|Posted on February 22, 2015 at 6:15 PM|
Interview with Cormic Neeson
By Dave Smiles
For all intents and purposes The Answer already have a career that mirrors that of the classic rock bands from the seventies. Back in the days when a band’s career and reputation grew with each successive album release and through touring. Perhaps most surprisingly in our modern world is the support the band has received from their record company.
Since the success of their debut single Keep Believin’ in 2005, The Answer have released a string of albums that showcase the bands continuous improvement and development as song writers and performers. They’ve opened for Aerosmith, AC/DC and Deep Purple, and are one of many great young rock bands the world over ready to step up and carry the torch of rock n roll. The Answer are the future of rock n roll and prove without question that rock is indeed alive and well.
Front-man Cormic Neeson took some time out to answer some questions about the upcoming album Raise A Little Hell, song writing, and what’s in store for the band over the next twelve months.
Congratulations on the upcoming release of your new studio album Raise A Little Hell. What can fans expect from the new album?
Essentially it’s a rock n roll record, it’s an album where you can hear a band having a lot of fun and doing what they do best and that is making electric blues music. It was just one of those records that we were able to block out knowledge from labels and management and fans and just kind of trust in ourselves to write good songs and get a good vibe in the studio to get some good songs down.
With the growing success of your previous albums, did you feel any pressure to take things to the next level going into the new record?
I’d say no. We’ve definitely felt pressure in the past. As soon as you’re out in the public domain, the album belongs out there and the journey has begun. There’s all these pressures that you never had to deal with before. You have to obviously live up to the previous record. Fans come to expect a particular type of record. But, five albums in we really made the call to just block all that back ground noise completely out and kind of get back to basics in a way. It was a lot like making our first album when we were making music just for the sheer joy of it. Thankfully, this album has really benefitted from that attitude.
How does the band go about writing its songs, and what inspires you when writing lyrics?
We write the songs pretty much the way we’ve always written the songs, kind of a combination of band members jamming in the rehearsal room and we’ll record everything and then shift through it and pick out the best riffs, but also we’re all keen songwriters in our own right. And we’ll come in with a couple of songs each that we’ve all been working on that we think with everyone else’s help we can turn into a viable album track and we’ll go to work on those songs and try and do them justice. So there’s two quite distinct methods there, but that’s always been the way we’ve done things. In lyrics ways, I write a lot of the lyrics and I just kind of draw on real life experiences. I think lyrics have to come from the heart, they have to come from something real. And then if the song gets twisted or the lyric gets twisted a little bit for the shape of the song, that’s fine, but I think the source has to come from real life experience cause I’m the guy who’s gonna be up there every night singing those songs and I really need to feel it. It’s important to me that I can get up there and deliver those lyrics with as much passion as the guys who are gonna be delivering musically.
One of the songs that really stands out on the album is Gone Too Long, it seems to have a lot of genuine emotion behind it. What’s the story behind that track?
Yeah, it’s one of our more introspective songs for sure. It just kind of harkens to the old fact that everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes when you’re in a band you can neglect other areas of your life. And while you’re trying hard to hold up the whole band thing on one front you can neglect your personal life, and your home life and leave some regret. Gone Too Long is just an apology for any times I might have fucked up in the past.
When did you first discover music and who are some of the bands that inspired you to pursue music as a career?
I’ve been into music for as long as I can remember. I joined my first band when I was fifteen. I started singing cause they didn’t need a forth guitar player basically. It just kind of developed and evolved from there. I’ve always had a soft spot for seventies blues based rock music, you can obviously hear that with The Answer. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Free, The Who. I don’t know exactly where that love began I’d imagine it was my dad’s vinyl collection that had a lot to do with it. It just stuck with me. Whatever it was. I listen to all different types of music, there are a number of different bands, old and new. I definitely have a soft spot for blues based seventies rock.
Is there a story behind the band’s name?
Yeah, it’s going back a long time now but when we first put the band together we just couldn’t decide on a name. It got to the stage where we had already booked our first show at Belfast. It was like we’ve got a gig, fantastic, but with no name and the promoter rang our drummer and said listen, ‘we need a name, what’s the answer gonna be?’ And James relayed that to us and we thought, let’s just call ourselves The Answer. We thought about it for a second and thought, yeah, fuck it. Let’s make ballsy rock n roll music and call ourselves The Answer. (laughs) That was basically the way it happened.
A lot bands in the modern world are taking the do-it-yourself road with recording and promoting albums and their band. The Answer are signed to Napalm Records. Do you think record companies are as important as they used to be?
I think they can be, it all depends on the record company and the amount of effort they give to their bands. I think we’re lucky in that we do have a label who’s willing to support the band, support the vision and most importantly, when it comes to the record support the band financially in order to take the band to the next level. I think we’ve benefitted from that sense of stability in this record because it means we don’t have to worry about the business side of things we can focus on making music, that’s what we’re best at obviously. We’ve actually signed for another two records with Napalm which will bring our tally up to four albums with those guys. It’s a pretty rare thing that level of stability and commitment inside the music business.
Is there anything that you do to stay sane while on tour, and is there anything that you do to prepare before going on stage?
Yeah I have a bit of a routine. I normally start with sound check. In the afternoon is when I start to warm up my vocal chords, and then I’ll go away for a few hours and rest up. Then maybe an hour or so before a show I’ll start to do a few warm up exercises. Nothing too much and nothing too technical. Just loosening up so I can get up on that stage and give it everything I’ve got.
Do you have any favourite songs on the new album and anything you’re looking forward to performing live?
I love them all, they’re all still new and fresh to me and it’s hard to pick favourites, but Long Live The Renegades is right up there. Last Days Of Summer is going to be good fun live cause it’s really stoner rock and there’s a lot of space to stretch the song out and have a good old ten minute jam in the middle of the song which will be fun. I Am What I Am is a good refection of where The Answer shine is at the moment. The title track itself, Raise A Little Hell, should be fun. I Am Cured has some tasty slide playing. I’m looking forward to playing them all and I’m sure I’ll have different favourites.
Are the tour plans in place yet and are you guys going to be heading down to Australia any time soon?
Yeah that’s the plan. We’ve got a lot of touring coming up. The record comes up on the second of March and we’re touring the UK the whole month of March, off to Europe in April, got to America in May, come back to Europe for festivals in the summer then back to America again so it’s going to be a busy six months. I like to think that at the end of all that we’ll be able to get down to Australia for a few weeks of touring. Let’s face it we don’t want you folks forgetting about us down there.
Speaking of Australia, what was it like opening for AC/DC and how did their audience react to you guys?
Yeah, it was a pretty intense year to have. We played a 118 shows with those guys. One of the best moments of my life, for sure. It was an electric atmosphere from start to finish playing in front of thousands of people. We played Madison Square Gardens, The Forum in LA, JAG Stadium, Wembley Stadium, back in the UK. It was just exhilarating, you know? We definitely learned a thing or two about stage craft and song writing on that tour, again I think it’s really come to the fore in this record.
What would you like to achieve as a musician and with your band The Answer?
I just want to be able to keep making music for a living, man. It’s a pretty simple target. I like to think this record could take us to another level. I think we’ve got the songs to do it on this album. We’ll get this album out and engage our fan base that is already out there and hopefully pick up some new ones along the way.
Thank you from everyone here at Full Throttle Rock and I hope to see you guys down here in Australia soon. Hope you have a great year.
Thanks very much, buddy.
For more information about the band visit the official website at www.theanswer.ie
The Answer – Raise A Little Hell is available on Napalm Records.