Rock and roll can never die. It just simply can not, as long as people continue to pick up a guitar, SOMEONE will write a riff that melts faces. Having said that, that notion rings true all over the world. As technology brings us all into one large community, I find bands all over the world carrying that rock and roll torch. One such band is The Answer. Hailing from Northern Ireland, The Answer just released their newest album, New Horizon, on Napalm Records. If you’re a fan of the classic rock sound, these boys have got a sermon for you!
Listen to the entire Cormac Neeson interview below:
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Today I’m welcoming Cormac Neeson to the Unsung Melody family. Cormac is the vocalist of the heavy hitting Irish rock band, The Answer. First off, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today.
My pleasure man. Thanks for having me.
We’ll get started here. You guys are about to release your new album New Horizon. Let’s dig into that just a bit. Your last album, Revival, was recorded here in the States. Down in Texas. Where did you guys record New Horizon?
Kind of the polar opposite to a lovely big studio in El Paso. We recorded it in a relatively small studio in a tiny village in the South of England. Where literally, the only services available to us were two pubs and one petty shop. (laughter) So it kept things nice and simple. Probably the less distractions the better and it worked. It was nice. It was a lovely atmosphere to record some rock and roll in. We only had a short period of time in there, about two and half weeks. So we had to stay focused and get the job done and we definitely did.
Toby Jepson produced this record. After working with a few different producers in the past, how did working with Toby differ from them?
It was great working with Toby. We tend to make a point of changing producers every record in this band, because it keeps things fresh. It keeps us on our toes and it helps us to maintain the band’s edge. Toby is a singer by trade. He sang in a band called Little Angels that had a lot of success in the early 90’s. We had a guitar player produced our last album, so Paul had a great time. This record it was my turn. To have a kindred spirit sitting behind the desk was a big help for me. He was never short of ideas. Whenever I needed a melody here or a couple of words there, he definitely stepped up to the plate and did a great job.
Spectacular is the first single. It’s a rock anthem in every sense of the word. Tell me about the writing process for that song.
That song really began with a riff that Paul, our guitar player, had been jamming on in the rehearsal room. We just really wrote the song around that. I arrived out one day and Paul and our drummer James were just playing around and round this riff. I kind of sat in the next room and let them get on with it until I heard the music change a little bit and realized, there could be a verse in here as well. At which point I just jumped into the room. I had melodies kind of just springing up out of the ether, inspired by the music those guys were playing. For some reason, I have this book of lyrics, and words, and ideas, and everything that comes into my head. I’ll write it down in this book. I was flipping through the pages, looking for some lyric or word, or line that would just slide in nicely into this song. The word spectacular just kept jumping out at me. So, I said we can do this, we can be spectacular came out over the chorus. The guys were actually looking at me going, “We’re in a rock band, you can’t be using a word like spectacular. We’re a rock band!” After the conversation, I was like, “Why not? Ya know?” It’s a big statement and rock’s all about making big, bold statements. At the time it just seemed like the line and the sentiment was a perfect fit for the tone of the music.
Concrete is one of my favorites on the album. That is one nasty, low down, dirty riff. Then the guitar drops out and that rumbling bass line takes over. You bring it all back together in the chorus. That’s rock and roll my friend.
(laughter) I’m glad you picked up on that one. That’s a personal favorite of myself. Indeed the whole band. To be honest with you, that’s the probably the heaviest song we’ve ever written. It feels like metal, in my opinion. Our heavier side has always been omnipresent in the band’s sound, but I think we really indulged ourselves on that track. Already we’re trying to work it into our live set and it’s going to be a storming tune to play live.
Tell me a bit about the artwork. Was the idea a vision of the bands or was the idea from the late, great Storm Thorgenson?
The concept and the image behind that really belongs to Storm. It goes without saying, the man was a genius and he’s made vital contributions to pop culture for the last 45 years. When I think of Pink Floyd, I don’t immediately think of one song of theirs, I think of the pig floating above the Battersea Power Station in London. So to have a guy like that agree to work on our project was a real honor. With hindsight, to know that he was obviously quite ill at the time and he still took on the work, because there was something in the music that inspired him and got those creative juices flowing. To know that those creative juices, for anybody who is suffering from an illness and it inspires me to know that, if you have embraced your God given talent and it still is shining as brightly as it obviously was with Storm, right up to him being seriously ill like that, it’s quite inspiring. He did such a great job. It’s just the icing on the cake for us and the image itself really, somehow, I don’t know, it’s amazing his process, but somehow he just manages to capture the essence of a piece of music by listening to it. By interviewing the band. By lending his genius to it all. He just manages to knock it out of the ballpark.
What does New Horizon, as an album, mean to you personally?
It’s an album that was really spawned from change and flux. There’s a lot of emotion that has been channelled into that record. We parted ways with our last record company and our manager of seven years, just on the cusp of the beginning of the writing process. So, at that point, it wasn’t the easiest of times for the band. We had to make some difficult decisions. We really had to come off the ropes. I think we dealt with it as any decent artist should and we channelled those emotions into our work, into our music. The whole writing process and the creation of that record, as a band on its way out of those dark times, led to something completely new for us. Not only is there anxiety, frustration, anger, aggression, but there’s also hope and resilience that works its way into that record. I think the record is a much better record for the fact that we were able to channel everything that was going on in our lives at the time and into our piece of work.
It’s always great to see someone take something kind of dark and ugly and make it beautiful. I see lots of UK and Europe dates. Can we expect a US tour with this album?
The top of my list is to get back to the States. I love touring in America, we’re heading over at the end of this month to do some promoing in New York. Myself and Paul are going over to try and kickstart the campaigning over there. With the intention of getting on a full scale tour early next year. It’s definitely a top priority.
Speaking of touring, you’ve opened up for The Rolling Stones and AC/DC. Paul Rodgers from Bad Company has even joined you onstage. Where do your dreams take you with this album?
It’s a cliche, but the sky’s the limit. It always has been. We dream big in this band. We feel that we’ve made a strong enough record that we could really use this as a platform to elevate the band to the next level. We want it all and I think that we’ve got the record to do well, and the musical ability and the live show to really do ourselves justice whenever we take this record out on the road. We’re just going to work hard and see where it takes us.
I always end interviews on a random question. It’s my way of helping portray people as real. So, here goes yours; We’ve lost many great rock artists over time. You’re approached with an unreleased song to write lyrics for and to ultimately sing on. What artist would you want that song to be from?
Oooooooo. That’s a good question. I would fancy a crack at a track by The Doors.
I think would be a perfect fit for you actually.
I wouldn’t try to rehash the late, great Jim Morrison’s style. I would make my own from it. I have a big love of the blues and so much more, I think I could have a good go at that one.
Cormac, I appreciate your time so very much and we wish you all the best.
Preview or purchase New Horizon below:
The Answer – Spectacular: