Where better to defibrillate your rock career after a seven year hiatus than the Waterloo Music Bar. A dilapidated boozer when Northern Irish four piece were warming up stadiums for AC/DC, the pub has established itself as a go to small venue for rock bands on tour in the years they’ve been away.
The Answer kick off their 16-date UK tour at the Blackpool venue on 16th March, the night before the release of their seventh studio album Sundowners. Supported by new single Oh Cherry and a fantastic Tarantino-esque 60’s ‘mash-dancing-moves’ lyric video, the band are chomping at the bit to perform live again. Cormac Neeson gives us the answer to where the band has been and where they’re going.

What have you been up to for the past seven years and what drew you back together as a band?
We took a break from music to do family things and get away from the music rat race for a bit. I did a solo album of country style tracks, Micky got heavily involved in library music composition, James set up a very successful drum school in Northern Ireland and Paul continued to write and do session work in Paris. It was a very cathartic period and we all enjoyed the space and time to normalise after what was over 10 years of constant touring and six album releases. Sometimes a bit of time away is needed!

Tell us about the new album and how your sound has evolved after your hiatus.
We started to miss the scene just around 2020 and decided to do some writing around then but of course Covid happened and the world changed. After we came out of that we decided we wanted to make another record and to just do whatever we wanted without the constraints of labels, people telling us what it should sound like and all that nonsense. It was like we just wanted to make a record for us and do something that we all just loved. I think that comes across in this new album – it has a free spirit, you can almost see the smiles on our faces and hear the expression in every note. We steered away from too many overdubs and decided to capture everything as a performance, warts and all. Of course we were fortunate to have a great producer in Dan Weller who really allowed us to find that expression. The album is full of big bluesy riffs, grooves, vibey performances and I have to say we all love it. We even decided to open the record with a seven minute epic and just let it all hang out as a groove.

What inspires your music and songwriting?
Being at peace with yourself is a great driver for creativity. We love riffs, grooves, the blues but we also strive to try and keep things simple. So often in the studio you can get caught up in overdubs, insecurity, stressing over tempos, keys, arrangements and stuff like that. On this record and song writing it was all about conveying a positive message, keeping things real and unfiltered.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Well I think the most surreal experience ever was touring the world with AC/DC – performing 168 shows in stadiums and arenas, walking out every night to a full house and just be allowed to do what we do in front of the best rock audience in the world. I often think back – did that really happen to us? It did but it was absolutely surreal and the thought of it still is.

If you weren’t a musician what would you be doing with your life?
I reckon I’d be using my music to help other young musicians with aspiration to achieve their goals. I do a lot of vocal coaching and help young talent express themselves and understand how to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

What’s on your rider?
Beer, red wine, white wine, whiskey and some sandwiches to soak it up.

On a clear day you might be able to see Blackpool Tower from your side of the Irish Sea in County Down. Are you looking forward to playing here?
Not quite that far but you can see the Isle of Man! Can’t wait to play the Waterloo in Blackpool, in our time away it has become a real vibey rock club on the circuit so it’s nice to start our tour there and to blow those initial cobwebs away!

What can we expect from your live show?
A lot of the Sundowners album plus some of our classic catalogue – maybe a few tracks that haven’t been performed for over a decade.

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    Antonia Charlesworth Stack is a journalist and editor from Blackpool. She was deputy editor of Big Issue North magazine and is editor of Blackpool Social Club. Antonia is also the founder of Reclaim Blackpool, a women's safety campaign that began life as an article she wrote for Blackpool Social Club. She's a contributing author to the Lancashire Stories anthology with her story about a Blackpool performer, The Call of The Sea. The book is available for free in libraries across the county.

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