Question: Who's the straight ahead rock outfit playing with AC/DC tonight that you've never heard of? The Answer.
But what's The Answer? The Answer!
This foursome from Northern Ireland may not be on our radio charts...yet, but since their creation in 2000 they've racked up a few accolades including playing with the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who and Deep Purple. If you have heard of The Answer, it's probably because you and a few of your mates were rockin' out on plastic guitars to their song "Never Too Late" on Guitar Hero World Tour.
So they've stuck a chord with the X-box-playing crowd, but how will The Answer do capturing the hearts and ears of Phoenicians when they play U.S. Airways Center tonight? To find out, we rang up The Answer lead vocalist Cormac Neeson for a chat.
Up On the Sun: How's your first American tour going?
Cormac Neeson: It's our first time in America so we weren't sure how'd it go, but we're selling EPs every night. And it's perfect preparation for the album we're going to release in the new year. It's all coming together nicely for us.
UP: You're referring to the album Everyday Demons, correct? Why have you decided to wait and release this album here before your previous album Rise?
CN: We believe that this album is better than the first so rather than release Rise first, we're going to hit America with the best we've got and if people want to find their way back to Rise than by all means they're free to do so.
UP: Have you received any veteran rock star advice from AC/DC?
CN: Not really, no. They're not those kind of guys. They do seem very down to Earth. They make sure that we're all right. For instance, Brian (Johnson) in AC/DC smokes the same tobacco as Micky (Waters) in our band, so he's constantly sticking his head in our dressing room making sure Micky's got enough tobacco to see him through. Little things like that. They're really making us feel a part of the family which is a good testimony to them I think.
UP: Tells us about your tours in Japan
CN: We played in Shibuya, Tokyo which was like...our first gig in Japan. It was like in front of four thousand people which was great, you know. It was kinda our first taste of instant success without having to start at the very bottom and kinda grind our way up to that kind of draw of an audience. And for some reason the Japanese people just really took to our music from the offset. So it was great, you know. We've been there twice. The second time we were there we did Fuji Rock Festival. Fuji Rock Festival goes down as one of our favorite rock festivals that we've ever played because of the scale of the thing and how different it is to a lot of festivals in Europe. We always have a good time when we go over there. Good people.
UP: Now that you've spent some time in America, what do you think about the music scene here?
CN: We've been listening to a bit of it. We're all big Queens of the Stone Age fans in this band and we like the Raconteurs and bands like that. There's some stuff around which strikes me as being quite insincere. I don't know if it's kind of the pop idol generation or what it is, but there's some stuff that just doesn't convince me that the singers mean what they're saying and the players are passionate to the end about what they're playing if you understand me. I mean we've always been 100 percent dedicated to the music that we play and we play it from the heart and I don't get that same feeling from a lot of the bands on American radio. But having said that, there's much more to choose from over here. It more or less guarantees a healthy scene and you can always find something that you can get your teeth into which is a stark contrast to the radio back home where the airways is polluted with a lot of shite that we're not into at all. We're into the variety and the choice that we can get over here, definitely.
UP: We heard that you've got a song on Guitar Hero and a few of your tracks are only available via download. Are you finding these effective methods for promoting the band?
CN: I think absolutely. Me personally, I'm pretty much a fucking man living in the stone age whenever it comes to computer technology, but I'm aware of what's happening and I'm very aware that it's a priceless medium to get your music into. For example, just MySpace alone is a perfect way to get people who come home from the AC/DC concerts to look us up and stay in touch with the band. So we can send them reminders that we're releasing tunes and we're releasing albums. It's just a means of keeping a kind of global connection with your audience which ten fifteen years ago just wasn't there to make the most of. It's definitely something that bands need to plug into.
UP: Have you played Guitar Hero?
CN: I played it once at a European launch of the game that we did. I've got to say that I really enjoyed it. There are AC/DC crew members that keep threatening to take us on their bus and beat us at our own song. You know? They're like "Man! We're going to play your song! We're going to beat your ass!" Hopefully we'll get an opportunity to prove them wrong. It's great that young kids are going to be listening to some rock 'n' roll while they're playing their computer games. Definitely a healthy thing.
UP: One last question: You've played with all these classic bands like The Rolling Stones and The Who, but are you at all concerned with being labeled a throw back?
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CN: I think playing the music that we play we have to be aware that that is definitely a trap to be avoided, you know? I think we're quietly confident that these kind of support acts that we've done are only going to benefit us. As I say, we've got a second album coming out which is very relevant to the here and now and it combines all our influences both old and new and I think it's definitely going to strike a chord with the young people in America and everywhere else which will more than account for the possibility of those kinds of throw back labels that you're talking about. If anything, I think it's just an opportunity for the band to play in front of thousands of people every night which we otherwise wouldn't have got you know? You just kinda have to take it where it's going.
UP: Anything the Phoenix audience should know?
CN: I want them to know that we're a good honest rock 'n' roll band who's going to give everything we've got to entertain them once we get there. If you haven't heard of us before, give us a chance and we're sure that we'll win you over by the end of the show. And if we haven't, I'll meet you in the bar after the show and we can talk about it. --Jonathan McNamara