The last time Irish rockers The Answer were in the United States, they were on tour opening for AC/DC. That’s a lot to live up to, but this run they just wrapped up was with Whitesnake, another heritage band. You might have caught the the early part of the tour via their tour diary they contributed to Metal Insider. Before they headlined Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory on an off night from the tour, we caught up with singer Cormac Neeson to talk about their six year absence from the states, playing with rock legends, and the importance of the U.S. market to them.
I guess I’ll just start off by asking how this run of the states has been.
Yeah, it’s been great man. It’s our first time back in the states in 6 years. We’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time, ya know. I can’t believe we’re down to our second to last show. Cause it’s been uh… We’ve covered a lot of miles but the gigs have been great. Got a lot of love from people who still remember us in term with AC/DC and whatever. It seems like people are into the new record so we’re very happy about it all.
How much of the audience here in America or people that have been fans and might remember you from before versus people who have no idea who you are and just happen to go see Whitesnake and you’re playing?
Yeah, obviously we’ve done a bunch of headline shows this tour so ya know, everyone who’s come to those shows pretty much discovered us during the AC/DC tour ya know. The Whitesnake gigs, whenever we’re playing support, I just presume that no one has a clue who the fuck we are, ya know? So it’s always a bonus when you’re standing up there at the t-shirt stall and people come up to ya and say “I saw you play 6 years ago with AC/DC” or whatever but I think we’ve definitely won over a lot more fans and on this tour and the Whitsnake gigs, they were very good for us.
What kind of crowds are you playing for at home?
It varies, but we’d be doing about a thousand people at home in Europe ya know. Just nice sized venues, enough people to make a racket and keep the wheels rolling.
Yeah. I guess it doesn’t feel that different when you’re playing a show like this where it’s smaller but it’s not that much smaller.
Yeah, the American headliners are of course gonna be smaller. We’re basically starting from scratch again over here, so we’re more than willing to get out there and get our hands dirty and work the grass roots.
Have you been opening for large headliners over in Ireland as well?
Since the AC/DC tour we’ve kinda been focusing on doing our own thing. I mean, we spent a year and a half playing support and that was great but you gota stand up and be recognized in your own right and that’s what we’ve been focusing on for the last 5 years.
What made you able to get shows like this in the states? Both Whitesnake and AC/DC are tours that a lot of bands far more established than you in the US would kill to get and meanwhile you just kinda come in and get the show.
Yeah, on both occasions it just comes down to the bands being fans of what we do ya know, listening to the record, appreciating the songs and giving us the shot. That’s basically it.
It seems like a lot of popular rock music right now is less toward the AC/DC and more towards Muse or maybe Imagine Dragons or the kind of poppy-er sort of thing. You’re obviously doing your own thing, just writing good, catchy, old-fashioned hard rock. Do you pay attention to what is popular?
I mean I don’t walk around with my head in the sand but at the same time I don’t ever try to pander to the trends of the day. That’s never been what we’ve been about. Ya know, good luck to all those guys and there’s a lot of good music out there but I do feel ya know, the old school style of hard is. I’m not sure what the story is in theSstates, but in Europe there’s a handful of bands doing stuff that’s not a million miles away from our bag. So I mean it’s all swings and round-abouts. I’d like to think the kind of music we do, because its organic and not over produced, I’d like to think there’s a timelessness to that kind of music so hopefully that will sustain itself.
What’s kept you from coming back here, financial stuff, label stuff?
101 reasons man, label fallouts, management changes, a lot of stuff that just didn’t cater for the stars aligning in order for us to get back here ya know.
So you’re saying you’re viewing this as completely starting over… How important is the American audience to The Answer?
Our fan base, no matter where they are, are central to what we do. The American audience, I feel we have a good shot at it over here cause I’m confident in what we do ya know. I know we make good albums and put on a good live show and even off with having just played 20-odd shows with Whitesnake and gaze the reaction from those audiences. I know there’s a lot of people across America who enjoy what we do so it’s very much back in and focus again for us.
America’s obviously a focus, as is Europe. Do you consider yourselves as a global band? Have you played every continent?
Not every continent, no. We’ve yet to hit South America actually. That’s something we’d love to do because we get a lot of online traffic talking about picking up our records down there and enjoying what we do so that’s on our radar. We’ve played Japan many times, we’ve played Australia, obviously done America and Canada, Europe. So it’s kind of getting towards global, yeah.
What are your thoughts on the way streaming has replaced online, physical album sales?
Yeah, ya know, that was kind of already happening even 6 years ago. It is what it is. Ya gotta move with the times, ya gotta adapt, do an awful lot of touring as well. More and more bands are reliant on touring and merchandise revenue.
What do you prefer more, touring or being in the studio, creating music?
It depends ya know. Ask me that at the end of a six month tour, I’ll say studio, if you ask me after recording a record, I’ll say touring, ya know? The two kind of balance each other out.