been moved back to mid March. As for the material, it's definitely moving the band forward. As I was saying earlier, we've very much concentrated on cementing the band's identity as The Answer. As a band that stands out of the scene, but is relevant to it by the fact that we're doing something which is uniquely us. The way we did it was we held onto the essence of that kind of soulful, blues rock feel that's constantly present on our first album, 'Rise'.
But we've also tuned into... for example, with the lyrical content, we've spent a lot of time getting them exactly right. I can really put my own message across to the listeners. Paul is playing the way he plays. He's not playing like Eric Clapton, he's not playing like Steve Vai, he's not playing like Slash, he's playing like Paul Mahon. Even the way we recorded it, we were very much concentrating on capturing the level and the magic that only maybe happens once, in the live performance aspect of it. So we were laying down a drum track, bass track and a rhythm guitar track all at the same time. Which meant that the guys all had to be on top of their job to make it work, and make the payoff really beneficial to the band's sound. So we were doing a song a day. I was doing the lyrics each night, and I was doing the vocals each night. Which meant that as opposed to the normal way of doing things where you put down all the drums for all the songs, then the bass for all the songs, it was very much a consistent, fluent thing that we had going on. I think you'll really hear that across the album.
Also you have to remember that as a second album, as opposed to the first, which was a collection of songs that dated back almost to the beginning of the band's existence, this is an album that was written over the space of 6 months tops. So there's a much more consistent, free flowing statement coming out of that whole process. All those different elements have come together to help us make an album that, for people who are already into The Answer, they're really going to be able to get into it. But there's a few surprises on there which we expect will turn a few heads and hopefully strike a connection with even more people. Obviously from the American angle it will be our first full release over here, and it's a first impression that we're really proud of. Hopefully the U.S. will agree with us.
NHOR : The album was produced by John Travis, who also has produced Buckcherry, Kid Rock and Static X...What was it like working with John and what do you feel he has added this time around that wasn't on the first album 'Rise'?
CN : I think he definitely captured the band's live performance aspect a lot better than it was done on 'Rise'. Not to take anything away from the producers who did 'Rise', as they did a great job. But when we first met John he outlined the method that he was going to use. That was one of the main reasons why we chose him over other guys. He stuck to his word, which is another rarity when it comes to production of an album. Everyday he made sure that we were in the practice room before we hit the record button, jamming through the songs so that we were working ourselves up to the point that when we were ready for a take, we'd normally have the song nailed within the first two or three takes. Which is so beneficial. First of all to be able to do that, credit has to be given to the guys for being such capable musicians for being able to do that kind of stuff. But also the fact that John really got the best out of the performance was a major factor in creating this natural sounding, live based album that we've made here. It's all about striking a balance between capturing that live atmosphere, but also using the studio as your friend. You have to kind of balance the two and John's very good at doing that.
NHOR : Did you feel any more relaxed doing this album as compared to the debut?
CN : Honestly, I probably felt less relaxed. Because in this case it was a lot more intense, and a lot busier with a shorter time frame. We were in L.A. for 5 weeks, so we basically had to work from 12 o'clock during the day until 3, 4 o'clock in the morning every day. We got 2 days off the whole time we were there. We got the 4th of July, and we got one other day when it was getting close to the end of the session. So it was absolutely intense to the point of when we got back home to Ireland, everybody got sick and were really struck down for a couple of weeks until we got over the experience. But I think that intensity also helps to add a flavor to the album. You can definitely hear that there are 4 guys fighting for their lives with this one.
NHOR : You recorded the album in the former home of the late Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro, which has been converted into a studio. Now that's where Jeff tragically died in 1992 in a bizarre gardening accident involving the ingestion of pesticides, which caused him to suffer a fatal heart attack. During your time recording there, a couple members of the band reportedly experienced some rather strange occurrences, some might call supernatural ones. Did you witness any strange things while being there?
CN : I personally didn't. But generally wherever we go, somebody in the band experiences one of these weird occurrences. Call them what you want, but it was the same during the first album. We recorded in an old gentleman's fishing lodge and you could hear different noises at night, and a couple of the boys woke up in the middle of the night where it felt like something was pressing on their chest. It was one of those classic... if you ever watch one of those shows about the supernatural, with the room temperature dropping and stuff, it was definitely something like that. But in Jeff's house, we were aware that it was his house, and it was actually where Jeff passed away. Very often, if something good happened, we'd put it down to the spirit of Jeff Porcaro helping us out in his old drum studio. But as far as strange bumps in the night go, I was lucky enough to not experience anything like that. Which was good, 'cause those kinds of things really freak me out. (Laughs) I could very well have been sleeping in Jeff Porcaro's old bedroom as well, but if there were any spirits bouncing about the house they stayed clear of me.
NHOR : The debut album, 'Rise' has sold so far over 100,000 copies worldwide, a figure which is sure to go up due to people seeing you live on this tour. I know the label is most likely looking for the upcoming album to break the band in a huge way, but what would you personally feel would be a success this time around, sales wise?
CN : Honestly, I have no idea man. I don't like to plan too far ahead in this world we're living in. I deal in days and weeks as opposed to sales figures over the next year. All I'm keeping focused on is making sure that the AC/DC tour and our own shows over the next couple of years are as great as they can possibly be. Because after we've made the album, we're all very proud of it, and all we can do now is to get out there and hope people tune into what we're all about. Sales figures are something that I really don't concern myself with.
NHOR : You recently had some excellent exposure here as well in the States appearing on CBS TV's 'Late Night With David Letterman.' What was that like for you, and was the band at all nervous knowing that this was being broadcast to millions of people?
CN : I really enjoyed the whole experience. I thought whenever we first got word, the previous week or two beforehand that we were going to be on the show, just "Oh my God" (Laughs) It was a nerve wracking experience. We were told the target audience that the Letterman show hits, and I was like, "Geeze, are you serious? There will be that many million people watching us rocking out like idiots on the Letterman show?" But it all happened all quickly. It was just the one song, and we just said, "Well boys, let's just get up here and rock out. Show the American people what we're all about." And that's what we did. I've seen it since, it looks like it comes across pretty well, and I think at the end of the song when David came up and said "Never Too Late's the new EP by The Answer," I'm glad it didn't do that terrible or they'd never have us back again. It was obviously very professional and very well run on the Letterman show, so they made everything very easy for us.
NHOR : Now that vinyl albums are making somewhat of a comeback, are there any plans to release the upcoming album in that format that you know of?
CN : We are actually. We're going to release 'Everyday Demons' in three different formats. We'll be releasing the album as it is, and we'll be releasing a limited special edition, and also a limited number of vinyl records as well. There's a couple of the boys in the band who collect vinyl records out on the road, and it will be a great experience to be fishing around the record shops in America to see if we can find our own album in a couple of months.
NHOR : Your live shows are getting rave reviews... have you been filming any of them, and is there a possibility of seeing a live DVD from the band anytime soon?
CN : I think so. Actually, as part of the bonus disc which will be included with 'Everyday Demons', I think we might be releasing a live show we did in Tokyo, Japan about a year ago. That was filmed by like 22 video cameras, the entire gig. So that will definitely be in circulation within the next several months if people want to check us out before they come out to see us. But as far as the AC/DC support goes, all the live footage we've seen has been stuff put up on the Internet by guys holding their phones in the air. (Laughs) It's just been a couple of songs, but you can kind of gauge what it looks and sounds like from that. But it's not quite the same as a 22 camera angle production.
NHOR : So that will be a full live show included with 'Everyday Demons'?
CN : Yeah, that's the plan. I think on the bonus disc of the 'Never Too Late' EP there's "Keep Believin'" on there that's compiled entirely of live on the road footage, so people can also kind of gauge what we're all about.
NHOR : Every band has them... What has been your most "Spinal Tap" moment?
CN : I've had a few Spinal Tap moments. There was one time in Wolverhampton, which is a town smack dab in the middle of England, that we were given the address of the venue that we had to play. We pulled up to it, and said, "This looks nice," because we were playing the toilet tour as we call it of England, with the dirty, smelly rock bars in England. So, we pull up and go, "Well, this is a step up here. Maybe things are picking up. Maybe the English people are picking up to The Answer". We were earlier than expected, so we unloaded the gear, brought it down onto the big stage, and this had a 1,000 capacity when we were used to playing in front of 100 people. We started getting set up, and this guy came up and said, "Who are you?" We said, "We're The Answer." He said, "Right. Why are you setting up on stage?" We're like, "We've got a gig here tonight." He says, "There's no gig in here tonight." We said, "This is the Little Civic, isn't it?" He goes, "No, this is The Civic. The little Civic's next door. That's where you boys should be." We're like, "Right...Okay". So we take all the gear down, go next door, and sure enough, it was like the dirtiest, smelliest rock bar in England that we were used to during the previous months, with a 100 person capacity. That was pretty "Spinal Tap-ish" right there. Not only could we not find our way to the stage, but we found our way to the wrong venue. (Laughs)
NHOR : Jimmy Page has been a supporter of the band, turning up at gigs, and talking about you in the press. Has Jimmy given you any advice, and what are your feelings concerning the rumored Led Zeppelin tour without Robert Plant?
CN : No advice from Jimmy, just kind words. He's a gentleman, and he's always wished us well and asked us how we're getting on. Regarding a Led Zeppelin tour without Robert Plant, personally I'd rather they didn't do it. I'd rather Jimmy go do something that kept him excited and kept him interested, but not under the Led Zeppelin name. Obviously it's bad enough without Bonzo playing drums, even though his son is a great drummer and very similar in style. But without Robert Plant, there'd be a large gap missing of who they are. Obviously you have to have some principle when it comes to this sort of thing, but if the guys want to get out on the road, they want to get out on the road. Who am I to be judging?
NHOR : Flash forward 5 years from today. Where do you see the band going, and ideally where would you like to be in that time?
CN : Again, from a man who deals in days and weeks, 5 years is kind of above for myself. But at the moment things are great, we've got the biggest tour of the year, we're touring across America and Europe with AC/DC, we've got a song on 'Guitar Hero', we're getting some great press over here in the States, and back at home. We've got a killer album on the way, so we have high hopes. We're very positive at the moment and we're very motivated to really break our backs to take this band to the next level. We've sold 100,000 records, so of course we want to sell more records. We want to play in front of bigger audiences, and we want to make inroads in America. This is our first attempt to try and connect with the American people so we really want to make the most of all the good stuff that's going on right now. So in 5 years time I just want to be further forward than we are right now. Still writing great songs and putting on a great show for all the good people who come down to see us.
NHOR : Is there anything else you'd like to say to all the fans out there?
CN : I'd just like to say to all the people who've come down to see us thus far on this tour, have gotten into it, and have given us a real boost on this tour, I'd like to say thanks very much. I'd like to say that we'll see you again as soon as it's humanly possible to get back to see you. And for the people who haven't come and checked us out, and have a notion that they might want to do so, I would advise them to come down and see what we're all about. We're a hard hitting, no frills rock & roll band. We like to get out and meet the people after the show. So never have any fear about coming up to me on the street and saying, "How ya doing Cormac? Let's go for a beer." Because I'll be straight into the nearest bar with ya.
For more information on The Answer or to find up to date tour dates, go to these locations :
"Never Too Late" the title track of the band's debut EP American release :
To download the full track "Highwater or Hell" free of charge, from the upcoming album 'Everyday Demons' go to this location.